The 5 Most Beautiful Lakes in China
Many of China’s lakes are heavily developed for 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!
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 (黑马河). 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. Photo: skycentchem.com
2) Kanas Lake
In the deep forests of the Altay Mountains will you find Kanas Lake, 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*.