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Explore China 2019: The cars of Lijiang, Yunnan

Chana CX70 in Lijiang

After ShanghaiManzhouli in Inner Mongolia and Kunming and Dali in Yunnan, we proceed on our Chinese exploration following the Shanghai Auto Show. Next stop is Lijiang, still in Yunnan province, roughly 200km north of Dali, and then we push a further 100km north to the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Lijiang location in China, alongside our previous stops. Lijiang snaps

Although the Lonely Planet discourages a visit to the old town of Lijiang – aka Dayan, a UNESCO world heritage site – because it’s too crowded (8 million visitors a year), I couldn’t disagree more and had the entire old town to myself during my morning stroll there. It’s probably the most beautiful Chinese old town I ever visited, with a maze of cobbled streets, wooden buildings and canals – with flowers everywhere including on mock pagodas on some canals (see above)! Absolutely stunning. The Old Town used to be the most important place of the Ancient Southern Silk Road, which started from Burma, crossed Lijiang, Shangri-La County, Tibet, Iran and the Mediterranean Sea. Although the population of the old town is estimated at around 40,000, Lijiang as a whole is home to 1.2 million inhabitants at the prefecture level, qualifying it as a Tier 3 city. See an excellent Tier city classification map and explanation here.

Wuling and Baojun taxis and one new gen Hongguang in Lijiang

The majority of taxis in Lijiang are low-cost minivans and MPVs by the SAIC-GM joint-venture, with the Wuling Hongguang S and Baojun 730 the most frequently used, but the Rongguang and ye olde Sunshine are still doing some serious hauling around. The old gen VW Santana comes next, followed by the VW Jetta. Fittingly, it is on the way to the Tiger Leaping Gorge that I spotted my first new generation Hongguang of the trip (pictured above), though it was a privately-owned one.

Chana X70, Honor, Minivan (at Tiger Leaping Gorge), Eado DT and CS55 in Lijiang

Potentially because we are getting closer to the carmaker’s headquarters in Chongqing – now less than 1000km away – Changan and its light commercial subsidiary Chana are the most popular brands in Lijiang, with the Chana CX70 the most frequent private car in town, but also with SUVs such as the CS55 and CS75, the Honor MPV, numerous minivans and the Eado and Eado DT sedans.

Haval H6, SWM X7, Jetour X70, Zotye T500 and Yema F12 in Lijiang

Lijiang also sports a higher than usual (which is already very high) amount of Chinese SUVs, including some of the more obscure ones such as the entire Bisu, Leopaard and Borgward lineups, the Yema F12, Zotye T500 and SWM X7 as pictured above. Haval of course leads the charge with various generations of its best-seller the H6, and the Jetour X70 is already well established here, the best presence in the car landscape so far in this trip.

Stay tuned for the next and last stop in our Explore China 2019 series: Lhasa in Tibet.

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