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Top 10 Turpan Attractions | Things to Do in Turpan 2023

Located in Turpan Basin which features with a hash continental desert climate and a low altitude, Turpan enjoys many impressive natural landscapes, like vast deserts, colorful mountains, deep gorges, etc. As a key position along the ancient Silk Road as well as one of the important political, economic, cultural centers of western region, it is also attractive with many historical sites and cultural relics. Visiting Turpan means an interesting exploration of the unique nature and rich culture which are quite different from the popular destinations in mainland China. China Discovery here selects the best attractions in Turpan for your reference. Just tell us your favorite attractions or any other experience you want to add into your itinerary and we will customize a private Turpan tour as you expect.

Turpan MapTurpan Tourist Attractions Map (Click to enlarge)

No.1: Jiaohe Ancient City - Best-preserved City Ruin in the World

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

First Glimpse of Jiaohe Ancient City

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Jiaohe Anicent City Sunset

Type: Historic Sites, Ancient Ruins

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours

Opening Hours: 9:00-20:00

Tickets: CNY 95 (including the museum and tourist bus)

Address: Jianggelemaisi Village, Ya'er Country, Turpan 吐鲁番市雅尔乡将格勒买斯村

Jiaohe Ancient City, the capital of Cheshi Kingdom, is a city ruins with a history of more than 2000 years. It is recognized as the largest, oldest and best-preserved earth building city in the world. Because of its cultural importance, it was listed in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites as a site of "Silk Road: Road Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor". No matter you want to see the magnificent earth structures or probe into the old legendary of Jiaohe Kingdom, Jiaohe Ancient City is a must-be-visited attraction in Turpan.

Jiaohe, literally meaning the place where two rivers meet in Chinese, a willow leaf shaped city is located on the 30-meter-high loess platform at the intersection of two rivers. There is a museum at the entrance which offers a good explanation of Jiaohe’s history and geography before you enter the main scenic area. The city ruins can be divided into the eastern part and the western part by a central venue. The eastern part contains the residential area and administrative area while the western part mainly contains some dwellings and workshops. From the wrecked buildings, you can imagine how the people live and work there in the old times. Because there is shelter in the main scenic area, we suggest visit Jiaohe Ancient City in the early morning or late afternoon. Visiting in the late afternoon allows you to capture an amazing sunset in Jiaohe, visit at night.

☛ 2 Days Turpan Essence Tour from Urumqi
☛ 6 Days Urumqi Turpan Kashgar Efficient Tour

No.2: Karez System - Ingenious Water System with Ancient Wisdom of Xinjiang People

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Underground Canals of Karez

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Vertical Well of Karez

Type: Architectures, Culture & History

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours

Recommended Visiting Places: Karez Folk Custom Garden, Karez Park, Jiaoheyi Karez Source Scenic Area...

Opening Hours: Varies in different seasons, usually 08:00-20:00

Tickets: CNY 40

Address: Kanerjing Road, Gaochang District, Turpan 吐鲁番市高昌区坎儿井路

Turpan is one of the driest places in China with annual precipitation of only 13 mm but evaporation of 3000 mm. Without enough water storage, it is difficult for people to live in Turpan – the hottest city in China. However, the local people wisely built a water system to bring out underground water for daily use and irrigation. Karez is a special kind of irrigation system still existing in desert area. It consists of vertical wells, underground canals, ground canals and waterlogging pond. The vertically dug wells are linked together to channel the water which occurs during summer rain season, or melt from snow mountains of Tianshan range to desired farmlands on the ground.

Karaz System can be seen easily when you walk around Turpan. If you want to explore Karez System better, you can go to some specific places, such as Karez Folk Custom Garden, Karez Park and Jiaoheyi Karez Source Scenic Area. Among them, Karez Folk Custom Garden (also known as Karez Museum) is most recommended. In this museum, you can not only see the original Karez, but also learn about its developing process and take a glimpse of the Uyghur folk customs.

☛ 4 Days Best Turpan to Urumqi Tour
☛ 8 Days Xinjiang Classic Tour(Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar)

No.3: Bezeklik Caves - Exquisite Murals & Profound Buddhist Culture

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Murals in Bezeklik Caves

Type: Grottoes, Murals, Culture & History

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours

Opening Hours: 09:30-19:00

Tickets: CNY 40

Address: Flaming Mountain Area, Gaochang District, Turpan 吐鲁番市高昌区火焰山下

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves is situated on a cliff at the foot of Flaming Mountains, 39 km away from Turpan City. Covering a total area of 1,200 square meters, Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves is one of Xinjiang’s largest Buddhist caves. In addition to its large scale, it also enjoys a high status in the history of Tupan for it once was the royal temple of Huihu Kingdom.

