Sprawling on the edge of Mount Bogda and 100 km east of Urumqi, Tianchi Lake and the surrounding Tianshan Mountains are the most beautiful place in Xinjiang. Tianchi covers 4.9 km² and is 90 meters deep; a natural lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks and sky-scraping dragon spruce fed by thawing snow runoffs.
Flora and fauna
The bus from Urumqi will take you as far as the entrance to the park, but to get to Heaven Lake, you can either go by funicular or take the spectacular one hour walk up.
As to May 2011, the funicular isn't working, and there is a free bus that takes you up to the lake.
First take 73 to the north bus station in Urumqi. (which is not the name of the stop. Be careful not to confuse this with the Chinese name station 'north river station road' which is more than a few stops north of where you want to arrive). From there, a bus to Fu Kang (1 hour 15 min, ¥12).
from Fu Kang there is a bus to the lake (about 30 minutes, ¥5). When returning to Fu Kang from the lake, expect long delays if trying to go outside of peak times.
Fees and permits
There is a ¥100 fee to get in the park.
The lake is spectacular, particularly at sunset when the mountains in glow red. Note the Russian dachas among the modern Chinese constructions and Kazakh yurts.
Go for a horseback ride with a Kazakh guide.
In addition to a restaurant at the top of the funicular, there are a few kebab stands around the lake, mostly concentrated by the entrance
There is a karaoke hall near the entrance, though beer can also be bought from the kebab stands.
While there is a hotel near the road of Heaven Lake, press on for yurt stays. The Kazakh families that run them will provide three meals and a night's lodging for ¥50. They will also help arrange horseback rides if you are interested.