Butterfly Spring (Húdié Quán, 蝴蝶泉), situated about 30 km (18.5 miles) north of Dali, is a small, clear spring frequented by swarms of tourists... and, of course, butterflies. The latter are drawn to the spring's clear waters from the surrounding wooded countryside at the foot of Cang Shan, a mountain comprised of some sixteen peaks and famous for its diverse plant life. The former flock to see the spring, the butterflies, the costumed Bai women singing traditional songs and the nearby butterfly museum's 45,000-plus specimens. Spring—April through May specifically—is the best time to visit: butterflies cluster on overhanging flowering tree branches, sipping nectar and getting friendly like brightly dressed twenty-somethings in a Shanghai nightclub.
Local Bai legend has it that a pair of star-crossed lovers took their lives at the spring, hoping to spend eternity together, and that their wish was granted: they were transformed into butterflies and return every spring to celebrate their enduring love. The spot remains important to the Bai, who welcome their arrival with song and dance at the Butterfly Spring.
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