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Erhai Lake Overview

Dali Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), at 1972 meters above sea level, is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan, after Dianchi Lake. With crystal clear water and the charming landscape, Erhai Lake is reputed as "Pearl of Plateau". Hence, "Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake" is used to depict the amazing scene of Erhai Lake.

In size, the north-south length of Erhai Lake is 40 kilometers and the East-West width is roughly 9 kilometers. Inside the Erhai Lake, there are different kinds of famous landscape, like "Three Islands", "Four Continents", "Five Lakes", "Nine Bends". It is sandwiched between the Cangshan Mountain to the west and Dali City. It starts at Dengchuan at its northern extremity and finishes at Xiaguan city in the south. Dali Old Town, Three Pagodas of Dali, Xizhou Ancient Town, Zhoucheng, Butterfly Spring and Shangguan Flower Garden are on its west bank while Shuanglang Old Town, Wase Village, Haidong Village and are on its east bank.

Usually, there are two fantastic ways to explore Erhai Lake - by boat and by hiking. Taking a boat to sailing on the Erhai Lake can have leisure sightseeing about the islands in the lake while riding a bicycle is an enjoyable way to explore historical sites along Erhai Lake.

How to Get There

Getting to Erhai Lake means to reach the cruise piers around Erhai Lake to take boat or reach the nearby villages for leisure sightseeing. There are four cruise piers including Caicun Pier, Longkan Pier, Erhai Lake Pier and Taoyuan Pier and among them Caicun Pier and Longkan Pier are the most used ones to take boats sailing on Erhai Lake.

Transfer to Erhai Lake & Its Pier

From Dali Old Town to Caicun Pier: It is about 3.5-4 km. Travelers can take Bus C2 from North Gate to Caixun Pier. If by taxi, it may cost around 20 Yuan.

From Dali Old Town to Longkan Pier: It is about 4.5 km. Travelers can take Bus No.8 from Regent Hotel Stop to Yuexicun Station and walk about 3.5 km to Longkan Pier. Travelers can take Bus No.3 from North Gate to Longkan Pier. If by taxi, it may cost around 30 Yuan.

Top Sites to Explore in Erhai Lake

Nanzhao Folk Island (南诏风情岛)

Nanzhao Folk Island, also called Nanzhao Love Island, is one of the three islands in Erhai Lake. It is about five minutes from Shuanglang by cruise. Besides the hills, threes, beach, there are eight man-made sights to see - the Statues of "Mother Shayi", the Seascape Villas, the Guanyin Acuoye Statue on the Luck of Yunnan Square (Fuxing Square), the big hotel called the Nanzhao Summer Palace, the Square of the Patron Gods, a small amusement part on the beach, the Taihu Rocks and a View of Fishing Families. Travelers who visit Nanzhao Folk Island need to pay 50 Yuan and you'd better spend about 2 hours there.

Little Putuo Island (小普陀)

Little Putuo Island is the smallest island located in the east of Erhai Lake, close to Wase Village. This island is like a seal floating in Erhai Lake and the Ming-dynasty Little Putuo Temple is situated on the island. The temple has two floors, one is for worshiping Buddha Bodhisattva and the second is for worshipping Avalokiteshvara (KWAN-YIN). The best time to enjoy great scenery of Little Putuo Island is in the morning, showing you misty and mysterious island. Photographers can catch the chance to take fantastic pictures of Little Putuo Island either from afar or on the island.

Jinsuo Island (金梭岛)

Looking from the sky, there is a small island like a shuttle lying in the Erhai Lake. That's Jinsuo Island which means golden shuttle English. It is located in the southwest of Haidong Town, 250-600 m from east bank of Erhai Lake, facing Qiliqiao Village in the west across Erhai Lake. There are over 200 Bai households living on the island. Travelers can wander through Bai minority houses, fertile fields, beautiful flowers, green trees...Also, relax yourselves down to taste Bai Ethnic Minority's "Three Courses of Tea" and local food and enjoy beautiful scenery of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake quietly. Travelers need to pay 20 Yuan to visit Jade Dragon Palace. To the southeast of Jinsuo Island is situated a smaller island called Yinshuo Island (silver shuttle), the sister island of Jinsuo Island.

Luoquan Peninsula (罗荃半岛)

Luoquan Peninsula is situated in the east bank of Erhai Lake, facing Dali Old Town across the lake. It is an ideal place to view Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake. Several Buddhist sites are worth exploring on the island, including one temple called "Luoquan Temple", one pavilion called "Guanyin Pavilion" and one pagoda called "Luoquan Pagoda". The ticket of Luoquan Peninsula is 30 Yuan.

Erhai Lake Nanzhao Folk Island Erhai Lake Nanzhao Folk Island
Erhai Lake Little Putuo Island Erhai Lake Little Putuo Island
Erhai Lake Jinsuo Island Erhai Lake Jinsuo Island
Erhai Lake Luoquan Peninsula Erhai Lake Luoquan Peninsula

Top Sites to Explore around Erhai Lake

Erhai Park (洱海公园)

Erhai Park, located in the southern tip of Erhai Lake, is the best site to view beautiful scene of Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain. Standing at the lake edge, it is a steady climb up with 270 stone steps leading to two viewing decks - the Observation Pavilion and Long Corridor where stunning Erhai Lake vistas await. When you first reach Dali in Xiaguan, you can pay a visit to Erhai Park, either have leisurely walk or take cruise at Erhai Lake Port to other islands of Erhai Lake. No entrance fee is needed to visit Erhai Park.

