Yunnan people often call lakes "seas" (pronounced "Hai"). The Bitahai Lake is 32 kilometers to the east of Zhongdian County. At Shuangqiao Bridge, visitors get off the bus and then walk or go on horseback for the final 7 kilometers across meadows and seas of flowers. The 840 square kilometer area surrounding the lake is the Bitahai Nature Reserve of the Diqing Tibetan Ethnic Minority Autonomous Prefecture. In Tibetan, Bita means a place with a dense forest. The Bitahai Lake is a fault lake, which lies in the heart of the Nature Reserve surrounded by mountains covered with ancient pines, oaks and rhododendrons. The lake is 3,539 meters above sea level, and the deepest point is 40 meters, the average is 20 meters. The lake has a surface area of 160 hectares.
Bitahai Lake is widely recognized as 'A Pearl on the Plateau' and the most attractive lake in Shangri-La. It is famous for its limpid water and its beautiful scenery which is set against the mountains and forests surrounding it. In the center of the lake stands an islet shaped like a boat sailing in the lake. It is covered with rare plants and also includes spruces and rhododendrons.
The Bitahai Lake has abundant fish resources. The precious "Bita Double-Lip Fish" is an ancient species left from the Fourth Glacial Age. The small streams beside the lake are home to the precious amphibious "Codfish", which also called the mountain stream salamander, and it is a valuable medicine. Every year, in the fifth month of the lunar calendar, the rhododendrons all over the mountains bloom. The slight wind blows the rhododendron petals (which are slightly poisonous) into the lake and creates another beautiful scene. It is said that as soon as the petals fall to the lake's surface, all of the fish vie with each other to eat them. They eat so many that they seem drunk and float on the surface. This is a famous sight of the Bita Lake: "Fish Drunk on Rhododendron Petals". It is also said that in the past bears in the nearby mountains often came out in the moonlight to catch these intoxicated fish.