South West (China) : Lugu
A nice lake between Yunnan and Sichuan to relax one or two days. The area is protected from extensive development.
Lugu Lake 2690 metres above sea level located at the borders between Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, covers an area of 50 square kilometers with the average water depth of 45 meters and the transparency 11 meters. In the lake there are five islands, three peninsulas and a sea- wall islet. Here everything looks as if it has not been disturbed by human beings at all and still remains in its primitive state. Boating in the lake, you can feel that the surface of the water is as smooth as a mirror and the water as blue as the sky. The slow – canoe in the blue lake, the beautiful Mosuo girls in their ethnic clothes and the Mosuo folk songs will show you something of primitive simplicity and peace. Lugu Lake has the fame of a fabled abode of immortals and “Plateau Pearl" for its pure and virgin land of natural landscapes. The Mosuo people living here still keep their matriarchal society system. The "Axia visiting marriage system (actually no marriage system at all)is called the fossil for the study of the development of the human being society .The members of the big matriarchal families live in harmony, love dearly and care for one an other. The Axia couples live in their own mothers' houses without a real family life are less burdened economically. They free themselves from such worries as daily housework, quarrels and the obligation of a husband-and-wife relationship. Here, a colorful ethnic custom painting, is an ideal place for traveling, holidays, recuperation and scientific research. Welcome to the beautiful, mysterious and romantic "Oriental Women-governed kingdom."
¥100 per head when entering the lake area. Some entrances only cost 80. Students pay half price (most likely any English photo-ID will work). Fee gets you a ticket in, a little fake passport with info about the area in both Chinese and English, and a disc.
There are no public buses, so the only option is to take incredibly expensive taxis or three-wheeled cars (Chinese tuktuks). Other than that, walking and biking are very pleasant ways to get around the lake.
In Luoshui electric scooters are for rent at Y 100 to ride round the lake.
Relax, eat well and talk with the locals and the Chinese tourists.
A tour in the traditional boats.
Cable car to the top of the most prominent mountain on the north side. There is a cave to visit and some mountain monkeys to see.
Hiking in the surrounding mountains.
A bike ride around the lake will take around 6 hours. Most hotels offer bike rentals, 10Y a day for a one-speed, more for multi-speed bike. The lake is hilly, so spring for the better bike.
Chinese/Tibetan/western food in many different places.
A specialty here is the local BBQ.
There are no Western-style bars here. Do not expect much of a night life. Restaurants all have beer and baijiu, the standard Chinese drinks, and some also have local liquors. Because Lugu is fairly remote, expect prices to be higher than elsewhere in China.
Many places all around the lake. The main town on the Yunnan side is Luoshui, which is beautifully located on the lake's shore. In high season it can get crowded, but in low season it's serene and highly enjoyable. Some foreigners prefer to stay in Lige, which is a small village on the north side of the lake with a great view on the lake.
In Luoshui there are plenty of wonderful hotels in the 40-70Y price range: expect a clean double room with an attached bathroom, hot water, electric blanket, wi-fi and a balcony or view to the lake. In high-season you might need to haggle the price. There is an expensive "offical" youth hostel, but it's cheaper and better to ask around in other hotels for a room. Bargaining is the norm in low season, but notice that a small deposit is usually required.
Not authorized in the lake area, but you can.
To Lijiang, 230km, about 7 hours by bus or van. There are three buses a day. The fare is about ¥70-90. There are also buses to Xichang in Sichuan. Despite its proximity to Xianggelila, you cannot get a bus there and your only option is to go back to Lijiang and get a bus from there.
You can catch the bus from Lige or Luoshui, the boat to Luoshui is ¥80 from Luowa Pier (where the Wetlands meet the Lake), to Lige a minivan is ¥120/Van or a 7 hour 25km hike.