Known as the ‘Pearl of the Plateau,’Erhai Lake is the second largest lake in Yunnan Province and the seventh biggest freshwater lake in China, by area and water storage. Formed in a rift depression, Erhai Lake has been known since ancient times as the "flawless jade among mountains" due to the color and clarity of its waters.
You will discover it in the Dali Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan, around two kilometres east from Dali City.
Stretching 42 kilometres from north to south and 3.9 kilometres from east to west, it covers an area of more than 250 square kilometres, with the deepest point reaching 21.5 metres.
In Dali, locals regard Erhai Lake as their ‘mother lake.’ Hence why it is so important in the region and an unmissable tourism spot.
The Cangshan Mountain peaks are often mirrored in the lake’s crystal-clear waters, just like the sun and the moon. In fact, the Erhai Lake moon is one of the four famous scenes of Dali Ancient City.
When the breeze blows, its surface is billowed into wavelets, sparkling in the sunlight. It is why the scene is commonly described as the ‘Silver Cangshan and Jade Erhai.’
Here, you can indulge in different kinds of famous landscapes, such as the so-called ‘Three Islands,’ ‘Four Continents,’ ‘Five Lakes’ and ‘Nine Bends.’
Normally, you can explore the lake by boat, hiking or cycling. If you’re a fan of all, why not combine them? Sailing across Erhai Lake, gives you some beautiful perspectives, while riding a bicycle or electric motorcycle is an enjoyable way to explore historical sites along the natural gem.
1. Little Putuo Island (小普陀)
Little Putuo Island is the smallest island located in the eastern part of Erhai Lake, close to Wase Village.
This charming place has preserved, almost untouched, the Ming-dynasty Little Putuo Temple. Boasting two floors, the temple has a room for worshipping Buddha Bodhisattva and another for worshipping Avalokiteshvara (KWAN-YIN).
Its unique architectural style, with pointed eaves and decorations, makes it an attraction by itself, for the tourists who decide to come here.
The best time to visit Little Putuo Island is during the morning, while the mist is still around, shrouding the area in mystery.
During the winter season, this is also one of the best places to watch black-headed gulls from Siberia fly in to spend some time here.
2. Erhai Lake tourism landscape road
The Erhai Lake tourism landscape road is 115 kilometres long and has proven to be important for Dali to develop rural tourism resources and create a special village surrounding the lake. It is a good place to enjoy a cycling trip or to drive along as well, should you feel tempted.
Erhai Lake Park, Dali county, Yunnan Province,
1) Taxi: Take a taxi for 10 minutes from Dali Ancient Town
2. Best times to visit: During spring and autumn, from March to May and from September to October. If you want to watch those cute seagulls, winter is recommended
3. Experience: Biking and hiking or taking an Erhai Lake Cruise
4. Be sure to protect yourself from the sun during the summer. Dali has very strong UV levels