A nice lake between Yunnan and Sichuan to relax one or two days. The area is protected from extensive development.
It is 2690 m above sea level at the borders between Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. It covers an area of 50 km² with the average water depth of 45 m and the transparency 11 m. In the lake there are five islands, three peninsulas and a sea-wall islet. Here everything looks as if it has not been disturbed by human beings at all and still remains in its primitive state. Boating in the lake, you can feel that the surface of the water is as smooth as a mirror and the water as blue as the sky. The slow – canoe in the blue lake, the beautiful Mosuo girls in their ethnic clothes and the Mosuo folk songs will show you something of primitive simplicity and peace. Lugu Lake has the fame of a fabled abode of immortals and “Plateau Pearl" for its pure and virgin land of natural landscapes.
The Mosuo people living here keep their matriarchal society system. The "Axia visiting marriage" system (actually no marriage system at all) is called the fossil for the study of the development of the human being society. The members of the big matriarchal families live in harmony, love dearly and care for one another. The Axia couples live in their own mothers' houses without a real family life are less burdened economically. They free themselves from such worries as daily housework, quarrels and the obligation of a husband-and-wife relationship. Here, a colorful ethnic custom painting, is an ideal place for travelling, holidays, recuperation and scientific research. Welcome to the beautiful, mysterious and romantic "Oriental Women-governed kingdom."
Mini vans or fleet buses from Lijiang, Yunnan or Xichang, south Sichuan. The road from Lijiang was, apart from some very short pieces, completely paved at the end of 2017, which has reduced travel time by minibus from Lijiang to some 4-5 hours, where it used to be a grueling 8 hour trip over mostly unpaved mountain road. After the 4-5 hour trip, you will be surrounded by mountains and water.
Fees and permits
¥100 per head when entering the lake area. Students pay half price (most likely any English photo-ID will work).
There is only one bank/ATM around the lake and it's a small rural bank, so your MasterCard/Visa international ATM card won't work. Will only work with Chinese Unionpay cards. If you don't have money in a Chinese bank account, then make sure you bring enough cash to cover the number of days you are going to stay here.
You can start out by walking around, but you won't get very far before you get tired. You can rent bicycles to go around the lake, it would take you 8 hours. You can rent electric and motor scooters to loop around the lake in about 3 hours.
- Photo with the resident eagle (near the canoes). They have a captive eagle and you can have photos with it for a fee. Once you've agreed to the fee, the handler blows a whistle that lets the bird know he needs to stand on your arm and spread his wings for a photo op with the mountains and lake in the background. They will take several photos and you can choose the ones you like. ¥20 for each laminated photo. Different photo sizes are available. ¥20.
- Canoe ride to the Island in the middle of the lake. The canoes are by the pier. Depending on the time of day, you may be able to negotiate the price with them. They wait until the canoe is full of passengers then they paddle you out to the island for 20 minutes and paddle you back. ¥50.
- Gemu Mountain Cable Car. A quick visit to the top of the most prominent peak in the area via cable car with spectacular views. There is a cave near the top and some mountain monkeys to see.
- Hiking in the surrounding mountains.
- Rent a bicycle or electric/motor scooter. A popular activity here is to bike around the 70-km lake. Half of the road around the lake (Yunnan side) isn't paved and in not so good shape for bikes. ¥20-150.
Chinese, Tibetan, and western food is available in many different places.
- Mosuo Bar (It's by the lake where the canoe's are.). close midnight, sometimes later. It's a small place by the lake. If you go early enough there's live performance by the resident guitarist and singer. There are not many bars by the lake, maybe a handful. This is one of them. There's a small bar counter and tables. The staff are friendly and would sometimes drink with you if they are not busy. ¥10 a beer.
Many places all around the lake. The main town on the Yunnan side is Luoshui, which is beautifully located on the lake's shore. In high season it can get crowded, but in low season it's serene and highly enjoyable. Some foreigners prefer to stay in Lige, which is a small village on the north side of the lake with a great view on the lake.
In Luoshui there are plenty of wonderful hotels in the ¥40-70 price range: expect a clean double room with an attached bathroom, hot water, electric blanket, wi-fi and a balcony or view to the lake. There is an expensive official youth hostel, but it's cheaper and better to ask around in other hotels for a room. Bargaining is the norm in low season, but notice that a small deposit is usually required.
- Padma Hotel, Lige, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. A very nice hotel in a quieter section of Lige Village. Next to the water, with views in some of the rooms. The owners do not speak much English, but they are hospitable and the food is good and reasonably priced. The young woman who does most of the interaction with customers goes by the nickname Huiui. There is free breakfast and they give you good green tea for free if you sit in the lobby for a few minutes. Free wireless, but it is slow like the rest of the town. ¥220.
Not authorized in the lake area, but you can.
Around the lake you can find local Mosuo children selling local items and the local adults selling food. Be incredibly wary of them - the children, while dirty and ragged looking, have been known to pickpocket. The adults selling food can also be incredibly pushy and aggressive.
To Lijiang, 230 km, 4-5 hours by bus or van. To get to lijiang, the same route that you came here. Except in the opposite direction. ¥100 per person. The vans and buses leave around 09:00. If you are driving, do not attempt to leave at night! There is road construction and the road is only open during certain hours. They won't let you through and you would have to turn back!
You can catch the bus from Lige or Luoshui, the boat to Luoshui is ¥80 from Luowa Pier (where the Wetlands meet the Lake), to Lige a minivan is ¥120/van or a 7-hour, 25-km hike.