Photographic Guide to The Famous Lakes in Yunnan

Tourism, as a comprehensive economic and cultural activity, cannot be separated from scientific development and technological progress. The camera makes it possible for everyone to become his/her or his/her own tourist photographer. To some extent, taking pictures is like a default program of Yunnan Travel. Although you can’t carry beautiful sceneries with you, you can take beautiful photos with you. When you are in leisure, look at the old photos and still feel the beautiful sceneries. At the same time, the photos are also the evidences that remind you what happened in that time, allowing beautiful times to reappear. Be a tourist or a traveller, photography is one of the popular ways to document your experiences. Yunnan is in no short for soul cleansing experiences and mind blowing views. Photography trips to the famous lakes in Yunnan are popular among the travellers.

Shuoda Lake in Deqin County, Diqing
Shuoda Lake in Deqin County, Diqing

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.

1. How to Get There

By bus

Take No. 24, 44, 73, 94, 135, 172 or 233 buses, and get off at Haigeng Gongyuan (Haigeng Park) Station.

By taxi

Take a taxi to the Haigeng Park (near Dianchi Lake)costs about RMB25 yuan, it is about 12 kilometers from the Nanping Pedestrian Street of Kunming.

By passenger car

There is special line for traveling to Dianchi, you can take that car in the city center.

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

For the comfortable weather in Kunming, it is suitable to have a trip here all year round.

Spring and summer

The scenery of Dianchi Lake in spring and summer is very beautiful. In addition to the decoration of the black-headed gulls in the spring, the willows and other green trees around Dianchi Lake are the important sceneries. In order to pursue an unpolluted ecology, many people come to Yunnan and come to Dianchi Lake. The sparkling water of Dianchi Lake, the West Mountain in the distance are under your eyes when wondering the lakeside of Dianchi Lake. Every scenery makes you comfortable and enjoy yourself so much as to forget to leave. Everything is a beautiful picture under your lens.

Autumn and winter

In autumn and winter, many citizens and tourists come to Dianchi Lake to watch and feed  the black-headed gulls. Every autumn and winter, there are a large number of the black-headed gulls from Siberia to Kunming for overwintering.  The harmony of people and the black-headed gulls is the unique scenery line.

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

There are some hotels not far from Dianchi Lake. So there is no need to worry about where to stay. Just tell us about your standards and Yunnan Travel will arrange everything for you. You just  enjoy the trip.

Of the 25 native fish species and subspecies in Dianchi Lake, 10 are endemic to the basin: Acheilognathus elongatus, Anabarilius alburnops, Anabarilius polylepis, Cyprinus micristius micristius, Liobagrus kingi, Pseudobagrus medianalis, Silurus mento, Sinocyclocheilus grahami, Sphaerophysa dianchiensis and Xenocypris yunnanensis.  Therefore, fish is a good choice for numerous tourists who come to Dianchi Lake.

4. Tips for Travel in Dianchi Lake

Dianchi Lake is very large, and there are many places for travel as follows:

5. The Recommended Tours Including

Read more about Lashihai Lake Tours

Lashihai Lake

Nestled at the centre of the Lijiang County of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, the Lijiang Lashihai Plateau Wetland Nature Reserve was established in 1998 by the Yunnan provincial government to preserve an indispensable wetland habitat. The 65-square-kilometre reserve is home to some 300,000 Naxi and Yi ethnic people. But it becomes more populous during winter – as the reserve turns into a paradise for migratory birds. Lashihai Lake is the main area where birds dwell. Around 140,000 migratory birds spent their winter beside Lashihai Lake. A repertoire of 165 species of birds can be observed in Lashihai.

1. How to Get There

By car-rental

From Lijiang Ancient Town, hiring a car to Lashihai Lake is highly recommended. The car journey takes about 30 minutes and the fare is around 30 Yuan. Hiring a car to Zhiyun Temple for a single journey costs about 25 Yuan.

By Mini buses

Mini buses are available from Zhongyi Market to the south and north banks of Lashi Lake and the fare is 4 to 5 Yuan.

By Cycling

If you are a cycling lover, cycling from Lijiang Ancient Town to Lashihai Lake is also feasible.

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

Lashihai Lake is suitable for traveling all year round. While from December to next February is the best time to watch migratory birds.

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

Generally the tourists who pay a visit to Lashihai Lake will choose to stay in Lijiang Ancient Town. There are many characteristics hotels, guesthouses and inns to choose in Lijiang Ancient Town. People who want a more beautiful living environment can also choose to live in the Shuhe Ancient Town or the tranquil Baisha Ancient Town. Anyhow, there are lots of agritainments near the scenic spots where you can choose to stay.

Read more about Lashihai Lake Accommodation

Lashihai is also a place full of delicious food. Try to find the local food with us! There are many agritainments where you can enjoy the local dishes. The crucian, longevity grass, ottelia acuminata, native chicken hotpot, etc. are good choices for tourists.

