10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet
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Top 10 Beautiful Lakes in Tibet

Tibet, known as the Roof of the World, has long been a top destination for travelers. What attracts flocks of travelers to Tibet? Most people's answer must be the awe-inspiring culture and breathtaking scenery. What is the most incredible scenery in Tibet? There is no single answer to this question, because rolling grasslands, Mars-like desert, snowcapped ranges, deep gorges as well as gigantic high plateau lakes all speak aloud.

Different natural landscapes show various colors of Tibet. For some travelers, the most amazing high-altitude color might be blue because of the thousands of lakes dotted in Tibet. There is nothing as blue as the deep turquoise of Tibetan lakes. Here we take you to enjoy a glance at the most beautiful lakes, including the most famous sacred lakes (Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake, Basumtso Lake and Lake Manasarovar) as well as some other lakes, each holding their own features. Whether sacred or just plain scenic, the following beauties beg you for a journey to attractive Tibet.


Namtso Lake – Paradise for Photographers

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Beautiful Namtso Lake in Sunny Days
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Great Sunset Shot in Namtso Lake

Altitude: 4,718 meters (15,479 feet)

Best Months to Visit: June to September

Recommended Visiting Days: 1-2 days from Lhasa

Address: Damxiong County, Nagchu, Tibet

Namtso Lake, together with Yamdrok Lake and Lake Manasarovar, is one of Tibet's Three Greatest Sacred Lakes. Because of its high altitude, it is also honored as the highest salt lake in the world. As a giant sapphire on the pure land of Tibet, it draws numerous travelers' eyes with its fascinating scenery and legendary. Its azure lake combined with the continuous snow mountain ranges and vast pasture make it a paradise for photographers. The colorful prayer flags hanging on the hills and monasteries make Namtso Lake holy and mysterious. The photographers also like to shoot the stunning sunrise and sunset.

Photography Tip: The best site to take photography of Namtso Lake is the hilltop of Tashi Peninsula, which also acts as a wonderful viewing-deck to catch a wider view of the lake and the snow mountains in the distance.

Trip Planning Ideas: 1) Namtso Lake is located 230km (at least 5 hours' drive) from Lhasa City, so you are suggested to spend 2 days traveling it. 1 day is also available but your sightseeing time will be rather limited. 2) On your way back to Lhasa from Namtso Lake, you can enjoy a comfortable hot spring at Yangpachen.

Helpful Links: Namtso Travel Guide | How to Get to Namtso | Namtso Photography Tips | Namtso Weather | Namtso Accommodation


Yamdrok Lake – Dramatic Snaking-scorpion Lake

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Overview Yamdrok Lake from Kambala Pass
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Birds in Yamdrok Lake

Altitude: 4,441 meters (14,470 feet)

Best Months to Visit: all the year Around

Recommended Visiting Days: about half a day from Lhasa

Address: Nagarze County, Shannan Area

Yamdrok Lake, shaping like a snaking scorpion, creates a large island within its reaches. It is famous for its fabulous shade of deep turquoise on clear days. When the sunlight reflects in the water, it changes into magnificent hues. Yamdrok Lake is also the habitat of various birds, making it a perfect place for birding. When winter comes, travelers are able to spot many migratory birds here. Moreover, some other animals can be observed, like various fish, sheep and antelope, etc.

There are three observation decks equipped in different elevation for travelers. You can not only soak in the views in a close distant near the river, but also overlook this picturesque lake from the Kambala Pass (5,030 meters). There is a deck on the hillside as well.

Trip Planning Ideas: 1) For travelers who just want a short side trip from Lhasa, you are suggested to spend one day traveling Yamdrok Lake. You'll have enough time to view the charming scenery of Yamdrok in different decks as well as take a short walk along the lake. 2) For others, it's strongly recommended to have a wonderful tour to Mount Everest - the world's highest peak and Mount Kailash – Religious Center or travel to Nepal across Gyirong Port. No matter which is your final destination of Tibet tour, you can take a stop at Yamdrok Lake.

Helpful Links: Yamdrok Lake | Yamdrok Lake or Namtso Lake


Lake Manasarovar – The Mother of Sacred Lakes

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Lake Manasarovar Scenery
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash

Altitude: 4,590 meters (15,059 feet)

Best Months to Visit: July ~ October

Recommended Visiting Days: about 4~6 Days from Lhasa

Address: South side of Mt. Kailash, Purang County, Ngari

Lake Manasarovar enjoys the highest status of the Three Sacred Lakes because it is honored as the Mother of Sacred Lakes. It is unbelievably appealing with its bluer-than-bluer waters, sandy shoreline and snow mountain backdrop. In the shape of pear for the widest part, the water of Lake Manasarover is crystal clean and glimmering blue under the sunshine in the daytime. The minimal waves and the beautiful surrounding landscape will make you fully immersed.

Manasarovar Kora: It's a sublime experience to kora around Lake Manasarovar. The circuit of Manasarovar Yatra stretches to nearly 90km and it needs about 4 days to finish it. There are five monasteries around the lake offering basic accommodation and simple food to pilgrims. Generally, most travelers and pilgrims choose to kora Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar together.

