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Getting Away: Fuxian Lake

By in Travel on

Fresh air and a blue swimmable lake encircled by lush green hills are not as far away as you may think. GoKunming revisited Fuxian Lake this past weekend and found it to be particularly gorgeous at this time of year.

Located in greater Yuxi about 65 kilometers southeast of Kunming, Fuxian Lake (抚仙湖) makes for a refreshing couple of days out of the city. The long narrow lake runs north-south, with the sleepy county seat of Chengjiang (澄江) sitting at the lake's north end.

We went to cycle the 90-kilometer road around the lake's perimeter, but there are other options including swimming, hiking or simply lazing around and taking in the scenery. There are even bowling and indoor archery facilities.

There is very little human activity on Fuxian, at least by China standards. But there are a few heavily developed tourist areas on the fully-paved road around the lake. Among them are resort-style developments in Chengjiang and along the lake's west side at Luchong (禄充) and Sunshine Coast (阳光海岸).

Plenty of sand has been brought in to make artificial beaches in these areas and elsewhere around the lake. Although swimming and lounging on the beach may be nice, it is hard not to wonder what impact the imported sand may be having on the lake.

Sunshine Coast is probably the best-known and most established of these areas and we were interested in visiting Solitude Hill so we booked a minivan and driver to take us there and made it our base for the weekend.

The only hotel in the area – at least in the traditional sense - is the Sunshine Coast Hotel, which is a standard Chinese three-star, if you overlook its private beach. The hotel also has the requisite KTV, plus a bowling alley, indoor archery and table tennis.

For the more budget-minded there is a short strip of lakeside road crowded with establishments offering restaurants and basic lodging for around 100 yuan per day on a weekend. We decided to stay at Shuixiang Yuan - our lodging was basic but acceptable, though we had better luck with the food at other restaurants on the strip.

Sunshine Coast's restaurants offer some local specialties including fish and ham dishes, but our favorite after a long day of riding was copper pot rice (铜锅饭): rice, Yunnan ham, and chunks of potato served mixed together in a copper pot.

There is plenty of fish to be eaten at Sunshine Coast and around Fuxian Lake, some of it farmed outside of the lake and some fish of varying legality coming from the lake. One variety of fish from which visitors should refrain is the endangered kanglang fish (抗浪鱼), which is facing extinction but is a sought-after delicacy nonetheless.

Haikou town on Fuxian's east shore
Haikou town on Fuxian's east shore

Other parts of the lake, especially the east side, are less developed for tourism, but every hamlet seems to have a least one restaurant and rooms to rent for the night. Hikers might have better luck on the east side, where small footpaths run in all directions through the hillside cropland. Locals are often quite receptive to requests to camp on their property, but will be eager to check in and chat frequently.

Cycling the road around the lake can become stressful sometimes from the weekend tourist traffic and involves a bit of highway riding, but the surfaces are in good condition and the scenery is spectacular. There is one fairly large hill on the west side of the lake between Luchong and Chengjiang where the highway detours inland.

The water in the lake seems quite clean and it is a popular swimming destination. Pedalboats and inner tubes can be rented out at some of the resort areas, but one can jump in for a refreshing dip almost anywhere.

Getting there
Considering its proximity to Kunming, Fuxian Lake is somewhat difficult to get to, especially without a private car. We decided to throw money at the problem and hire a minivan and driver. The trip should cost around 300 yuan each way including tolls and take one and a half to two hours.

Since Kunming closed most downtown bus stations and built new ones on the edge of the city all bus routes that go to Fuxian Lake now run out of the new South Bus Station, which can be reached from the Green Lake area by taking bus 85 from Wenlin Jie to the end of the line at Juhua Cun (菊花村), switching to line 12 and riding it to Zhaoxi Cun (照西村).

From the south station there are frequent departures to Chengjiang for 16 yuan. We have also heard it is possible to go from the south station to Jiangchuan (江川) and then switch to another public bus that goes directly to Sunshine Coast.

After reaching Fuxian Lake, it is relatively easy to hire a van to take you wherever you want to go.

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Comments

Steven

I was glad to find your article, since Fuxian Lake is somewhere I've wanted to check out for a while, and will do so next time I visit Kunming.

I met someone the other day who bought a property on the lake and she was raving about the place, specifically about how much nicer it is than Hainan (where I currently live), and that got me to thinking...

I was wondering, is there a direct highway from Kunming to the lake?

Are motorboats allowed on the lake, or are they prohibited as they are in Dali?

Also, how many months of the year do you think it would be warm enough to swim?

James

Also, how many months of the year do you think it would be warm enough to swim?

Depends on you. I've swam off of the south coast of England all year round. Kids swim in the North Sea during winter holidays.

Fuxian Lake is the 3rd deepest lake in China. there's a lot of water in it. pair this with water's thermal properties (i'm thinking high specific heat capacity, not the nice little 4 degree C switcheroo that keeps the fishies alive) and you've got one cold lake for most of the year. however, now is where it's at... it's cool, but swimmable, and it'll likely get a little warmer over the next couple of months. i guess if i had to put a timescale on it, i'd say september and october are the best months to swim in Fuxian

Motor boats aren't allowed on the lake, with the exception of safety craft operated by the local government. All the fishing vessels you see are powered the old fashioned way.

As for the road, at the moment you can take the Kunyu highway about half the way and then have to turn off onto smaller roads. Wouldn't be so difficult driving if their weren't so many trucks on the road which struggle with the hills and some of the bumpier sections. Once you get to the lake however, it is pretty smooth driving, and a really easy connection from Yuxi City (still involves a few painful sections though). Normally takes about 45 mins to reach the lake from downtown Kunming.

Tranquility

motor boats: defiling american lakes for decades. i hope they're not allowed at this place and never will be.

Tranquility

(Caeruleus posted his comment while I was writing mine. I guess that answers that)

Hi there, is there any sailing classes or programs available at the Fuxian lake?

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