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Chao Lake

Chao Lake, also known as Chaohu Lake or Chao Hu, largely about Anhui’s capital city Hefei, resembles a bird nest or “niao chao” in Chinese, hence its name Chao Lake. The lake is acclaimed as one of the five largest fresh water lakes in China, across three counties in Hefei in the middle of Anhui Province. Chao Lake has charms of its own namely Zhongmiao Temple, Mushan Island, Oxhorn Daxu, and Yinping Mountain.

Chao Lake lies at the downstream of Yangtze River system and there are 35 feeder rivers. Therefore, it extends 34 miles (54km) from west to east and averages 10 miles (15km) from north to south. When there is adequate rainfall, the water surface area can reach 320 sq. miles (about 825 sq. kilometers). The lake is mostly calm and clear; when visitors walk along the embankment, a waft of cool air caresses their faces. Reeds at human height waver in the breeze. The beauty of Chao Lake is added to by its surrounding mountains. With its vast water and verdant mountains, the lake is a magnet to writers and scholars throughout Chinese history.

The huge lake is surrounded by lots of tourist attractions. On its north are Zhongmiao Temple, Binhu Wetland Forest Park, Changlinhe Ancient Town, Moonlight Bay Park, and Guishan Park. Oxhorn Daxu Ecological Garden is located on the west of the lake while Yinping Mountain lies to the east. On the southern bank you will find Sanhe Ancient Town and Shengqiao Ancient Tomb.

 Zhongmiao Temple
At the north bank of the lake stands Zhongmiao Temple on a huge rock protruding over the lake. Initially built in the Han Dynasty (202BC – 220 AD), it has been renovated for several times. The present one dominates the huge rock and faces water on three sides. Along the 80 yards (75m) long central axis there are three grand buildings, including Gate Palace, Mahavira Hall, and Pavilion of Buddhist Sutra. These bright red temples are quite eye-catching against blue water.
 
Admission Fee CNY 10

 Mushan Island
Facing Zhongmiao Temple is Mushan Island at the center of the lake, about 2 miles (3.5km) from the temple. You can reach the island by yacht or a sightseeing ferry, which dock north of Zhongmiao Temple. Mushan Island is an oval ait that covers an area of 210 acres (85 hectares). From the distance, it resembles either a snail or an oasis in the vast water. Now there are three pavilions and three gentle hills on the island. On the top of the highest peak someone has build the seven story Wenfeng Tower about four hundred years ago. It hosts 802 statues of the Buddha and 25 pieces of stone tablets.

Mushan Island is the largest island of Chao Lake. The ait was formed as the result of a violent volcanic action a hundred million years ago and a legend is associated with it. It is said that when the land collapsed and turned the place into a lake, an old lady named Jiao Mu forewarned the villagers of the danger, and then Jiao Mu ran to the mountain and survived the disaster. In her memory, the mountain is called Mu Shan and she is honored in the Zhongmiao Temple. The lake is also named Jiao Lake.
 
Admission Fees Sightseeing Ferry: CNY 60 per person
Yacht: CNY 75 per person.
Entrance fee is included.
Children below 3.9 feet (1.2m) can enter for free.
Opening Hours 8:00 - 17:00

 Bicycling
Most part of the broad road encircling the lake is equipped with excusive bike lane. So, don’t hesitate anymore and have fun cycling around Chao Lake! Bicycle rental spots are available near the lake. In springtime, rape flowers alongside the encircling road blossom, adding more delight.

 Transportation:
1. Chao Lake tourist buses are available. The North Route runs from Binhu Time Square to Zhongmiao Temple while the South Route runs from the square to Sanhe Ancient Town. It costs CNY 30 for a single trip and CNY 60 for a round trip.


 Note:
1. Buses depart regularly every hour on weekends and holidays; on weekdays, the bus will leave with 10 passengers or more.
2. You can buy the ticket at Hefei Tourism Center at the Central Changjiang Road, local travel agencies, or buy the ticket after getting on the bus.
3. Visitors can get on at Hefei Tourism Center or Binhu Time Square, which is located on the converging point of Huizhou Road and Fangxing Road.
4. The ticket is valid for one day, which means you can hop on and hop off at any spot you fancy and then catch a following bus to continue your trip.