Trip Planning Ideas: Most tourists travel to Lake Manasarovar from Lhasa via Yamdrok, Gyantse, Shigtse and Everest. It is a long trip but you will be delivered with an enjoyable trip. Besides, it's also a good way to acclimatize your body to the high altitude gradually.

Helpful Links: Lake Manasarovar | Kailashf Manasarovar Yatra


Basum Tso Lake – Small Switzerland in Tibet

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Basum Tso Lake in Autumn
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Jieba Village Near Basum Tso

Altitude: 3,700 meters (12,139 feet)

Best Months to Visit: April ~ November

Recommended Visiting Days: half day from Nyingchi

Address: Gongbo'gyamda County, Nyingchi Area, Eastern Tibet

Basum Tso Lake, literally meaning green water, is notable as a holy lake of Nyingma sect. Like other sacred lakes, it combines natural beauty, religious significance and attractive legends together. Unlike other sacred lakes, it is encircled by luxurious tress-covered forests and distinctive landscapes in different seasons. In spring, there are bunches of flowers blossoming on the lake shore. While in the autumn, the leaves of the surrounding trees turn to yellow, orange and red. There is a small temple on the island and you can pay homage to many Buddha statues here. Many local people who are eager to have a baby always visit the seeking-child hole nearby for blessing.

Trip Planning Ideas: Bamtso Lake is located about 400km (about 7 hours' drive) away from Lhasa and 130km (about 2.5 hours' drive) away from Nyingchi. Starting from Lhasa, you are suggested to spend 4 days traveling Bamtso Lake and some other attractions in Nyingchi, like Lulang Forest, Kading Valley, King Cypress, etc.


Pangong Tso Lake – Famous International Lake

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Attractive Water of Pangong Tso Lake
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Pangong Tso Lake's Changeful Colors

Altitude: 4,250 meters (13,944 feet)

Best Months to Visit: May ~ September

Recommended Visiting Days: 1 ~ 2 Days from Kailash

Address: Damxiong County, Nagchu, Tibet

Pangong Tso, also called “Chumu Ang La Rinpo”, in Tibetan is a bright and narrow lake with east-west direction. Located at the junction of Tibet and India, is a famous “international lake”. Surrounded by numerous snow mountains in the distance, it enjoys very striking scenery. The water is so clean that you can clearly enjoy the views at 5 meters' depth under the water surface. It presents different colors of dark green, light green, and dark blue in different depths. At night, Pangong Tso Lake becomes more captivating when the water reflects the starry sky. There are more than 10 islands scattered in the lake and the most famous one is Bird Island where over 20 kinds of birds perch. It is available to surround Bird Island to appreciate the magical bird kingdom.

Trip Planning Ideas: Pangong Tso Lake is 380km (about 5.5 hours' drive) from Darchen (the start and ending point of Kailash Kora) and it is recommended to spend 1 ~ 2 days visiting Pangong Tso Lake after your Kailash experience.


Siling Lake - Seductive Ghost Lake

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Siling Tso Autumn Landscape
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Changing Colors of Siling Lake

Altitude: 4,530 meters (14,862 feet)

Best Months to Visit: May ~ September

Recommended Visiting Days: 1 day from Namtso Lake

Address: Nagchu Xainza County, Nagqu Prefecture

In the local legend, Silin is a big devil who always devours people and other creatures. Padma Sambhava surrendered to him and ordered him not to leave the lake any more. After that, the lake is named Siling Lake and becomes a devil lake. People believe that the intoxicating blue of Siling Lake shows the devil's confessed soul.

There are many rivers and lakes in the watershed connected to each other to form a closed inland lake group. The main lakes include Siling Lake and 23 other satellite lakes. Every summer, the lakeside scenery is unique, and various migratory birds inhabit the small islands of the lake.

Trip Planning Ideas: 1) Most travelers visit Siling Lake during their Big Loop Tour around Ngari which needs about 20 days. There are numerous attractions to appreciate, including off-the-beaten-track monasteries, high-soaring snow-capped peaks and numerous high plateau lakes. 2) If you prefer a shorter trip, you can take a 1 ~ 2 days' trip after your Namtso Lake Tour.


Ranwu Lake – Surrounded by the Swiss Alps Snow Peaks

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Splendid Sunrise in Ranwu Lake
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Ranwu Lake Dotted with Flowers in Spring

Altitude: 3,800 meters (12,467 feet)

Best Months to Visit: May ~ September

Recommended Visiting Days: 1 ~ 2 days from Nyingchi

Address: Ranwu Town, Bashu County, Chamdo

Ranwu Lake is a barrier lake formed by landslides and debris flows of around 200 years ago. It features in its fascinating mirror-like water and its reflections of lush forest, vast grasslands as well as surrounding snow mountains - Gangrigabu Snow Mountain in south west, Azagonla Glacier in south and Bosula Mountains in the northeast. The melt water from the surrounding snow mountains constitutes the main source of water supply for Ranwu Lake.

