Erhai Lake


General Information of Erhai Lake

Chinese Name: 洱海 Pronunciation: ěr Hǎi

Opening Hours: All day

Recommended Time for Visit: 3 Hours

Address: Dali City, Yunnan Province, China.

Altitude: 1,972 meters (about 6,500 feet)

Tourist Area: 256 square kilometers

Best Travel Time: Erhai Lake is worth visiting all the year round. There are more people in spring and summer, followed by autumn and winter. Spring is the best time to travel to the Erhai Lake.


Admission Ticket Fee

Erhai Park Free
Resource Protection Fare 30 yuan

  • Erhai Lake Cruise:

Ticket Fare
Daligang Wharf 143 yuan
Longkan Wharf 142 yuan
Taoyuan Wharf 142 yuan


Facts to Know About Erhai Lake

Fishing Village,Erhai Lake
Fishing Village

Erhai Lake is located in Dali city, Yunnan Province, which is about two kilometers (1.2 miles) east of Dali downtown. It is the largest highland lake and one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. There are many interesting and beautiful places here. With an area of 250 square kilometers (96 square miles), it looks like a crescent, lying between Cangshan Mountain and Dali city.

Here people have easy access to beautiful and quiet places and enjoy themselves in various kinds of activities, such as camping, horse riding, biking and hiking in high mountains. Local people think that this clear lake is very attractive. Besides, the reflections of the land and sky in Erhai Lake are also fascinating. Erhai Lake is a place that people should not miss if they want to travel to Yunnan. 


Highlighted Tourist Spots at Erhai Lake

 Golden Shuttle Island

Golden Shuttle Island, Erhai Lake
Golden Shuttle Island

Golden Shuttle Island (Jinsuo Dao) is the largest island in Erhai Lake. It is located in the southeast of Erhai Lake. Golden Shuttle Island is 6 kilometers away from Dali Ancient City in the west.

The island is about 2 kilometers long, 370 meters wide. According to legend, a fairy who was good at weaving colorful brocade dropped her golden shuttle in Erhai Lake, then the shuttle became an island. Therefore, the shape of the island is like a shuttle.

At sunrise, the island is reflected on the surface of Erhai Lake, shining like gold in the sparkling light. Therefore, it is known as the "Golden Shuttle".

 Xiaoputuo Island

Xiaoputuo Island, Erhai Lake
Xiaoputuo Island

Xiaoputuo Island is located in the east of Erhai Lake. It is an island with an area of about 100 square meters. It is said that the Goddess of Mercy left her seal in this place, so the shape of this island is like a gold seal. It got the name also because its shape and pavilions are similar to the legendary Putuo Mountain in the South China Sea.

The attic on the island was built in the Ming Dynasty and has two floors. The Buddha is on the first floor and the Goddess of Mercy is on the second. The pavilions are small and exquisite. There are full of grotesque stones, and many trees grow bravely out of the cracks in the stone, which makes it a glamorous place.

 Erhai Lake Cruise

Erhai Lake Cruise, Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake Cruise

There are a lot of cruise ships, such as Erhai No.1, Du Juan, Cangshan, Dayun and Haixing. They can carry more than 1000, 960, 500, 600 and 400 passengers respectively. These ships have various styles and each of them is beautiful.

The cruise ships have a viewing hall, a dance hall, KTV rooms, coffee shops and so on. During the tour, visitors can enjoy the scenery of the Cangshan Mountain and the Erhai Lake. Song and dance performances will also be held so that Visitors can experience the hospitality of the local people and enjoy the unique folk customs of the Bai ethnic group.


 The Moon of The Erhai Lake--A Beautiful Legend

The Moon of The Erhai Lake, Erhai Lake
The Moon of The Erhai Lake

The Moon of Erhai Lake, known as "Golden Moon" by the Bai people, evokes people's pursuit of a better life all the time. It is said that the princess in the Moon Palace longed for life on the earth and came to the Erhai Lake to marry a fisherman. In order to help the fisherman catch more fish, she put her mirror in the sea so that the fisherman could see the fish clearly. Later the fisherman catch more fish and led a rich life. The princess’s mirror turned into a golden moon in the sea. It has been passed down from generation to generation, shining on the fishermen and becoming the "Moon of Erhai Lake" that people appreciate.

