Blue Moon Valley – Lijiang, China - Atlas Obscura

Blue Moon Valley

Lijiang, China

A bright turquoise river cascades beautifully down stepped terraces in southern China. 


Nestled in the towering mountains of southern China, an impossibly turquoise river passes over a beautiful set of terraces. As the water runs over these flat platforms, it forms dozens of miniature whitewater waterfalls, cascading down the mountain valley.

Like the Pamukkale Water Terraces in Turkey, the river flows down the flat circular terraces like giant steps on a staircase or cakes stacked upon one another.

Local legends of the Nakhi people claim the water in Blue Moon Valley gets its blue pigmentation from the raft that the gods took to the valley. In actuality, the river, which originates from the melting snow of the Himalayas above, gets its turquoise tint from copper ions in the water.

While the terraces in Blue Moon Valley are mostly natural, the Chinese government has done several artificial interventions to make them look even more spectacular. It’s surely worked; the terraces, combined with the flowers, gorges, and meadows that surround them, make Blue Moon Valley one of the most scenic spots in all of China.

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