Xinjiang, known as “the Western Regions” in ancient times, is located in northwest China and covers 1.6 million square kilometers. Its population is 19.62 million. It is the largest province in China and is inhabited by 47 ethnic groups including Uygur, Han, Kazak, and Hui, etc.
Xinjiang has a temperate continental dry climate. Being far away from the ocean, it is surrounded by snow-covered mountains and has boundless deserts, extensive grasslands and many basins and oases. The dried weather has turned the region into a magnificent natural scene of Gobl and salt deserts. But the water from the smelt snow and the much sunshine bring green vitality to the region. With cool weather and various kinds of ripen fruits, August and September are the best seasons for touring Xinjiang.
The Silk Road after entering the border of Xinjiang splits into three routes, north, middle and south. Many ruins of ancient cities, watchtowers and numerous historical sites of the Han and Tang dynasties which have been swallowed by the sand remain along the mutes. There are also important cities and towns such as Urumqi, Turpan, Kashi, Kuqa and Hotan along the ancient Silk Road.
Urumqi means “the beautiful pastureland”. Located on the northern foot of Tianshan Mountain, Urumqi is surrounded by mountains on three sides. It used to be a place of strategic importance of the ancient Silk Road. It is geographically the center of Eurasia, so the moderate temperature in spring and autumn results in pleasant seasons for traveling. In cold winter skiing is the best choice.
Urumqi is rich in tourist resources, including historical and cultural remains, beautiful landscapes and unique folkways. Famous scenes are Tianchi Lake, Red Hill.etc.
Urumqi, a beautiful city, is thriving owing to its mysterious historical sites, unique landforms and colorful customs.
Tianchi Lake, or Heavenly Lake, is located in Fukang County, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture. It is a lake with water from melted snow around. The lake is 1,900 meters above sea level and the water in some part reaches 90 meters deep. Tianchi Lake covers an area of five square kilometers and is surrounded by towering dragon spruces and snow-capped mountains afar.
Red Hill, also known as Tiger Head Hill or Tiger Head Peak , at the center of Urumqi, on the eastern bank of Urumqi River, is the symbol of Urumqi. It is 910 meters above sea level. It is called Red Hill because the rocks of the hill are dark red.There were the Jade Emperor Pavilion and an eight-meter-high nine-story Suppressing Dragon Pagoda on the top of the hill, and at the foot of hill there were Great Buddha Temple. After 1949, people drew water up the hill and planted trees and built roads at the foot of the hill.Now visitors can climb to the top and have a panoramic view of Urumqi.
International Big Bazaar
Bazaar means a fair or a market. Xinjiang International Big Bazaar was first opened in June 2003, with a total floor space of 80,000 square meters. It embraces Xinjiang National Trade and Shopping Square. Xinjiang National Handicraft rading Center, Xinjiang Famous and Excellent Product Exhibition Center, Middle Asian Center and National Outdoor Bazaar. This bazaar symbolizes thriving trade and tourism in Xinjiang. Also it is a landmark building in Urumqi, a city inhabited by minority peoples. This international bazaar demonstrates an Islamic architectural style. In addition to its functions and features of the times, the bazaar also reappears the prosperity of the Silk Road in ancient times and reflects the great features of West Regions and local cultures.
Turpan has the lowest elevation in China. It is a basin in mountains of east Xinjiang. Aydingkol Lake is 155 meters below the sea level and is the second lowest area of the world next to the Dead Sea in Jordan. The temperature in summer is over 40°( that is why it is also known as “the Fire Prefecture”.
Famous historical sites include the ruins of Jiaohe and Gaochang cities,and the Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Grottoes. Here, tourists can visit the Grape Valley, Sub-terranean Irrigation System and others. It is 182 km from Urumqi to Turpan and there are top-level expressways linking the tow cities.
