Tianchi Lake, or Tianshan Tianchi Lake, or some people prefer Heavenly Lake, is located at the hill side of Bogda Peak in Fukang City of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, about 97km east of Urumqi. With an altitude of 1980m, it's a natural crescent alpine lake. The lake is 3.5km from east to west, and 0.8km ~ 1.5km from north to south, with maximum depth of 105m. The greenish-blue water here is radiant like jade, just like a pearl in Tianshan Mountain. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, where are full of straight and thick growing firs and spruces.
Centered on Tianchi Lake, Tianshan Tianchi National Park covers four natural landscape zones, and it features in snow-covered mountain, glacier and alpine lake. Thick forest, vast grassland, magnificent snow mountain and unique local culture can all be seen in here. The whole area covers an area of 160km2, reach to Shimen in north, Xuexian in south, Ma Yashan on its west and Dadonggou on its east. There 8 small scenic spots in the park, 38 attractions in total. Besides the Tianchi Lake, there are two small lakes on the two sides of Tianchi Lake: East Minor Tianchi Lake and West Minor Tianchi Lake.
Besides the breathtaking views, there are quite a few cultural relics and historical sites near Tianchi Lake, and tourists can also spend one night here to experience the Kazakh yurts.
In Tianshan Tianchi National Park, besides the stunning Tianchi Lake, there are two more lakes in the area. The eastern one is called East Minor Tianchi Lake, which was called Heilongtan in ancient time. Located at 500m east of Tianchi Lake, it's said that it was the showering place for Queen Mother of the West. Under the lake, there is a high cliff, and the waterfall falls like a long rainbow from the sky, very magnificent. In the western one is called West Minor Tianchi Lake, also called Yunvtan. Located 2km west of Tianchi Lake, different from the eastern one, the West Minor Tianchi Lake is said the footbath place for Queen Mother of the West. West Minor Tianchi Lake is just like a full moon, the deep and clear water is surrounded by tall and standing firs and pines. There is a waterfall (tens of meters high) hanging next to the periphery of the lake, tourists can ascend to the pavilion besides the lake to appreciate the beautiful scenery of the waterfall and the lake.
Besides the lakes and mountains, there are also cultural relics in the scenic area. Iron Tile Temple is located at 700m west of the Tianchi Lake. Sitting in a 4000m2 platform, facing the Tianchi Lake, the serene temple is surrounded by green pines in three directions, leaving its front space vacant. Built in Southern Song Dynasty (1127 ~1279), the temple is a Taoist temple, and it has a great view for the lake and the mountain around.
Tianchi Lake is located at Fukang City, and there are generally two routes to get to Tianchi Lake.
Urumqi – Tainchi Lake:take direct bus at Renmin Park or Hongshan Hotel in Urumqi to Tianchi Lake Scenic Area, and this will take about 2 hours. The first bus will leave from 7:40 at every 8 minutes. If you take taxi or private car from Urumqi, then it will take about 1.5 hours.
Urumqi – Fukang City – Tainchi Lake: in this way, tourists need to take bus at Northern Suburb Bus Station in Urumqi to Fukang City, this is about one hour and twenty minutes; then take bus from Fukang City to Tianchi Lake, and it will take about half hour.
Shuffle Bus: reaching to the entrance of the scenic area, there is a long distance between the entrance and Tianchi Lake, about 35km. Tourists can take shuffle bus from the entrance to the place near the Tianchi Lake, and this will take about 40 minutes. (If you love hiking, you can hike in this section, for the scenery along the road is stunning).
Battery Car: after getting off from the shuffle bus, tourists can take battery car to the periphery of Tianchi Lake. The distance is not very far, about 30 minutes' walk, so if you have energy, it's suggested to walk for this section.
Cruise Ship: after arriving at the Tianchi Lake, tourists can take cruise ship to tour Tianchi Lake. The cruise ship will drive one circle around the lake, and it will take about 40 minutes.
Walking: there is a walking road built around the lake, about 16.5km long, and it will take about 3 hours to walk one circle. In cool summer, stroll along the lake, take surrounded snow peaks, thick forests and crystal water all in your sight, this may be the best way to experience the beauty of Tianchi Lake. Besides, tourists can also visit other attractions near the lake by walking.
Generally, the most beautiful time is from May to August. The prairie during this time is stunning, you can see golden flower all around, and the lake is peaceful and pure, reflecting the shape of snow-craped mountains, with herds of cows and sheep scattering on the prairie eating grass. If you are a skiing lover, then winter is also a great time to visit Tianchi Lake. Tourists can experience skiing and snowmobiling in winter. From the mid-November to the next March, there is Ice and Snow Festival held and great time to play snow.
If you want to spend one more day, then there are various hostels, hotels and vacation resorts around Tainchi Lake. The price is a little higher than accommodation price in Urumqi; however, you can enjoy good service with great views. Another choice is accommodating in Kazakhs yurts. In there, you can not only have a delicious hand pilaf, but also listen to dombra performance by Kazak young man. The price for one yurt is about ¥250, and it has various sizes, and one yurt can accommodate several people. While in the restaurants near the lake, tourists can also tastes delicious Xinjiang cuisines, like roasted mutton, self-made yogurt, lamian, hand pilaf, etc.
● Spring: there is still snow in spring, make sure you wear antiskid shoes; the temperature is rather low, so prepare some warm clothes.
● Summer: summer is very cool and bright, however, the UV is rather strong, so bring sun cream. Ultraviolet-proof umbrella is a good choice, for it can shield UV as well as rain. Wear a long sleeves is also doable.
● Autumn: the weather in autumn is a little cold, so it's better to bring long underwear or sweater. Umbrella is not necessary in autumn.
● Winter: most days are sunny days in winter. The temperature in mid-noon is higher than other time, kind of warm, however, other time, it's very cold. Prepare down coat, gloves, hat and antiskid shoes. You can also bring some chocolate to replenish energy.
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