China Lakes

There are more than 24,800 lakes in China, 2,800 among which are natural lakes covering more than 1 square kilometers. Although there are many lakes, they are not evenly distributed in the region. In general, the largest freshwater lakes lies in the eastern monsoon region, especially the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river. In the west, more lakes are concentrated on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and most are inland saltwater lakes. Here we introduce some famous lakes in China.

1. Qinghai Lake(青海湖)

Located in northeastern Qinghai plateau and 100 kilometres west of the provincial capital of Xining, Qinghai Lake is the biggest inland lake in China, as well as the biggest salt water lake. Qinghai lake is the national AAAAA natural scenic spot with a number of China’s most. It has a surface area of 4,456 square kilometres and circumference of 360 kilometres. Many species use Qinghai Lake as an intermediate stop during migration due to the location of crossroads of several bird migration routes.

Recommended Qinghai Lake Tours:

1 Day Qinghai Lake Tour from Xining
5 Days Qinghai Lakes Tour with Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake
10 Days Qinghai and Tibet Mount Everest Tour by Train

2. West Lake(西湖)

West Lake, located in the west of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, is one of the first national key scenic spots in China and one of China’s top ten scenic spots. It is one of the main famous freshwater lakes in mainland China, and also one of the few ones included in the UNESCO world heritage list. West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics. There are five sections divided by three causeways and numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake.

Recommended West Lake Tours:

Hangzhou West Lake Night Cruise Tour
2 Days Hangzhou City Highlights Tour
5 Days Hangzhou and Huangshan Tour by Speed Train

3. Erhai Lake(洱海)

Erhai Lake is situated at 1,972 metres above sea level with an area of 250 square kilometres and circumference of 116 kilometres, and the total storage capacity of 2.5 billion cubic metres. Erhai or Er Lake, is the second largest highland lake in China, who got its name by its shape of an ear. Erhai lake has excellent water quality, rich aquatic resources, and also a scenic spot with rolling scenery. Moon, one of the four famous sceneries of Dali, is the moon of Erhai Lake.

Recommended Erhai Lake Tours:

1 Day Dali Culture Tour with Xizhou Old Town and Erhai Lake Cruise
4 Days Dali City Discovery Tour
8 Days Best Yunnan Classic Tour

4. Heaven Pool(天池)

Formerly known as Yaochi (“Jade Lake”), Heaven Lake was listed as one of the first national key scenic spots in 1982,, and also one of the AAAA scenic spots in Xinjiang. The four seasons of the Heaven Pool are excellent with beautiful scenery. It lies on the north side of the Bogda Shan (“Mountain of God”), about 30 kilometres south of Fukang and 45 kilometres east of Urumqi. The literati of all ages have written poems and articles to highly praise this pool, which has the reputation of “the pearl of the Mountain of God”.

Recommended Heaven Pool Tours:

1 Day Urumqi City Tour with Heavenly Lake and Grand Bazaar
4 Days Urumqi City Tour
7 Days Xinjiang Highlights Tour

5. Lugu Lake(泸沽湖)

Lugu Lake is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres and is the highest lake in the Yunnan Province. The lake’s shores are inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, etc. Lugu Lake is called the “mother lake” by the Mosuo people. The lake is surrounded by mountains and has five islands, four peninsulas and fourteen bays.

Recommended Lugu Lake Tours:

2 Days Lugu Lake Tour from Lijiang
12 Days Yunnan Trekking Tour from Lugu Lake to Baoshan Stone Town and Tiger Leaping Gorge
14 Days Yunnan Classic Tour with Holy Meili Snow Mountain and Mosuo Matriarchal Society in Lugu Lake

6. Namtso Lake(纳木错湖)

Namtso Lake, or Lake Nam, lies at an elevation of 4,718 m and is the second largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the third largest salt water lake of China. Namtso is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and renowned as one of the most beautiful places in the Nyainqêntanglha mountain range. The five islands in the lake stand out in the blue waves, and buddhists say they are the embodiment of the Buddha. It was named the third most beautiful lake in China by the national geographic of China.

Recommended Namtso Lake Tours:

6 Days Lhasa and Lake Namtso Small Group Tour
10 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp and Namtso Lake Small Group Tour
12 Days Sichuan-Tibet Train Tour with Mount Everest and Chengdu Giant Panda

7. Thousand-island Lake(千岛湖)

Thousand-island Lake is a human-made freshwater lake located in Chun’an County, Zhejiang Province, China. There are 1,078 large islands dotted the lake and a few thousand smaller ones scattered across it. Due to the environmental protection, Thousand-island Lake has the highest quality water in the great lakes of China, and is rated as the national 5A tourist scenic spot.

8. Siling Lake(色林错湖)

With an area of 1,865 square kilometers and an altitude of 4,530 meters, Siling Co is the second largest saltwater lake in the northern Tibetan Plateau and forms part of the Siling Co National Nature Reserve. It is the world’s largest nature reserve of black-necked crane. 

9. Kanas Lake(喀纳斯湖)

Kanas means “beautiful and mysterious lake” in Mongolian. Located in a valley of the Altai Mountains near the very northern tip of Xinjiang, the lake was formed around 200,000 years ago during the Quaternary period as a result of glacier movement and is classified as a AAAAA scenic area. Visitors can have activities such as orienteering, hiking, rafting, rock climbing, paragliding and camping.

Recommended Kanas Lake Tours:

4 Day Kanas Lake Dream Tour
7 Days Northern Xinjiang Tour with Kanas Lake Adventure
9 Days Xinjiang Kanas Lake and Hemu Trekking Tour

10. Yamdrok Lake(羊卓雍措湖)

In Tibetan language, Yamdrok Lake means “jade lake” or “swam pool”. It is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. Its area is 675 square kilometers and altitude is 4,441 meters above sea level. Surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and fed by numerous small streams, this calm and blue lake is like an emerald on the south plateau.

Recommended Yamdrok Lake Tours:

5 Days Lhasa and Yamdrok Lake Small Group Tour
10 Days Qinghai and Tibet Mount Everest Tour by Train
11 Days Xining and Tibet Train Tour from Shanghai