China Underground > Travel to Yunnan > Travel to Yuxi > Trip to Fuxian Lake

Trip to Fuxian Lake

Last Updated on 2020/11/04

Lying over 60 kilometers southeast of Kunming, in the Yuxi Prefecture, it is the second deepest freshwater lake in China.

抚仙湖 Fuxian Lake, Yuxi, Yunnan

It is an ideal summer resort because the water temperature changes a little between summer and winter in addition to the good water quality. The main scenic spots are New Hekou, Luchong Village and Gushan Island, etc.

Attention: The middle bus departs from Kunming East Passengers Transport Station to Chengjiang County every 15 minutes with a fare of ¥18.5, it takes about 2 hours. Everyday middle buses travel to and fro between Chengjiang County and Luchong Village with a fare of ¥3-5, it takes 20 minutes. The entrance ticket is ¥10 for one person.

Basic Information

Geological Location: It is located in the south of Chengjiang County, 5 km from the seat of the county and 70 km from Kunming.

Scenic Status: a provincial tourist resort and the 2nd deepest fresh lake in China

Touring Time: one day

Related: Fuxian – Analog sands

Travel Tips

Diving in the lake is an interesting activity. Visitors can have 15 minutes free to practice diving. Diving for half an hour charges 100 yuan—120 yuan. Before diving, participants are required to finish the Health Investigation Form because people with the following diseases are forbidden to dive: infectious disease, venereal disease, respiratory disease, tympana inflammation, and skin disease. Other activities can be done: volleyball and football on the sandy beach, rubber-raft boating, bicycle tour along the lakeside roads.

Key Points

Basic facts of Fuxian Lake, features of Kanglang fish, Fish Separating Stone, Gushan Island, lotus root starch.

Basic Facts of Fuxian Lake

Located in the boundary area of Chengjiang County, Jiangchuan County, and Huaning County, Fuxian Lake is 70 km from Kunming. It is famous for the crystal-clear water, beautiful surroundings, and a special local fish. Actually, since most of the lake is in Chengjiang County, it is also called the Chengjiang Lake. Resembling the shape of an inverted gourd, the lake covers an area of 212 square kilometers, which is the 3rd largest lake in Yunnan (The largest lake in Yunnan is Dianchi Lake and the 2nd largest one is Erhai Lake.).

Kids playing at the Fuxian beach. Picture by Dominique Musorrafiti

With the deepest point of 157.8 meters and an average depth of 87 meters, Fuxian Lake ranks the 1st in Yunnan and the 2nd in China in terms of depth. It is merely second to the deepest lake in China—a volcanic crater lake of Changbai Mountain in northeastern China. With a total water capacity of 18.9 billion cubic meters which is 12 times of Dianchi Lake and 6 times of Erhai Lake, the water capacity of Fuxian Lake ranks the top in Yunnan. Being narrow in the south and wide in the north, the lake covers a span of 31.5 kilometers from south to north and the average width is 6.7 kilometers (The widest part is 11.5 kilometers and the narrowest part is 3.2 kilometers.).

With a circumference of 90.6 kilometers, the lake is a half-closed plateau lake which is connected to Xingyun Lake by the Haimen River in the south. The water supplement of this lake comes from the surrounding streams, rivers, underground springs, and rainfall. Consequently, the lake is very clear with an average visibility of 8 meters and the deepest visibility of 12.5 meters. In terms of water quality, the Fuxian Lake also ranks the 1st in Yunnan and it is one of the clearest inland fresh lakes in China.

The name of the lake results from a local legend. It is said that the Daoist Supreme God in heaven ever sent two immortals to go on a tour of inspection in the earthly world. When they came to Chenjiang County, they were so enchanted with the amazing view of the lake here that they forgot to go back. Finally, they became two huge rocks nearby the lake. Therefore, local people named the lake “Fuxian” which means “to attract immortals”. It is said that the rocks resembling the two immortals in the legend stand on the southeastern beach of the lake. It seems to indicate that the lake is so charming that everyone including immortals would be completely infatuated with it.

The main scenic spots around Fuxian Lake are Maotianshan Mountain, Luchong Village, Haimen River, and Gushan Island.

Luchong Village and Kanglang Fish

Lying on the western shore of the Fuxian Lake, Luchong village is reputed for the tranquil beach, dense banian trees, and hospitable villagers. With the development of tourism, more and more visitors come to the village for not only beautiful views but also the special fish here. The fish in the lake is named Kanglang fish. Compared with other fishes, Kanglang fish has the following features:

Luchong Village and Kanglang Fish

Firstly, it is a unique species. Being only five inches in length, Kanglang fish is often compared to a lovely princess by the local fishermen due to its slim body. According to the research, the fish cannot be found in any other lakes or oceans except Fuxian Lake.

Secondly, the fish has a special living habit. From spring to autumn, a large quantity of the fish would come from deep water to the shallow beach area to spawn. At that time, an amazing “fish belt” would come into being along the beach. The twinkling fish groups under the sunshine are definitely a unique view for visitors. The spawning of Kanglang fish is a regular activity. After three-day spawning at the beach, they will go back to the deep water, and come back to the beach seven days later for spawning again.

Thirdly, the fishing way of local people is special. Having known the special habit of the fish, local people create a special approach to do fishing: Some fishermen put shuttle-shaped baskets along the beach to catch the fish and some use water wheels to pump water out of the bank caves for fishing. These methods are more effective here than the traditional fishing based on nets, hooks, and boats. Besides, the special fishing way is also an interesting scene for visitors.

