Lugu Lake, China

Monday, October 27, 2014

J and I ventured to Lugu Lake from Lijiang to visit my dear friend K. I had heard of Lugu Lake several times and easily convinced J that we must endure the long bus ride to enjoy those views. 

Wow was the bus ride to Lugu Lake incredibly long and terrible. It was meant to be about 6 hours but some how turned into a 10 hour trip. I've been on many long bus rides during my China days (a 15 hour ride is my record), but this was by far the worse. I had woken up that morning with some kind of stomach flu but we decided that we'd make the trip anyways. Lets just say that feeling ill plus all of the car-sick Chinese tourists did not make for a nice ride. Because we were traveling during rainy season we were also required to switch buses several times due to bad roads. It was so confusing, in fact, that I may or may not have dusted off my favorite Chinese swear.

The ride was completely worth it though! Lugu Lake was incredibly beautiful. K acted as our extraordinary tour guide for the duration of our trip. She told us about the Mosuo people, who are a small ethnic group who live primarily in areas surrounding Lugu Lake (both in Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces). The Mosuo culture is matriarchal and you will see grandmothers (who are the leaders of the village) spinning their hand-held prayer wheels while strolling around villages. The Mosuo believe the waters of Lugu Lake are sacred and that Lion Mountain is the home to the Gemu Goddess (she her in a painting below). One of the most well known aspects of Mosuo culture is the walking marriage. Married partners do not live together; the man will visit the woman's home at night and any children born out of the relationship will live with the mother and her family.

To read more about the Mosuo people and my motor biking trip around Lugu Lake check out my guest post on Travelettes. To read more about where to stay around Lugu Lake visit this post.

The Details: Lugu Lake is located on the borders shared between Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province. It can only be reached by bus or car and during the rainy season the roads frequently become washed out. You can reach Lugu Lake from Lijiang in Yunnan Province or from Chengdu the capital of Sichuan Province. The trip takes about the same amount of time coming from either place. There are several villages that have been built up for tourism around the lake and you can easily find accommodations in any of them. You must pay a tourism fee to enter the Lugu Lake area.

Lige Village in Lugu Lake

Prayer wheels

Lugu Lake with clouds covering the mountains
 Tall sunflowers around Lugu lakePrayer flags around Lugu Lake

Goats crossing the road

Lugu Lake with a Mosuo kayak

The Gemu Goddess
The Gemu Goddess

A Buddhist Temple in Lugu Lake
 Buddhist Temple

Broken boats filled with water on lugu Lake
 A boat in Lugu lake

A stone stuppa
 Mosuo boats in Lugu Lake
A double rainbow at Lugu Lake

A large stone stuppa

An illustrated map of Lugu Lake
This is as good as I could get with the maps - Sorry guys!

A map of Lugu Lake in Mandarin
Map option 2: Only in Mandarin


Do you like to learn about cultures when you travel? What is the longest bus ride you've been on?


  1. The bus ride didn't sound the most enjoyable (especially having to change buses!) but at least it was worth it! The longest bus ride I have ever done is 17... it was a biggie haha

    1. Wow 17 hours! From where to where? I hope there were some breaks at least. It was stunning there - completely worth the ride.

  2. That lake IS incredibly stunning. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. I will be honest though, 10 hours on a bus with a stomach flue sounds like a nightmare! how many days did you end up staying there?

    1. We stayed there for 2 full days and then had 2 full travel days. I would go back in a heartbeat.

  3. Wow, that looks lovely. Glad that awful bus ride was worth it! The Masuo culture sounds so interesting, especially that bit about walking marriages!

    1. It is a really interesting culture and we were lucky to have my friend K take us about. She is an anthropologist working with the Mosuo.