Lijiashan Travel Tips

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Plan your trip to the ancient Qikou Town on your Shanxi tour? The big draw in Qikou Town is the nearby ancient village known as Lijiashan ( Li Family Mountain), a long-forgotten ancient settlement of cave dwellings. Lijiashan Village sits on the both sides of the valley in Lijiashan Hill, about 10km south of Qikou Town across Qiushui River, a tributary of the Yellow River.

Over 500 years ago, Qikou Town started to flourish as a port town owing to the waterway transportation of the Yellow River. At its heyday, Qikou Town was a place for men or merchants in particular doing trading business. Many wealthy merchants in the town, for various reasons, maybe, for safety or modesty, arranged their families secretly away in the mountains. Lijiashan was one of their choices. So husbands or men worked in Qikou Town and their wives and children lived in the hills away from the town such as Lijiashan.

Lijiashan is a village now. But in the ancient time, the villagers in Lijianshan were not farmers and they were rich merchants’s families living on the income from the port trading business in Qikou Town. If you understand this, you won’t be surprised if you see the faded, but still seemingly magnificent cave houses. These are not earth caves dwellings, they are brick, stone and tile cave dwellings built deep into the hillsides at theirs backs, but have front courtyards of bricks and tiles, just like a Chinese traditional courtyard.

The layout of the cave houses in Lijashan is like a phoenix with the cave dwellings perched on the both sides of wings. Between the two wings is the body or the valley of Lijiashan Mountain. The cave houses on the both sides of the valley hug the hillsides and scale nine storeys. All the cave dwellings ( including the dwellings on both sides of the valley are linked by the stone paths and stairways that wind up or down the hills. Some of the stone parths and stairs date back to the Ming times.

Lijiashan was once home to over 600 families, most surnamed Li, but today’s population is about 40, and most of them are elderly. So where are the other villagers in Lijiashan? They have moved down to a new Lijiashan village with better living conditions and facilites at the foot of Lijiashan Mountain. Some inhabitants on the old Lijiashan Village are engaged in tourism, offering cave dwellings acommodations and food services to visitors and arts students who come and even stay here for drawing and painting. Beside tourists, you will see many arts students use the caves for their classrooms and drawing the picturesque cave houses and the mountain.

At the time of my writing, Lijiashan Village is very peaceful, and free of charge. You can enter most of the cave houses. Some cave dwellings are just empty with nobody living there. Some are still inhabited by local villagers who are very friendly to visitors. The local people and the government as well are aware of the cultural value behind the hundreds of cave dwellings and going to do something to promote the local tourism, an effective way to improve the local economy. Sincerely hope for a long-term serenity and peace for Lijiashan.

Lijiashan Travel Guide
You may take the morning long distance bus from Taiyuan West Coach Station (太原汽车客运西站)to Qikou Town, or via Lishi.  Taiyuan West Coach Station is located on Yingze Avenue 10km to the east of Tianyuan Railway Station. Take Bus No.01, 06 from Taiyuan Railway Station, you will get to Taiyuan West Coach Station. Add: Yingze W St, Wanbailin, Taiyuan Tel:  0351 6552571

The buses from Taiyuan West Coach Station will go to Qikou, Lishi.
Qikou: 4 hours, one daily 10:30am
Lishi: 2 hours, hourly from 7:00am to 7:30pm
Lishi – Qikou: one hour, frequent  7:00am to 7:30pm

Get around in Qikou and Lijiashan
You may hire a local mini-van at a cost of RMB 60 to bring you to the top of Lijiashan from Qikou Town if you don’t want to take a 10km walk up to Lijiashan. If you prefer to walk to Lijiashan, you just cross the bridge over Qiushui River by the side of Qikou Bus Station. Then follow the river for about half hour. Then you will see a rock carved with the Chinese name of Lijiashan (李家山). This is the new Lijiashan Village where you turn up on to the mountain road and you will reach the old village for about 30-40 minutes. You may first visit the west side of the cave houses, then move on to the east. Standing on the top of the one hillside will allow you to have a fantastic view of the other side.

If you are mesmerized by the natural beauty and the ancient Chinese venacular buildings in Lijiashan, you may stay overnight here in a cave house for RMB 50 per bed. Here you will realize your dream of experiencing Shanxi’s cave houses, but you cannot expect the comforts – no TV, no shower, no heating, no air-conditioning and just basic.

