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Introduction & Highlights

Travel to the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, around 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Lijiang City, and you’ll discover the alpine Lugu Lake. A natural phenomenon renowned for its stunning scenery and unique Mosuo culture.

The lake is like a beautiful pearl shining among the hills of the northwest plateau in Yunnan. Its formation is thought to have occurred in a geological fault belonging to the geological age of the Late Cenozoic. Located at an elevation of 2,685 metres (8,809 ft), it’s the highest lake in Yunnan Province.

The shape of the lake resembles a horse’s hoof: long from north to south, and narrower from east to west.

The vista of the lake changes constantly throughout the day. The morning mist, intertwined with the light of the rising sun, gives it a mysterious orange glow.

When the sun casts its rays over the mountains, they throw their shadows onto the water, creating an emerald-colour effect on the lake.

The lake is calm and dark green in the evening when the sun glides down from the sky, and is peaceful at night, when gentle winds sweep across the water, creating magical ripples.

Lugu is known fondly as "mother lake" by the local Mosuo people. The Mosuo are one of China's unusual ethnic groups. They've sometimes been described as the last matriarchal society in the world. The Mosuo people have been living relatively isolated lives around the lake for generations, and they have retained their ancient traditions and customs.

Lugu Lake boasts five independent islands, three peninsulas, one long island with a land bridge, 14 bays, and 17 sandbanks. Numerous Mosuo villages are scattered around the lake.

Gemu Goddess Mountain

At 3,754 metres (12,316 feet) above sea level, Gemu Goddess Mountain is the highest peak around Lugu Lake. The Mosuo people regard this mountain as an incarnation of the Goddess Gemu.

Every year on the 25th of the 6th lunar month (in July/August), they go there to worship the Goddess Gemu by consecrating food, burning incense, and to pray for a good harvest, blessings, and happiness.

Stunning Islands-Lige Island

Lige Island is surrounded by water on three sides and situated at the foot of Gemu Goddess Mountain. The sunrise there is amazing.

Caohai (Seagrass)

Caohai is a lake area filled with thick reeds. Covering an area of 10 square kilometres (4 square miles), it is like a piece of jade inlaid in the east of Lugu Lake.

Mosuo girls paddle their boats through the reeds to the tune of melodious Mosuo songs.

There is a romantic bridge across Caohai Lake named Walking Marriage Bridge. A  place where Mosuo people court and date each other.  

Dotted with islets and surrounded by high mountains, Lugu Lake is an idyllic beauty spot free from crowds of tourists. The water is clear and clean and the surroundings are peaceful and beautiful. You can just relax and slow down here.


Ninglu Hwy, Ninglang Yi Autonomous County, Lijiang, Yunnan, China


Travel Tips
  1. Transportion: Hire a car from Lijiang to Lugu Lake, the ride takes 6–8 hours; or take flight from Kunming to Ninglang, and transfer to Lugu Lake by car. Ninglang Luguhu Airport is a 40-minute journey south of Lugu Lake (32 km/20 miles) by car.
  2. Experience: Take part in a campfire party; take a Boat Ride on the Lake; photography.
  3. The best-known villages around Lugu Lake are Luoshui and Lige. Both have a selection of tourist facilities. Alongside guesthouses, restaurants and cafés, you can still experience many interesting ethnic features in the villages.