The Ruins of Gaochang City
Situated at the foot of the Flaming Mountain 40 kilometers southeast of Turpan are the Ruins of Gaochang City which was the political , economic and cultural center of the Western Regions in the first century, when the Han Dynasty garrisoned troops here and set up administrative divisions. The area of the ruins is 2 million square meters. Most of the city walls remain and several rammed earth city gates are still intact. The doors and windows of the buildings inside the city were vaulted shapes, very similar to the architecture of today’s Turpan.
Tel: 86995-8693/ 78
The Ruins of Jiaohe City
The Ruins of Jiaohe City, or Var City, are 10 kilometers west of Turpan, on a raised section between two riverbeds in the Yarnaz Valley Village. It is surrounded by two rivers like a deserted islet. It is a key historical and cultural site under state protection.
The remains of the ancient city represent the architecture after the Tang Dynasty. Tourists can clearly identify which were people’s house s, government offices, and ternpies, and discover the vestiges of household kitchens under the guidance of tourist guides.
The Flaming Mountain
Situated in the middle of the Turpan Basin, the Flaming Mountain is called Kiziltag by the local people which means “Red Mountain”. The mountain stretches 100 kilometers east to west and are 10 kilometers wide, ranging up to 500 meters in height. It is formed from russet sandstone, conglomerate and mudstone which 1 sparkles under the blazing sun. It contained the mountain pass to enter the city of Gaochang. Tourists, who come to the Flaming Mountain, are surprised to see that the valley is covered with a large belt of fresh green plants—the well-known Grape Valley is right at the foot of the Flaming Mountain.
The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Grottoes
The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Grottoes are some of the famous grottoes in Xinjiang , and are situated about 50 kilometers northeast of Turpan. The earliest of the grottoes were built in the Tang Dynasty. Sixty-four grottoes remain today. Most of the murals in the grottoes have been destroyed, and only a few remain as colorful as they were. On both sides of many statues there are two rows of words written in Han and Huihu which reveal how widespread Buddhism became in the Western Regions.
Subterranean Irrigation System
Such irrigation system is distributed mainly in Turpan, Hami, and Kuqa areas; the largest one , consisting of 1,200 canals, is in Tu『pan. Such subterranean irrigation system brings ground water from a deep level to a higher level and finally to the surface. The system is made up of vertical shafts, subterranean canals, surface ditches and small ponds . A vertical shaft can be as deep as 70 meters and a subterranean canal can be about 10 kilometers long.
The subterranean canals are supplied with water from the melted ice and snow of the Tianshan Mountain. The canals are solidly built so that the water neither overflows nor dries out. The irrigation system, the Great Wall and the Beijing-Hangzhou Great Canal are known as the three largest and most impressive manmade projects of ancient China.
At the ancient times, grapes were introduced to the Central Plains from the Western Regions along the Silk Road. Turpan, once a strategically important place on the Silk Road, has had a history of grape cultivation going back 2,000 years. Because of low elevation and high temperature, less rainfall and the strong radiation of the sunshine provide good conditions for grapes to grow in Turpan. The grapes here have never suffered from plant diseases and insect pests, so no chemicals or pesticides are applied. They are considered a true green food.
Grape Valley is a valley nestling on the western slopes of the Flaming Mountain. It is famous for grape production , especially for seedless white grapes.Tourists can take a don key pulled tented cart to visit t h e 10-/i-long Grape Valley. There the y can pick grapes, taste their flavors and enjoy the local minority songs and dances.
Aydingkol Lake contains a high concentration of salt crystals. The lake surface is 155 meters below sea level and it is the lowest lake in China and the second lowest in the world after the Dead Sea. The water in Aydingkol Lake com es fr o m melting ice and snow on the surrounding mountains and plain s. In sum m er the high temperatures cause the lake water to evaporate quickly.
Located in the northern edge of Xinjiang, Altay connects with Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia through land routes. Around it there are Hongshanzui, Tak Shigen, Jeminay and Ahe Tubaik ports . It is a gathering and distribution center of border trade, an important stop for “integrating with eastern areas and exporting goods to western areas in the west” policy of the region and main center for economic and cultural exchanges.
