The shoreline of Dian Chi, located to the south of Kunming, is dotted with settlements, farms and fishing enterprises, and tourist resorts. The lake is elongated – about 40km from north to south – and covers an area of 300 sq km. Plying the waters are fānchuán (pirate-sized junks with bamboo-battened canvas sails). The area around the lake is mainly for scenic touring and hiking, and there are some fabulous aerial views from the ridges at Dragon Gate in Xi Shan.

The western side of the lake is hilly, while the eastern side is flat country. The southern end of the lake, particularly towards the southeast, is industrial.