Ranwu Lake

The name Ranwu Lake, called Ngan-tso in Tibetan, signifies a lake where zombies gather. It is located in the Ranwu Town, Chamdo Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Baxoi County in the east and 127 kilometers (79 miles) from Bome County in the west. Covering an area of approximately 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles), Ranwu Lake is known as the largest lake in Eastern Tibet. The primary source of water is ice and snow from the mountains and glaciers on the three sides.

The long and narrow Ranwu Lake is divided into upper, middle and lower parts, which are actually three lakes connected by little streams. How was the lake formed? Legend has it that the lake came into being because of two oxen. A long time ago, two oxen fought a duel to the death in this region and turned into two mountains eventually. The middle part between these two mountains gradually formed a lake. A scientific explanation is that Ranwu Lake is a dammed lake formed because of mountain building activities.

Ranwu Lake is well-known for its tranquil and colorful water. It turns to dark blue, turquoise or any other colors in accordance with seasonal changes. Green meadows, white snow capped peaks, grey and white water birds, and clear blue sky reflect themselves in the lake water and form a charming picture. Visitors will be definitely stunned by this picturesque scenery.

About 10 kilometers (six miles) to the west of Ranwu Lake is a typical Eastern Tibetan style village named Waba Village. Houses here are mainly built of wood. It’s a good location to take photos. If time allows, visitors can also walk along the lake side to the nearby Laigu Glacier and Laigu village at its foot. They are another paradise for outdoor adventurers.

Apart from the natural scenery, one shouldn’t miss three local dances (Guozhuang Dance, Reba Dance and Xianzi Dance) and local food delicacies, such as stewed chicken with caterpillar fungus or fritillary, fish soup mixed with Zanba (roasted highland barley flour) and raw meat sauce. The above mentioned three local dances were included in China's non-material cultural heritage list in 2006.

Where to Eat

There are some Sichan-style restaurants in Ranwu Town. Because of the isolated location, dishes can be pricey. Noodles are the common breakfast here. If you don’t like spicy food, please tell the cook not to add chili and pepper.

Where to Accommodate

 Ranwu Transport Station Guest House
Ranwu Lake is off the beaten path, so the conditions are relatively primitive and not very clean, but still acceptable. A single room costs around CNY 20. A bed in the triple or quadruple room costs CNY 15.

 Peace Hostel, at the east entrance of Ranwu Town
The facilities are better. A double room costs around CNY 30. It’s around CNY 20 for a single room. A bed in the triple or quadruple room costs CNY 10 to 15.

How to get to Ranwu Lake

1. Hire a local car to the lake from Lhasa. Normally, a car can be shared with four visitors and it charges around CNY 2,000 for each.
2. The bus from Bome County in Nyingchi to Chengdu passes by Ranwu Town and you can get off there, and then take a local car to the lake.
Entrance Fee Free
Opening Hours All Day
Best time to Go April, May, late September and early October
- Last updated on Sep. 12, 2018 -
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