There used to be 83 grottoes and each grotto cherished with many Buddhist statues and religious murals in the caves, but only 57 grottoes and some murals survived. Now, the large wall paintings on the grottoes with different themes become a big highlight of Turpan. It is recommended to visit No. 17 and 18 - the oldest ones built during later Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), No.20 – the painted portrait of King and Queen of Gaochang Kingdom, No.33 - the painted figures of  the lord Buddha and his disciples and No. 38 - the living scene of the ancient Manichean...

☛ 3 Days Turpan Highlights Tour with Kumtag Desert
☛ 9 Days Kanas Lake Fairyland Tour from Urumqi

No.4: Mazar Village in Tuyuk Valley- The Oldest Uyghur Village

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Peaceful Mazar Village in Tuyugou Valley

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Traditional Mud Houses in Mazar Village

Type: Historic Sites, Valleys

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: Half A Day

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Tickets: CNY 30 for Mazar Village

Address: Shanshan County, Turpan City, Tuyuk Town 吐鲁番市鄯善县吐峪沟乡

As the intersection of many famous religions, history and culture in the world, Tuyuk Valley must be the most mysterious in Turpan. It features with gorge landscape, Buddhist caves, Mazar culture as well as ancient villages.

Now, the biggest highlight of Tuyuk Valley is Marzar Village – the oldest Uyghur village in Xinjiang. It enjoys a long history of more than 1,700 years and still preserves the oldest Uyghur folk customs. It is inscribed in Chinese Historical and Cultural Village Sites and praised as the Living Fossil of the Folklore. The ancient earthen buildings in the village still shine with the light of Yellow Clay Culture. Many travelers visit Mazar Village to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and take a sight of the traditional local life. Besides, Mazar Village is also famous as a holy place where Islam started to spread in China. Many Muslims come to pilgrimage and many scholars come to explore the religious history, culture and art.

☛ 5 Days Urumqi Discovery to Turpan and Heavenly Lake

No.5: Kumtag Desert – The Nearest Desert to The City in the World

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

View the Desert and the City at the Same Time

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Charming Desert with Changing Colors

Type: Nature, Deserts, Museums

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: Half day at least

Opening Hours: 10:00 -21:00 from 21st April to 20th October, and 10:00-18:30 from 21st October to next 20th April

Tickets: CNY 60

Address: No. 999, Gongyuan Road, Shanshan County, Turpan City, Xinjiang (新疆吐鲁番市鄯善县公园路999号)

Kumtag Deseret, also known as Shanshan Sand Mountain Park, is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the nature and find something to release your adrenaline. As the nearest desert to the city in the world, Kumtag Desert has coexisted with people for thousands of years. If you plan to savor the magic nature or have some interesting activities or shoot the best wild nature in Turpan, don’t miss Kumtag Desert.

Sightseeing in the desert is really a big feast that the desert presents different colors with changes of sunlight. Kumtag Desert is not only to see but also to feel. The sand in Kumtag Desert is as smooth as the silk, making a desert walk quite comfortable. Climbing to a high sand dune is highly recommended because it offers you an amazing sight of the endless desert as well as the green city view. In order to get a more exciting experience, you can choose to join in the desert activities, such as jeep safari, sand sliding, camel riding, etc.

☛ 3 Days Turpan Highlights Tour with Kumtag Desert
☛ 7 Days Urumqi Turpan Highlights Tour with Kumtag Desert Adventure

No.6: Turpan Museum – The Best Place to Learn Turpan

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Turpan Museum Architecture

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Exquisite Murals Exhibited in Turpan Museum

Type: Museums

Best Seasons: All the year around

Recommended Visiting Time: around 2 hours

Opening Hours: 10:00~18:00 (Closed on Monday)

Tickets: Free

Address: No. 1268, Munaer Road, Turpan City吐鲁番市高昌区木纳尔路1268号

Turpan Museum is an informative museum with an interesting layout and many modern facilities to exhibit the history and culture of Turpan City. The whole museum keeps 20,637 cultural relics and 707 precious cultural relics (including 120 first-class cultural relics, 149 second-class cultural relics, and 438 third-class cultural relics). The collections include stoneware, pottery, clay sculpture, wood, bronze, iron, gold and silverware as well as some documents, wood carvings, clay figurines, paintings, etc. It also has exhibitions of mummies and fossils of dinosaurs. After visiting this museum, you will have basic knowledge of Turpan history as well as the ancient Silk Road.

