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Kunlun Mountains, also known as Kunlun Xu, Kunlun Hill or Jade Mountain. In Chinese Taoist culture, Kunlun Mountain is known as "the ancestor of ten thousand mountains". It is a sacred mountain in ancient Chinese mythology and is regarded as a fairy mountain where gods live by Taoism.


Kunlun Mountains are one of the largest mountain chains of central Asia, are also the backbone of the mountain system in western China. The mountain range originates in the Pamirs Plateau, the westernmost region of China, which is the source of all the great mountain ranges in Asia, such as the Himalayas, the Tianshan Mountains, and the Sulayman Mountain.

Kunlun Mountains

From the Pamirs Plateau in the west, Kunlun Mountains stretch through Xinjiang and Tibet to Qinghai. The mountain range is about 2500 kilometers long, with an average elevation of 5500-6000 meters, a width of 130-200 kilometers, narrow in the west and wide in the east, with a total area of ​​more than 500,000 square kilometers. The highest peak Kongur Tagh is located in Akta County, Kizilsu Kyrgye Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, about 7,649 meters above sea level. The Muztagata (7,509 meters), on Kongur Tagh's southeast side, known as the father of the iceberg, is a prestigious outdoor venue. At the foot of the Muztagata, the blue Karakul Lake is silhouetted against the mountain, forming the most beautiful scenery of the Kunlun Mountains.

Broadly speaking, many mountains belong to the branch of the Kunlun Mountains. Geographically, Kunlun Mountains are roughly in line with the Qinglin Mountains and Huai Rivers from east to west. It happens to divide the north and south of China. And the mountain range branches northward from Altyn Tagh mountains - Qilian Mountains - Helan Mountains - Yin Mountains - Yan Mountains - Greater Khingan Mountains - Changbai Mountains. To the south, it branches out Bayan Har Mountain-Hengduan Mountain and connects the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau-Nanling-Southeast Hills - Hangzhou Bay. The mountains that build the framework of China's territory basically originate from the Kunlun Mountain Range, so it's called the "ancestor of ten thousand mountains".

Legend of Kunlun Mountains

Queen Mother of the West

Kunlun Mountain is a very famous mountain in Chinese mythology. Legend has it that in ancient times this was the birthplace of Taoist Kunlun School. Ancient mythology believes that Queen Mother of the West, who lives in the Kunlun Mountains, has a human head and a leopard body, and is served by two bluebirds. She is the righteous god of Taoism and has a very high status in Taoism.  There's also a Jade Pond of Queen Mother of the West and sacred trees with beautiful pearls and fine jades. It is said that under the Kunlun Mountains there is a Ruoshui River, where even a feather would not float. On the periphery, there's a Yanhuo Mountain of growth ever-burning sacred trees. Later legends matched the Queen Mother of the West with the "King Father of the East", who evolved into the prototype of the Jade Emperor.

Attractions of Kunlun Mountains

Heihai Lake

Heihai Lake is an alpine lake, 250km away from Golmud, with an average elevation of 4470 meters.

According to legend, the fairy lord of Kunlun Mountains is the Queen Mother of the West. The "Yao Chi" recorded in many ancient books is the Heihai lake at the source of the Kunlun River. It is 4,300 meters above sea level. The lake is clear and groups of birds and wild animals haunt with magnificent views. Pass through Yeniu Valley, there are precious rock paintings. Not far from Heihai lake is the place where the legendary Jiang Taigong practiced the Chinese philosophy of Five Elements for 40 years.

Yuxu Peak & Yuzhu Peak

Yuxu Peak and Yuzhu Peak are wrapped with snow and surrounded by clouds and mists all year round. The legend says they're the incarnations of the two younger sisters of the Jade Emperor. The well-known Kunlun June Snow Wonder is formed here. Now both peaks are open to the outside world in Qinghai province as holy places for pilgrimage and practice.

