Scuba diving in Qiandao Lake: dive into an ancient submerged city
by Jorge Mezcua on Feb 23, 2023
Qiandao Lake (known worldwide as Thousand Island Lake) is an artificial lake in Zhejiang Province, China, created after the construction of the Xin'an River Hydroelectric Project. The unusual thing about this lake is that it has submerged the mile-long city of Shi Cheng (or "City of Lions"), which was founded in the Han Dong period more than 1,700 years ago and was an important city in its time... Can you imagine diving among the walls, squares or palaces of an ancient city? This is exactly what you can do in Qiandao Lake.
Qiandao Lake. Pic by China National Geographic
Shi Cheng has been underwater for 53 years between 26 and 40 meters under the lake, called the Thousand Island Lake because of its 1,078 large artificial islands, covering an area of about 573 km². The city remains unchanged and the water that covers it is drinkable, in fact it is used to produce the NongFu mineral water.
The dive operator that can take you there is Big Blue, based in Shanghai, and although they talk about very clear waters, the pictures and videos tell the opposite, and we do not get the impression that you can take a panoramic view of the city, which would actually make for an amazing underwater view, and it seems that you would rather need some powerful lights to enjoy diving the city and have good visibility.
Nevertheless, it must be a unique experience, unlike any other dive site due to the perfect preservation of the city remains. The operator runs weekend dives twice a month throughout the year and has even discovered new parts of the city.
In addition to the famous lake, Qiandao is also home to outstanding forests and verdant islands, making it undoubtedly one of the most exotic dive trips you can take.
Qiandao Lake. Image by Patrick He