Lakes in Yunnan

Yunnan is an inland province, surrounded by no sea, but rich in water, with fancy rivers, lakes, springs, pools and glacier landscapes. Yunnan has hundreds of plateau freshwater lakes and 37 lakes with an area of more than 1 square kilometer, making Yunnan one of the provinces with the largest number of lakes in China. Among them, many lakes are famous at home and abroad, known as the “Pearl of the Plateau.”

Brief Introduction

There are several major lakes in Yunnan. The province has nine lakes with areas of over 30 square kilometers (12 sq mi). They include:

  • Dianchi Lake, in Kunming
  • Fuxian Lake in Yuxi, the second deepest lake in China
  • Xingyun Lake, directly south of Fuxian Lake and connected with it by a short river
  • Qilu Lake, south of Fuxian and Xingyun Lakes, separated from them by mountains, in Tonghai County
  • Erhai Lake, near Dali City
  • Lugu Lake, in Ninglang(宁蒗) near the border with Sichuan
  • Yangzong Lake, in Yiliang County
  • Yilong Lake in Shiping County, Honghe Prefecture

Major Lakes in Yunnan

1. Dianchi Lake

Embraced by several peaks and alluring waters, Dianchi Lake is just like a sparkling jewel embedded in Kunming. The lake is crescent-shaped, stretching 24 miles (39 kilometers) from north to south and more than 8 miles (13.5 kilometers) from west to east. Occupying an area of 116 square miles (300 square kilometers), Dianchi Lake is the largest lake in China. More than 20 rivers converge into it.

The Dianchi Scenic Area is quite mesmerizing, where natural scenery and human landscape blend perfectly. It can be divided into two districts, namely West district and East district. What makes Dianchi Lake distinctive is that the color of its water changes with the clouds and sunshine of the day. Around Dianchi Lake also lie many places of interest, such as West Hill, Daguan Park, Yunnan Ethnic Village and so on. These featured attractions are all ideal getaways for visitors to get close to nature to relax.

Tours including Dianchi Lake: 
1 Day Kunming Cycling Tour Around Dianchi Lake
6 Days Northeast Yunnan Winter Birding Tour to Dianchi Lake, Nianhu Lake and Dashanbao
9 Days Yunnan-Guizhou Winter Birding Tour with Dianchi Lake, Caohai Lake, Nianhu Lake and Dashanbao Nature Reserve

2. Fuxian Lake

Fuxian lake stretches out Chengjiang, Jiangchuan and Huaning Counties in Yunnan Province, spanning an area of 212 square kilometers. The lake is ranked third-largest in Yunnan, after Dian Lake and Erhai Lake. Also the deepest lake in Yunnan, it is 155 meters deep at its greatest depth. It is also the third-deepest fresh water lake in China, after Tianchi and Kanas Lake. The lake is 1722.5 meters above the sea level. The water quality is national class water, the net purity of the lake is more than 99%, and the water storage is extremely large.

The beauty of Fuxian lake cannot be separated from the limpid water of Fuxian lake. As early as the late Ming dynasty, traveler Xu Xiake in his Travels of Xu Xiake noted that “the mountains of Yunnan are rich in soil, therefore, obstructing the flow into the sea, and the flow is turbid, but Fuxian lake is the clearest”.

When you traveling Yuxi, Fuxian Lake is the best choice to enjoy yourself. Tours in Fuxain Lake are always related to the hot destinations in Yunnan, like Kunming, Jianshui, Yuanyang and so on.
8 Days Deluxe Kunming, Shilin, Mile Jianshui Photo Tour with Yuanyang Rice Terraces and Fuxianhu Lake

3. Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake or Er Lake is an alpine fault lake in Yunnan province, China. Its name means “Ear-shaped Sea”, due to its shape as seen by locals and travelers. Erhai Lake was also known as Yeyuze(叶榆泽) or Kunming Lake in ancient times. Erhai Lake is famous as “Pearl of Plateau”, which is the second largest lake in Yunnan Province and the seventh freshwater lake in China by area and water storage. It also enjoys the charming scenery. In a sunny day, the crystal waters of Erhai Lake and the snow mantled Cangshan Mount radiate with each other. 

Recommended Route for Tourists
Type one: Cruise Around Erhai Lake
Type two: Cycle around Erhai Lake
More Information, Please reference to Erhai Lake Cruises in Dali and Erhai Lake in Dali.

Recommended Tours
1 Day Dali City Highlights Group Tour
2 Days Dali Pilgrimage Hiking Tour from Erhai Lake to Jizu Mountain
2 Days Dali Cycling Tour around Erhai Lake
6 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Shangri-La Group Tour
More Dali Tours

4. Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is located in the northwest of the Yunnan plateau, with the middle of the lake forming the border between the Ninglang County of Yunnan Province and the Yanyuan County of Sichuan Province. The formation of the lake is thought to have occurred in a geological fault belonging to the geological age of the Late Cenozoic. It is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres (8,809 ft) and is the highest lake in the Yunnan Province. The lake is surrounded by mountains and has five islands, four peninsulas, fourteen bays and seventeen beaches. 

The lake’s shores are inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of these are the Mosuo people. In the Mosuo language, Lugu means “falling into the water” and hu means “lake” in Chinese, which combined together give the name of the lake. And Lugu Lake is called the “mother lake” by the Mosuo people.

Recommended Tours with Lugu Lake
2 Days Lijiang Lugu Lake Tour and Matriarchal Society Discovery
6 Days Lijiang Wonders Discovery Tour with Lugu Lake and Tiger Leaping Gorge
12 Days Yunnan-Sichuan Trekking Tour from Lugu Lake to Daocheng and Yading

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