[Photo provided to China Daily]
Nine days, 2,224 km
What to see:
The lake, renowned as a pearl of the Silk Road, is the largest alpine lake in Xinjiang. It is like a brilliant emerald inlaid in a basin surrounded by the Tianshan Mountains. Summer and autumn, when the water is peaceful and the lake's surface is as smooth as a mirror, are the best seasons to visit.
Tekes' county seat is the only community in the world planned in the shape of a bagua - the trigram symbols used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality. Hop aboard a hot-air balloon to see the community from above and try to work out why the county seat doesn't even need traffic lights.
Narat grassland (photo above)
Narat means "the place where sunshine first appears" in the Mongolian language. Located in the heartland of Tianshan, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Though outshone in scale by the Hulunbuir grasslands in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the most famous grassland in China, Narat features rolling grassland, undulating slopes, soaring peaks, fertile valleys and crisscrossing rivers.