Welcome to Tiān Chí
The rugged Tiān Shān range was well known to travellers along the northern Silk Road, who had to traverse its southern edge if they had any hope of making progress. Modern travellers have it far easier and plan trips into the mountains for fun, especially to stunning Tiān Chí (天池). This high-altitude lake is extremely popular (to the point that many old Xīnjiāng hands stay away in despair at the all-encompassing nature of mass Chinese tourism here), but you can still escape the worst of the crowds, who either stick to the paved paths on the northern end or ride overpriced boats across the lake. Stay overnight to get a few hours of quiet in the morning before the tour buses arrive.