Fourthly, there are several special ways to cook fish. The first way is to fry the fish. The internal organs of the fish are unnecessary to be got out before cooking because the fish live in the clear water. The fish can be dried in the open air after being preserved with salt for one or two days because the fish is convenient to keep, carry, and sell after being preserved and dried. Being fried in the oil, the dry preserved fish smells nice and tastes crispy. The second cooking way is to boil the fish. The fresh fish can be boiled with the following ingredients: salt, wild pepper, chili, ginger, and onion.

After being boiled by weak fire for two hours, both the fish and the soup taste delicious. The third way is to fry the fresh fish covered by the paste of egg and flour. The fish cooked in this way is soft inside and crispy outside. The fourth way is to steam. After being fried for a short time, the fish can be steamed together with ginger and onion. In this way, the most original taste of the fish can be preserved. The fifth one is to pot-cook the fish. The fresh fish can be cooked in the pot with salt as the only condiment. A bowl of dipping sauce with chili, onion, ginger, and peppermint is the necessary companion for the pot-cooked fish. Being dipped in the sauce, the fish tastes tender and fresh.

The last feature of Kanglang fish is a special way of sale. In fact, the way to sell fish is related to the living habit of the fish. Since all the Kanglang fish live in pairs, they do everything in pairs, including swimming, eating, playing, and spawning. The sincere affection between the fish is respected and cherished by the local people, so they have the tradition to sell the fish in pairs.

In Chenjiang County, there is a wide-spread story about the origin of the fish name “Kanglang”: In the Kangxi Period of Qing Dynasty, a local man named Zhao Shilin succeeded in the imperial examination, and the royal court appointed him to be the official in charge of military affairs. One day, when Zhao cooked the fried Kanflang fish for his mother’s birthday, the nice smell of the fish impressed many people in the royal court. The report of a eunuch made emperor Kangxi curious about the fish, then the emperor came to Zhao’s home to taste the fish and asked where the fish came from. After Zhao’s detailed introduction to the fish, the emperor named the fish according to its special spawning habit in the water caves along the lakeshore, hence the name “Kanglang” which means rocks and caves along the lakeshore. Furthermore, the delicious taste of the fish was so impressive that the emperor appointed the fish to be the tribute to the royal court.

It must be admitted that the quantity of Kanglang fish in Fuxian Lake has unfortunately decreased sharply due to the over-fishing at the end of the 20th century. The price of the fish goes higher and higher and today it reaches 1, 200 yuan for one kilogram on average. In order to protect the fish, the local government has taken some effective measures: only 2 months in a year are officially permitted for fishing (usually in spring). Otherwise, any fishing activities in the fishing-forbidden period are illegal. Meanwhile, the local government encourages the artificial cultivation of Kanglang fish in the lake so as to balance fish consumption and protection.

Besides Kalang fish, another important local product in Chenjiang County is lotus root starch. The local lotus roots are famous for being big, stout, and sweet. Being made of fresh lotus roots, the lotus root starch here is sweet, glutinous, smooth, and fragrant.

The Haimen River

Situated in the south of the Fuxian Lake, the Haimen River links the Fuxian Lake and the Xingyun Lake together. Although Haimen River is only one kilometer long, it attracts many visitors. In fact, the river is well-known for the three characters on the riverbank: “Jie Yu Shi”, meaning “fish separating stone”. Such a special name comes from a strange phenomenon here: Kanlang fish in the Fuxian Lake and the big-headed fish in the Xingyun Lake never swim across the stone with the three characters. It seems that they understand the stone as the boundary of the two lakes. It is said that Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty wrote the three characters on the stone to mark the wonder. Today, Haimen River has become a very popular destination for visitors.

The Gushan Island

Gushan Island is an important scenic spot in Fuxian Lake. The island used to be called the Yinhai Mountain which was linked to another nearby island by an iron bridge. However, since an earthquake destroyed the bridge, the Yinhai Mountain became an island in the lake. Therefore, the mountain was renamed Gushan, meaning an isolated mountain. In Ming Dynasty (1368—1644), the island became famous for Buddhist temples and Daoist constructions. There are eight halls ( the Great Buddha Hall, the Majestic Hall, the Guiding Hall, The Three Immortal Hall, the Living Buddha Hall, Zisun Hall, leizu Hall, and Baiyi Hall), five temples (Yuhuang Temple, Doumu Temple, Xiongwen Temple, Lvzu Temple and Xiaolin Temple), and three pavilions (Jinhai Pavilion, Wanzai Pavilion, and Tanli Pavilion). Another important building in the island is a brilliant copper pagoda.

Standing on a huge base, the pagoda is a 13-tiered construction decorated with colorful paint and inscriptions of Buddhist sutras. The pagoda enjoys a high reputation due to its grand appearance and elegant design. In November 1988, Gushan Island was officially developed into a tourist resort by Jiangchuan County. Therefore, a lot of work has been done to improve the environment and facilities for visitors such as afforesting and renovating the old buildings. In addition, a new archway was built at the dock to be the entrance of the resort. New pavilions, paths, and bridges were constructed so as to connect all the scenic spots on the island together. Consequently, the island was characterized by tranquil zigzag paths, luxuriant woods, blooming flowers, fresh air, birds singing, and delicate constructions. Up to now, Gushan Island has been developed into a comprehensive resort with good facilities for tour, entertainment, and accommodation.

Original photos: Oliver Huang, Dominique Musorrafiti

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