Kanas Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Kanas
Kanas is located in Altay Prefecture, the northernmost tip of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is a multifaceted scenic area with glaciers, lakes, forests, grasslands, pastures, rivers, ethnic customs, and rare animals and plants.
Kanas is an ideal place for relaxing, photography, and enjoying views.
The magnificent glaciers set off the tranquil lake water, the vast grassland borders deep primeval forest, where primitive villages inhabited by Tuvans are scattered. It is all refreshingly natural.
Kanas Lake and its surrounding snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and birch forests have made it known as "Switzerland of the East" and a "paradise for photographers".
Highlights of Kanas
The breathtaking scenery of Kanas is attracting more and more people. Kanas Lake, Hemu Village, and Baihaba Village are the three best places to experience its beauty.
Kanas Lake stretches out among the dense forest of the Altai Mountains, 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Bu’erjin Town. The crescent-shaped lake covers 45 square kilometers (17 square miles) and has an average depth of 120 meters (400 feet), making it the deepest freshwater lake in China.
From September to May, the water in the lake is usually a dazzling turquoise, and its color changes according to the season and the weather conditions. In May (and in the long winter), the water is pale blue, but then it is swelled by melting snow from the surrounding peaks. In July, the water can turn aquamarine blue, and in August, the water can change to a dark green.
The mountains surrounding the lake are covered with dense alpine forests of spruce, birch, elm, and Siberian larch. This is the only area where Siberian species of animals and plants can be found in China. In fall, the forests provide a vivid backdrop of colors, an unspoiled dazzlingly beauty rarely found throughout the rest of China.
You can take a boat tour of the lake or go to the Guanyu Observation Deck (Guanyutai) for a panoramic view. There is also a walkway along the lake. A hike along the lake, especially from Fairy Bay to Moon Bay to Wolong Bay, is popular among visitors.
Contact us if you are interested in a trip to Kanas.
Hemu and Baihaba Villages
Hemu and Baihaba villages are deep in the forest where the Tuvan tribe lives. Tuvans are officially regarded as part of China’s Mongolian ethnic group, although they are a Turkic people who inhabited Tuva (now a Russian republic to the north) before Mongol rule in the first millennium AD. For nearly 400 years, they have settled on the banks of Kanas Lake and maintained a primitive way of life.
Their wooden houses spread out in villages, streams wind under their bridges, and smoke curls up from their chimneys. Tuvan villages are peaceful and beautiful! Every autumn, the birch trees around the villages turn into a sea of gold.
There are many viewing platforms on the hills around Hemu Village where you can overlook the whole view of Hemu Village. Every fall morning, a large number of photography enthusiasts gather there to take pictures of Hemu Village in the morning fog.
Recommended tour: 8-Day North Xinjiang Tour with Kanas
Best Times to Visit Kanas
If you are looking for a comfortable weather when visiting Kanas, the best time is from May to September. The average daily temperature range in Kanas is very low — -1–11°C (30–52°F) — typical of April and October. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature range of -20–-9°C (-9–16°F). The hottest month, July, has an average temperature range of 15–28°C (59–83°F).
The temperature differs greatly between daytime and nighttime, therefore layered clothing, with a good coat or an insulated jacket, is highly advisable, even in summer.
Autumn is the most beautiful season in Kanas, especially in late September. In September, the changing hues of the birch trees, especially the bright yellows, mingle with the dark greens of the spruce and other evergreen trees, creating a colorful foreground to the snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance. The result is almost surreal, so picture-postcard-perfect is the view of this unique landscape at this time of year.
Though it is cold in winter, Kanas has beautiful snow scenery. Glittering rime hangs on the groves of birch trees. Grey birch forests are set against the silvery snow-capped mountains, and cabins are scattered in the forest, glowing with a warm orange light.
See our Four Seasons of Kanas Video.
For more details on weather and travel tips see Urumqi Weather, which is similar to Kanas’s.
How to Get to Kanas
Urumqi has flights to Kanas Airport of about 1 hour 20 minutes. From Kanas Airport to Kanas Scenic Area, you’ll still need more than an hour's drive.
Accommodation and food options are limited in Kanas. Most hotels and restaurants offer Chinese meals, mainly Xinjiang-style food. There are very few hotels that offer Western food. If you are particular about your diet, please make sure to inquire about the availability of Western food etc. when you book your hotel, or tell our travel consultant your dietary requirements when booking with us.
Most of the hotels in the scenic area are wooden houses. They are mostly located in Hemu Village, Kanas Lake, and Jiadengyu National Forest Park. Hotel prices in the peak season (autumn and winter) can be twice as expensive as in low season. If you are planning a trip in peak season, book a hotel as early as possible.
Tour Kanas with Us
A trip to Kanas needs 2–3 days. You can also connect it to other scenic spots in Xinjiang. If you are interested in visiting Kanas or Xinjiang, contact us. We will create a trip according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.