Xizhou Ancient Town (喜洲古镇)

Xizhou Ancient Town, located about 18 kilometers north from Dali Old Town, is a typical town with Bai's characters with over 1000 years' history. Taking a visit to Xizhou, you'll catch the best chance to enjoy Bai's typical architectures and houses as well as taste the Bai People's "Three Courses of Tea". To have full understanding of Bai's architecture, it is recommended to visit Yan Family's Courtyard to know more about "Three Rooms and a Wall Screening", "Four Joints and Five Courtyards" which are decorated with woodcarvings, colored patterns, marbles and wash drawings.

Zhoucheng (周城)

Zhoucheng is located in the north of Xizhou Ancient Town, west side of Erhai Lake. It is called the "Land for National Tie-dye" where travelers can learn how to make a tie-dyed cloth. Visit one of Bai's family workshops and see the local Bai people use traditional tie-dye techniques to make cloth. In the family workshop, you'll appreciate colorful tie-dyed clothes, caps, bags, etc. Bright colors, an unlimited variety of patterns and color combinations, and the simplicity of the techniques contribute to its enduring appeal.

Shuanglang Town (双廊)

Shuanglang, the most scenic town around Erhai Lake, is located in the north of Dali and the northeast of Erhai Lake. For over a thousand years, the local Bai ethnic people here made their living fishing in the lake. And now the small tranquil village is popular with visitors unwinding and enjoying a slower tempo. Enjoy several hours or a peaceful night here to explore among the old alleys and traditional architecture or take a boat out on Erhai Lake or kick back and do very little.

Erhai Lake Park Erhai Lake Park
Xizhou Ancient Town Xizhou Ancient Town
Zhoucheng Zhoucheng
Shuanglang Shuanglang

Recommended Way to Travel

Erhai Lake Cruise

Type One: Erhai Lake Long Cruise

1. Depart from Erhai Lake Pier (Xiaguan Pier) around 08:00~09:00, visit Nanzhao Folk Island and enjoy Bai People's Three Courses of Tea and arrive at Taoyuan Pier;

2. Depart from Taoyuan Pier around 13:30~14:00, visit Nanzhao Folk Island, enjoy Bai People's Three Courses of Tea and arrive at Longkan Pier around 17:30~18:00.

Type Two: Erhai Lake Ecological Cruise

1. Depart from Longkan Pier around 09:00~10:00, visit Longquan Peninsula or Jinsuo Island, enjoy Bai's three Courses of Tea and arrive at Taoyuan Pier around 12:30~13:00;

2. Depart from Taoyuan Pier around 14:00~14:30, visit Nanzhao Folk Island and enjoy Bai's Three Courses of Tea and arrive at Longkan Pier around 17:30~18:00.

The cruise information may adjust based on the season, weather and number of travelers, etc. To inquiry more Erhai Lake cruise itineraries and tickets, please feel free to contact our professional travel consultants and they are here to help give you suggestions and book the cruise for your Dali tour.

Cycle around Erhai Lake

Route One: Cycle on the west bank of Erhai Lake, 46 KM for One Day

Your biking tour begins Dali Old Town, pass Three Pagodas and stop to explore Xizhou Old Town , continue to head to Zhoucheng and drive back via the same route. You need to drive about 23 kilometers for one way and 46 kilometers altogether.

Route Two: One Circle around Erhai Lake, 128 KM for Two Days

Day 1: around 50 Km for 4 hours' riding. Dali Old Town – Three Pagodas – Xizhou Town – Zhoucheng Village – Taoyuan Dock – Shangguan Town – Shuanglang Village (Nanzhao Island).

Day 2: around 80 km for 6 hours' riding. Shuanglang Village – Wase Town (Little Puto Island) – Haidong Village – Jinsuo Island – Huanhai Road – Airport Road – Erhai Dock – Haixi Village Highway – Caicun Dock – Dali Old Town.

Cruise on Erhai Lake Erhai Lake Cruise
Take Boat on Erhai Lake Erhai Lake Boat
Cycle along Erhai Lake Erhai Lake Cycling

Useful Travel Tips

Photography Tips

It is great to capture the picturesque scenery with islets, caves, marshes, forest, shoals and cottage, etc. There are several ways to shoot Erhai lakes, you could choose to go Erhai Lake Park for Cangshang Mountain and Erhai Lake scenery, Wanghai Tower in Chongsheng Temple for distant view, or cruise in Erhai Lake for sunset scenery, etc. As for the equipment, you'd better use Grad ND filter to darken the sky; use CPL to get rid of stray light, strengthen the contrast of colorful cloud and blue sky and make all the scenery saturated; use HDR (High-Dynamic Range). >> More Dali Photography Guide & Tips

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Top 3 Dali tours chosen by most customers to explore Dali in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

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