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“Keith and Lijiang Guides lived up to the excellent reviews”

Hiking with Lijiang Guides - Private Tours
Ranked #1 of 22 Tours in Lijiang
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Attraction details
Owner description: Lijiang Guides offers professional, personal tailor-made guiding services in Yunnan province, to non-touristy areas. Based in the ancient town of Lijiang, the small tour company and travel agency is the leading eco-tourism and cultural tourism operation in Yunnan, with more than 16 years' experience in the region. Lijiang Guides offers a unique range of journey and trips, exploring the diversity of Yunnan, and taking you to authentic places where you can have meaningful interaction with the REAL China. Lijiang Guides can take you to off-the-beaten-track places, where you can meet some of the local minorities - Naxi, Yi, Tibetan, Bai, Pumi, Mosuo, Hui - and also experience the wonders of nature in Yunnan. Lijiang Guides specialises in day hikes, gourmet tours, photography and writing trips, visiting markets and monasteries - away from the tourist crowds. With experience in the area since 1996, and a staff of English-speaking guides, Lijiang Guides offers guiding services as well as flight/hotel/transport bookings across south-west China. And from 2011, Lijiang Guides can book all your travel arrangements from your home country to China.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Keith and Lijiang Guides lived up to the excellent reviews”
Reviewed September 11, 2012

We booked several days with Keith and Lijiang Guides, based on the excellent reviews he receives here and we were not disappointed. The experience was superb! He spent a lot of time communicating with us before the trip, to make sure that the sites we visited met our needs, instead of just suggesting the standard day trips. There were four of us in the group, and two are fabric artists, so we were interested in spending time with the Naxi, seeing their fabric work and how they live. Keith set up the day in Shuhe and Baisha to make sure we had this opportunity. In addition he heard that there were some Miao tribeswomen traveling and selling work from their village, so he arranged for them to come to our hotel one evening. This type of service is rare.

We arranged our time in China (ten days) to spend half the time in Lijiang, so we could be able to get a deeper sense of one place, rather than flitting across the country to see as many of the big tourist sites as possible. Now that we have left it is clear that this was the correct decision, and that selecting Keith and his company was a big part of the reason for our satisfaction. The little things: taking the local buses instead of a car when possible, eating at the local restaurants instead of the tourist places, make such a difference. The guides who work with him (Kevin and Sophie in our case) were excellent as well. The small Muslim restaurant that Kevin took us to was one of the highlights of the stay in Lijiang; in fact we made a special return trip the day we left, because the food was so fresh and well-prepared. The fact that the owner had saved the mangosteens we left, in case we came back for them, was an added bonus.

Keith also set up a guide for us in Kunming: John, and he was also an excellent guide. We wanted to visit the Stone Forest, but not in the main tourist center, and John made it happen. It was probably pure luck, but we arrived on the day of a local festival which featured bullfighting with water buffaloes and got to eat lunch with the Sani tribesmen. Truly a day to remember!

All in all a GREAT travel experience! We couldn't give a higher recommendation.

Visited September 2012
9 Thank RogerS017
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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131 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Auckland, New Zealand
Level Contributor
37 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2012