In the northeastern corner, there is a 56-meter-high sightseeing tower on which there are magnificent sculpted reliefs where you can learn about the long history of Turpan.

Note: In the hot city of Turpan, Turpan Museum is also a perfect place to relax in a cool place. Therefore, we suggest you visit Turpan Museum in the high noon and visit some open-air sites (like Jiaohe Ancient City, Kumtag Desert, Flaming Mountian…) in the early morning or at night.

☛ 13 Days Xinjiang Silk Road Adventure Tour

No.7: Flaming Mountain - Extensive Red Mountain with Historical Sites

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Turpan Flaming Mountain View

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon

Type: Mountains, Nature & Landscape

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: Half day

Main Attractions: Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Mazar Village...

Opening Hours: Varies in different attractions, usually 09:30-19:00

Tickets: Varies in different attractions, usually CNY 0-70

Address: 29 km to the east of Turpan downtown.

Flaming Mountain is famous for the novel - Journey to the West. The famous monk Xuan Zang traveled from Xian to India to learn the Buddhism. He, with his three disciples, fought against the powerful demon Niu Mowang and his wife. As its name implies, Flaming Mountain is one of the hottest places in China. The highest temperature reaches 47.8 in summer. Stretching about 100 km, Flaming Mountain is covered by red sandstones which look like flaming fire. While there are not only mountains, but also some small valleys which have rivers and green plants.

In the huge mountain of Flaming Mountain, there are many places to visit. We suggest you visit Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon to enjoy the most magnificent view. It is an 8-kilometer-long canyon cutting the Flaming Mountain longitudinally from north to south. Driving along the road on the canyon, you are able to enjoy the distinctive red color and attractive surroundings. If you plan your tour to Tuyuk Valley, you can plan a driving journey via Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon.

☛ 2 Days Turpan Essence Tour from Urumqi

No.8: Grape Valley - The Kingdom of Grapes

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Hospitable Uygur People at Turpan Grape Valley

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Grapes Grown in Turpan Grape

Type: Nature & Valleys

Best Seasons: July and August

Recommended Visiting Time: Half day

Opening Hours: 8:00 -21:00 from 21st April to 20th October, and 10:00-18:30 from 21st October to next 20th April

Tickets: CNY 75

Address: At the foot of Flaming Mountain, Turpan City 吐鲁番市火焰山下

A ballad in Xinjiang goes like that “Grapes in Turpan, Hami melons in Hami, pears in Korla and Pomegranates in Karghalik are the best in the world”. Grape is the symbol of Turpan as well as the major source of income for local people. Beyond all doubt, Grape Valley is a great place to taste various kinds of grapes. This valley is about 15km away from Turpan city, located close to Flaming Mountain. Grape is not the only fruit growing here, and there are also mulberry, peach, apricot, pears and watermelon as well.

More than fruits, Grape Valley is a natural wonder on the barren desert of Turpan. Outside of the valley, all you can see is desert. While stepping into the Grape Valley, you will be amazed by the green world. In this 5km long valley, about 6,000 locals of Uyghur, Hui people and Han people live here. In the valley, you can taste grapes, visit Uygur dwellings and watch some Uygur song and dance shows. The raisins sold in the Grape Valley are at a higher price. If you want to buy some as gifts, Grape Valley is not the only place.

No.9: Gaochang Ancient City – The Largest City Ruins in Xinjiang

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Ruins of Gaochang Ancient City

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Gaochang Ancient City Sunset

Type: Historic Sites, Ancient Ruins

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: Half day

Opening Hours: 10:00~19:30

Tickets: CNY 154

Address: Mutou Valley, Gaochang District, Turpan City 吐鲁番市高昌区木头沟

Gaochang Ancient City, the capital city of Gaocheng Kingdom, had been the central town of Turpan Basin for 1,400 years. The kingdom was abandoned in a war at the end of the 13th century and most buildings of the city faded away. The ruins of Gaochang is just located outside the modern town of Gaochang. Covering an area of 2,000,000 square meters, Gaochang Ruins is the largest ancient ruined city in Xinjiang. As a key point along Silk Road, it is listed as the Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor World Heritage Site as well.

The original city of Gaochang Ancient City had three major parts, the Outer City, the Inner City and Khan Fort (the palace), and the Inside and Outside Cities can still be figured out today. The Palace is located in the north of the Inner City. Walking in the old ruins accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, you can better learn about the story of Gaochang Kingdom. We also advise you to visitGaochang Ancient City in the afternoon when you are able to shoot the earthy yellow ruins in the charming sunlight.