Trip Planning Ideas: We suggest you spend 2 days traveling from Nyingchi to Ranwu Lake together. Midui Glacier, ranked as one of the most beautiful glaciers in China, is always visited with Ranwu Lake.


Puma Yumtso lake – Baikal in China

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Summer Landcape of Puma Yumtso Lake
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Travelers' Interesting Pictures in Icy Lake

Altitude: 5,010 meters (16,437 feet)

Best Months to Visit: all the year around, especially winter

Recommended Visiting Days: 1 Day from Lhasa

Address: Damxiong County, Nagchu, Tibet

Puma Yumtso Lake, near Yamdrok Lake, is another alluring lake in Shannan, Tibet. The lake is east-west oriented, and the shoreline of the lake is about 94 kilometers long. Surrounded by endless grasslands and rolling snow mountains, the scenery is greatly marvelous. During winter, Puma Yumtso Lake develops intricate blue ice block patterns in largely different diameter on the surface due to variation in temperature and wind-induced ice motion. Under the refraction of the sun, the cracks and bubbles in the blue ice are clearly visible. The indescribable beauty makes it the Baikal in China.

Trip Planning Ideas: As close neighbors, Puma Yumtso Lake is always planned together with Yamdrok Lake. You are suggested to spend 1 ~ 2 days from Lhasa to Puma Yumtso Lake. Staying overnight (in camps) near Puma Yumtso delivers you a great view of starry sky.


Tangra Yumco Lake – Holy Lake of Old Bon

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Tangra Yumco Lake is Blue in Sunny Day
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Tangra Yumco Lake and Its Surrounding Farm Land

Altitude: 4,540 meters (14,895 feet)

Best Months to Visit: all the year around

Recommended Visiting Days: 5~6 days from Lhasa

Address: Nyma County, Nagchu, Tibet

Tangra Yumco is the largest holy lake worshiped by the old Bon Religion in Tibet. Surrounded by mountains on its four sides, it resembles a vajra with upper round section, middle narrow section and lower long section. The water of Tangra Yumco Lake always changes to different colors in one day.

Near the lakeshore of Tangra Yumco is a small village – Wenbu where people live partly on agriculture and partly on livestock. Because of the special occluded terrain around the lake, a warm and humid microclimate is formed, which makes the environment good for the growth of plants and crops. Therefore, you can enjoy a great view of farmland which is seldom seen in such a high-altitude area of north Tibet.

Trip Planning Ideas: Just like Siling Lake, Tangra Yumco Lake is also a glamorous lake dotted in the big loop around Ngari. Taking about 20 days to Ngari from Lhasa along the south route and getting back along north route, you can appreciate the best nature of Tibet.


Lake Rakshastal – Ghuost Lake beside Holy Lake

10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet Lake Rakshastal with Dark Blue Color
10 Most Beautiful Lakes in Tibet High-altitude Animals in Lakeside of Rakshastal

Altitude: 4,544meters (15,007 feet)

Best Months to Visit: June ~ September

Recommended Visiting Days: about 4~ 6 days from Lhasa

Address: Purang County, Ngari

Lake Rakshastal is just lying to the west of holy Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash. It is said that there was only one lake in the early times. Due to the land sinking, the lake I divided into Rakshastal and Manasarovar. In the legendary, sun-shaped Manasarovar filled with sweet water stands for brightness while crescent-shaped Rakshastal with salty water is a symbol of darkness. Though its fame and status cannot be compared with Holy Lake Manasarovar, Lake Rakshatal is still scenic with desolate landscapes. Few Buddhist pilgrims visit Lake Rakshastal, but it is a good place for travelers.

Trip Planning Ideas: It is recommended to travel Lake Rakshastal with Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash together via Yamdrok, Gyantse, Shigtse and Everest. The whole trips take about 13 ~ 16 days but you will definitely have an unforgettable trip.

How to Plan A Tibet Tour

Tibet is too vast to be visited on one single trip, but planning ahead of time can make most of your holiday. A classic Tibet tour always takes about 4 ~ 8 days. Apart from 2 days for arrival and departure, it usually needs 2 other days to explore the majestic Potala Palace and other landmarks in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. With a day trip's distance from Lhasa, Namtso Lake is another perfect tour extension if you visit Tibet from May to October.

To explore further, it's strongly recommended to travel from Lhasa to Mount Everest via Gyantse and Shigatse, which usually needs 4 more days. It is an unforgettable sightseeing trip with lots of attractions to visit, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Kumbum Stupa of Palcho Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. Of course, the biggest draw must be gazing upon the unparalleled north face of the world's highest peak – Mount Everest.

For Buddhist followers and hiking lovers, you are suggested to travel to Ngari to join the kora around the holy Mt. Kailash and sacred Lake Manasarovar, which usually takes about 5 ~ 8 more days from Lhasa. The wild nature of Ngari is spectacular as well.

Recommended Tour Packages

Escorted by a skilled private driver and accompanied by a professional local tour guide to organize all the activities, all you have to do is to enjoy your fantastic Tibet journey. Time can never be wasted waiting for a group, hopping on and off buses or negotiating unfamiliar destinations.

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