Lugu Lake, Lijiang

Why is Lugu Lake So Special?

It is the native place of “The Females’ Kingdom” composed of the Mosuo people, a branch of the Naxi nationality. “Lugu” means “falling into the water” in the Mosuo language (“hu” means lake in Chinese.) Hence the name of the lake.

Lugu Lake is surrounded by high and sublime mountains and is snowbound for over 3 months. Since the lake is rather deep, a definite regulating influence is exerted on the temperature of the lake shores. Therefore the surrounding mountains abound in forest resources which afford an exquisite beauty, much fresh air and charming scenery. At present it is one of the places in China which is least damaged by human efforts and best preserved in its natural features.

Where is Lugu Lake?

Lugu Lake is located between Yunnan’s Ninglang County and Sichuan’s Yanyuan County, with a total area of 77,700-odd mu, the space within the precincts of Yunnan being 41,400 mu. It is 2,685 m. above sea level, counting from the surface of the water, and is therefore the lake with the highest altitude in the province. Its average depth of water is 40 m., the greatest depth being 90 m. Among Yunnan’s lakes it stands only second to Fuxianhu Lake in terms of depth of water. The water of the lake is generally clean and green, with different shades of colour: now turquoise blue, now sapphire blue, now white-gray, simply beyond one’s imagination. On the lake are the “pig-trough boats” (“zhucaochuan”) specific to the place. Teeming in the lake are fine-scaled fish, carps and other species. The lake waters flow eastwards to the Yalong River and finally into the surging Jingshajiang River.

How to get to Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is located on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan, so travelers can visit Lugu Lake from Yunnan or from Sichuan. At present, there are three highway leading to Lugu Lake, one is from Xichang (Sichuan) to Lugu Lake for 258 kilometers, one is from Panzhihua to Lugu Lake for 220 kilometers and the third is from Lijiang to Lugu Lake for 230 kilometers.

Luguhu Airport, opended in October 2015, has limited flights from/to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. The airport is about 25 kilometers from Lugu Lake with airport shuttle linked each other.

1. From Lijiang:
1) Transport Service Center Bus Station to Daluoshui Village:
Departure Time: 09:00, 10:00.
Ticket Price: CNY 65
Duration: around 7 hours
2) Take tourist bus arranged by local travel agencies:
Departure Time: unfixed
Ticket Price: CNY 140 to 200 for a round-trip
Duration: around 7 hours
Notice:
1). Departure time is changeable. Usually, the bus driver informs the tourists of departure time and pick-up location in advance.  
2). Most hostels help their guests to book the bus tickets. Visitors can ask the hostel owners if they provide this service. The reservation should be made one day in advance.
3). Visitors who take tourist bus might be arranged to go shopping, visit a Mosuo family, go boating or take part in a bonfire party. Undoubtedly, they need to pay extra money for these activities.

2. From Xichang, Sichuan Province: 
1). Take regular bus from Xichang Tourist Transport Center Bus Station to Lugu LakeTown (also called Zuosuo Town).
Departure Time: 08:10, 09:30
Ticket Price: CNY 95
Duration: 7 to 8 hours
2). Take regular bus from Xichang to Yanyuan, change bus to Zuosuo Town.
 

  Departure Time Ticket Price Duration
Xichang – Yanyuan every 30 minutes from 06:00 to 15:00 CNY 32 around 4 hours
Yanyuan – Lugu Lake Town 09:30 to 12:30 CNY 30 around 3 hours

Notice:
1). Lugu lake is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Lugu Lake Town. After arriving in the town, visitors need to charter a car to reach the village where they plan to stay. The fare is around CNY 20 to 40.  
2). Bus schedules and ticket prices might be adjusted without prior notice.
3). Extra buses from Xichang to Lugu Lake Town will be provided during the high season (May to October).
4). Visitors are suggested to buy return bus tickets upon arrival in case the tickets are sold out quickly.

What are the features of Lugu Lake?

Lugu Lake, at an altitude of 2690 meters, is located on the border of Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province. There are many ethnic minority groups inhabited around the lake, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of these are the Mosuo people, a sub clan of the Naxi people, which considered as “a live fossil for researching the marital development history of Human beings” and “the last quaint Realm of Matriarchy”. Hence, Lugu Lake is called the “mother lake” by the Mosuo people and it becomes “The Kingdom of Women” and “Home of the Matriarchal Tribe”.

