The Black Dragon Pool is a charming and tranquil park and pool system in the north east of Lijinag on the northern edge of Lijiang’s famous Old Town. The Black Dragon Pool is the head waters of the Yushui River that provides water for the Old Town.
The park is one of Lijiang’s most famous and attractive tourist destinations and has been visited by famous Chinese leaders such as Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Zu Rongji. If you are visiting Lijiang’s Old Town, the Black Dragon Pool is a must see and a great way to relax and enjoy beautiful natural scenery after the hustle and bustle of the Old Town. If the weather is good, you will also have stunning views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains.
Some of the buildings in the park date back to 1394 but the actual park and pool system itself was built in 1737 during the Qing Dynasty. Many of the structures in the park have recently been restored and the park was listed as a world culture heritage site in 1997 as an important part of Lijiang’s Old Town
The story of the Black Dragon Pool – In ancient times 10 black dragons were terrorizing the area and causing havoc and destruction amongst the local population. Lu Dongbin, one of China’s legendary eight immortals captured and jailed 9 of the dragons. The one remaining dragon was the youngest and was given the responsibility of protecting and helping the local people as the price of its freedom.
Grounds & Attractions
The park covers 40 hectares and consists of one major pool separated by the five arch white marble Suocui Bridge and a number of smaller pools. The bridge does not physically separate the two parts of the main pool but it is said that the two sides of the pool are a different color and the fish never swim to the other side of the pool.
Five Phoenix Tower – This structure was originally built in 1501 as the villa and family temple of the Mu Chieftain. The name of the tower comes from the fives cornices that are in the form of five flying phoenixes
Ancient Naxi Stage – This is a single eave building that is in the shape of a triangle and one of the oldest stages in Lijiang. You can often see performances here when you visit Black Dragon Pool.
Moon Embracing pavilion – This is a small pavilion in the northern half of the pool that is reached by a smaller marble bridge. The original pavilion was destroyed in 1950 by fire and built again in 1963.
Dragon God Temple – This is the largest structure in the park and consists of five courtyards. The temple is still actively used for worship and monks are in the main building sitting at little desks near the alter to talk to worshippers.
Hillside Pavilion – As you enter the park from the Old Town at the southern entrance, there is a path to the right leading up the side of the hill to a small pavilion. The walk to the pavilion will take around 15 to 20 minutes and is well worth it with stunning views of the park and the surrounding Old Town.
Confusing Promotional Images of Black Dragon Pool
The park is famous for the view of the snow capped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain over the Suocui Bridge and the adjacent Moon Embracing Pavilion. You can see posters of this classic scene all around the Old Town and Lijaing promoting Lijiang in general and the park in particular. A copy of that famous scene has been included below.
Being very impressed by this scene which is magnificent, I went to the park planning to take a photo of the same scene. The problem is that no matter where you stand in the park, there is no way I could see of reproducing that scene because the pavilion, bridge and mountain in the back ground (covered in cloud) just don’t align properly.
Unless I’m missing something, this classic promotional image is altered not original. This alteration may not be deliberately misleading but just a representation of the key parts of the park. Regardless it is very confusing when you spend over an hour trying to find the elusive spot that the image was taken from.
The easiest and most enjoyable way to get to the Black Dragon Pool is to walk from the north entrance of the Old Town along the Yushui River to the southern entrance of the park. Walking the path alongside the river will take 10 to 15 minutes and you’ll see many of the local Naxi people relaxing and enjoying themselves there.
If you are in Lijiang city, you can take a taxi (maximum 10rmb fare) or you can take the 3,6,7,8 and 9 public buses.
Tickets & times
The entry fee is 80rmb which is expensive compared to more famous attractions in other parts of China such as the Forbidden City or Summer Palace. The ticket is a general ticket for the Old Town (you don’t need this ticket to enter the old town) and can be used to enter other attractions around Lijiang such as the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain area.
The park is open from 8am to 5pm.