Officially known as Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve, this area is commonly known in Chinese as Hua Hu which literally translates: Mtsho khra khrap (མཚོ་ཁྲ་ཁྲབ།) In Tibetan. We call it Flower Lake in English. The name comes from the flower shape of the lake, not because it holds an abundance of blooming flowers (a common misconception). Regardless, walking the boardwalk around the marsh leading to the lake itself, travellers are taken with the beauty that is Flower Lake.
Located at an altitude of 3,600 meters above sea level, Flower Lake is the largest plateau marshland in the world, and was officially recognized in 1988 as a national nature reserve. Watching the sky reflect off of the lake in contrast to the colour of the reeds, is part of what makes Flower Lake so popular to visit.
When visiting Flower Lake, keep your eyes open for the wildlife. This marshland is home to several endangered species, and it was recognized in 2005 as the homeland of the Black-Necked Crane. Bird watchers may also spot the red-crowned crane, white crane, swans, and yellow ducks. Other animals within the park include the lake’s fish, and the livestock belonging to the nomads.
Flower lake is located approximately halfway between Ruoergai County Town and Langmu Monastery, making this a convenient stop for travellers. When heading north out of Ruoergai, it is approximately a half hour drive with visitors choosing to take the bus, taxi, or private vehicle to get there.
Visiting Flower Lake
Once at the entrance to the nature reserve, the entrance price is ¥101 during peak season (May – mid October), while it is only ¥30 the rest of the year. Even though it is more expensive, the recommended time to visit Flower Lake is June-October, as the winter months see the marshes covered in snow. In the summer months the marsh reeds are a luscious green, while in the fall the reeds turn golden yellow with the colder weather.
Once inside the park you will load onto a bus (paid for with your entrance ticket), and drive about 10 minutes until you reach the boardwalk stretching out over the marshland. The boardwalk is fairly wide and well maintained making this site easy to visit. However, the majority of the boardwalk has no railing over the deep marsh water, so parents will want to watch their small children. For travellers with mobility issues, barring the elevated observation platforms, there are only a couple of small steps scattered throughout the boardwalk.
Flower Lake Nature Reserve is open for guests from 6:30am-7:00pm year round. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds, as this is a popular scenic spot for national tourists. By visiting in the morning, you will also avoid the heat of the afternoon sun (although you should still be prepared for the weather).