Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is famous for its Uyghur culture, beautiful natural scenery, high quality farm products and tasty cuisine. This is a destination that promises visitors majestic landscapes, and a deep history and rich culture to discover.
Xinjiang at a glance
The legendary Silk Road
Xinjiang is where the legendary Silk Road that once connected the Eastern and Western civilisation lies. The Silk Road bridged the ancient Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Arab cultures with those of ancient Greece and Rome. Half of China’s ancient Silk Road is in Xinjiang. Along the Silk Road in Xinjiang, there were many fortified settlements, castles, grotto, temples, tombs, and beacon towers. The best-preserved sites are the Gaochang and Jiaohe ruins near Turpan.
In Xinjiang, and Kashgar especially, you’ll get to see the one-of-a-kind Uyghur minority’s architecture, clothing, dancing, and customs. This is a fascinating destination for people who love to discover new culture during their travel. Here, you can see how the culture of Central Asian people contrasts with the Chinese Han majority further east.
More than 10 ethnic groups in Xinjiang, including the Uyghur, Kazakh, Hui, Kirgiz, Tajik, Uzbek, Tatar, Salar, Dongxiang, and Bao’an follow Islam as their main religion. Other major religions include Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism), Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Shamanism. This diversity of ethnicities and religions created a melting pot of cultural values.
Because of its vast territory, Xinjiang is rich in landscapes. Various mountain ranges such as the Kunlun Mountains, Tianshan Mountains, and Altai Mountains stand majestically with snowy peak that pierce the clouds. The rich Yili Valley is filled with greeneries and flowers. Vast grasslands and lakes can be found in You’erdusi Basin. There is also the Taklamakan Desert, the second largest desert in the world, known as the “Sea of Death”.
Tourist attractions in Xinjiang
Xinjiang province offers a wide variety of cultural and natural attractions. The cities are interesting and full of culture, and there are large, forested mountain chains that are good for adventurous hiking, camping, and experiencing rural ethnic life.
Heavenly Lake in Xinjiang
Heavenly Lake: Take a boat to see the picturesque Heavenly Mountain scenery.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum:
See Uyghur and Russian cultural artifacts and its precious relics collection.
A market that showcases Xinjiang special food and handicrafts, with a heavy Islamic influence.
Kashgar Old City
The best preserved traditional historical district with typical characteristics of Xinjiang.
Id Kah Mosque
This is the biggest mosque in China.
The Karez Well System
The local’s secret of turning the desert into a oasis.
The Jiaohe Ruins
The houses in this area are the world’s largest, oldest, and best-preserved raw-earth buildings.
At this museum you can see some of the most fascinating samples that a museum can offer: the Turpan mummy, Paraceratherium fossils, and the earliest grapevine, mooncake, and artificial leg in China.
Kanas Scenic Area
Kanas Lake and its surrounding snow-capped mountains, grasslands, pastures, and golden birch forests are extremely beautiful.
Kanas Lake, Hemu Village, and Baihaba Village
Must-sees in the scenic area. We recommend you visit these places during Autumn or Winter tim
Yili Valley is an all-year-round destination. Apricot blossoms in in April, seas of lavender in June, lush Nalati and Kalajun Grasslands, and quiet Sayram Lake are some impressive scenery that Yili has to offer.
Best Times to visit Xinjiang
Xinjiang is divided into two parts. North Xinjiang features vast grasslands and high mountains. While South Xinjiang features deserts and barren rocky landscape.
North Xinjiang areas such as Urumqi, Altay, Turpan, and Yili are suitable for visiting from June to October.
South Xinjiang areas such as Kashgar, Hetian, and Aksu are suitable for visiting from August to October.
Spring is best for appreciating apricot blossoms in Yili’s Xinghua Valley and peach and apricot blossoms in Hetian, especially in April.
Flights and bullet trains are the main ways to travel to and around Xinjiang.
Most major China cities have flights to Urumqi (other cities in Xinjiang only have small airports). You can fly to Xinjiang from Beijing, Shang Hai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Guangzhou wit an average flight time of 4 to 5 hours.
If you are following the Silk Road through Gansu, which can be done by bullet train, Turpan would be the first stop in Xinjiang. There are also other train stops in Xinjiang if you want.
Private transport: Xinjiang comprises one sixth of all of China, resulting in long distances between attractions. A private vehicle with your own private driver and guide helps a lot. You can stop where you want and enjoy flexibility and expert adaptability.
Accommodation in Xinjiang
In Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, the hotels generally have better services than in other area. In remote cities, such as Kashgar and Turpan, star-rated hotels might not be as good as the same rating of hotels in big cities.
When booking a hotel by yourself, please make sure the hotel is allowed to accept foreigners, and choose an area that is convenient/conducive:
In Turpan,the best places to stay is in the downtown area, such as Xihuanbei Road, Gaochang Road, Qingnian Road, lvzhou Road, and Wenhua Road.
In Urumqi, stay in the city center, such as near Renmin Park and Hongshan Park.
In Kashgar, accommodation in the downtown area is best.
Typical authentic Xinjiang meals include a lot of meat such as mutton, beef, and chicken. Islamic rules forbid alcohol and pork. A typical breakfast includes melons, fruit jam, and milk tea. Nangs, Uyghur flat bread like Indian naans, are a very common food in Xinjiang.
Do not miss the traditional Muslim yoghurt in Kashgar, juicy roasted skewers of meats, and the various Muslim rice dishes. People traveling Xinjiang in autumn have the chance to try the sweet fruits of the region such as grapes, apricots, and Hami melons.
Tips for your travel to
The Uyghur are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever come across. The main tourist areas are generally safe, though there may be an elevated police presence. You should still take precaution against pickpockets and thieves.
When you travel in Xinjiang, you should pay attention to these things:
– Politic and religion are sensitive conversation subjects.
– Sixty percent of the total population of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are minorities, and their primary belief system is Islam. Please respect their customs (e.g. no alcohol and modest dress) and follow your guide’s advice when visiting a family or entering a mosque.
– Women should wear long–sleeve clothes.
– Taking photos at some attractions is forbidden. Please follow your tour guide’s advice.
– When you shop at a market, bargaining is taboo if you do not intend to make the purchase.
– Xinjiang current travel restrictions: Xinjiang is open to tourism including Urumqi, Kashgar, Kanas, Yining, Korla, and Aksua