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The Heavenly Lake is a small mountain lake in Tianshan Tianchi National Park, a high mountain area similar to the Alps. The surrounding snow-capped peaks are magnificent.
The lake is a summer resort popular with tourists, with spruce trees all around. If you like nature and ethnic culture, it is a good place to go.
- Chinese: 天池 Tiānchí/tyen-chrr/ Heavenly Lake
- Location : about 82 kilometers (51 miles) from Urumqi
- Popular activities: sightseeing, boating, hiking, photography, learning about Kazakh culture, staying in yurts
- Suited to: everyone
- Time needed: 2–3 hours
Heavenly Lake Highlights
Fabulous Natural Scenery
The lake itself is about 3 kilometers long and averages about 600 or 700 meters wide (about 2 miles by less than half a mile). The lake surface is shaped like a half-moon and at its deepest point the water is about 100 meters (328 feet) deep.
The clean blue lake is quietly tucked away among the mountains. It is surrounded by many rugged and forested valleys leading down from nearby peaks, which reach about 2,400 meters (7,800 feet) in altitude. Surrounded by mountains, trees and flowers, and silhouetted against the blue sky, the Heavenly Lake is simply beautiful.
Kazak Customs and Culture
The 1.5 million Kazakhs who live in Xinjiang work mainly in the cities or in agriculture. They are a mixed ethnic group with both Asian and Caucasian features. Traditionally, Kazakh people were nomadic, tribal shepherds and ranchers of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses.
Kazakhs traditionally live in yurts. They are generally uneducated and earn money as shepherds and ranchers or by hosting tourists. Some yurts are beautiful inside, with lots of brightly colored and decorated rugs, quilts and wall hangings. it would be an interesting cultural experience to stay in an authentic Kazakh yurt.
Things to Do
Hike around the lake or up into the valleys
The Heavenly Lake is surrounded by mountains, a good place for hiking. One can go for strolls on the mountain paths, breathe in the fresh air, and hike or ride a horse up to the glacier plains, where the scenery is simply stunning.
Alternatively, there is a beautiful hiking trail going round the lake. Tourists can walk the trail to appreciate the lake’s beauty from different angles.
Take speedboats or tour boats to enjoy the views
You can choose from two kinds of boat. If you like speed, try a speedboat. Such boats create scintillating spray. You can feel the grandeur and passion of the lake at high velocity.
Alternatively, take a tour boat. You can then take your time to appreciate the lake and its surrounding scenery. This is a quieter way to absorb and appreciate the beauty of the lake.
Enjoy Kazakh food
Kazakh people have a high-protein, dairy-rich diet and are known for serving big portions of boiled or broiled meat with their hard-salty bread, hard sour cheese, noodles and milk tea. They host tourists in their yurts. There are many yurts in this scenic area.
If you would like to try some local food, our guide will be happy to give you some recommendations.
The Heavenly Lake is located in a high-altitude national park, so it is a great place for camping. It takes on a different atmosphere in the evenings. Once the tour buses and crowds leave in the late afternoon, the lake and the valley become quiet.
It is best to stay overnight to enjoy the lake to the full, to have time to hike around and be there after the crowds have gone, and the speed boats and tour boats have retired for the night.
If the sky is clear, you can enjoy stunning celestial displays, and campfires or meals with your Kazakh hosts.
The surrounding high mountains are full of huge, green spruce trees. The peaks decorated with snow, emit a silvery glow in the sunlight. Beautiful flowers are scattered along the lake. A colorful tapestry of natural scenery is created by crystal water, white snow, and mountains filled with flowers and green trees.
If you like photography, don’t miss this opportunity for some nice photos. Try not to go during cloudy or rainy days, as the colorful scenery will be at its best in sunshine.
Best Time for Visiting
It is best to visit the Heavenly Lake in the late spring, summer or early fall, when it’s not so cold. Temperature differences in Urumqi between morning and evening are large. Even in summer, there may be frost in the early mornings. Tourists should bring a coat.
Yurts have electricity and wood- or coal-stoves. You won’t feel cold in them, but winter is still not recommended. The region is dangerously cold in winter.
How to Get to the Heavenly Lake from Urumqi
Go to the People’s Park in Urumqi to take a tourist bus to the Heavenly Lake. Alternatively, take a bus from Urumqi Beijiao Bus Station to Fukang, and then transfer to another tourist bus from Fukang Bus Station to the lake.
As you approach Mount Tianshan, the altitude rises gradually to 1,600 meters. The roads wind in one direction and another, and if you suffer from carsickness, you should bring some carsickness pills.
Alternatively, travel with us. We will arrange a private car throughout your tour. You won’t be caught up in crowds.
During the summers, there are many economical Kazakh-owned yurts. Authentic yurts may be beautifully decorated with expensive rugs and tapestries that will boggle your mind. They’ll be worth writing home about, and the food will be wonderful.
Many yurts on the northwest side of the Heavenly Lake provide accommodation, and the Kazak village between the gate and the lake can provide accommodation and catering.
The South Pastures are about 2 hours south of Urumqi, in the Kelawucheng mountain range, at a lower altitude than the Tianchi area. There Kazaks continue to herd sheep, cattle and horses like their ancestors, in a landscape of snow-covered peaks and emerald-green grasslands.
Kazakhs will guide you on horse-tours, and for a reasonable price you can stay in their yurts and enjoy exotic meals.
Explore the Beauty of Heavenly Lake with Us
If you are interested in natural scenery and want to experience local customs and culture, the Heavenly Lake is a good place to consider. See our popular Urumqi itinerary for inspiration:
- 11-Day Along the Great Silk Road
- 7-Day Xinjiang Highlights Tour
- 9-Day Urumqi, Turpan, and Ili River Valley Tour
- See more Silk Road tours
Your tour can be customized. Tell us your interests and requirements. We will tailor-make your trip. Contact us for a free inquiry.