Traveling to Lugu Lake not only takes you step into a mysterious land to explore the matriarchal society and know its “visiting marriage”, but also feast your eyes with beautiful scenery of the Pearl of Plateau.

Main Highlighted Tourist Spots in Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is an alpine lake located in a relatively low basin of the Hengduan Mountain System which caused for crustal movement to form a plateau karst downfaulted lake. With an area of 58.8 square kilometers, Lugu Lake is in a shape of horseshoe which can be divided into Liang Lake Scenic Area and Cao Lake Scenic Area with one third in Yunnan Province and two thirds in Sichuan Province. The lake is composed of 5 independent islands, 4 peninsulas, 1 long island with sea dyke, 14 bays, 17 sandbanks and 21 bajadas.

Caohai Lake & Walking Marriage Bridge

Caohai Lake, also Grass Sea, is jade located in the southeast of Lugu Lake. It is a happy land of aquatic plant, waterfowl, fish, shrimp, cowry, spiral shell, frog…The Mosuo girls in red and white taking the boat sailing through the reeds. And you can hear they sing merrily. How pleasant to relax on the clear water and under the blue sky.

Walking Marriage Bridge is a romantic bridge across on Caohai Lake area. It is the place where Mosuo people date each other. In the daytime, young men and women express affection through dancing or singing if you are interested on someone. The young men call his beloved one “Axia” and the young women call her beloved guy “Azhu”. When the night falls, the “Azhu” come to Walking Marriage Bridge to meet their girls. Today, the used bridge is 300 meters long where you can take a walk with your darling hand in hand.

Three Magical Islands – Lige, Liwubi & Xiwae

Lige Island, Liwubi Island and Xiwae Island (Lock Island) are called the three magical islands of Lugu Lake.

Most travelers regard Lige Island as the most beautiful island which is situated at the foot of the Gemu Goddess Mountain, embraced by water on three sides. Climb up to the observation deck that travelers can enjoy panoramic view of Lige Island stretching into Lugu Lake.

Liwubi Island is located in the south central of Lugu Lake where the Mosuo dwelled on during their earliest years. There is a lama temple of Yellow sect called Liwubi Monastery here. Mosuo people will come to Liwubi Island to chant scriptures every lunar June 4th.

Xiwae Island, also called Tusi Island or Lock Island, is located in the northwest of Lugu Lake. In history, it was island with high military value for the great location and fenced walls, watchtowers to prevent the attract from bandits. In the 1920s, Joseph Lock who wrote “The Ancient Na-Khikingdom of South-West China” came to Xiwae Island and lived for a long time.

Gemu Goddess Mountain

Gemu Goddess Mountain, also called Lion Mountain, at an altitude of 3450 meters, is the holy mountain for Mosuo people. In the lunar calendar of July 25th, the local Mosuo people gather together to pay worship to this holy mountain which lasts for more than 1000 years. To get up Gemu Goddess Mountain, travelers can hike up or take cable car from Nisai Village. The highlight of Gemu Goddess Mountain is the Goddess Cave facing with Lugu Lake, offering an observation deck to have panoramic view of Lugu Lake.

Famous Mosuo Villages

There are many beautiful villages surrounded the lake. Travelers can pay a visit to Luoshui Village with many wooden houses around the lake. Here, you can enjoy the bonfire camp organized by the local Mosuo people. Going ahead to the north is Lige Village embraced by water on three sides which is a fantastic place to watch sunrise. Next to Lige Village is Nisai Village which is famous for the Sweetheart Trees. The Little Luoshui Village is the last tribe of Mosuo with only 24 households. It is the last village of Yunnan Province. It is traditional, primitive and keeps the original lifestyle of Mosuo people.

Mosuo Museum

Mosuo Museum, next to Mosuo Tusi Palace, is facing with Lugu Lake with beautiful environment. It is the only museum in China to present Mosuo people’s history, culture and folk customs. Opened in 2013, it shows the Tusi System, Lamaism, Mosuo Intangible Cultural Heritage and the cultural treasures include stoneware, bronze ware, pottery, Tusi remains and Mosuo folk objects, etc.

