When talking of Lijiang. it`s impossible not to mention an ancient road walked by both man and horse in the mountains of this region. bridging the Chinese hinterland and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau . Along the unpaved and often rugged road. tea. salt and sugar flowed into Tibet. while horses. cows. furs and other local products came Eastward. The ancient commercial passage. dubbed the ``Ancient Tea and Horse Road`` . first appeared during the Tang Dynasty. over a thousand years ago.
Historically. this road played a role similar to the Silk Road. which passed to the north of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. by promoting facilitating trade between neighbouring countries and promoting cultural exchange and ethnic migration.
The road stretched across more than 4.000 kilometers. from Sichuan?and Yunnan provinces to Tibet and even further into India. Just as the Silk Road. the Ancient Tea and Horse Road disappeared with the dawn of modern civilization. but both routes have played very important roles in the development of China. Different Chinese ethnic cultures. such as the Dai. Yi. Han. Bai. Naxi and Tibetans. have met. fused and developed along the historic road.
The road ran across the Hengduan Mountains and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau -- an extremely difficult natural barrier to cross. and also passed through subtropical forests. beside picturesque lakes and across turbulent rivers.
The name "tea and horse road" comes from two of the main commodities traded along this route. Chinese tea was in high demand in Tibet. On the other hand. horses were also very important for the Han people. The result was the flourishing of the tea-horse trade.#
During the World War II. when Myanmar fell into the hands of the Japanese. the Ancient Tea Horse Road was revived and became a major trade route. With the opening of the modern highways into Tibet in the 1960s. however. use of the old road declined. Some sections. however. are still used for transportation. Other sections. like this area of Lijiang. are popular destinations for tourists.