Lashihai Lake situates 10 kilometers west of Lijiang in Yunnan Province. Lashi Lake is the largest lake in Lijiang, covering for 5,330 hectares. With the altitude of 2,437 meters, it is actually a lake cut off by Lashi Dam. Lashi is a word in ancient Naxi language, which means a “new desolate dam”. Lashihai Lake is a part of the Lashihai Plateau Wetland Nature Reserve, which was built in 1998 by the local government, in order to preserve the indispensable wetland habitat.
Paradise of birds
Lashihai Lake enjoys a monsoon climate. Due to the construction of the dam, the lake has changed from a seasonal lake to a plateau lake with a certain water level. Now it has become the paradise for migratory birds, who spend their winter beside Lashihai Lake. Annually, there are about 57 species of birds come to Lashihai Lake during winter, including nine endangered species, such as the bar-headed goose, black cranes, and black-headed crane.
For visitors, the best time for bird viewing is from December to February. Visitors can rent the boats on the lake, which is the relaxing and leisure way for sightseeing and bird watching. Horse riding or biking around the lake is also a good choice.
Highlights at Lashihai Lake
Lashihai Lake is the origin of the Ancient Tea Horse Road. The Ancient Tea Horse Road is similar to the Silk Road, which was also an important trading route in southern China. On this route, people used Yunnan horses as the main transportation means. Nowadays, people can take the horse riding to experience a section of this old road, and feel the local ethnic culture.
Lashihai Lake has several branches, including the Beauty Spring, the Holy Well Source, and the Seven Fairies Lake. The water of them is all the melted snow from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The Beauty Spring is a local people’s daily water supplier. The Holy Well Source is a holy place for local Naxi people. The Seven Fairies Lake is the source of Beauty Spring and Holy Well Source, and also the water source of Lijiang Ancient Town.
In addition, the Zhiyun Temple in the north of Lashihai Lake is a quiet visiting spot. Built-in 1727 during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), Zhiyun Temple was the residence of two Living Buddhas. In the temple’s yard, a ginkgo, an old pine tree, and an oriental cherry witnessed the temple’s development.
Visitors can see some Buddha statues, some daily use items of the Living Buddha, such as clothes, bronze seals, and chopsticks.