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Erhai Lake Entertainment

One of the travel highlights is said to be a boat ride. People can ride boats and visit temples and small islands in the lake, and they may enjoy the local cuisine and the Bai tea ceremony while they are doing so. In the simple ceremony, three different kinds of Bai tea are served. Islands in the lake include Guanyin Ge (Guanyin Pavilion), Jinsuo Island, Nanzhao Fengqing Island and Xiao Putuo Island.

The lake is an important source of food, and the Bai fishermen catch fish in an interesting way. They train cormorants to catch fish and return it to them. The cormorants can’t swallow the fish because they have constricting rings around their necks. Imagine a dinner of cooked carp that was caught in the clean water by a cormorant on the banks of the lake.

The lakeshore can be explored by hiking and bicycling. Bikes are available for rent. Nearby are many historic sites such as the Three Pagodas and the ancient city of Dali and Xizhou. There are many villages you may visit. Some are mainly Bai villages and some have a mixed population.

The nearby high mountains can be explored by hiking, on horseback, or by car. There is a road linking the various sites on the 19 peaks. But the mountain is a good hiking area, which waterfalls, forests, and high peaks to climb. You can bring tents. A cable car that passes high over a forest connects the ancient city of Dali and one of the central peaks.

Highlights around include Erhai Lake Park and the Butterfly Springs on the western bank of the lake. Erhai Lake Park is on Tuanshan Peak at the southern end of Erhai Lake, and it is about two and a half kilometers away from the modern sector of Dali. It is a good place to enjoy the sights of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. The park has an arboretum, a zoo, and a public swimming pool, and there is a path through the park to an observation area on the mountain.

Cycling Around Erhai Lake

In Dali ,the best way to spend your leisure time is cycling, That is a good choice.

Bike trips in the surrounding countryside are a popular excursion for visitors to Dali Old Town (大理古城). Short trips to Erhai Lake (洱海) or to nearby villages can be a great way to get out of the touristy centre and get some exercise.

With Erhai Lake being so dominant in the Dali geography, it's tempting to tackle a lap as an extended bike excursion. Cycling around lakes can be a straightforward undertaking (water's flat, right?) but some planning is still worthwhile.

On a recent trip, GoKunming cycled a portion of a lap, from Xizhou (喜州) clockwise to Xiaguan (下关). Here's how it went down:

We cycled north from Xizhou on the Dali-Lijiang road (大丽线), a two lane asphalt road. If you start at Dali Old Town or Xiaguan, a better choice is the smooth eight lane concrete G214, which also follows the west side of the lake, but further from the shore than the Dali-Lijiang road. Both roads are well surfaced and gently undulating, but the G214 has less vehicle traffic.

As you approach the north end of the lake, the roads converge until they're in sight of each other, and you'll need to cut across to the road nearer to the shore in order to continue the loop. It's in the village of Jiangwei (江尾) that you'll turn off the main road, shortly after crossing a couple of water channels.

We'd covered 15km from Xizhou by this point, and couldn't help noticing we'd done it rather fast. Despite feeling pretty strong after our ride from Kunming to Dali, the large energy-generation turbines up on the hill gave us a better clue: this region gets some strong winds.

After Jiangwei, the road surface is rough for approximately 20km, due to age and construction traffic. Yet another highway is being built by the lake, this time along the east side. Expect detours and an unclear route in the northeast quadrant of the lake until construction is complete. It had rained the day before we did the loop and some sections were very muddy, with our speed falling to less than 10km/h.

This section will take you past Shuanglang (双廊), distinctive for its peninsula and small offshore island. Shuanglang would make a great place to stop for some lunch.

Just south of the village of Qingshan (青山) the road improves considerably. It's recently been resurfaced, and would make for some very fast riding were it not for the strong southerly headwind. Weaker riders might prefer to plan a ride that goes north on this section.

The road stays right by the shore for pretty much all of the east side of the lake. You'll pass the village of Wase (挖色), which also has lunch options, the tiny island temple of Xiao Putuo (小普陀) and later the big two-peaked island of Hai Dao (海岛).

At the south-east of the lake, the road from Dali airport joins the lakeside road and the traffic load increases. The road surface remains good though, and some shelter provided by the hills means that a fast pull into Xiaguan is possible. As you enter Xiaguan, there's an option of staying on the main road and heading uphill into the town, or staying by the lake.

Advance planning here will serve you well - we took the road into town so we could head to the bus station. If you're continuing around the lake, the lakeside road will be the more pleasant ride, but be sure to have an idea how to connect up to the G214 again to complete the loop

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