Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture

Bortala means "Silver Grassland" in Mongolian, located in the northwest edge of Xinjiang, and in the hinterland of Eurasia. By overlooking the whole prefecture, it is like a Begonia leaf surrounded by mountains in the West, north and south, and with a trumpet-shaped valley plain in the middle. It must be challenging to get in because of the mountain encircling it. It is the border to Kazakhstan in the West.


Here is an ancient poet to describe the road conditions, "The road to Shu, so steep, steeper than Heaven." I had the impression when I first arrived in Bole City, capital of Prefecture a few years ago. I hope things in the region is getting better, and people have a rich life too. 


Why visit the place

1. The last tear of Pacific

 Because Sayram Lake is on the windward slope, the easternmost end of the Atlantic Ocean warm and wet air current can reach the slope and deep into the Ili River Valley, which makes sufficient water vapor and creates the blue and crystal falling Sayrum Lake forever. So it's called the last tear of the Atlantic Ocean. 


2. The Air Bridge

It is the most famous bridge in China with a cost of 3.4 million yuan per/meter and a total cost of 2.4 billion yuan (The whole length is 700 meters), is called Guozigou Double Tower & Double Cable-stayed Bridge. I would do wow at the cost. The height between the bridge deck and the valley bottom is up to 200 meters. The main bridge adopts steel truss beam structure. People say it looks majestic of hovering in the mountains. 


3. The unknown area-Sharhili 

In 1998, according to the Supplementary Regulations On The Boundary between China and Kazakhstan, this place is finally under the jurisdiction of China. Since then, Sharhili truly and ultimately returned to China's territory.


4. Natural Hot Spring

There is a particular county named Hot Spring County. Geothermal resources are rich and magical. There are three most famous hot springs. They are Bogdar Hot Spring, Otoksail Hot Spring, and Alcati Hot Spring. Spring water contains iodine, sulfur, phosphorus, and other minerals useful for skin diseases.


Top attractions

1. Sayram Lake

On the map Sayram Lake is an irregular quadrangle. If you want to take pictures of the snow-capped mountain reflecting on the Lake, it is better to do it on the south line to take a panoramic view of them and sunsets down on Gauozigou Bridge. The meadow on the northwest line is very good green, and the flowers on both sides of the road around the Lake are in full bloom for a grand dance party. The northeast line is the nearest spot to the grassland. Tourists can walk down and play with water. 


2. Guozigou Bridge for photographers

It is linked north to Sayram Lake and south to the famous valley channel of Ili River Valley. The s-shaped bridge meanders with the zigzag mountain road, which subverts tourists' understanding of bridges and aesthetic view. It is softness and strength co-existence. At somewhere, it looks like a flying dragon over the mountain to embrace blue sky and white clouds. Somewhere it twists like a charming silver snake looking for cattle and sheep on grasslands. The bridge never is alone to lonely photographers going around to meet you. 


3. Xiaerxili National Nature Reserve

Located at the northern foot of Alatao Mountain, Xiaerxili is adjacent to Haditurege Forest Farm in the southwest and bordered by the Republic of Kazakhstan in the East. The Reserve is home to wild forests, rare animals and plants. It is said that Xiaerxili is uninhabited for more than 300 years. It remains a rare primitive mountain land ecosystem in Xinjiang and even in China. Summer of Xiaerxili is like a mix of colors on a palette. More than 40 species of national wild animals such as precious Saiga antelope, argali, brown bear, snow leopard, and about 300 species of terrestrial animals and birds are protected in the Reserve. Most of time, these animals are neither flustered nor aggressive like the land.


4. Holy Spring

It integrates river valley scenery, grassland culture and human landscape in one. Hot spring means "holy water" in the Turkic language. Bogdar Hot Spring is located at the foot of the mountain 300 meters north of Wenquan County, composed of many hot springs. Each spring pool is like a pot of boiling water, rolling waves and splashing spray. The spring water is clearly seen to the bottom and bubbles constantly appear on the water surface. Every summer, it is delightful birds are singing and horses are neighing on the grassland with flowers in full blossom while you expect Winter to come soon. 


When to come

From June to August is the best sightseeing season. During this period, the bank of Sayram Lake is covered with green grass and lush flowers. The water is clear and blue. In the far, snow-capped peaks decorate summer by their layers. Better not miss Nadam Convention in Sayram Lake every summer.


In Winter, you probably see the ice-bubble wonders of Sayram Lake. The ice blocks stand upright dot by dot, like men's eyes. Of course, it is relaxing to come to hot springs.



Bole is the only regional comprehensive transportation hub integrating highway, railway, aviation and pipeline transportation in Northwest China. Bole Airport provides direct flights to Urumqi. 


There are no direct public vehicles or trains going to Sayram Lake. However, it is convenient to rent a private car to go the spot.



I would like to recommend a few of hotels in Bortala as reference. Please have a check.

Bole Saihu yunshang Hote

Bortala Hotel


Maps of Bortala Prefecture you might need

Useful Bortala Mongol Travel Info

Top Bortala Mongol Attractions

Most Popular Bortala Mongol Tours

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