Well, follow me to have a glimpse of Lijiashan.

When you come across the big rock carved with the Chinese name of Lijiashan Villlage (李家山), you should stop and turn left and go up on to the mountain for the ancient Lijiashan Village.

The Rock carved with the Chinese name of Lijiashan

The Rock carved with the Chinese name of Lijiashan

The narrow zigzag mountain leading up to Lijiashan

the narrow zigzag mountain road up to Lijiashan.

the narrow zigzag mountain road up to Lijiashan.

Approaching Lijiashan, look up and you will see the cave dwellings which are built on the both sides of the valley at Lijiashan Mountain:West Wing and East Wing.

The cave dwellings are built on the both sides of the valley at Lijiashan Mountain

The cave dwellings are built on the both sides of the valley at Lijiashan Mountain

Looking at the east side cave houses from the west side

Now we are on the top of the west wing. Standing on the west side, we clearly view the whole picture of the cave houses hugging the hillsides on the east side.

the cave houses hugging the hillsides on the east side.

the cave houses hugging the hillsides on the east side.

Have a close look at a wealthy two-storey cave dwelling on the east side of the valley at Lijiashan.

Have a close look at a wealthy two-storey cave dwelling on the east side

Have a close look at a wealthy two-storey cave dwelling on the east side

Multi-level layers of cave houses with courtyards.

Multi-level layers of cave houses with courtyards

Multi-level layers of cave houses with courtyards

Some cave houses are abandoned

Some cave houses are abandoned

Some cave houses are abandoned

Visiting the cave houses on the west side

This host’s courtyard is named Yellow River Family, a two-storey courtyard.

This host's courtyard is named Yellow River Family

This host’s courtyard is named Yellow River Family

Peep into the stone kang beds in one cave room in Yellow River Family

  Peep into the interior of a cave house

Peep into the interior of a cave house

We are inside the courtyard of the cave house

We are inside the courtyard of the cave  house

We are inside the courtyard of the cave house

The cave houses are made of wood, stone and brick. Old wooden frame door and rings.

Old wooden frame door and rings

Old wooden frame door and rings

The entrance to Li Yinlan’s cave dwelling

the old wooden door is open for you to visit

the old wooden door is open for you to visit

Li Yinlan’s courtyard is ornate and exquisite.

Li Yinlan's courtyard is ornate and delicate

Li Yinlan’s courtyard is ornate and delicate

exquisite brackets, beautiful wood carvings and decorated tiles

exquisite brackets, beautiful wood carvings and decorated tiles

exquisite brackets, beautiful wood carvings and decorated tiles

the old bolts

the old bolts

the old bolts

Walking from the west side to the east side
We walk down the valley and walk up to the east side. In the valley, we look back at the cave houses scaling the hillsides on the west side of the valley.

Clamber up the old stone stairs up to the east side of the valley.

Clamber up the old stone stairs up to the east side of the valley.

Clamber up the old stone stairs up to the east side of the valley.

View the cave houses on the west side from the east side

View the cave houses on the west side from the east side

View the cave houses on the west side from the east side

View the cave houses on the west side from the east side

Li Yinlan’s cave house atop the hill viewed from the east

Li Yinlan's cave house viewed from the east

Li Yinlan’s cave house viewed from the east

the cave dwellings on the west side of the valley

the cave dwellings on the west side of the valley

the cave dwellings on the west side of the valley

The cave houses on the east side of the valley

Ornate entrance to the most wealthy family on the east, but the door is closed.

Ornate entrance to the most wealthy family on the east

Ornate entrance to the most wealthy family on the east

A local elderly’s cave house

A local elderly's cave house

A local elderly’s cave house

The first local villager we have seen

The first local villager we have seen

The first local villager we have seen

A group of arts students stay here for drawing classes

A group of arts students stay here for drawing classes

A group of arts students stay here for drawing classes

A perfect place for drawing

A perfect place for drawing

A perfect place for drawing

Checking her painting

Checking her painting

Checking her painting

On the top, you clearly see the cave houses on the both side of the valley

On the top, you clearly see the cave houses on the both side of the valley

On the top, you clearly see the cave houses on the both side of the valley

Before leaving Lijiashan, don’t forget to have a bite of the yummy noodles made by the host at Yellow River Family.

Any questions, just drop a line.

Tags: , , , ,

Questions and Answers: