Dongting Lake in Yueyang

Where is Dongting Lake?

Dongting Lake, China’s second-largest freshwater lake, is located in northeastern Hunan Province. It connects the Yangtze River to the north and the Xiangjiang River, Zi River, Yuan River, and Feng River to the south. It is a large, shallow body of water surrounded by mountain chains. It is also known as ‘eight- hundred Li Dong Ting Lake’. Dongting Lake is famous in Chinese culture as the place of origin of dragon boat racing.

History of Dongting Lake

The state of Chu occupied the region in the Eastern Zhou period, and its territory there was taken over by Qin in the 3rd century BCE. During the Han Dynasty, Yunmeng Marsh, which lies to the north of Dongting Lake in Hubei Province, served as the main flood-basin of the Yangtze. The rich sediment of the marsh attracted farmers. Embankments were built, keeping the river out, and the Dongting Lake area south of the Yangtze gradually became the river’s main flood-basin. At that time, Dongting Lake was China’s largest freshwater lake. Because of its size, it gained the name Eight-hundred-li-Dongting.

Nowadays, it is the second-largest, after Poyang Lake, as much of the lake has been turned into farmland. The area around the lake has tremendous agricultural production ability with a long history of development. Since the plain is graced with fertile soil, proper temperature and plentiful rain, Dongting Lake is also called ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’.

Main Attractions of Dongting Lake

Dongting Lake is divided into 5 parts: East, South, West, North, and Datong Lake.

East Dongting is the biggest part. It is recognized as “a zoology pearl on the middle part of the Yangtze River”, and “a hopeful place to save the animals in danger”. The District has abundant animal and plant life, especially birds and waterfowl. It has become one of China’s major natural habitats for birds. According to scientists, there are 1,086 kinds of plants, 114 kinds of fresh water fish, and 207 kinds of birds living in the district, and the total number of animals and birds reaches 10 million every year.

How to Get to Dongting Lake?

Travel with China Dragon Tours (top recommended)

If you want to get rid of hustle of transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Dongting Lake with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on travel.

Independent Travel


Generally speaking, take bus No.2 or No.9 from Yueyang Railway Station to Yueyang Tower, about 30 minutes.

You can take a boat tour of Dongting Lake at Lingji port, the border city of Yueyang Tower.

Useful Travel Tips 

Best Time  to Visit 

The best time is from October to March. In addition, one can dine on delicious fish as well.


The climate here is between middle and northern subtropical, so it is warm and humid. So in spring and summer, the temperature is variable, while in late summer and autumn, it’s sunny and hot with a little rain. Occasionally in autumn, it’s a little bit cold and windy.

What to do 

Besides experiencing the cultural history of the region by visiting Yueyang Pavilion, watching dragon boat races, or tasting Junshan Island Tea, you can enjoy the region’s natural abundance by watching the birds.

Recommended Hunan Tour Packages

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Winnie/张赢