Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang

black dragon pool lijiang

I beat feet out of crowded Lijiang and into the quiet and sprawling Black Dragon Pool park.

They wanted a whopping 60 yuan to enter — Chinese entrance prices for foreigners are astounding — but I used a trick a Dutch couple here shared with me. I threw my PADI scuba diving certification card down, which has my picture on it, and told them that I was a “student.” The staff obviously could not read English, and it was an official-looking ID card, so they let me in for the student rate of 30 yuan — nice! You did not hear it from me, but try it sometime.

The park is enormous and beautiful, a great place to kill a bonus day in a town that you have already exhausted. I strolled around for hours, and was lucky enough to catch the Lijiang orchestra doing a practice around 3 p.m. in full costume, playing their traditional Naxi music. A show normally costs 160 yuan, so this was turning out to be quite a great day!

I was about to leave the park when I saw a set of old stone stairs going up the hill into nowhere. I tried to walk past, because climbing to the top looked like work, but the vagabonding impulse in my blood got the best of me. I decided to climb the stairs to have a look, maybe there was a temple at the top or something. I counted each uneven and knee-blowing step….

There were 1,338 of them. Ouch.

I reached the top of what I found out is called “Elephant Hill,” sweating and panting. I was willing to pay 100 yuan for a bottle of water, but there were strangely no vendors to be found. I managed to get nice and sunburned as well. After Alaska, North England, and China this year, my skin has forgotten how to handle ultraviolet rays and I now have all the skin tolerance of the average vampire.

elephant hill lijiang china

There was nothing on top but a run-down Pagoda with the paint peeling and nothing enjoying it more than some bees, which had built a hive on the inside. On the bright side, I never passed another person, which is a rare treat in China, and there were some incredible views of Lijiang and the surrounding mountains on a clear day. I could see both the Old Town and the New Town; I sat for over an hour and watched daily life unfold hundreds of meters below me. It was a pleasant end to my Yunan, China, experience.

As a bonus, on my way down, I sat and talked to a friendly Polish tour guide who had left his group to ramble around the square with a “free day.” He told me that he had been a backpacker 15 years ago, and that now he was just doing this for money and so that he could continue traveling. We had a very enlightening conversation and it planted a seed into my brain that might be useful in about 15 years!

I’ll leave you with a picture from the top. The photo cost me 1,338 steps, my left knee, and about six litres of sweat…so enjoy!

elephant hill lijiang china

Life is good.

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No Responses to “Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang”

  1. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed that photograph and I’m absolutely thrilled that you found clear blue skies in China!

  2. The scenery at the top was a nice reward! I would have had to climb those stairs to see what was at the other end also. Continue having a great time.

  3. I forgot to bring my card, but somehow we lingered a bit too long at the entrance looking like we we’re reconsidering, so they let us in for free.. 🙂
    Oh yeah, and by the way.. The elephant hill almost killed me too!

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