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Dali is a city that rests on 2000 meters above sea level in the Yunnan province of China, where several small ancient towns surrounds Erhai Lake. Approximately 40 km in length and 8km wide, it makes Erhai Lake the second largest highland lake in the China. To explore Dali, grab a bike and start pedalling.

There are a few biking courses that the tour agencies offer; a half day, a full day, or even two full days. Alternatively, you could grab a map for your own biking tour, like my team and I did. You can rent a decent bicycle for 40RMB to start your journey.

We started from Dali Old Town along Da Li Lu heading towards Cai Cun Pier. The road was slightly down slope, I guess we would suffer heading back. We passed fields, several local villages and the Cangshan peaks. This route is generally less touristy and there were not many cyclists.


Cangshan peaks

Dali Road

Passing local villages

Erhai Lake

Erhai Lake, on the way to Xizhou

As we cycled along this route, we would pass Xizhou. Xizhou is a pleasant small town located 20km northwest from Dali. If you start your day at about 9am, you should be able to arrive at noon. This village sells tie-dye products that are cheaper as compared to Dali. The Bai minority architecture in the vicinity are not to be missed. These old houses is an area preserved from development.

Erhai Lake

Between Xizhou and Shuanglang

Remember, Dali is 2000m above sea level. If you are not used to the altitude, you'd probably would like to rest in Xizhou for the day. If you have confident to continue, you would arrive in Shunglang about 20km further. This town is a good place for a lunch break and it is much easier to find eating places or a lodge in contrast to other towns.

The distance around Erhai Lake is approximately 125km. There is much to see if you allocate enough time for your trip. In this journey, we took more time than expected as we stopped several times within 10km to take photos of the beautiful scenery. Who doesn't want a nice photo when you don’t see such scenery every day?

As we had a train to catch, we only made it to Shuanglang then back to Dali Old Town (total of 80km). So if you decide to complete the cycling route around Erhai Lake, I suggest taking a two days biking trip for a stopover in one of the small towns. It would be a perfect  tour away from the touristy area, like the Old Town in Dali.

Aside from the route we took, there are two other routes, the western side or eastern side route which offers different scenery around the lake.  You may want to look for more information before you start your trip. It would also be wise to choose your particular route according your physical condition and time. Then again, if you think you could easily complete 125km distance a day, do it. Are you ready for such a cycling experience?

Dali Town

Dali Old Town at night

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