Altay Prefecture

Altai Mountain stretches from north to east 5000 meters long, like a huge python wrapping the place. Junggar basin and Gurbantunggut Desert area in the south. Erqis River and Ulungur River run through the middle, which erodes into the vast hilly plain. Thus the topography creates Kanas Nature Reserve assembled forest, lake, mountain, grassland, desert, and cooking smoke in one like a fairyland bestowed down on the earth. 


Located in the northernmost part of Xinjiang, Altay has a high latitude. So Winter in here is pretty long and cold. By stepping on snow lands and making a crisp sound, you can't help asking "God, when winter will be through." The temperature in summer varies greatly between days and nights. You can think of Altay summer nights as England without summer at all in summer. Spring is "spring goeth all in white." It is not surprising that it snows in May. Never miss Autumn in Altay. Awakening of Autumn is strong and comfortable. It is warm and charming. It is the best time of a year. The mountains are covered by golden yellow trees. When the wind blows through, forests sway in all shapes and reflect into lakes just like in a fairy tale. 


Why visit Altay Prefecture

1. Heaven is too far away- Kanas is the fairyland on the earth for us in today's life. A dazzling turquoise finger-shaped Kanas lake is like creamy green layers of corrugated ribbon inlaid in the mountains, meandering between the birch mountains like a stacked snake. Occasionally, eagles fly over the blue sky, leaving their traces of wings. The whole picture is like PS photos you've seen on a fine magazine taken by some emotional photographers. In June, Kanas is in the best beauty for its Lake, mountains, grasslands, Tuwans' quaint villages, and something else unknown cute. In September, the land is in joyful silence for turning golden. 


2. Descendants of Genghis Khan- they are Chinese Tuwans who have been living in the land for generations and self-claimed as descendants of Genghis Khan. For tourists they might be interested in their traditions such as music "humai", hunting wolves, wooden houses co-existing with Kanas Scenic Spots harmoniously.


3. Skiing Paradise- Winter in Altay is a long farewell to spring. Time seems to stop here. Flying snow falls on trees, on your nose, on the land and becomes a majestic white cover everywhere. To outdoor enthusiasts, Altay is the place you should go for skiing. Dashing on snow slopes faster than Tatar's arrows while listening to the heavy snow-step sound is going to be pleasant. 


4. Yadan landform- the landform used to be Jurassic coal seams. After thousands of years of wind and rain erosion, it is ups and downs of hills with the gorgeous colors of red, green, purple, yellow, brown, and others. I wonder if any possible Jurassic dinosaur fossils could be found in the wind-eroded ridge and trough terrains?


5. National Geographic Park- it is a large-scale scenic park with valleys, rivers, mountains, rocks, mineral resources, lakes, and the earthquake fault zones for taking sightseeing, leisure vacation, special tourism (hiking, photography, etc.) and scientific investigation as the main features.


Top Attractions

1. Kanas Natural Reserve 

It includes Shenxian Bay, Yueliang Bay, Wolong Bay, Kanas Lake, and Fish Watching Platform. Shenxian means a place for Gods to live. You can imagine how beautiful it is. Every morning, the lovely fog hovers over the bay, and the trees around are also shrouded by the mist as if it is the bay flying through the clouds just like a fairyland. On the fish watching platform, tourists get much closer to watch if water monsters are in Kanas Lake as in legend. 


2. Hemu Village

It is located in the extraordinary Kanas Lake bank, known as the First Village in China for its integrating natural wonders with Tuwan's culture. After thousands of years, Tuwans are still living in traditional wooden houses, which look very inviting. Many photographers love to take pictures of Hemu Village in Autumn with golden layers and in white Winter with dog sleds. Tuwans keep a traditional life style too. For example, when hunting wolves season falls on, Tuwan men will have a ceremony for it to show respect to the creatures. Tuwan' music is peculiarly called "humai". By using the pressure of vocal cords and oral cavity to produce different overtones. The low part of "Humai" is a continuous bass. 


3. Five Colors Beach

Sunsets are always beautiful and warm no matter where they fall but are more than colorful and charming at Five Colors Beach with Yadan landform. In the south of the beach is occupied by oases and sand lands, while in the north is by undulating terrains and dreamy colors. They are separate clearly but under sunsets they just perfectly fit in each other. 


4. Jiangjunshan Ski Resort

The resort is connected with the urban area of Altay. The highest altitude of the ski resort is 132M. There are three high-grade ski trails. Intermediate and primary are 16 ski trails in total to meet different needs. Jiangjunshan ski resort has good mountain conditions, right snow conditions, and a long snow period. Skiing in here is going to be the best outdoor adventure in Winter you've ever had.


5. Keketuohai National Geopark 

It is located in Fuyun County, abundant in rare mineral resources. There are more than 80 kinds of ore symbiosis, which quite suits for Geopark as I understand. In fact, the Geopark is composed of four parts. They are Erqis Grand Canyon, Kekesuli, Iremut Lake, and Kalashinger Earthquake Fault Zone. I kind of like various landscapes in one, and it is worth exploring the beautiful valley river, mountainous rocks, forestry land, frigid lakes and strange earthquake fault zone.


When to come

There were so many ancient Chinese poets who loved to describe Autumn. One of them goes, "you must remember the best of year is oranges in yellow and pomelos in green." The poetry is catchy by rhymes. Autumn is a colorful season in Kanas Scenic Spots with color layers. Sometimes willow green is reluctant to say goodbye, sometimes is jumping orange, and occasionally perfect maple leaves red. Although the colors are mixed up, we don't feel enough. So come to see the fairyland of Kanas down on the earth in Autumn. It might surprise you.


Altay in Winter is nothing else but white. It is unlike the white in Frozen, but warm white. For those who love skiing and outdoor activities, Altay Winter is a good place you must pay a visit. 



Transportation is developing fast in Altay to provide good service for tourists. There are direct flights and trains from Urumqi to Altay. However, most tourists would like to take a coach to get in because they will see Five Colors Beach along the way to Kanas. Long-distance buses are available in Altay to Kuitun, which is near to transfer for South Xinjiang.



As one of the tourist destinations, Altay has excellent hotels. Well-known Tuwans wooden houses is going to be the first choice. I also would like to recommend a few hotels as references. Please have a check them.

Kanas Birch Forest Resort Hotel 

Hemu Villa

Buerjin Tourist Hotel


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