Read more about Lashihai Lake Dining

4. The Recommended Tours Including

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), known as “Pearl of Plateau”, is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan. Since the lake has a shape of an ear, it gets the name Erhai (Ear Lake). Taking a boat and cycling around the lake are fantastic ways to explore “Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake” scenery. It is ranked the second in Yunnan Province and the seventh freshwater lake in China by area and water storage.

1. 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 Ancient 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 Ancient 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.

Other ways to Erhai Lake

  • You can take bus or taxi to this Dali tourist attraction.
  •  If you plan to take bus and are at railway station, you can firstly take No. 8 bus to Fuxing Road at Dali Ancient city. And then get off and go straight to the Boai Road to take No. 2 bus. No.2 bus will stop at Cai Village Dock, get off at this stop, you will arrive at the lake.
  •  If you think it too difficult for you to take bus to the lake, you can just choose taxi. The driver will send you to the destination.

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

The best time to visit Erhai Lake should be from June to August, during that time is very comfortable. The seasonal variation of Dali is not obvious, there is no obvious hot summer and bitter winter. And the weather in Dali is spring all the year round. There are too many attractions that are valuable to take photographs, such as the beautiful Nanzhao Folk Island, Little Putuo Island, Jinsuo Island, Luoquan Peninsula, Erhai Park, Xizhou Ancient Town, etc. Every scenery will be beautiful photos under your lens. In spring and summer, the sceneries will be important materials. In autumn and winter, the black-headed gulls will be your “models”.

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

There are some hotels not far from Erhai Lake. So there is no need to worry about where to stay. Just tell us about your standards and Yunnan Travel will arrange everything for you. You just  enjoy the trip.

There are many fish species, such as cyprinoid, gong fish(弓鱼),  Brachymystax lenok, crucian, grass carp, black carp. So come to Erhai Lake, fish is a good choice for tourists.

4. The Recommended Tours Including

Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake, at the border between Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces and about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Lijiang city, is an alpine lake renowned for its stunning scenery and unique Mosuo culture. The formation of the lake is thought to have occurred in a geological fault belonging to the geological age of the Late Cenozoic.

1. How to Get There

By bus

Option 1: At Lijiang ancient town, there are round-trip special tourist buses to Lugu Lake. The terminal station is Lige bus station and the buses go through Daluoshui Village Bus Station.

Option 2: There are two general long-distance buses departing at 8:30 and 9:30 from Lijiang Gaokuai Bus Station to Daluoshui Village Bus Station in Yunnan Province. The distance is about 230km and it takes about 5.5 hours. The ticket fee is RMB 77 yuan.

Option 3: There are one bus departing at 8:30 from Lijiang to Yongning which goes through Lugu Lake.

Option 4: Take a bus at Lijiang Bus Station to Xichang Bus Station. The bus goes through Lugu Lake and arrives there at about 12 o’clock.

Option 5: Take a bus at Lijiang New Bus Station to Ninglang Bus Station and then change bus to Daluoshui Village Bus Station.

By Car-rental

In Lijiang city, it is feasible to rent a car or van to Lugu Lake. The fee is about 600 – 700 yuan. We can offer car rental service, and if you need a private car in Yunnan Province, please feel free to contact us. Our cars/ vans are new, safe and comfortable. Our drivers are skilled with several years of driving experience on the hill path.

Read more about Lugu Lake Transportation

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

The months from March to October is the best time to visit Lugu Lake. However, without too much weather change from spring to winter, it allows visitors to get there at any time. In addition, considering that the months from July to September is the rainy season, the road to Lugu Lake will generate mountain landslide and debris flow, so do not choose this time to visit Lugu Lake.

Most visitors choose to visit Lugu Lake because of the water, mountain, mosuo people, and some like to visit there for the birds in winter, and some for the beautiful flowers in blossom season. When winter comes, the rare migratory birds, like swan and black-necked crane, will migrate to here for their winter, which will add a type of lively scene to Lugu Lake. The bank of the lake is full of various blossoms throughout the year, such as peach blossom and pear flower in March and April, ghent azalea in May June and July, sunflower in August and September, coreopsis in October and November.

Read more about Lugu Lake Climate

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

In the Lugu Lake tourist area, there are more than 400 hotels and rooms ranging from inns and guesthouses to five-star hotels. The accommodations are mainly located in Caohai village, Dazshui village, Sanjia village, Lige village and Dazui village. If you have a fixed budget, it is recommended to live in local dwellings and experience local Mosuo’s customs. 

Read more about Lugu Lake Accommodation

Dinner service in the Lugu Lake Tourism Zone is mainly provided in Luoshui village and Lige village, both nearing Lugu Lake. The hotels mainly supply catering services. The breakfast is particularly sumptuous, comprised of buttered tea, porridge, steamed bread, pickles and rice threads, for tourists to help themselves. Tourists may also order meals for lunch and supper. The tourism zone furnishes bars, middle-rank restaurants and local flavor snacks. Tourists may also visit Mosuo homes to have a taste of delicious preserved pork, dried beef, buttered tea, and Sulima wine. Here we introduce you some local food for your reference.

