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The 5 Most Beautiful Lakes in China

Many of China’s lakes are heavily developed for China tourism. However, there are still some left where because of a distant location off the beaten track, visitors are still few and far between. This article introduces the five great lakes of China, lakes whose vast and unspoiled landscapes will not fail to impress you!

Qinghai Lake

1) Qinghai Lake

This vast expanse of water stretching out across the Tibetan plateau like a landlocked sea, is by far the biggest lake in China. From the green mountainsides and rolling wheat fields of the summer and autumn, to the silvery expanse of glittering ice of the winter, Qinghai Lake changes its scenery from season to season.

Two of the most popular attractions in the lake are Haixinshan with its rocky coastline, and Niaodao (Bird Island), famous for being the resting place of up to 100,000 migratory birds. You can take a tourist ferry from Niaodao to Haixinshan out in the lake for 45 RMB* per person.

It is possible to go to Qinghai Lake anytime of the year, but since it is much cooler than the lower lying areas due to its high altitude, most people prefer to come here during the summer. The flowering of the rape flower fields on the northern shore in August and September is a beautiful view not to be missed. If the main reason to come to Qinghai Lake is bird watching, then May would be your best choice.

Ticket: 230 RMB*, valid for three days.

Phone: 0974 8519680

Getting there: From Xining Long Distance Bus Station take the long distance bus to Heimahe. This will take around 5 hours and costs 20 RMB*. From here you will have to hire a minibus to take you the remaining distance of 50 km to Niaodao, which should cost you around 50 RMB*.

Kanas Lake.

2) Kanas Lake

In the deep forests of the Altay Mountains will you find Kanas Lake (must-see for Silk Road tours), the biggest mountain lake in China. Probably the most famous aspect of Kanas Lake is the fact that the lake water seemingly changes colour according to the angle of the sun and the shifting of the seasons. These mysterious waters are also the home of an equally amazing creature, the Zheluo trout that can grow to a staggering 10 metres. However you will probably have a greater chance of spotting the lake’s other iconic animal, the swan.

It is indeed a rare pleasure in the early morning after a light rain to climb up mount Kalakaite, sit in the Guanyu Pavilion and watch the clouds tumble down the mountainside towards the lake. The original inhabitants of these woodlands at the foot of the Altay Mountains are the Tuwa people, who still to this day have preserved their traditional way of life. Other major attractions include Yueliang Bay, Wolong Bay, Shenu lake, Shuang lake, Yuoyi Peak, Qianlikumu Causeway as well as Yunhai Buddha Light.

You need a border area permission to enter the Kanas Environmental Protection Area. This can be obtained in Kanas for 2 RMB, but remember to bring passport photos. Notice that the weather in this area changes very fast, and you will need to bring rain clothes as well as clothes to protect against the cold. The best time to go is between July and mid September.

Ticket: High season 150 RMB*; low season 80 RMB*

Getting there: take a long distance bus from Urumqi Beijiao long distance bus to Buerjin. It will take you 10 hours and cost between 50 and 94 RMB*. There are buses going directly to Kanas scenic area from Buerjin. This journey takes four hours.

Changbaishan Heavenly Lake

3) Changbaishan Heavenly Lake

The Heavenly Lake of Mount Changbaishan is without a doubt one of the most enticing destinations in all of Northern China. The border of China and North Korea runs straight through the lake. The heavenly Lake is a crater lake located on top of the giant dormant volcano of Mount Changbaishan, whose crater rim creates an unbroken line of 16 jagged snow capped peaks stretching all the way to North Korea. However, these breathtaking scenes are often shrouded in dense mist or heavy rain making many tourists leave without ever seeing the lake.

The water of the lake cascades down from the crater rim, creating the famous 60 metre tall Changbaishan waterfall. Just down the trekking path from the waterfall is a 1000 sqm large hot spring pool with a constant temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. In the cold winter months you can see steam welling up from these springs, melting the surrounding ice cover.

The best months for a trip to The Heavenly Lake are July, August and September. If you go in autumn when the fog is densest, you should pay careful attention to the weather forecast to avoid missing out on the view of The Heavenly Lake.

Ticket: 100 RMB* per person; tourist bus inside the tourist area: 68 RMB*

Phone: 0433 576 6666

Getting there: Baihe (白河) is the train station closest to Changbaishan, which has departures for Changchun, Shenyang and Tonghua. From Changchun, take train No. N188 to Baihe; from Shenyang take train No. N197 and from Tonghua take train No.4241. There are numerous cars going to Changbaishan from the train station in Baihe, which should cost you around 20 RMB*.

Lugu Lake

4) Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake lies like a precious gem deep in the mountainous interior of the north western highland of Yunnan Province affordable China tours, on the border between Yunnan and Sichuan. There is not much difference between the seasons in the Lugu Lake area. In the winter, migrating wild ducks and sea gulls as well as other migratory birds come here from the north to escape the cold, making the lake burst to life. The area around Daluoshui Village is especially rich in birdlife.

From March to April most of the tress burst into bloom; the period around May and June is the time to enjoy the green grass lands; and in the summer the mountains are at their greenest and everything is humming with life.

In this beautiful world of mountains and water live the Mosu people, who to this day carry on the rarely seen tradition of matriarchy. The Mosu people still stick to their traditional ways as well as their traditional wooden log houses.

Lugu Lake also boasts another very famous attraction, namely the Lugu Gorge, or Axiayou Gorge. The gorge is famous for its waterfall as well as the Pusa Cave.

Ticket: 78 RMB*

Phone: 0834 6390 322

How to get there: Take the train from Chengdu to Xichang. Ticket costs around 145 RMB*.

Bus: From Xichang you can take a direct bus to Lugu Lake. The bus departs at 8.40 and 9.20. In the low season there is only one departure at 8.40. The ticket costs 71 RMB* and the trip takes around 7-8 hours.

Namtso Lake

5) Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake top 10 China tours is located between Damxung and Bange Counties and is the highest altitude big lake in the world. The deep blue lake is surrounded by low lying fertile grasslands suitable for the grazing of animals. Every summer this area becomes a popular grazing ground for wild yaks, mountain goats, wild rabbits and other wild animals including numerous birds. Every now and again, you may be lucky enough to see a fish jumping out of the water, or to hear the song of the nomadic people resonating through the valleys.

There are three islands in the lake as well as a karst peninsula, which by the force of the elements has been given wonderful forms and shapes such as columns, grottoes and natural bridges.

Because of its high altitude, Namtso Lake experiences a bone-chilling winter, thus the ice on the lake doesn’t generally melt before the month of May. When it melts however, it is a true miracle of nature: it makes huge bangs and booms as the thick ice cracks open.

With an altitude of 4800 metres, most people will naturally experience altitude sickness. The best way to counter it is to do less physically straining activities during the day, and to take some painkillers or sleeping pills before sleep.

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