Set in the middle of the city of Lijiang, Black Dragon Pool (黑龙潭 – hei long tan) is one of the most memorable parks I have ever visited. Even recently, there have been periods of time when the pool has dried up, but when filled (which is usually the case), it creates an environment and atmosphere that seamlessly bridges the ancient architecture, snow-capped mountains, and modern structures into an aesthetic that can only be truly experienced in person.
The Black Dragon Pool has an 80 Yuan entrance fee that may seem a little steep for a park, but serves to limit the crowds, which is something that you will come to appreciate when traveling through China. The park is a perfect place to enjoy a casual stroll, sip a soothing afternoon tea or, for the more active traveler, trek up to the top of Elephant Hill.
Climbing Elephant Hill might be a little intimidating not because of the physical stress on one's body, but the fact that they only allow travelers in groups of 4 or more to climb up. The reason is that there have been historical incidents of individual foreigners hiking up Elephant Hill being harassed or even robbed by some of the indigenous troublemakers in the area. This is not to dissuade any potential travelers from visiting Black Dragon Pool as the rest of the park is totally safe. And if you really want to climb Elephant Hill for some better views, you can take this as an opportunity to make some new friends at the base of the trail before before hiking up together.