Its main scenic spots include Altai Mountain Rock paintings, Kanas Lake and Kanas Pasture.
Kanas Nature Reserve is 155 kilometers to the north of Burqin County in Altay and covers an area of 2,500 square kilometers. It is a complicated but complete nature reserve and also a unique tourist area. Kanas Lake is in the center of the nature reserve and covers an area of 46 square kilometers. The water is 90 meters deep at average. The lake is the largest of its kind in China. The 125-kilometer-long Kanas River is like a necklace and Kanas Lake is the biggest and most bright pearl of this necklace. People have been there praise it the sacred lake or immortal lake.
Kashi is situated in southwestern part of Xinjiang . Its downtown sits on the Kashgar delta. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of the Kashi region. It covers 97 square kilometers and has a population of 250,000. The climate is warm temperate and continental with an annual average temperature of 11 .7°C, Kashi is the junction of the south and north routes of the Silk Road.The north route of the ancient Silk Road ran west from here to cross the Pamirs to ancient India in the south and Yuezhi, Persia and other countries in the west.
The people of Kashi have a distinctive culture, and are good at handicrafts. They are famous for their folk songs and dances. Main scenic spots include the Tomb of Apak Hoja and the big bazaar.
The Tomb of Apak Hoja (Xiangfei Tomb)
The Tomb of Apak Hoja is located at Ezret Village 5 kilometers northeast of the city. It was built in 1640. It is the tomb of Apak Hoja and his family members and is the largest Islamic mausoleum in China. Apak Hoja was the king of Hoja State of Kashgar.
The Tomb of Apak Hoja covers an area of 20,000 square meters. It is composed o(gate-tower, great mosque, small mosque, scripture hall, and main tomb chamber. The tomb is surrounded by high trees, which provide it with a quiet and beautiful environment.
Bazaar means a fair or a market. Kashi is the biggest collecting and distributing center in the region.The big bazaar is an attractive place known to tourists from all over the world. The big bazaar of Kashi lies on the eastern bank of Tuman River at the northeastern corner of the city. It covers an area of some 90,000 square meters and is the biggest garden like and comprehensive market of the city and Xinjiang . It is known as the “Mid-Asia Goods Fair” to foreign tourists. There are 5,000 stalls in the bazaar and the goods come from inland China, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Pakistan and West Asia. Everything a person needs can be found here, from oxen, horses and camels to needles, threads, buttons, etc.
This was a strategically important place on the Silk Road and was known as Kunwu in ancient times. Hami is the eastern gate of Xinjiang and a convenient place for transport. The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway and Highway run through it. Buses also reach all the counties.
Hami King's Mausoleum
Situated in Shazaojing , Huicheng, in western suburbs, the mausoleum was built with green glazed tiles, white tiles with blue patterns, and green tiles with patterns. The majestic vault is decorated with colorful paintings. Op posite the Hami King ‘s Mausoleum is the largest mosque in the area. Its ceiling is supported by 108 carved wooden pillars, and its inside walls are painted with flower patterns with extracts from the Koran.
Korla is 471 kilometers south of Urumqu and is a center of transport from the southern Xinjiang to Urumql and inland. One can fly over or drive through the Taklimakan, the world ‘s second largest desert, to get onto the south route of the Silk Road. Main scenic spots include the ruins of the ancient city of Loulan, the Wonder of Yadan, and Bayanbulak Nature Reserve.
The Ruins of the Ancient City of Loulan
LouIan was one of the 36 states of the Western Region s in the Han Dynasty and is at the eastern end of Tarim Basin, hub of the ancient Silk Road.
The ancient city of Loulan was the capital of the State of Loulan, and later became the administrative office of the Viceroy of the Western Regions in the Wei, Jin and Former Liang Dynasties.It was the only way from the Central Plains to the south route of the Western Regions during the Han Dynasty , and played a very important role in cultural exchanges between East and West.