Read more about Lugu Lake Dining

4. The Recommended Tours Including

Read more about Lugu Lake Tours

Fuxian Lake

Located in Chengjiang County, which is 52 kilometers away from Kunming, Fuxian Lake is 5 kilometers away from the county seat of Chengjiang County. It is the deepest plateau freshwater lake in China, with an area of about 212 square kilometers and a maximum depth of 155 meters, with an average depth of 95 meters and a maximum transparency of 8 meters. 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”.

1. How to Get There

By bus

There are midibuses from Kunming South Bus Station to Chengjiang County. It takes about 1 hour and a half to Chengjiang Bus Terminal. Ticket price is about 20 yuan each person. The phone number of Kunming South Bus Station is 0871-67361722.

In Chengjiang County, you can take No.2 bus and No.8 bus to reach the scenic spots along Fuxian Lake respectively. And there are buses in Chengjiang bus terminal, you can see them when you get off the midibus. You can ask the driver who can tell you the detail information.

By driving

It is very convenient to get to Fuxian Lake by driving, which takes about 1 hours from Southern Kunming Passenger Terminal.

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

Enjoying a subtropical monsoon climate,  visitors can visit Fuxian Lake all year round. With warmest sun, softest beach and clearest water, Fuxian Lake is a excellent place to escape the heat in summer. The clear lake water, warm sunshine, gentle breeze and simple villagers are the beautiful picture scroll under your lens.

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

There are some hotels not far away from Fuxian Lake. So there is no need to worry about where to stay. Just tell us about your standards and Yunnan Travel will arrange everything for you. You just  enjoy the trip.

There are many delicious dishes, such as Chengjiang Lotus Root Starch, Boiled Fish in Copper Pot, Potato with rice and ham in Copper Pot, etc. Datou fish is the famous fish of Jiangchuan in Yuxi. It has a big and wide head and high fat content. Big-head fish is named for its broad head, delicate meat, delicious taste, and can be used as medicine. With high economic value and medicinal value, it is one of the indigenous fish of  Xingyun Lake.

4. The Recommended Tours Including

Chenghai Lake

Situated in the middle of Yongsheng County, Yunnan Province, Chenghai Lake is also called Heiwuhai and is wide in the north and south but narrow in the opposite direction. It is the second largest freshwater lake in western Yunnan as well as one of the three major lakes in the world. Geologically, it is a kind of diastrophic Lake formed in the middle Cenozoic tertiary period about 12 million years ago when the graben shaped because of the Himalayan orogeny, and hence the water accumulated into the graben to form the lake.

1. How to Get There

By driving

It is about 117 kilometers from Lijiang to Chenghai Lake, which takes about 3 hours by driving.

By bus

There are buses from Lijiang to Chenghai Town in the Lijiang Passenger Terminal, which takes about 3 hours at the price of 20 Yuan, then there are buses from Chenghai Town to Chenghai Lake, which takes about 1.5 hours at the price of 12 Yuan.

2. Best Time to Visit and What to Photograph

Chenghai Lake is suitable to visit for visitors all year round. Chenghai Lake is not only rich in fish, but also beautiful and attractive in scenery. To travel in the boat, tourists can view nothing but the vast shining water and the mysterious frog. Walking along the green coastal terraces, visitors can see hundreds of cottages, as if entering a picturesque wonderland. There is no frost in the four seasons. The beaches in the north are soft and clean, which can be used for swimming and other aquatic entertainment.

3. Where to Stay and What to Eat

In Chenghai Town, the accommodation conditions are not very good. Therefore, visitors are recommended to stay in Yongsheng County, which has more hotels with good living environment.

The silverfish is a special product of Chenghai Lake. With tender meat and white color, it is rich in protein and low in fat. Besides, it also contains a variety of micronutrients and calcium with high nutritional value.

Tips for Photography of The Famous Lakes in Yunnan

1. What Equipment We Need for Photography

  • Digital camera: Films are less useful at high altitude than digital cameras and the photos quality are lower and tend to blur at near-freezing temperatures.
  • Batteries: In general, the batteries can only last for a lot shorter period of time. So please take more batteries.
  • Tripod: A tripod is a kind of support frame used to stabilize the camera to achieve some photographic effects. The positioning of the tripod is very important.
  • Lens: After the light reaches the  retroreflector through the lens of the camera, it is refracted to the upper focusing screen and formed into an image. Different lens can meet the different requirements of the photographer.
  • Body: A body with good ISO performance is best here and can get the best photos possible.
  • Recharger: Ensure very batteries are in full of energy.
  • Filter: It can help us produce the best imagines.

2. Notes

  • Keep enough memory cards at hand.
  • A UV lens should be used to protect from the UV rays.
  • It might be a little hard to find points to recharge your battery.
  • Ask permission before taking pictures of the locals and the shrines.
  • Extra fully charged batteries as batteries seem to drain out soon in low temperatures.
  • It is better to take small tripod and photoflash lamp for a steadier and better photography.
  • When it comes to high altitude photography, it is preferable to carry wide angle camera and lenses.
  • Try to keep your gear as light as possible, as most of the places require trekking and a lot of walking.

3. Keep reading more