From Lijiang, there are two routes into Sichuan. The quickest begins by catching a bus 200km east to heavily industrialized PANZHIHUA (攀枝花, pānzhīhuā), but travelling via Lugu Hu  (泸沽湖, lúgū hú), a shallow, attractive lake bisected by the Sichuan border about 200km north of Lijiang, is much more fun. The people up here are Mosuo, who maintain matrilineal traditions such as axia marriage, where a woman takes several husbands. Women run the households and children are brought up by their mothers – men have no descendants or property rights. Glibly marketed as a “Girl Kingdom” to single Chinese men – who inevitably head back home disappointed – tourism has become well-established in recent years, but the lake remains a pleasant place to kick back for a couple of days before making the tiring journey to Xichang in southern Sichuan.

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