Lugu Lake – Part II

Where is Lugu Lake

This is for everyone who are curious about the place but doesn’t have too much basic geography knowledge about China. The most beautiful part of China I have experienced is the south-west. There are three provinces: Sichuan, Yunan and Tibet. In October, 2002, I started from Chengdu and visited Daocheng – that was about three-day car’s ride. This time, the trip is much easier. I took flight from Shanghai to Kunming, the capital of Yunan Province, and transit to Lijiang. Lijiang is the ancient small village with rich culture. What impressed me so much is, they have an airport! Even some big cities in China does not have one.

Lugu Lake is about 240 km away from Lijiang. We took bus from Lijiang to Lugu. It cost 5 hours and 120 RMB (15 USD) per person. We started at 9:00 and arrived around 15:00. Wow. The road was the typical winding road on the mountains. It is also dangerous – the cars can easily fall into the valley. :-) The Lugu Lake is about 2685 meters above the sea level….


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang

The Mysterious Lake

The most interesting part of the lake is, the people in the villages are still living in the Maternal families. It means, they do not marry. Visiting marriage represents the main marriage system of Lugu Lake’s Mosuo people. There are only mothers. There is no concept of father. It should be the last matriarchal culture in the world.

The Hotel I Stayed

Now, Lugu lake is not only a place of Lugu local people. Many people settled down there. The owner of the hotel I stayed is among them. I spent some time on the architecture of the wooden house I stayed and finally believed they can move the entire house to a new place within three days. The wooden house is very simple. There is no simple nail throughout the house. It is simply made up of a lot of building blocks, that can be put one upon the other. The owner shared the story with us: He went to a old Mosuo village and fell in love with this house – a house with 100 years of history. He gave the owner about 10,000 RMB and bought the house. He gave the workers 15 days to move the house to a new place. The local workers laughed loudly and said 15 days are too much. Finally, they spent one day marking the woods in the house and tore it down. They spent another 2 days building it up. :-) Amazing story.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The cost per person per night is 30 RMB. We know that is raised price due to the May holiday. I assume the price should be much lower in normal days.

7 thoughts on “Lugu Lake – Part II

  1. Wang Jianshuo, you should try visit the Zamei temple in nearby Yongning. It is 20km from Lugu Lake and a very beautiful place. I have posted some pictures of it on my blog “In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock” ( but it may not be accesible from China unless you use anonymizer.

    Lugu Lake is also a great place but I think some of the hotel developments are spoiling the tranquil environment. What do you think?


  2. I didn’t spend too much time in Lugu Lake area. Thanks for sharing the temple place with me.

    Lugu lake is a very weak place. It can be very easily poluted. I worried a lot too. The hotels are nice though. They didn’t produce much waste but tourists do.

  3. i was in lugu lake during march this year, and i heard that all houses in Lige Village had to move back 80 meters (or something like this) from the lake…is this turth?

  4. and it was only 100RMBs(two ways)/60RMBs(one way) per person to take those private mini buses from lijiang to lugu lake. i guess this is the “May Holiday” doing its magic again :)

  5. on, yes. It is true. All the houses along the lake will be moved back for 80 meters after the may holiday. The 100 year old house will be teared down again and rebuilt very soon. The bus driver explained the reason they ask for a raise in price – all the drivers typically enjoy free hotel room at normal times, but in May holiday, they have to pay for all kinds of things, including room, meal…

  6. Hello there,

    First of all, nice weblog! I also went to Lugu Lake in summer 2004. Later I found a book about the people there. It is an ethnography and I had to read it because I am a student in cultural anthropology. The book explains a lot about the kinship system you talk about in this article. Maybe you will like it. The book is written by Cai Hua and the title is: A Society without Fathers and Husbands: The Na of China. Enjoy it!

    Byebye, Noor

  7. Hey JS, whats up?

    I’m headed to Lugu lake in Oct 08 (end) and have to ask you if there are many hotels just like the one that you stayed in? I love your pics and hope to stay in a rustic (and cheap) inn like yours.

    Also, are there any buses to Zhongdian from Lugu lake?



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