Zhamei Monastery

Zhamei Monastery, 13 kilometers from Lugu Lake, is the Lama monastery of Gelugpa which was built in Ming Dynasty. It is also the largest lama monastery for Mosuo people and Pumi group. The main building is composed of the main hall and two side halls in wooden structure, yellow tiles, gilded roof. In the side hall, there is a 12-meter-tall Maitreya Buddha, the clay sculpture in Tibetan style. There are six mural painting with exquisite line, bright color, vivid modeling.

About Mosuo People

The shores of the lake is inhabited by the Mosuo people who have peculiar customs and ways, up to now still retaining remnants of matriarchal society. Men and women are not united by wedlock, each living at the mother’s home respectively, yet keeping a casual cohabitation relationship. Thus the place is called “A Quaint Realm of Matriarchy”.

The male and female youth of the Mosuo people, having fostered mutual love in the long period of productive labour and social activities, begin to reciprocate “tokens”. The male party, in accordance with his economic conditions, presents the female party with gold or silver ornaments, jade bracelets, beads and silk threads, etc. The “tokens” returned by the female party are generally some personal accessories which the other party likes. Given such an affection on both sides, the seniors of the male party would bring some “loquat meat”, and some tea, sugar or wine to pay a visit to those of the female party. Once agreement is obtained from them, an axia (spouse) relationship is established for the two. However, such relationship can also be fixed without going through the above procedure.

After this the two parties continue to live in their own homes. The male “axia” labours for his home in the daytime, and goes to the female “axia” at night for cohabiting with her in her home. The family of the female “axia” looks upon the male as one of its own members. During the rush farming season, the male “axia” goes to the home of the other party to help with work. Those who have fixed their “axia” relationship call each other “azhu”, which means “dear companion”, but never husband or wife. Therefore, it is not appropriate to speak of “father”, who instead is only referred to as “maternal uncle”. The female is predominant and is therefore the leader of a family. With the Mosuos goddess worship and the remnants of the matriarchal period, the Luguhu Lake area is indeed one of the rare specimens of “The Female’s Kingdom” in the world and a ‘living fossil of the matriarchal society hard to come by”.

Recommended Visiting Route

Travelers usually spend 2 or 3 days visiting Lugu Lake area. On the first day, you may arrive in Lugu Lake at late afternoon, and you can take a canoe sailing on Lugu Lake to visit the islands (Liwubi Island, Princess House Island, Lise Island or Xiewae Island) and enjoy sunset on the boat which offers you fantastic opportunity to take some gorgeous pictures. At night, attend bonfire party to have fun with the local Mosuo people. On the second day, traveling around Lugu Lake to visit some of the featured villages and spots (Lige Village, Nisai Village, Little Luoshui Village, Dazu Village, Zuosuo Town and Caohai Lake) is the must-do activity. You can spend one day either by biking or renting a car (or use our private car) to cycle around. You’ll have the chance to pay a family visit to Mosuo’s home to experience their living traditional culture, also visit Mosuo Museum to know more history and culture about Mosuo people. On the third day, visit Zhamei Monastery when you leave Lugu Lake.

Recommended Tour with Lugu Lake
2 Days Lijiang Lugu Lake Tour and Matriarchal Society Discovery

Best Time to Visit Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is surprising beautiful place which can be visited all year round. Flowers are blossom in different season, presenting you a charming painting scenery. The best time to visit Lugu Lake is from March to November and as for photographers, come from March to May and September to October that you will shoot brilliant pictures.

Spring: it is a land of idyllic beauty – emerald lake like a clear mirror with the surrounding peach flowers and pear flowers blossom happily, mountains reflecting in water, boats sailing quietly on the tranquil lake…
Summer: it is a summer resort – pleasant and cool weather with gentle breezes blowing, mist floating in the midair after rainy, azalea in pink and white blossom in the mountain…
Autumn: it is a fairyland as beautiful as Jiuzhaigou – the surrounded mountains turn into a red and golden world with leaves changing, the glittering lake, the gorgeous sunglow, geese chirping in the sky that you can image how beautiful the scene is.
Winter: it is a world of waterfowl – different kinds of wild ducks playing on the water.

