The Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in China

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China is abundant with mesmerising places: rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, falls, gorges, wetland, glaciers, grassland, caves and deserts. The list can much longer and it is impossible that you could visit them within your life time. Here I list the top 10 most beautiful lakes in China, trying to give you a helpful direction as well as a dream travel list for your physically traveling the beautiful lakes in China or for a mental tour on a China map.
1. West Lake ( Where to spoil yourself) 杭州西湖
Location: West Lake is located on the west of the city center of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province. It is surrounded by the hills on three sides: north, west and south with its east side abutting the city center. West Lake is  3.3km long from north to south and 2.8km wide from east to west with a circumference of 15km. West Lake ws listed as world cultural heritage in June 2011.
Best Travel Time: May – October
I put West Lake in the first place is very subjective largely because I’m from Hangzhou. More specifically I was born and grew up with West Lake, which is always lingering in my mind and takes its root in my heart. For me, West Lake is the most beautiful lake in China. It is located within a modern city, easily accessible, close to people with more human nature like a delicate beauty, a gleaming pearl dropped from the heaven.
See my West Lake Trip Report

West Lake in Hangzhou

2. Qiandao Lake (Kingdom of Isles) 杭州千岛湖
Location: Qiandao Lake is located 129km in Chunan County in the southeast of Hangzhou and 140km to the northeast of Huangshan Mountain. It is a “backyard garden” both for Hangzhou and Shanghai. Qiandao Lake means “one thousand lakes” which characterize the 1078 isles in the lake itself.
Best Travel Time: September and October
Again Qiandao Lake is from my hometown Hangzhou and I naturally give more attention. But objectively Qiandao Lake is worth the praise and applause from travelers who have made trips to the lake. Qiandao Lake is well known for its clear, and drinkable water in some places where the renowned Nongfu Spring brand of mineral water is produced.. It also accounts for green forestation  and exotic islands. Qiandao Lake’s population include Snake Island, Bird Island, Monkey Island, Lock Island , and more.

Qiandao Lake

3. Kanas Lake  (The Purest lake in the world ) 新疆喀纳斯湖
Location: Kanas Lake is located 855km northeast of Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang. Kanas Lake, or more exactly, Kanas Scenic Area, Kanas Geopark and Kanas Natural Reserve.
Best Travel Time: September and October
The Kanas Lake (Kanasi Hu) means “beautiful, rich and mysterious” in Mongolian. The lake is nestled in the deep forests and mountains of Altay. The lake is 1,374m above sea level and covers an area of 45sqkm (10 times bigger than Tianchi on Bogda Mountain) with the deepest point of 188m. The long bean-shaped lake reflects the surrounding snowcapped mountains. Legend has it that huge monsters live in the lake. They often has take away horses and camels drinking into the water by the lake and later swallow them, a similar story of “Nessie Monster” in Scotland.
See my Kanas Lake trip report

Kanas Lake

4. Sayram Lake (the last tear drop of Atlantic Ocean) 新疆赛里木湖
Location: Sayram Lake is located between the Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture and the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang. The lake takes an area of 457 square kilometers. The fault basin is at the sea-level of 2,073 meters. The lake has a depth of 86 meters.
Best Travel Time: March and April; July – September

The lake is an amazing natural water resource and is circled by green grasslands. Nestled in the mountains, it’s tucked away and misty occasionally. The mixed view of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and the dragon spruce plants on the mountains is very photographic.

In July and August local Mongolian and Kazak herdsmen gather on the lake side to do their traditional ethnic activities which include horse racing, wrestling and lifting sheep while galloping on horse-back.

See my Sayram Lake Trip Report

Sayram Lake

5. Qinghai Lake (Heart of land and Sea) 青海湖
Location: Qinghai Lake is located about 100 kilometres west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205m above sea level in a depression of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo.
Best Travel Time: May – August
Qinghai Lake is a saline lake situated in the province of Qinghai, and is the largest lake in China. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of total influx. The lake has fluctuated in size, shrinking over much of the 20th century, but increasing since 2004. Despite its salinity, it has an abundance of fish, such as the edible naked carp.

Qinghai Lake

6. Namtso Lake (where you whisper with God) 西藏纳木错
Location: Namtso lake is located 240km to the northeast of Lhasa. Namtso literally means “heavenly lake”. Namtso Lake is in the rectangle shape, 70km from east to west and 30km from north to south with an area of 1920 square km and 4718m at the sea-level.
Best Travel Time: June – September
The lake is composed of 5 islands with the largest island of 1.2 square kilometers. It is said by the Buddhists that they are the avatars of five Buddhas. The lake is rich in all kinds of fishes, snow lotus, caladium and the place for wide animals dwelling. The lake is clear, flickering blue light under the sunshine, which seems to wash your soul cleanly.

Namtso Lake

7. Yamdrok Lake (A Pearl from the sky) 西藏羊卓雍错湖
Location: Yamdrok Lake is located 105km to the southwest of Lhasa. Yamdrok-Tso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 square km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.
Best Travel Time: June – September
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake is a kind of low salt lake formed by the snow melted water from the snow capped mountains nearby. The lake looks like a holy sapphire. Under the clear azure sky, the clean water of the lake is as smooth as the surface of fine blue jade. Yamdrok Lake is said to be be the female Guardian of Buddhism in Tibet. Every year, many local Tibetans and visitors from Lhasa and from other places would come here for pilgrimage or sightseeing.
My Yamdrok Lake Trip Report 

Yamdrok Lake

8. Lugu Lake (A pure lake) 泸沽湖
Location: Lugu Lake is located 260km north of Lijiang City, a border lake between Yunnan Province and Guizhou Province. The lake has an area of over 50 square km with a sea level of 2690m, the highest lake in Yunnan Province.
Best Travel Time: May and June
Lugu Lake is woven with beautiful legends and teemed with poetic landscape. Lugu Lake is pure and azure without any pollution, 11 meters visible, which is very rare. The lake area is inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. the Mosuo people (“Moso”), are said to be a sub clan of the Naxi People. The lake is also well-known as the region of “The Kingdom of Women” . where the Mosuo women have the the dominant role in their society. 

Luhu Lake


9. Tianchi Lake ( Heavenly Lake in Mt. Changbai) 吉林长白山天池
Location; Heaven Lake is a crater lake on the border between China and North Korea. It lies within a caldera atop the volcanic Baekdu Mountain, a part of the Baekdudaegan mountain range and the Changbai mountain range. It is located between Ryanggang Province, North Korea and Jilin Province, northeastern China.
Best Travel Time: July August and September
Tianchi Lake has a surface elevation of 2,189m. The lake takes an area of 9.82 square km with a south-north length of 4.85 km and east-west length of 3.35 kilometres. The average depth of the lake is 213m and maximum depth of 384m

Tianchi Lake

10. Jingpo Lake 牡丹江镜泊湖
Location: Jingpo Lake is located southwest of Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province. The lake occupies an area of 1200 square meters. It is a famous scenic spot as well as an ideal summer resort of North China. The lake hs been called “West Lake of North China”.
Best Travel Time: July August and September

The northern side of the river runs down the Diaoshuilou Falls, a 40 meter waterfall caused by the lake. Jingpo Lake is well known for its craggy limestone cliffs and its azure waters containing 40 types of fish and fresh water coral.

Jingpo Lake

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