White Water River, or Baishui River, is located nearby Yunshanping (cable car) and Ganhaizi, at the eastern foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, approximately 30km (18.6 miles) north of Lijiang Ancient Town. The river was formed by the streams melted from the glaciers and snow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The riverbed is made up of off-white crushed limestone and marbles, making the water look white, hence the name.
Joseph Francis Charles Rock, a botanist, adventurer and linguist from United States spent 27 years in Lijiang in the early 20th century. He was devoted to studying the Dongba Culture and also wrote a lot of travel notes about the landscape of Lijiang. Rock left the world a wealth of detailed information and pictures of the White Water River and Blue Moon Valley, which inspired the British writer James Hilton to create the world “Shangri-La” in his novel “Lost Horizon”.
What to See
The White River Terraced Waterfall
White Water River (local people also call it Milk River) is clean, pure and sacred for the local Naxi people. It flows eastward and finally meets the Black Water River, forming the White and Black River in Lijiang. The ancient Dongba scriptures describe that the black and white reinforce each other creating the harmonious, peaceful world. Here visitors can also explore the mysterious caves, waterfalls, lakes, wild flowers… The White River terraced waterfall is not 100% natural but partly man-made. Still it is really beautiful in white color and unique in crescent shape. Many travelers consider it a smaller version of Pamukale in Turkey. If you visit it in the off-peak season, you can enjoy the delightful serenity and get great shots of the waterfall terraces with the majestic snow mountain as the backdrop, without tourist crowds.
Note: The White Water Terrace in Shangri-La has quite similar scenery and is a cradle of Naxi Dongba Culture. It is also worth a visit if you travel to Shangri-La.
Blue Moon Valley
It is right beside the White Water River. The valley is of crescent shape and the water looks blue in sunny days. Seen from a distance, the valley resembles a bright blue moon in the shadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, hence the name. The streams from the snow mountain come to the valley first before flowing down to the White Water River. There are four blue lakes: Yuye Lake, Jingtan Lake, Lanyue Lake, and Tingtao Lake. The water contains copper ion, making it unfit to drink.
Note: There are two Blue Moon Valleys in Yunnan. This one in Lijiang is not the Blue Moon Valley of Shika Snow Mountain in Shangri-La.
- Free of charge, the entrance ticket to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has included the visit to White Water River and Blue Moon Valley
- If taking a battery car around for sightseeing, an additional charge of RMB40 will be applied.
Suggested touring time: 1 hour
Activities: car sightseeing, walking around
Best time to visit: summer from June to September, when the weather is mild and the various kinds of flowers are in full blossom.
How to get to White Water River and Blue Moon Valley Lijiang: Step 1, visitors can take a taxi, or the regular bus or city bus No.7 to get to Jade Dragon Mountain Scenic Area Step 2, walk or take a battery car to the White Water River area.