Tian Chi (Xinjiang)


RMB 40-100 for gate admission; RMB 35 for cable car; RMB 20/hour for horseback ride.


24 hours daily

How to get there:

Shuttle bus available at People's Park in Urumqi and the Hong Shan Guest House. 1.5-2 hours' drive from Urumqi to Tian Chi.

A high altitude respite from Urumuqi's heat in the summer, Tiān Chí (天池), or "Heavenly Lake," is a lovely Alpine lake 2,000 m (6,600 ft) up in the Tian Shan mountain range. The pine-clad surrounding hills are filled with locals grazing their herds, and the snow-enameled mountains are picturesque to be sure.

The summer months bring crowds who pay a day-visit to Tian Chi lake or spend the night in Kazahk-run yurts, which run about RMB 40 a person but while the area is a high-profile tourist spot, it remains largely undeveloped. Some of the accommodations are more authentic than others, but the whole experience can be rewarding. Make sure to bring warm clothes as the area gets rather chilly at night. Camping is okay, too, as is hiking up to the snowline. While hiking, beware of loose stones.

Horses are also available to rent to explore the area and boat tours make the rounds on the lake.

Rising above the lake is the snow-capped northern slope of Bogda Peak (Bógédá Fēng, 博格达峰), which is revered by locals as a holy place. The name means "god" in Mongolian.

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