Sha Cun

Sha Cun, Erhai Lake
Sha Cun

Sha Cun is the largest fishing village on the edge of Erhai Lake, and it is also the birthplace of Dali fish eagle culture. At one time, a movie called “Five Golden Flowers” was popular here. Located on the Bay of the Erhai Lake, the sea here is as calm as a mirror, reflecting the blue sky. Occasionally, a fishing boat goes out to sea and breaks this silence, making only a ripple on the surface.

Everything seems very quiet here. Walking into the village, people can feel the smell of fish, because here was once a fishing village. There are few tourists coming here. Shuttling through the alleys, people will have a sense of entering another space.

Erhai Lake Park,Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake Park

 Erhai Lake Park

Erhai Lake Park was built in order to provide convenience for its visitors. This is a good place to enjoy the scenery of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. In spring, the place is filled with flowers and abundant exotic trees, which makes it a wonderland for people. There are three piers where visitors can board to fully appreciate the Erhai Lake.


Interesting Stories of Erhai Lake

Stories of Erhai Lake Moon

The first story is that there was a princess in The Heavenly Palace who envied the happy life of the world, went to a fishing village near Erhai Lake, and married a fisherman. To help the fishermen live a rich life, the princess lowered her own mirror to the bottom of the sea, so that the fishermen could catch more fish. Later, the princess was forced to go home by his father in heaven, before leaving, the princess left the mirror sunk to the bottom of the sea forever, blessing generations of people living here. From then on, the mirror became a golden moon and shone at the bottom of the sea. One moon is white in the sky and the other is golden in the water. This is the marvelous scene of Erhai Moon.

Erhai Lake Moon,Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake Moon

There is another story about the Erhai Lake Moon. A long time ago, there was a thatched cottage by the lake of Erhai, in which lived a fishing family. At that time, there was a big black monster dragon in Erhai Lake. He set off evil waves and overturned fishing boats, endangering the villagers. Some fishermen dared not enter the sea, the boats could not row and the fish could not be caught, so they had nothing to do but stop their fishing boats on the seashore. Seeing this, the Goddess of Mercy threw down a golden pot from the sky on which a gold chain was fastened to the basin. With this gold chain, the great black dragon was fastened to the bottom of the sea.

From then on, the golden pot in Erhai Lake became a pearl of the sea -- the golden moon. Every time the moon rises in the east, the golden moon at the bottom of Erhai Lake also shines brightly. This is the famous Lake Erhai Moon.

Later, a fisherman went into the sea to fish. His net was cast into the bottom of the sea. When he collected it, the net became increasingly heavier than before. The fisherman tugged and pulled out a golden chain. The fisherman was very strange, so he pulled hard. The gold chain was getting longer and longer. At that moment, the fisherman felt bad and thought, “I can’t take it. If I take it away, there will be no light in Erhai Lake, and the black monster dragon will have to do something bad again.” He hurriedly put it back into the sea.

When the fisherman returned home, he told the villagers what had happened. Gradually one preached ten, and ten preached one hundred. Finally the news came to the ears of the rich men of Zhu in Dali. Zhu’s family is very rich, but he was greedy and mean. Therefore, as soon as he got the news, he asked the fisherman to take him to find the golden chain.

Double Corridor Bridge,Erhai Lake
Double Corridor Bridge

However, no matter what Zhu said, the fisherman didn’t agree. Zhu was very angry and hanged the fisherman and beat him hard. Eventually, the fisherman couldn’t bear the cruel torture and had to comply. Then Zhu ordered his servant to look for a carpenter from the near villages to build three ships, forcing the village boatmen to boat for him so as to get the golden chain.

Early in the morning on the day of the salvage, Zhu burned incense and worshiped Buddha, and after the prayer, the whole family boarded the ship into the sea.

When the boat came into the middle of the sea, the fisherman pointed to it and said, “It’s right here.” Zhu ordered his servants to salvage the gold, but there was nothing. Zhu was anxious that he put the boatmen one by one into the water, called them to dive into the seabed to salvage. Finally, they found the golden chains. The ships were filled with golden chains respectively until the three great ships have no space.


However, Zhu was so greedy that he continued asking someone to pull the golden chains, only to awaken the black monster dragon. The black monster was in excruciating pain and immediately set off a huge wave, three big ships was overturned into the sea. The boatmen survived due to their ability to swimming and went home. Only the family of Zhu drowned in the Erhai sea.

After that, the Goddess of Mercy saw the human’s greedy and brutality, so she took out the gold needle and silver thread to sew a beautiful handkerchief day and night for three months and three days. Late at night, she quietly covered the golden moon with embroidered handkerchief. From then on the golden moon could only reflect the bottom of the sea, and no longer reflect the surface of the sea.

