Erhai Lake​ the second largest freshwater lake in Dali

​​​Last Update: 19th October 2020

Located east of Dali Old Town, Erhai Lake covers an area of 256.5 square kilometers. It looks like an ear. Cangshan Mountain lies opposite the lake. It is surrounded by mountains. It takes around 15 minutes ride on a bike from Dali Old Town to the lake. Every spot of the lake ring offers distinctive views in any season. On fine days, the snow covered on Cangshan Mountain will be a great feast for eyes.

Erhai Lake ​Fast Facts

  • Chinese Name: Erhai (洱海)
  • Area: 256.5 x square kilometers
  • Things to do th​ere: Photography, Nature, Boating, Cycling, Driving, Walking
  • Who visits: Photographers, Adventure Enthusiasts
  • Time required: 2 – 3 x hours
Interested in visiting Erhai Lake on a Yunnan Tour?

Wendy Wei Tours offers a variety of different packaged tours as well as custom tours including Erhai Lake, among other attractions and destinations. To find out more, please visit our Tours page or Contact Us directly to find out more.

What to expect at Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake is home to tens of species of fishes, such as carp, Brachymystax lenok, black carp, etc. If lucky enough, you could also find brown-headed gulls, common shelduck, common crane, ruddy-breasted crake, greater painted-snipe, and northern lapwing and so on. Between November and March, black-headed gulls from Siberia will enjoy the warm winter at Erhai Lake.


On fine days with soft wind, you could enjoy boating on the lake to appreciate the views of Jinsuo Island, Nanzhao Island and other Islands in the lake. On a big cruise boat which is able to hold hundreds of persons, passengers will enjoy the singing and dancing show of Bai people – Three Course Tea (San Dao Cha). Running for some 3 hours, the cruise boat always stopover at Little Putuo Island and Nanzhao Island. Passengers could explore Nanzhao Island for 20 minutes.


If you want to enjoy a private cruise on the lake, local villagers of Shuanglang Village (双廊) and Caicun Village (才村) also offer this service. On the small fishing boat, the villagers will take you to the spots you are interested. There is no fixed route for the small boat cruise. It only depends on your preferences.


Riding a bike, driving a car or walking around the lake is also a great chance to enjoy the natural beauty. Along the lake ring, you will see different views and pass by several Bai ethnic minorities villages. The ring is 115 kilometers long. Chairs, desks and benches at the bank of the lake are put by locals. If you would like to take pictures beside or on the furniture, you will need to pay it for an extra charge.


On fine days, the night view at Erhai Lake is gorgeous as well. You will enjoy the starry sky. If you want to stay overnight at the lake, it is recommended that you choose a hotel which is situated by the lake and offers lake-view rooms. When you come back to the room from the Erhai Lake Tour, you could refresh yourself with a cup of tea and immerse you in the beautiful views of Erhai Lake through the window.

Best time to visit Erhai Lake

If you are planning to visit Erhai Lake for photography purposes, the best time to visit is at dusk or at night on fine days.

The best months to visit are from June to August.


How to get to Erhai Lake

A few buses pass by Erhai Lake. Therefore, there are only a few options.

  • Rent a vehicle to Erhai Lake from Dali Old Town. This is the quickest and most direct option.
  • Take Bus 6 to the Stop of Erhai Pier (洱海码头) or take Bus 11 to the Stop of Longshan Market (龙山市场).

Additional Erhai Lake Travel Advice

  • Opening hours: 24 hours
  • Opening hours for Nanzhao Island: 08:30 – 17:00
  • The entrance ticket to Erhai Lake is free of charge.
  • As at 19th October 2020, the entrance ticket to the big cruise boat is 142 CNY per person.
  • The entrance ticket to Nanzhao Island is 50 CNY per person; the entrance ticket to Yuji Island is 25 CNY per person.
  • For the latest pricing information, please contact us via email (
  • The cruise starts at different time at different pier.
  • At Dali Port Pier (大理港码头), the cruise starts at 09:00 and at Longkan Pier (龙龛码头), the cruise starts at 10:00.
  • Please take care of yourself on board.
  • Please wear the sunscreen cream and sunglasses.
Interested in visiting Erhai Lake on a Tour?

Wendy Wei Tours offers a variety of different packaged tours as well as custom tours in Erhai Lake, among other cities and areas. To find out more, please visit our Tours page or Contact Us directly to find out more.