Tian Chi or “Heavenly Lake” is only a couple of hours from downtown Urumqi but a world away in terms of climate and geography. As you drive up to an altitude of 2,000 meters gone are the deserts which are swiftly replaced by Alpine scenery. Han and Uygher dominated Urumqi is replaced by Central Asian Kazak nomads. The lake was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 and is currently being developed for tourism big time which has affected some of the beauty. Still, it’s proximity to Urumqi cannot be beaten and it is an ideal stop for those without much time in the area.