Lugu Lake

2690 meters above sea level, Lugu Lake is a gem located at the mountainous area on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan Province. About 240 km northeast of Lijiang, the lake occupies an area of 50 square kilometers with the average water depth of 45 meters. The lake is sparklingly clear, dotted with 5 islands, as the highest lake in Yunnan province with an altitude of 2,685m.

In the Mosuo language, "Lu" means mountain valley, and "gu" means inside, meaning the lake in the mountain valley. Lugu Lake Scenic Area, with its typical plateau lake natural scenery and unique Mosuo matriarchal ethnic culture, has formed a distinctive natural landscape and humanistic landscape. Due to its beauty, Lugu Lake is regarded as the "Mother Lake" by the local Mosuo people, and “fairy land” by lots of outsiders.

Mosuo people live around the lake, which is a small tribe that is considered a sub clan of Naxi people. They are a matriarchal society and seek to maintain the heritage. It seems to be the last and only matriarchal society in the world. Taking a large dugout canoe at the smooth lake rowed by a Mosuo girl is very interesting; she will sing a beautiful folk song to the visitors. The lake area is an absolutely an undisturbed from the bustling outside world.

Lugu Lake Facts

Chinese Name: 泸沽湖

Location: The junction of Yanyuan County in Sichuan and Ninglang County in Yunnan, China. 四川盐源县和云南宁蒗县交界处

How far from Lijiang: 240 km.

Entry Ticket price: RMB70.

Altitude: 2,685m.

When is the better time for visiting Lugu Lake? March, April, May, September, October, and November.

Time needed for touring Lugu Lake: 2-5 days.

Main minority Nationalities: Mosuo, Yi, Naxi, Zang.

What to experience in Lugu Lake Scenic Area?

1. Alpine Lake Scenery

1) Lugu Lake is the third deepest freshwater lake in China. The lake is oriented from northwest to southeast. It is 9.5 kilometers long from north to south, 5.2 kilometers wide from east to west, and its shoreline is about 44 kilometers long. The Lugu Senic Area includes 5 independent islands, 3 peninsulas, one long island, and 14 bays, among which the Heiwawu(Rock Island), Lige and Liwubi Islands are most beautiful and popular.

2) Caohai located on the east side of Lugu Lake, is one of the must-see attractions in Lugu Lake. Due to long-term siltation and shallow lake water in this area, dense reeds grow. It is a popular spot for sightseeing and photography by Lugu Lake. The flourishing plants over the lake with its clear water, and blue sky, surrounding mountains, attract tourists a lot. The Caohai Bridge across the water was once the bridge that Mosuo boys had to go through when they got married, so it is also called "Marriage Bridge". Visitors are able to walk along the plank road over the Caohai and stroll among the green reeds at close distance, or take a local style boat.

3) Gemu Goddess Mountain is 3754.7 meters above sea level and is the highest mountain around Lugu Lake. There are naturally formed female figure stalactites in the cave on the top of the mountain, so in Mosuo myths and legends, this mountain is the incarnation of the goddess Gemu. The cable car has now been opened to reach the Goddess Cave on the hillside. You can also enjoy the panoramic view of Lugu Lake by taking the cable car. During the Zhuanshan Festival, the Mosuo people will go to the Gemu Goddess Mountain to worship the goddess. From the top of the mountain to the foot, the worship teams form a long colorful line. Zhuanshan Festival is on lunar Jul 25th.

2. The Mosuo People and their unique Mosuo marriage culture

The Mosuo people live on the shores of Lugu Lake at the junction of Sichuan and Yunnan. They have a population of about 50,000. Mosuo people have their own national language but no written character. Strictly speaking, Mosuo is a branch of the Naxi ethnic group. 

Mosuo people are known for its matriarchal society and marriage custom. Here women and men usually do not get married, unless the family needs a female successor or male labor. Young women and men express their feelings to each other through singing and dancing. After they have an emotional foundation, they both agree to "walking marriage". Then the man can only sneak into the woman's room after nightfall, and leave before dawn. This kind of marriage relies only on emotions and has nothing to do with all external conditions such as the economy. The children born in walking marriage are brought up by the woman's family, and the man does not take the responsibility of raising children, but the father and children admit their parent-child relationship. Once breaking up, men and women who are married are still free to re-marry others. Family house and property is inherited by women.

3. Boating on the Lugu Lake

In the Lugu Lake scenic area, you can take a wood boat cruise on the Lugu Lake and enjoy the breathtaking view. Most boats are collectively owned by the local Mosuo village, operated in a unified manner, and the price is uniform. All income is collectively distributed by the Mosuo village. The price depends on the distance, ranging from 30-200 yuan/person. Share a boat with other tourists or charter a boat to go further of the lake and visit one or two islands would be an ideal way to relax and enjoy the view.

4. Mosuo villages around the Lugu Lake

In Daluoshui Village, along the lakeshore are wooden houses of Mosuo people, most of which are now converted into hotels that can provide accommodation. In the evening, the local Mosuo people wear traditional costumes and perform singing and dancing. You can also go to a tent set up by the lake to have a barbecue. The wooden houses along the path are beautiful and distinctive. There are bars, department stores and specialty shops there.

Lige Village, located on the north side of Lugu Lake is surrounded by water on three sides, forming a Lige Bay with Lige Peninsula as its core area. The village is located at the foot of Gemu Goddess Mountain. The houses are distributed on the lake bay and the peninsula. The unique location makes Lige have the different lakes and mountains scenery.

Nisai Village, about three kilometers away from Lige Village, is famous for its love trees. Love trees born to be pairs which attract lovers to come and make wishes. Many tourists choose to hike to Nisai Village, which is a Mosuo Village with only a dozen households.

How to get to the Lugu Lake?

From Lijiang: Take public bus from Lijiang Bus Station to Luoshui village in Lugu Lake Scenic Area. The ticket is RMB70 per person. This kind of direct bus to Lugu Lake is very limited in quantity, so early booking is needed. Or you can take bus from Lijiang to Ninglang County firstly and then continue a transfer to Lugu Lake. Many buses are available between Lijiang/Ninglang and Ninglang /Lugu Lake.

Private car from Easy Tour China would be highly suggested, for maximum flexibility.

From Kunming: There are domestic flights between Kunming airport and Lugu Lake airport. Flights would be the easiest way to get into the place.

Travel Tips

1. Be aware of the high altitude.

2. Wear warmly and wear sunglasses.

3. Wear life jacket when taking a cruise on Lugu Lake.

4. Respect the local custom and don’t offend local minorities.

5. While riding bicycle to visit the sites around Lugu Lake, be care of the cars because there’s no individual space for bicycles and pedestrians.

6. A tour guide is highly recommended.

More Attractions in Lijiang

  • Dry Sea Meadow
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • The First Bend of Yangtze River
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain