Erhai Lake in Dali
This amazing lake lies next to the amazing historic sites in the Dali valley and the natural scenery and good hiking trails on Cangshan Mountain. The whole region is full of interesting and beautiful sites. The easy access to beautiful and quiet places to camp, ride horses, ride bikes and hike in high mountains is unusual in China.
Chinese name: 大理洱海
English Name: Erhai Lake, Dali
Coverage:250 square kilometers
Type:The Pearl of highland
Best Seasons: All seasons
Recommended Visiting Time: 2~4 hours
Opening Hours: Open all day
This amazing lake lies next to the amazing historic sites in the Dali valley and the natural scenery and good hiking trails on Cangshan Mountain. The whole region is full of interesting and beautiful sites. The easy access to beautiful and quiet places to camp, ride horses, ride bikes and hike in high mountains is unusual in China. You can experience ethnic cultures in this area as well. The ancient city of Dali and the other historic sites lie west of Erhai Lake. The local people feel that this big lake with its clear water and its reflections of land and sky as well as the entire region are unusually beautiful, and it is another highlight of a visit to Yunnan Province.
With a preferable superiority in location, Erhai Lake is abundant in aquatic resources and living beings; it is an important food source for the local Bai people and used to be a royal deer ranch in old times for Nanzhao Kingdom. The lake holds a high diversity of carps with the kind named Gong Fish being the most famous which is crowned as the King of Fish. And a great variety of edible seaweed products from the lake are the favorable cuisine materials of local dishes. Definitely, Erhai is the cradle of Dali in politics, economy and culture, and plays a key part in the city’s development in water supply, agricultural irrigation, generation of electricity, climate adjustment, fishery, shipping and tourism.
Originated from Bibi Lake of Eryuan County in the north and end in Xiaguan in the south, the Erhai is an alpine fault lake in Dali with an altitude of 1972 m. It has a length of 42.58 km, a width of 9 km, a lake surface of 256.5 square kilometers and an average depth of 10 m (the deepest depth is 20 m). Even if the Erhai Lake is smaller than the Dian Lake (also in Yunnan Province) in terms of area, with a deeper water level, it has a larger impoundage about twice as much as that of Dian Lake. As it took shape at the end of Ice Age as a result of sedimentation and erosion, the water in Erhai Lake is crystal clear with high transparency clarity, which made the Erhai Lake with great reputation as A Immaculacy Gem Amidst Mountains or A Gem on Plateau since ancient times.
A Boat Ride
One of the travel highlights is said to be a boat ride. People can ride boats and visit temples and small islands in the lake, and they may enjoy the local cuisine and the Bai tea ceremony while they are doing so. In the simple ceremony, three different kinds of Bai tea are served. Islands in the lake include Guanyin Ge (Guanyin Pavilion), Jinsuo Island, Nanzhao Fengqing Island and Xiao Putuo Island.
Golden Shuttle Island
Golden Shuttle Island (Jinsuo Dao), and the nearby fishing community of Bai Minority do really deserve a visit with its attractive Bai culture and lifestyle, and because of the rare beauty of the lake and its surrounding scenery.
The most unforgettable Xiaoputuo Dao, originally devoted to Bodhisattva Kwan-yin, can be traced back to the 15th century. Though tiny and called xiao (which means small in Chinese), one can still experience and see the typical ancient Chinese Buddhist temple’s unique architectural styles of its buildings’ pointed eaves and decorations on this peninsular.
Erhai Lake Park
Erhai Lake Park is located on Tuan Mount, in the southernmost of Erhai Lake and some 2.5 km from Xiaguan. It is the best site for a full view of Mt. Cangshan and Erhai Lake. Built in 1975, the park has developed to a certain scale with a large quantity of plants and flowers. Along the way up to the mountain, there are lavish evergreen pines and cypresses, and flourishing flowers especially in northeast face of the mountain, such as camellia, yulan magnolia, cuckoo, primrose, laurel, saussurea, as well as kinds of featured plants of Dali, like willow of Bodhisattva Pool, mangosteen of Mt. Jizu, and Tea plant of Gantong Temple.
In the north above the shoal of Erhai Lake, it is a lakeside resort with grass lawns on the rim for breaks and relaxing. Behind the lawns, it is the over 200 stone steps that lead visitors to the Wanghai Pavilion (Observing-lake Pavilion) on the top of the mountain, which is just the site with an observing corridor that provide some of the most amazing views of Mt. Cangshan and Erhai Lake as well as the beautiful moon scene of Erhai Lake, one of the Four Greatest Views of Dali City.
Tours including Erhai Lake
- 2 Days Dali Old Town and Erhai Lake Cycling Tour
- 1 Day Erhai Lake Kayaking Tour
Fascinating attractions nearby
Dali Ancient Town
The ancient city of Dali is one of Yunnan’s most popular tourist destinations. It has historic sites, ancient buildings and temples, nearby beautiful Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, local crafts, and the “Foreigners’ Street” with Western-style restaurants and bars and English-speaking business owners.
The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Monastery in Dali
The magnificent Chongsheng Temple and the well-known Three Pagodas are the symbol of Dali.
- Admission Fee:￥0
- Opening Hours:all day long.
You can take bus or taxi to this Dali tourist attraction.
- If you plan to take bus and are at railway station, you can firstly take No. 8 bus to Fuxing Road at Dali Ancient city. And then get off and go straight to the Boai Road to take No. 2 bus. No.2 bus will stop at Cai Village Dock, get off at this stop, you will arrive at the lake.
- If you think it too difficult for you to take bus to the lake, you can just choose taxi. The driver will send you to the destination.
Attraction Travel Tips
When you are at Erhai Lake, it is advisable to visit the fishing villages of Bai people nearby, which is the few fishing villages on the altiplano. The famous movie of 1950s, the Five Golden Flowers, reflected the life here. Erhai Park in Xiaguan was designed and built for tourists to sea Erhai Lake. You can get there from any place in the city proper by taxi and that will only cost you 5 yuan. If you are interested, you can take ships there to visit Erhai. There are wooden ships and yachts. Remember to bargain before you get aboard. Ordinary boats do not go to the Nanzhao Love Islands. They usually come back after arriving at Golden Shuttle Island, Small Putuo Island and Kwan-yin Pavilion. If you rent boats, safety is the most important. When it is summer and autumn, especially when Husband Awaiting Clouds turn up on the Cangshan Mountain, it is better for you not to go on the sea.