Kunlun Spring

Kunlun June Snow Wonder

Kunlun Spring, located on the north bank of the Kunlun River, is the largest ice-free spring in the Kunlun Mountains. Forming from the Kunlun June Snow Wonder, the amount of water is large and stable. It is said that the spring water used by the Queen Mother of the West to brew Qiongye Yuye is high-quality mineral water.

Golmud River

Originating from the Kunlun Mountains, the middle reaches of the Golmud River have eroded thousands of slates for a long time, forming a one-step natural wonder with cliffs facing each other and tens of meters deep.

Kunlun Mountain Pass

Kunlun Mountain Pass

At an altitude of 4767 meters, Kunlun Mountain Pass is located in the southwestern part of Qinghai, in the middle of Kunlun Mountain, 160 kilometers south of Golmud City. It is the only pass from Qinghai and Gansu provinces to Tibet. It is also a major pass on the Qinghai-Tibet Highway.

The Kunlun Pass has a towering terrain, cold and humid climate, thin air, a unique ecological environment, and spectacular natural scenery. There are rolling mountains, abrupt snowy peaks, and vast grassland. Although the permafrost of the Kunlun Pass does not melt all year round, the meadows on the surface of the permafrost are full of green pastures. Every summer season, the grass is full of bright and dazzling wildflowers, which is really beautiful.

Kunlun Bridge

Kunlun Bridge is also known as a one-step natural risk bridge. Located at the foot of Kunlun Mountains, in the south of Golmud, about 50 kilometers away from Golmud city, it is a major danger on Qinghai-Tibet Highway. The total length is only over 4 meters, and it is a reinforced concrete bridge. The magnificence of Kunlun Bridge is not in the bridge itself, but in the rock cliffs and deep streams under the bridge.

How to Get to Kunlun Mountains?

You can choose to arrive in Xining by plane or train. Then take the train to Golmud. We suggest you take the chartered car to Kunlun Mountain Pass and the charter fee is about CNY 800. Kunlun Mountain Pass is about 160 kilometers away from Golmud and it takes about 3.5hrs to the pass.

Attractions nearby Kunlun Mountains

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Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Ange***

Hello there . I want to ask about a Pilgrimage tour package for 10 -14 days, including the Kunlun Mountains and Mount Kailash. I'm looking to travel to Tibet around mid or late April next year, and this is my first time in Tibet. So far, it will be me and my mother; a few friends might join later. I look forward to hearing from you with all the information you can share, like Itinerary Cost / Inclusions Domestic flight/train Airport transfers Best departure location (I’m in Melbourne so getting to Shanghai would be the easiest for me) WhatsApp can also reach me if you have any other questions for me. Many thanks in advance.

Answered by Beatrice

Dear Ange****,

We can arrange your Kunlun Mountain tour and Kailash tour. For Kunlun Mountain, since it's a mountain range stretching 2000km long, which part would you visit? Currently, travelers mainly visit Kunlun Mountain in Gelmud of Qinghai Province. Considering your tour duration of 10 to 14 days, I'm afraid you may not have enough time to stay in Golmud.

Here's your itinerary. If you agree, I will quote you accordingly. Please let me know your hotel preferrence.

Part I Shanghai to Gelmud by plane with a transit in Xián

Day Route Attractions & Activities
1 Arrival in Golmud Pick up and transfer to the hotel
2 Golmud - Kunlun Mountain - Golmud - board on the train to Lhasa Kunlun Hot Spring, Wuji Dragon and Phoenix Palace, Yuzhu Peak Snow Mountain Observation Deck, Kunlun Pass, Hoh Xil Snow Mountain Observation Deck

Part II Lhasa to Kailash Overland Tour

Asked by Ana ***

I am from Guatemala City in Central America, I have been to Tibet. I have a little knowledge of Taoism and Budism which I love and respect . Thank you for existing .

Answered by Beatrice

Dear Ana, I'm glad that our article can show you something interesting. We will keep working to show you more and better articles.