A beautiful Lake called “Heavenly Lake” / Tianchi is a Unesco site at the Heavenly Mountain / Tian Shan near Urumqi Xinjiang. We departed from Urumqi early in the morning to Tianchi which took us about 2 hours. The Heavenly Mountain is a mountain range located in the east of Central Asia area, stretching from Xinjiang to Kazakhstan. The highest peak in Tian Shan can go as high at 7400 + meter!
Security is tight in Xinjiang and same goes with Tianchi scenic area. When our bus stopped at the car park, all of our passport needed to bring down to the police station for ID check. After that, we have to go through another round of security scan on our physical body at the entrance where we gotten our ticket.
Check out the top things to experience in Heavenly Lake of Tianshan!
1. Picturesque Along Winding Road
There are only internal buses operating in this reserve park. This is winding road and you may experience car sick, please be warned. However you will be rewarded with picturesque view along the winding road. The journey take you roughly 40 mins.
There is a stop at the Kazakh Village which we didn’t stop by, according to our guide it is just a tourist traps, selling some souvenirs and snacks. You don’t have to waste much time there. Getting in and out of the buses plus the queuing part can be quite annoying consider the large crowds, especially in summer.
2. Electric Car
After the internal bus stops, there is an option for you to either walk or catch the electric car to go Tianchi Heavenly Lake. Electric car cost RMB 10.00 (USD 1.50) return and I recommend you to hop on the electric car to enjoy the breeze which take you only 1-2 mins.
3. Two Thousand Meter High Lake
I was pretty surprised to see alpine forests and lakes in Xinjiang as this land is mostly covered by desert. To see such a view was pretty amazing! The weather here is so much cooler than Urumqi as we are in higher altitude. The lake actually at 2000m high.
4. Check the Weather
Summer is the best time to visit Heavenly Lake of Tianshan but then this place will be crowded with tourists. Weather in the summer is very cooling provided if there is sunshine. If there are clouds and rain, the natural park will be freezing cold. So always bring along a jacket even in summer as you never know when the weather changes suddenly. And if there is rain, you may not see everything clearly due to fog. Always check the weather before you make a trip up.
5. The Cruise
You can do a cruise at Tianchi lake and this is what we did. It was about an hour cruise along Tianchi lake. The water is crystal clear and clean, didn’t spot a single trash. What make it more beautiful is the lake is surrounded by alpine trees which look like UK Lake District. The layer of mountains from a far make you wonder if you are actually in Swiss Alps/Mount Titlis.
6. Enjoy Kazakh’s Culture
You may be lucky like us to board on a cruise with Kazakh’s dance performance. The Kazakh lady dance for about 15 mins on this little stage in the cruise.
7. Experience Kazakh Yurts
The minority Kazakh people stay in Tianshan and Tianchi area. Most of them are nomads and live in yurts – a round tents similar to Mongolian tent. The yurts are portable and made up of woods and covered with skins. I spotted plenty of yurts in this mountain area. Most of these yurts here are actually made for tourists and not really Kazakh’s home. You can also stay overnight at the yurt here but there is not toilet inside the yurt.
8. Hiking up the Temples and Pavilion
The cruise made a stop for those who like to do some hiking up the temples and small pavilion.
9. Tianshan Heavenly Lake Western Queen myths and legends
Learn how Western Queen in Tianshan Heavenly lake calm the water in the lake because an unhappy monster living in the lake. Western Queen threw one of her jade hairpin into the lake and instantly the water in the lake became calm. the jade hairpin took root and turned into an elm tree. Hence you see the ancient elm tree on Heavenly Lake remain lush here.
10. Sea Stabilizing Magic Needle
12. Tie a Wishing Ribbon at Ancient Elm Tree
Next to the sea stabilizing needle is the ancient Elm tree which were being tied with plenty of red wishing ribbons.
13. Rent A Kazakh Costume
Heavenly Lake in Tianshan is where Kazakh nomads live, you may want to rent a traditional Kazakh costume and shoot some picture.
14.Lunch at Kazakh Restaurant
The crowd in the restaurant is insane. We waited for quite long for our dishes to be served. There are flat bread or naan selling outside the restaurant at RMB 10.00 (USD 1.50) per piece. If you are too hungry, try the naan outside the restaurant instead. The naan are freshly made by the Kazakh guys.
Final thoughts :
Heavenly Lake of Tianshan has an amazing scenery, the super calm lake is located at 2000 m high which never get flooded or dried up so far. The snow-cape mountains in the background made me wonder if I was in Swiss Alps and the serene alpine lake made me think of Lake District in UK. But the loud mainland Chinese troop of tourists made me realised I am in China. 🙂