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The Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet and China

Lakes showcase some of water’s most alluring qualities, from mesmerizing ripples and mirror-like reflections to crstyalline clarity.  The world has millions of them, from tiny grass-lined ponds to massive freshwater expanses easily mistaken for oceans, but some simply stand out more than others. A few of these irresistible bodies of water owe their charisma to climate, others to geologic luck of the draw, and some are even made by the humans who admire them. Here are some of the most beautiful lakes in Tibet and China.

Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is the largest inland lake in Tibet and China. (Secret China)
Qinghai Lake is the largest inland lake in Tibet and China. (Image: Secret China)

Qinghai Lake, located in the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau (known in China as the Qinghai Plateau), northwest of Xining City in Qinghai Province, is the largest inland lake in Tibet and China, and also largest saltwater lake. Qinghai Lake has an area of 1,733 square miles, and a perimeter of more than 235 miles, making it more than twice as large as the famous Taihu Lake.

Qinghai Lake is about 60 feet deep on average, and is an incredible 10,700 feet above sea level. Because of the high terrain, the climate is very cool. Even under the scorching sun of summer, the average temperature is only 60°F (15°C).

Kanas Lake

Kanas Lake. (Secret China)
Kanas Lake. (Image: Secret China)

Kanas Lake is located in the North Xinjiang Region on one of China’s most remote border areas, converging with Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The mountain lake is surrounded by the dense virgin Altai forrest. Kanas is shaped like a crescent moon, and is 15 miles (24 km) long. The lake is almost 400 feet (120 meters) deep, making it China’s deepest freshwater lake.

It is nicknamed “God’s Pallet” and also the “Changing Color Lake.” “During most of the year, the water in the lake remains a dazzling turquoise,” according to China Highlights travel guide.” In May, the water is a blue color of low intensity due to the melting snow of the surrounding peaks; in July, the water turns an aquamarine blue; in August, the water changes to a dark green; and from September to May, the water is dazzling turquoise.”

It is extraordinarily picturesque when autumn comes and the leaves in the forest become golden.

Namco Lake

Namco Lake, in the Tibetan Plateau. (Secret China)
Namco Lake, in the Tibetan Plateau. (Image: Secret China)

Namco, also known as Namtso Lake, is located in Tibet on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In literature, the lake is said to be part of the sky that had fallen to Earth, leading it to be called “Heaven Lake.” The name Namco implies heavenly, and the place is also a famous Tibetan Buddhist shrine. Believers consider it to be one of the four major mighty lakes.

Tianchi Lake

Tianchi Lake, located in the southeast of Jilin, on the border between northern China and North Korea. (Secret China)
Tianchi Lake, located in the southeast of Jilin Province, on the border between northern China and North Korea. (Image: Secret China)

Tianchi Lake, located in the southeast of Jilin Mount Changbai Nature Reserve, is the border lake between northern China and North Korea. Mount Changbai has magnificent scenery and abundant resources.

In ancient times, Changbai Mountain was originally a volcano. According to historical records, it has erupted three times since the 16th century. The lave from a large volcanic eruption created the basin-shaped crater, and over time, water collected and formed Tianchi Lake. The lava also piled up around the crater, becoming 16 mountain peaks, 7 of which sit in North Korea, and 9 in China.

Huoluxun Lake

Huoluxun Lake, in Haixi, north of the Tibetan Plateau. (Secret China)
Huoluxun Lake, in Haixi, north of the Tibetan Plateau. (Image: Secret China)

Huoluxun Lake Scenic Area lies at the bottom of the mountain-encircled Qaidam Basin in the Haixi Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, north of the Tibetan-Plateau. The Qaidam Basin is 8,776 feet (2,675 meters) above sea level, and Mount Tanggula, one of the mountains towering over it, is the birthplace of the Yangtze River and the gateway to Tibet.

The lake has an area of 135 square miles, and a depth of 24 feet (7.3 meters). In the northwest part of the lake grow endless reeds, rippling in the wind. On the southeastern shore sits a mountain of seashells accumulated 3 million years ago when the sea became land. The shells flash white light under the sun, creating a beautiful scene.

In spring and summer, a variety of birds come and play on the lake, including rare species such as black-necked birds, white swans, bar-headed geese, and yellow ducks.

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