Hotan was once known as the State of Yutian . It is now an important city in southern Xinjiang and the majar transport center of the south route of the Silk Road. It Is 36 kilometers east of Zam Grottoes, a scenic spot related to the Silk Road, and some 20 kilometers south of the Ruins of Rawak.
Since long ago Hotan has been rich in jade. In history the king of the State of Yutian always chose jade to pay tribute to the rulers in the inland.
Old collector of fade The major deposits of Hotan jade are tucked away deep in the lofty Kunlun Mountains. It was inaccessible to people in the past. Previously people had to search for the lumps of rough jade which were carried down by summer torrents to the foot of mountains or the adjacent plains. It became a custom to look for precious stones on flood land.Today tourists like to participate in looking for jade on flood lands.
Kuqa is located in the central part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in the middle of the norther section of Tarim Basin. It is a famous city on the Silk Road and was the center of Buddhism in the Western Regions after the Northern and Southern Dynasties. During the Tang Dynasty it was a thriving city at the peak of its cultural development. Now Kuqa is the home of 420,000 people of the Uygur, Han and Hui ethnic groups.
Kizilgah Beacon Tower
Kizilgah Beacon Tower stands at the side of a highway 10 kilometers west of Kuqa. It is an imposing , deserted structure 15 meters high.
It was built on a high terrace in the county seat of Kuqa in the Qing Dynasty. It is composed of a tower, halls, unknown tombs, scripture-learning rooms and religious buildings. The outside eaves of the main hall are eight meters high. Each room is divided by partition boards. The skylight is shaped like a tent.The tower is 20 meters high. The temple keeps a Uygur style and looks grand and imposing.
Desert Adventure Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Urumqi, stay in Urumqi for the night.
Day 2: Tour Tianshan Mountain and Tianchi Lake, stay in Urumqi for the night.
Day 3: Visit Nanshan Pasture in the morning and in the afternoon visit Turpan, stay in Turpan for the night.
Day 4: Visit the Flaming Mountain, Thousand-Buddha Grottoes, Grape Valley, Suliman’s Minaret, ancient city of Jiache and subterranean irrigation system, stay in Turpan for the night.
Day 5: Arrive in Korla by bus, tour Bosten Lake and ruins of Tiemen Pass, stay in Korla for the night.
Day 6: Drive through Taklimakan Desert and arrive in Minfeng, on the way view diversiform-leaved popular forests in Shanggu and wonderful scenes of deserts, stay in Minfeng for the night.
Day 7: Arrive in Hotan by bus, visit ruins of Yutian capital city, king of walnut tree, and grape corridor, stay in Hotan for the night.
Day 8: Drive through ruins of Ye’erqianghan state, Shache and knife manufacturing center and Yingjiesha, and arrive in Kashi, stay in Kashi for the night.
Day 9: Visit Aitigaer Mosque, the Tomb of Apak Hoja, big bazaar, take plane back to Urumqi, stay in Urumqi for the night.
Day 10: Departure
Festivals and Entertainment
Urumqi Ice and Snow Customs Festival
Time: every January
What ‘s on : Tourists can enjoy the Ice and snow land scape in Urumqi, Nanshan and Turpan.
Turpan Grape Festival in Xinjiang
Time: August 26-31 every year
Venue: Turpan City, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
Origins: The world famous Turpan grape has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. There are over 100 varieties, of which the seedless white grape is the most precious and is known as “the green pearl of China”. The dried grapes and wines made from fresh grapes are delicious.The well-known Grape Valley is the center of grape production. Since the first Grape Festival was held in 1990 in Xinjiang, the event has become a custom kept once a year.
What’s on: Watching a Uygur wedding, merry maxrap, humorous “Nazkum” dance performances, Hami melon competition, a trade fair, vi sit to the street of grapes and fruits, and other activities.