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Old Town

Criss-crossed by canals and a maze of narrow streets, the old town is not to be missed. Arrive by mid-morning to see the market square full of Naxi women in traditional dress. Parrots and plants adorn the front porches, old women sell griddle cakes in front of teahouses, men walk past with hunting falcons proudly keeping balance on their gloved fists, and more old women energetically slam down the trumps on a card table in the middle of the street. You can buy embroidery and lengths of striped cloth in shop around the market.

Above the old town is a beautiful park which can be reached on the path leading past the radio antenna. Sit on the slope in the early morning and watch the mist clearing as the old town comes to life.

Now acting as sentinel of sorts for the town is the Wan Gou Lou, a pagoda being raised at a cost of over one million yuan. It’s famed for a unique design using dozens of four storey pillars, and these were culled from northern Yunnan old-growth forests.