The old town of Lijiang differs from other ancient Chinese cities in architecture, history and the culture of its traditional residents the Naxi people.
One third of the town was destroyed by an earthquake in February 1996.
Lijiang old town (including Dayan, Baisha and Shuhe) was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in December 4, 1997. Since then, the local government has taken more responsibility for the development and protection of the old city. Lijiang's tourism also boomed, and travellers from around the world flooded in; although many locals fear that due to much of the development, the old town of Lijiang will lose its appeal.
Recently, the government has started to develop additional "old city" sections adjacent to the site of the original old city. This is to accomodate the large number of tourists, particularly Han Chinese, who walk the cobblestone streets (cars are not allowed in the old city) typically as part of package tours. Evenings in the old city can be particularly rowdy, not least due to the many outdoor bars, where boisterous groups of tourists try to "out sing" other groups.
Source : www.wikipedia.org