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Lashi Lake (Lashihai), Lijiang

Nestled at the centre of the Lijiang County of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, the Lijiang Lashihai Plateau Wetland Nature Reserve was established in 1998 by the Yunnan provincial government to preserve an indispensable wetland habitat. The 65-square-kilometre reserve is home to some 300,000 Naxi and Yi ethnic people. But it becomes more populous during winter – as the reserve turns into a paradise for migratory birds. Lashihai Lake is the main area where birds dwell. Around 140,000 migratory birds spent their winter beside Lashihai Lake. A repertoire of 165 species of birds can be observed in Lashihai. 

Riding to experience the Ancient Tea and Horse Road is the other must-try activity to get close to the local special culture. The ancient Tea and Horse Road, similar to the Silk Road, was an important trading route in the southwestern part of China and the horse was a significant form of transport on this route. Different from the tall and big horses on the grassland, the horses in Yunnan are small, but good at long-distance transporting. Consequently, it may feel different during the ride. How to get here?
  1. Take bus 31 or 32 from Lijiang Old Town to Shidi Gongyuan. You need to pay an entrance fee of CNY20 if you are coming here by yourself.
  2. Hire a car to Lashi Lake. The car trip takes about 30 minutes and the fare is around CNY 30 to 50.
    • For hiring a car, you are advised to order directly from the owner of the hostel, or book with a reliable local tour agency. Their services usually include the car to the lake, horse riding and bird viewing tours. Booking with them directly will save money and avoid you being cheated.
    • Just like what I did was signing up with a tour agency for a price of CNY200/pax which includes 1 hour horse ride, lunch and 1 hour canoeing. 

If you take a bus to the lake on your own, you need to find horse ranches and some boats in the lake independently. There are 18 ranches, so you need to bargain when making choice. (This method is not suggested, because it is too difficult to tell which one is the best.) For bird viewing, you need to rent a boat. Now, each ranch can provide three horse-riding lines and one boat line. The horse-riding charges CNY 200-360, the boating charges no more than CNY 200.
After riding for half hour, we will stop for 10 minutes for the horse to rest. We are asked to buy CNY10 to give the food to our own horse. If you do not buy, the horse will got nothing to eat. We are not allowed to share the food between horses too. It is a way to make us feel guilty and will sympathy the horse. So in the end we will buy food for the horse.

It is not an easy road for the horse to travel. They have to climb up a hill and down. Riding on a horse is not as comfortable as you may think so the whole 1 hour trip is quite suffering to be honest. The only thing that's worth to mention is the scenery around it. However, the smell of the horse shit along the road really destroy any further imagination you have on the scenery. 

Next, we move on to the place we have lunch and our canoeing experience on the Lashi Lake. There are a lot of restaurants along the lake and each tour agency has already have a contract with their own particular restaurants. You cannot go to other restaurants even their decoration is very attractive.
Each restaurants design their own places creatively to make tourists attracted and taking pictures with it. You can see some of the pictures below. 

Despite being called Lashihai (Hai means sea), it is actually a lake cut off by Lashi Dam. Lashi is a word in ancient Naxi language, meaning a “new desolate dam”. The lake was formed in the Pliocene epoch and is around 5,330 hectares (20 square miles). It is on an altitude of about 2,437 meters (7,995 feet). Because of the lake, the wetland nature reserve was established in 1998.

It was really hot and tiring to canoe for more than 30 minutes. Lashi Lake is huge too and it is impossible to travel the whole lake by canoeing. You can choose to hire a motorized boat around the lake to explore and take pictures. The boat fee is not included in the tour package.
If you are tired of canoeing, you can stop by at this restaurant on the lake for a drink and BBQ. It is another kind of enjoyment.
When you have travel to Erhai Lake and Lugu Lake, you will have the same feeling like me which is had enough of lake especially the Lashi Lake is incomparable with Lugu Lake. So it is recommended to travel to Lijiang first before you go to Lugu Lake because after experience the Lugu Lake, all other lakes in the city are unattractive, smelly and dirty. In my opinion, if you do not have the extra day at Lijiang, just skip this tour.
Total Price: CNY200
Operating Hours: 8.00am - 5.00pm
Recommended?: 1/5

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