Off the beaten track, take a break this fall to explore three hidden gems that the vast expanse of China has to offer, writes Zhang Zixuan.
Summer along with its scorching heat and breathless days has given way to fall, which is probably the best season for traveling in China. This is also perhaps the best time to visit Kanas Lake to have a chance meeting with the mysterious "water monster", navigate the less than 1-meter-wide alleys in Xitang, or watch the sun dip below the horizon from a boat rolling gently on Baiyangdian lake. Traveling is not only about giving a break to our body and mind from the dreariness of everyday life, but also about rejuvenating the soul.
1. Kanas, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region
The picture perfect Kanas Lake, surrounded by virgin forests and pristine grasslands, is the biggest draw in Kanas. Photos provided to China Daily
Situated in Burqin county of Altai city in Xinjiang, Kanas is called the "Switzerland of the Orient" and the "heaven for photographers".
In "Kanas", which means beautiful, rich and mysterious in the Mongolian language, you'll see the tranquil Kanas Lake change color as the day progresses and the seasons change thanks to the spectacular glaciers that embrace it from all sides.
Kanas is home to virgin forests surrounded by pristine grasslands. It is also home to the Tuva people - closely related to Mongolians - and many rare species of mammals and birds.
Kanas shares the border with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, and its 44.78-square-kilometer lake is shaped like a bean pod.
The Kanas Lake, situated at an altitude of over 1,340 meters above the sea level, is famous for its natural beauty and discreet charm. But it is also known for the mysterious water monster, which many believe has killed horses drinking water from the lake or resting near its banks. Rumor has it that the monster drags horses deep into the water.