Lugu Lake is a peaceful, beautiful destination that is yet to be overrun by tourists. It spans between the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, about 200 km (124 mi) from Lijiang city, and 261 km (162 miles) from Xichang city, China.
The local population is mainly comprised of ethnic minority groups such as the Mosuo people, who are considered “the last matriarchal society in the world.” The Mosuo refer to Lugu as the “mother lake,” which obviously shows it is very precious to them. They have been living around the lake in isolation for generations, clinging on to their ancient customs and traditions that mesmerize visitors.
Top Ten Lugu Lake Points Of Interest
Here is our list of the ten most common tourist attractions around the Lugu Lake region, in no particular order.
Located in the southeast region of Lugu Lake is a 300-metre long bridge called “Marriage Bridge.” This area is where the Mosuo men and women go on dates. During the day, they express affection for one another through songs and dance. The man calls his lover “Axia” and the woman refers to her guy as “Azhu.” After the sun sets, the Azhu meets his Axia at the bridge and he is invited to her Huafang for a private time.
The bridge is about 80 centimetres above the muddy water and is entirely made of wood. It serves an important role in the courtship of the Mosuo people and tourists love to walk through it as well.
The Mosuo people are very religious – they are divided into Daba and Tibetan Buddhism. However, at the beginning of every month of July and the mid-winter month of the lunar calendar, members from every religion meet at the temple to worship their gods and participate in the mysterious “Ba’e” and “Ge’r” Lama dance.
The Lige Peninsula is at the north end of Lugu Lake, surrounded by water on three sides. There is also a two-metre wide road from Lige village to the Peninsula. If you’re looking for good food or somewhere to spend the night, this is the place to be. There are hotels with cozy rooms that offer a view of the lake. Additionally, you can enjoy watching the mist above the lake in the morning from the comfort of your room.
Adjacent to the Goddess Mountain, the Goddess Gulf is one of the most beautiful gulfs around Lugu Lake. Ancient Mosuo legends have it that there was a couple by the names of Gemu and Houlong, whose love story was affected by so much jealousy that they got separated and were turned into two mountains so they never meet.
The two form the present Gemu Mountain and Holy Houlong Mountains. Because Gemu’s affection couldn’t allow her to forget her lover, she turned her tears into flowing water that gently touches and strokes Houlong’s scar.
Lovers’ Branch and Tree
And the story continues! After their separation, Gemu and Houlong were given a chance to meet only once, on the 15th day of July, Lunar calendar. At the place where they saw each other, two scenic trees grow, and they are intertwined. It is believed that you can still hear the word’s affection between the two lovebirds if you sit under these trees. Talk of being romantic!
Gemu Goddess Mountain
At an altitude of 3,754 meters, the holy Gemu Mountain is the highest around Lugu Lake. You can get a perfect panoramic view of the lake from here. The locals host a ceremony where they walk around the mountain on the 25th day of July (lunar calendar). On that day, they dress in festival costumes and worship.
The Three Magical Islands of Lige, Xiwae, and Liwubi
The lake has at least five islands, but it is these three that are lucky enough to be described as magical. Lige Island, which is situated at the foot of the Gemu Goddess Mountain, is the most famous among tourists. Its observation deck offers a chance to experience a breathtaking panoramic view of the island stretching into Lugu Lake.
Xiwae Island is also referred to as Tusi or Lock Island. It is situated towards the northwest region of Lugu Lake. In the old days, it had great military advantages because of its location, walls, and watchtowers.
On the other hand, Liwubi Island is at the south-central of the lake. It is where the locals lived long, long ago.
Mosuo Museum is located next to Mosuo Tusi Palace, facing Lugu Lake. It is the only one in China that tells the Mosuo history. It displays the Tusi System, Mosuo Heritage, Lamaism, and cultural valuables that include: stoneware, bronze ware, Mosuo folk objects, pottery, and Tusi remains, to name but a few.
Towards the southeast of Lugu Lake is the part referred to as Caohai Lake or Grass Sea because of the thriving aquatic plants. Among other unique features here are fish, shrimp, waterfall, cowry, and spiral shells. You can always hear the happy Mosuo girls in white and red attire singing merrily as they sail through the reeds. You’ll love the calming effect these clear waters under the blue sky conjure up.
The 14 beautiful villages surrounding Lugu Lake are very famous among tourists. The most popular are the Luoshui, Lige, Nisai and the Little Luoshui Villages. The inhabitants here stick to the original lifestyles of the Mosuo people. You can make arrangements to visit one of their homes for a chance to see the house, interact with the family, and even dine with them. They are so welcoming!
Tips for Travelling to Lugu
- As always, be sure to respect the traditional culture and customs of the locals.
- The temperature of the region is quite low even in summer, so you might want to avoid sticking around for long.
- Tickets cost about 80 CPY.
- Avoid catching the ducks or collecting plants and animals. Also, we wouldn’t advise you to swim in the lake because the landscape is a bit complex.
- In case you ever need medical attention, the nearest clinics are in Yongning, about 17 km (11 mi) from Lige Island. If it ever comes to that, the owners of the lodges will help you out.
- As you may have already guessed, there are no ATMs in the villages. You might want to bring enough cash. ATMs can be only found in Lugu Lake county and Doluoshui village.
- Security is very good. The local police can be reached by phone via 0888-5881110.