If you interested in the grandest festival of Mosuo people, come to the lunar July 25 that you can see Mosuo people dressed in traditional festival to pay a worship to Gemu Goddess Mountain.

Luguhu Lake Accommodation

In the Lugu Lake tourist area, there are more than 400 hotels and rooms ranging from inns and guesthouses to five-star hotels. The accommodations are mainly located in Caohai village, Dazshui village, Sanjia village, Lige village and Dazui village. If you have a fixed budget, it is recommended to live in local dwellings and experience local Mosuo’s customs. Here we list some of the accommodations for your reference.

Hotel Name

Rating

Add.

Tel.

Lijiang Lugu Lake Daughter States Hotel(丽江泸沽湖女儿国大酒店) 

3 star

Daluoshui Village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888 – 5881266

Lijiang Lugu Lake Nagu Hotel(丽江泸沽湖纳古大酒店)

 

3 star

Daluoshui Village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888 – 5881076

Valley Inn(宁蒗阿夏谷梦家园客栈)

3 star

Sanjia village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

15108864818

Lugu Lake Bishuiyuntian Inn(泸沽湖碧水云天客栈)

3 star

200 meters to the entrance of Sanjia village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, LIjiang

1309997618

Lige Holiday lnn(泸沽湖里格假日酒店)

3 star

Lige Bay, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, LIjiang

15708898820

Lugu Lakeside Apu Guest House(泸沽湖阿普驿馆)

3 star

In the middle of Lige village, Ninglang County, LIjiang

0888-5881366

Lugu Lake Mosuo Hotel(泸沽湖摩梭大酒店)

4 star

Daluoshui Village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

13988821439

Bai Ge Lian Diao Hotel(安驿客栈)

4 star

Crossroad of Daluoshui Village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

1810888712

Lugu Lake Biyunju Inn(泸沽湖碧云居客栈 )

4 star

Near Ninglu Road, Sanjia village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888-3011555

Qingfeng Yard(宁蒗彝族自治县泸沽湖清枫别院)

4 star

Near Ninglu Road, Sanjia village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

1886908708

Lige Half Insland, No.7 Inn(泸沽湖里格半岛7号客栈)

4 star

Near Lige Pier, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

1889599110

Traveller's house(泸沽湖旅行者之家)

4 star

Near intersection of Lige Half Island

0888-5881196

Comfort Home Hotel(良宿观景客栈)

5 star

No.5, Daluoshui New Village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

13980836403

Manidui Hotel(泸沽湖玛尼堆精品酒店 )

5 star

Daluoshui pier, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888-5881234

Ting Yuan Ge(泸沽湖庭缘阁店)

5 star

Daluoshui pier, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

18869083251

Yi cloud unadorned Hotel Lugu Lake(泸沽湖逸水云缦酒店)

5 star

Near S307, between Daluoshui village and Sanjia village

18288891866

Yonsamity Inn Lugu Lake()

5 star

No.4 Sanjia village, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

1318775972

Lu Gu Lake Qian Wang Hotel(泸沽湖里格半岛浅忘小筑  )

5 star

Lige Half Island, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888-5822400

Island Sunsine Holiday(泸沽湖里格半岛阳光会所)

5 star

Near Lige Pier, Lugu Lake, Ninglang County, Lijiang

0888-5881677,

15368608177

Useful Travel Tips

1. What to Pack

Lugu Lake is situated at 2690 meters high and ultraviolet ray is strong. The lowest temperature is 4 ℃ and the highest temperature is around 19 ℃ and the rainy months are from June to August. Sun-blocking scream and sunglasses are needed in four seasons. When visit in Summer, bring a light jacket and umbrella.

2. Accommodation

You are guaranteed to enjoy comfortable stay when visiting Lugu Lake. You can choose your accommodation from luxury hotels to budget but featured hostels. All the hotels and hostels are facing with Lugu Lake which means you can enjoy the lake scenery on the deck or in your room.

3. Food & Dining

Muosuo people offers you good meal and fine wine. You can try Preserved Pork, Roast Fish and Suluma Wine (low alcohol, taste sour and sweet with faint scent).

4.Be cautious about the “visiting marriage”

Know the rules and customs about “visiting marriage” and think again when someone shows his affection to you.