Located to the north of Dali City, Eryuan County is at the source of Erhai Lake. The whole county covers 2,875 square kilometers, and is inhabited by 23 different ethnic groups including Bai, Yi, Hui, Dai and Lisu, with the Bai ethnicity being the largest one. Endowed with rich natural resources, Eryuan County is praised as "the land of fish and rice", "the land of plums", "the land of cows", "the land of hot springs", "the land of orchids", "a water town on a plateau" and "the land of suona" (a Chinese musical instrument). Being fertile and beautiful, it is also well-known for its splendid culture and its humanistic landscape that is primitively simplistic, poetic and picturesque.
Eryuan County is the travel hub to such famous scenic sites as Lijiang, Dali and Diqing. As a key component of the Dali Scenic Site, which is one of the National Scenic Areas, it has positional advantages and wide-ranging tourist resources.
There are more than 200 tourist sites within the county, which can divided into four scenic areas: Xihu Lake, Cibihu Lake, Haixihai Lake and Niaodiaoshan Mountain.
In Xihu Lake scenic area, the villages are strewn around the lake, and the lake cuts through the villages. Willow trees grow along the banks, and reeds grow in the bends of the lake. If you add into the picture the fogged-out isles and the fishermen's songs, isn't it like a scenic site to the south of Yangtze River?
Cibihu Lake 茈碧湖, clear as a mirror, is well known for a very rare and ancient Nymphaeaceae plant, the "cibi flower", that blossoms from 9 am to 11 am, and folds up at 1 pm to 3 pm. A special "water flower tree" can also be seen in this lake. Under the clear virid water, colorful bubbles rise up from the bottom in clusters and bunches, forming a magnificent view. Gradually, the bubbles collect together, eventually becoming a "treasure tree" from which hang all kinds of pearls. At the foot of Pigushan Mountain, local farmers grow pear trees, forming such a peaceful scene that it is like a retreat away from the world. The sight is so attractive that you will not regret visiting.
Haixihai Lake 海西海 sits tranquilly in the bosoms of the surrounding green hills. In contrast, on Niaodiaoshan Mountain, you will hear the rustle of pine trees, and see the blossoms of azaleas. What's more, it is a real spectacle when myriads of birds join together and perch on the branches, chattering to each other.
There are many more attractions within the county, like beautiful peaks, secluded caves, immense forests, sweet springs, hot springs and plum gardens.
A long history has endowed Eryuan County with a profound cultural heritage. There are 27 very important protected cultural heritage sites within the county, three of which are at a provincial level. Inhabitants of this land in ancient times left behind numerous legends or relics. In the early years of the Tang Dynasty, Langqiongzhao (a Yunnan tribe at the time) built the Phoenix Platform, and dug the Baishajing (literally meaning "White Sand Well"). Emperor Jianwen (the second emperor in the Ming Dynasty) slept in a cave called Mianlongdong (named thus after he slept there, for the name means "the cave where an emperor slept"), and farmed in Shilongsi. The list goes on. All those various ethnic groups in Eryuan County have created a magnificent endemic culture through their diligence and wisdom. They are also very good at dancing and singing. Because of the above-mentioned facts, Eryuan County is praised as "the land of myths", "the land where the heavenly maids scatter down songs" and "the land of Bai ethnicity's suona".
Innumerable tourists visit Eryuan County in throngs to see its beautiful lakesides and mountains, its numerous humanistic landscapes, and its rich ethnic culture and customs.
It is convenient to travel from Kunming to Dali, because the two cities are connected by a high grade highway, and vehicles commute between them for 24 hours a day. It takes six hours to reach Dali this way. Ticket prices vary according to the mode of travel, but normally they should fall between the range of 100 and 150 yuan.
From Kunming: catch a bus at Majiexibu Bus Station.
Eryuan County is 70 kilometers north (and slightly east) of Dali City. If you want to go straight to Eryuan County and have an overview of Erhai Lake, the best route is to take a taxi in Dali City all the way to Erhai Park in Xiaguan, Dali, and then start travelling to Eryuan County via Erhai Lake by boat (either a wooden boat or a speedboat).
If you prefer an even more convenient way, you can travel by a special line to Eryuan County, and start your tour by boat there.
I updated this article on January 14, 2014
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