Introducing Erhai Lake
With Cangshan Mountain arranging horizontally to the west like a curtain, Yu’an Mountain embracing to the east like an arm, the special environment of Erhai Lake defines ultimate elegance, long reputed as the “Silver-like Cangshan and Jade-like Erhai”, and the “Plateau Pearl”. With the area of 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), the lake is the second largest highland lake of China, after Dianchi Lake in Kunming.
Erhai Lake Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Erhai 洱海
• Best Time to Visit: June to August
• Recommended Visiting Hours: About 3 to 4 hours
• Things to Do: Photography, Nature, Boating, Cycling
• Opening Hours: All day; 08:30-17:00 for Nanzhao Island
• Entrance Fee: ¥30 for Erhai Lake maintenance fee
• Address: No.1 Erhe South Road, Xiaguan, Dali, Yunnan
What to expect at Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake is an alpine fault lake. Its name means “Ear-shaped Sea”, due to its shape as seen by locals and travelers. In size, the North-South length of the lake is 40 kilometres (25 mi) and the East-West width is roughly 7–8 kilometres (4.3–5.0 mi). Its circumference reaches 116 kilometres (72 mi), its average depth is of 11 metres (36 ft) and the total storage capacity of 2.5 billion cubic metres (2,000,000 acre⋅ft). The lake serves as a backdrop to all of Dali City and sandwiches Dali Town in the west against the Cangshan Mountain. The lake’s head is at Shangguan Town, its northern extremity, and its southernmost point is at Xiaguan Town. The lake receives water from the Miju and Mici Rivers in the north, the Bolou River in the east, and smallers streams from the Cangshan Mountains in the west. Yangbi River, to the south, is the lake’s outlet and eventually flows into the Mekong River.
Erhai Lake is the most important scenic resource of Dali Scenic Zone, as well as the major birthplace of the ancestors of the Bai ethnic group. So far, more than 30 spots of the New Stone Age ruins have been found at Erhai and on the surrounding hillside tablelands. Among these ruins, Jinsuo, the Golden Shuttle, Island is most famous. Recently, it is found that Yuji Island in Shuanglang Town is also an important site of the New Stone Age and the Bronze Age. In addition to many stone and pottery tools used for production and livelihood, some bronze ware are also excavated such as furcate handle sword and cupric handle ferric edge sword and the pottery molds for building these swords. Thus it is inferred that this Erhai Lake might also have been the production base for Bai ethnic group ancestors to smelt and cast bronze ware and even step into the Iron Age. It seems every era has left something here. We can almost hear the footsteps of Bei ancestors striding from savagery to civilization. The saying is true: Erhai Lake is the cradle of the Bai ethnic group.
How to get to Erhai Lake
• Take bus No. 6 or C2 to Caicun Pier.
• Take a taxi or rent a bike to the lake area.
Additional travel advice on Erhai Lake
• UV is very strong in Dali even in winter, so please wear sunscreen, hat and sunglasses during daytime.
• Erhai Lake Cruise: At Dali Port Pier, the cruise starts at 09:00; At Longkan Pier, the cruise starts at 10:00; at Taoyuan Pier, the cruise starts at 13:30. Cruise tickets vary according to the type of cruise and routes.