Our family of 4 (kids aged 12 & 7 years) spent 10 days in the Yunnan region on an itinerary organised by Keith Lyons of Lijiang Guides.
Whilst we are a very well travelled and adventurous family we are normally people that would organize our own itineraries and accommodation, however we do not speak Mandarin so decided to use the services of a guiding company this time.
We were so relieved we had made that choice. With limited time we wanted to see and experience as much as possible and this would not have been possible without a good guide.
I think we even broke even with the guiding costs due to the fact that we were taken to local cafes and restaurants to eat at a fraction of the cost that 'western style' ones would have been.
I also think that having a guide allows to interact more with local people as there is a fluent speaker to translate for you as well as get you to places that are off the beaten track and discover local food and delicacies that you might otherwise not try.
Originally our trip was going to follow the route Dali - Shaxi - Lijiang - Shangri La - Tiger Leaping Gorge hike - Lijiang - Chengdu. However due to heavy rain in Tiger Leaping Gorge we detoured from Shaxi and followed the Yangtze river up to Tacheng to see the Yunnan snub nosed monkeys (highly recommended) and from there on to Shangri-la before heading back to Lijiang via Tiger Leaping Gorge.
One of the outstanding things about using Lijiang Guides was the flexibility of the itinerary. I think once the guides met us they gave us options and tailored the itinerary to include some more out of the way places as well as accommodate for weather conditions in TLG.
They also understood our desire to stay in guesthouse style accommodation and all of the places we stayed were great.
We used the services of guide Sana in Dali/Shaxi and found her to be the most lovely, gentle Naxi woman who took great delight in showing us local markets, cafes and people. We had a great connection with her and were very sorry to say goodbye when handed over to our new guide Kevin in Shaxi.
We needn't have worried as Kevin was nothing short of outstanding. On face value you would not imagine a young American guy to be your first choice to show you around the area, however he was an extremely fluent Mandarin speaker (as well as learning Tibetan). He has a great interest in the area and its local people and took us to do memorable things such as cycling to lunch with a Tibetan family he had met once when out cycling, dinner at a local cafe where we were the first foreigners to visit and a hike up to a monastery where the monk made us lunch. Our time with Kevin was nothing short of fantastic with lots of laughs and his love of the area, food and people shines through. He also cycled from the Yunnan to Southern Italy (!!!) last summer so adventure and getting off the beaten track is no problem!
We also enjoyed the wealth of knowledge that Keith Lyons has when he showed us around Lijiang and its surrounding areas. He really knows the area and people like the back of his hand.
One thing worth mentioning is to not get too hung up on having Keith as your guide (which we did and were initially disappointed when he was sick and unable to guide us) because while Keith is fantastic the other guides he employs are nothing short of brilliant and I cannot recommend Kevin or Sana enough.
We are seriously considering a longer return visit to the region and will definitely use them again.

Visited July 2012
9 Thank Kimbojimbo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
44 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“No brainer...”
Reviewed July 22, 2012

So here is my theory. Typically, I do not explore with a guide. A good guide book will usually do the trick. My reluctance is due to my (perhaps somewhat unjustified) view that they all end up taking you to places where they have commission arrangements in place.

So why now?

I have limited Mandarin speaking skills. In small towns like Lijiang, communication is vital. Most people we came across spoke little English and (no surprise) at times struggled to understand my wonderful Mandarin!

Which is why if you can afford it, you should get a guide. Takes the guess work out of planning, booking, ordering food etc. Keith was extremely helpful in helping us plan our itinerary via emails. We opted to go with Sophie (early 20s English speaking local Chinese girl). Her rate was less expensive than Keith but it all depends on what you are looking for.

Here is my advice:

- if in-depth knowledge regarding history and local culture and fluency in English is important, go with Keith.
- if you just need someone to help with communicating and give suggestions, try someone like Sophie.

We are all "young-ish" (early 30s/late 20s) so we figured that Sophie would be a better fit. She would be able to suggest for example where to go for drinks, etc.

She speaks good English but not as fluent as Keith.

All in all, we got what we wanted. Someone to sort out our tickets, give suggestions on places to eat and where to get stuff.

I highly recommend that you give Lijiang Guides a go. Pretty genuine outfit. I can't say for a fact if the places we went to did not have commission arrangements with Sophie but I like to think not. She did not particularly encouraged us to purchase stuff and the stuff we did buy, we did it on our own accord.

Visited June 2012
11 Thank kerwei
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Darwin, Australia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Very pleased with service from LijiangGuides”
Reviewed July 22, 2012

As newbies to China,we chose Keith to help us experience China, and were very happy with his professional service, enthusiasm for the place, and the special touches which really made it memorable for us.

Visited July 2012
8 Thank max j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Very professional guiding services”
Reviewed July 11, 2012

Have to confess, we are not the type of people to go with a guide, but for the very foreign China Keith proved to be far better than we ever imagined.
Helpful pre-trip with advice, recommendations and tips, we felt very safe in his care. And what care . . . from moment we arrived we could relax because everything was taken care of - flights, hotels, transport.
We started Kunming, went to Dali, Lijiang, Shangrila, Tiger Leaping Gorge plus a few other small out of the way places, include Baoshan stone village, Baishuitai white water terraces, and Shaxi old town.
Keith was thoroughly professional, a mine of information, and also saved us quite a lot of money on flights and hotels (and took us to small amazingly cheap places to eat).
Five stars.

Visited May 2012
7 Thank jeff b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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