Here is what you need to know about the highlight tourist attraction of Lugu Lake. Lugu Lake locates at the border between Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. It is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Lijiang city, while about 800 km from Chengdu city. Lugu Lake is an alpine lake renowned for its stunning scenery and unique minority of Mosuo people’s culture.
Lugu is the “mother lake” of the local Mosuo people. The Mosuo minority people have been living relatively isolated around the lake and have maintained their ancient and unique traditions and customs for generations.
Brief Info about Lugu Lake
- Chinese: 泸沽湖 Lúgū Hú Altitude: 2,685 meters (8,809 feet)
- Area: about 49.5 square kilometers
- Popular activities: enjoy a campfire party, take a boat ride on the lake, visit a Mosuo family;
- Suitable for any travelers especially for who are interested in minority culture;
- Time needed: one or two days
- The Highlights of Lugu Lake: Stunning Idyllic Scenery
About Lugu Lake
Dotted with islets and surrounded by high mountains, Lugu Lake is an idyllic beauty spot not yet overrun by tourists. The lake water is crystal clear and drinkable. The surroundings are peaceful and beautiful. You can easily relax and enjoy the quiet paradise. It is around 60 km to drive around the Lake, and on the way, there are car parking places where you can stop and enjoy the view to the beautiful lake. You may ride horse, or take the wooden boat to the center island. The local guide will row the boat and be happy to share their life stories.
Unique Mosuo Culture
The lake area is home to different minority groups, such as the Yi, Hui (Chinese Muslims), Tibetan, and Mosuo (a subgroup of the Naxi). While the most populous in the area are the Mosuo people because of their unique matriarchal society and “walking marriage”.
Known as the “Kingdom of Women”, Mosuo society is ruled by women. Mosuo women wield power in the families and control household finances. They take care of the crops, the house and children. Mosuo men take care of the livestock. Houses and property are passed down through the women.
Perhaps the strangest feature of Mosuo society is their mating habits, referred to as “walking marriage”.
Most couples do not actually marry. They live instead under the roof of their extended families during the day; and at night the men walk to the houses of the women (if given permission) and return to their own homes in the morning. Women may have multiple partners over the course of their lives.
Children are raised by their mother, and the mother’s brothers take on the responsibility of father. The children often don’t know who their real father is.
Top Things to Do
The best-known villages around Lugu Lake are Luoshui and Lige. Both are now well endowed with tourist facilities. Apart from guesthouses, restaurants and cafés, however, you can still experience many interesting things in the villages.
- Welcome to visit Lugu Lake with our wooden cannoeGo canoeing on Lugu Lake Go canoeing on Lugu Lake is a good choice to feel the beauty of the lake.
Take Part in a Campfire Party
In Luoshui and Lige, you may have a chance to take part in a campfire party convened by local villagers. You pay about 30 yuan to join in. Even if it’s not as authentic as it once was, it is still a good way to relate to local people and to experience their way of life.
- Take a Boat Ride on the Lake On the lake there are five islands, three peninsulas and a sea-wall islet. Boating is a good way of exploring the lake. Local boats are made from thick logs and are known as zhu cao chuan or “pig trough boats”.
- You can charter a boat to see the beautiful lake scenery and enjoy a leisurely morning or afternoon.
- Pay a Home Visit to a Mosuo Family If you want to have close contact with local Mosuo people, we can arrange a home visit. You can see their house, talk with the family, and even eat with them. It is a great way to get to know about their daily lives and learn about local folk culture.
The Best Time to Visit Lugu Lake
It is accessible all year around. While the best time to visit Lugu Lake is when the weather is sunny and mild, from April to May, or from September to October. However please try avoid any Chinese peak holiday such as Dragon boat festival, May day holiday and National Day Holiday.
The rainy season extends from June to August; you’d better avoid this period, as most recommended activities are outdoors.
The History of the Mosuo People
It is said that the ancestors of the Mosuo were a nomadic people who lived in the Tibetan plateau. They arrived in the area around Lijiang around 3 AD and then divided into three branches.
Those who remained around Lijiang and the Tiger Leaping Gorge area are known as the Nakhi or Naxi; those who moved to the Shaxi and Dali valleys are known as the Bai; and those who moved to the Lugu Lake area are called the Mosuo.
The people around the high altitude Lugu Lake region were more isolated and retained more of their traditional customs and religion.
Travel Essentials for Planning a Tour of Lugu Lake
- From Lijiang: Most people travel to Lugu Lake from Lijiang by car. The ride takes 6–8 hours; usually leaving Lijiang around 7 am and arriving at the lake around 2 pm.
- From Kunming: There is a domestic airport built in Ninglang, a county town near Lugu Lake. So a one hour direct flight from Kunming will get you there.
- From Chengdu to Lugu Lake, you can have one night stop at Xichang city in between.
- 1. You may initially experience altitude sickness, as the lake and the surrounding region are at an altitude of about 2,600 meters (8,530 feet). However for most people, this is not a problem at all.
- 2. Be sure to check out the weather and plan to make your trip when it’s less likely to rain.
- 3. Bring necessary RMB cash, for it’s not easy to find an ATM and most local hotels and restaurants don’t accept credit cards.
- 4. Read further about Lijiang day tours in Yunnan province.