Story of Butterfly Spring

Butterfly Spring,Erhai Lake
Butterfly Spring

Butterfly Spring was formerly known as bottomless pool. Near the pool, there was a family with a father Zhang and the daughter Wen Gu. One day, they went up to the mountain to cut firewood, suddenly Wen Gu saw a wounded fawn running and lying down beside her. After a while, a hunter with a bow and arrow also came after the fawn. Wen Gu picked up the poor fawn and begged the hunter not to kill it.

The hunter, Xia Lang, accepted Wen Gu’s request and medicated the fawn. Wen Gu was grateful to Xia Lang. With time passing by, they fell in love with each other. But the king of Yu in Dali city was attracted by the beauty of Wen Gu. So, the king expressed his love to Wen Gu, but was rejected by Wen Gu. The emperor was very angry, later he asked Wen Gu to embroider 100 butterflies in the palace of the King of Yu on the pretext of robbing her away. The father came to rescue, only to be killed by the soldiers of King Yu. As soon as the fawn saw this, it rushed up the hill to inform Xia Lang, biting his clothes and dragging him down the mountain.

When Xia Lang came to the edge of the bottomless pool he saw Wen Gu’s dead father. He buried the old father first. Then he took his bow and arrows on his back and rode to the palace of the King of Yu with a sword. Taking advantage of the shades of evening, Xia Lang rescued Wen Gu. When the king of Yu found out, he ordered his soldiers to seek for Xia Lang. Xia Lang bent his bow and made an arrow, and shot down the soldiers one after another. Unfortunately, there are a large number of soldiers and Xia Lang had to protect Wen Gu, so they retreated to the bottomless pool. At that moment, Xia Lang’s arrows had been used up and he had nothing to protect Wen Gu and himself. When there was no way to escape, they jumped into the bottomless pool. The fawn also jumped into the pool to die for its master. The strange thing is that as they were jumping into the pool, the clear sky suddenly began lightning, and the rain began to fall, which frightened away the chief steward and the soldiers of the King of Yu.

After the rain, birds, flowers, and a pair of butterflies fly from the pool, and then many small butterflies also fly out of the pool. According to legend, the two big butterflies and many small ones are the incarnation of Wen Gu, Xia Lang and her embroidery respectively.

In memory of Xia Lang and Wen Gu, people not only renamed the bottomless pool Butterfly Spring, but also on April 15 of each lunar year, they jumped into the lake for love and went to the spring to pay their respects and cherish the memory of this pair of unyielding lovers.

Story of Xia Guan

Xia Guan,Erhai Lake
Xia Guan

Wang Hong, a student of the Taoist priest in Yunnan, married White Fox Fairy. White fox fairy owned a pearl, and Wang Hong often contained the pearl in his mouth, so he got some magic arts. One day, he told his teacher that he was going to kill two families, named Qian and Wan. The teacher mistakenly thought that he was going to kill thousands and thousands of families. When Wang Hong crossed from the east sea to the West sea, his teacher drove him to the bottom of the sea with a slab of ink stone.

When the white fox fairy got the news, she asked the Goddess of Mercy for help. The Goddess of Mercy gave her six bottles of wind which can blow away the water so as to save her husband. However, when carrying six bottles of wind, she can not talk with people at all. When White fox fairy came to Xia Guan Jiangfeng Temple to rest, she met a woman who was suffering abdominal pain to give birth. The woman asked her to go out of the temple to find someone for help. As soon as she answered, five bottles of wind had been inhaled into the hole and gone. Immediately, she put the only bottle of wind on the top of Cangshan, directly blowing the Erhai Sea. When the wind began blowing, a cloud appeared on the top of the mountain. She stood on the cloud, hoping to see her husband at the bottom of the sea, year after year, she became a “Wangfu cloud”(Wangfu means looking at her husband.). Xia Guan got its name “windy city” as there are five bottles of wind in its cave.


Transportation to Erhai Lake

 By Bus

If you go to the Erhai Lake by bus from Dali Ancient City, you can take Bus No. 11 and get off at Longshan Market Station. It takes you about 72 minutes to get there. The price is 3 yuan.  

By Taxi

Chinese: 请带我去洱海。English: Please take me to the Erhai Lake.

If you go to the Erhai Lake by taxi from Dali Ancient City, it takes you about 40 minutes to get there (45 yuan).

The Colorful Scenery, Erhai Lake
The Colorful Scenery


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