For travelers with an interest in history, you can pay a visit to Astana Tombs which is a graveyard for Gaochang Kingdom just 4 km away.

No.10: Emin Minaret – The Largest Survived Ancient Tower in Xinjiang

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

44-meter-high Emin Minaret

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Turpan

Emin Minaret

Type: Religious Sites, Architectures

Best Seasons: May ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time:About 1 hour

Opening Hours: 08:00 -21:00 from 21st April to 20th October, and 10:00-18:30 from 21st October to next 20th April

Tickets: CNY 45

Address: Munaer Road, Gaochang Disctrict, Turpan City 吐鲁番市高昌区木纳尔路

Emin Minaret, also known as Sugong Tower, was built during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735~1796) in the Qing Dynasty by a local general – Emin Khoja to express his devotion to the lord Allah in 1778. It is an elegant and innovative Islamic pagoda constructed by local craftsmen using local materials, major including wood and brick. Built on a foundation of 10 meters’ diameter, it becomes narrower in shape as the tower rises. There are various patterns on the exterior of the tower, including 15 kinds of exquisite geometric patterns such as rhombus, mountain pattern, water ripple, variant four-petal pattern, etc. and all of them are traditional Uyghur patterns.

If you are quite interested in the old Uyghur buildings, don’t miss Emin Minaret. Otherwise, you can take a short glimpse of this structure from a distance. Nearby, there is an ornate mosque.

How to Plan A Turpan Tour

How to Get to Turpan: There are high speed trains to Turpan from Xian (about 12.5h), Lanzhou (about 9.5h), Xining (about 8h), Zhangye (about 6.5h), Jiayuguan (about 5h), Dunhuang (about 3.5h), etc. and flights from Urumqi (1h), Beijing (5.5h), Lanzhou (2.5h), Changsha (4.5h), Korla (1h), Burqin (1h15min), etc. Many travelers also travel to Urumqi by flight first and then transfer to Turpan.

Best Time to Visit Turpan: May to October is the best time to visit Turpan. It is cold in late autumn and winter (November ~ next February) and rather windy in early and mid-spring (March and April). The temperature is high in summer, but you will get a lot of sweet fruits.

Generally, a classic Turpan tour takes 2 ~ 3 days. If your time is limited, you can focus on the essence of Turpan City. We suggest you spend 1 day touring the highlights of Turpan City, such as Karez System - a magic project bringing out underground water to this barren land, Turpan Museum where lots of historical exhibits including mummies are collected and Jiaohe Ancient City - the world's largest and oldest city ruins, and another day exploring its attractive surroundings, including Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Cave with exquisite murals & profound Buddhist culture, Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon with breathtaking landform, and peaceful Mazar Village (in Tuyuk Valley) where people still live traditionally. If you have one more day, don't miss Kumtag Desert, a beautiful desert offering amazing desert landscape and many interesting activities (like jeep safari, desert hiking, desert surfing, etc.).

☛ 2 Days Turpan Essence Tour from Urumqi

Of course, it's far from enough if you just visit Turpan. Travelers always travel Turpan with Urumqi - the tourist center in northern Xinjiang together. It needs about 1~2 days to visit landmarks of Urumqi City, like Xinjiang Regional Museum, Red Hill Park and Erdaoqiao Grand Bazzar. Heavenly Lake, only 70 km away from Urumqi downtown is a must. If you are interested in Muslim culture and Silk Road culture, don't hesitate to go to Kashgar, one of Xinjiang's golden triangle tourist cities together with Turpan and Urumqi. In Kashgar, there is time-honored Kashgar Old City, yellow-tiled Id Kah Mosque, busy Grand Sunday Bazaar, etc.

☛ 5 Days Urumqi Discovery to Turpan and Heavenly Lake
☛ 6 Days Urumqi and Turpan Highlights Tour
☛ 8 Days Xinjiang Classic Tour (Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar)

If your time allows, traveling along China's Silk Road is strongly recommended. You can trace the footprints of ancient travelers from Xian - China's old capital city of 13 dynasties, to Qinghai (Xining, Qinghai Lake), Gansu (Zhangye, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang) and Xinjiang (Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar). An in-depth Silk Road tour can be 2 weeks long, but you can spend a shorter time admiring the essence at your own pace.

☛ 10 Days Classic Silk Road Tour (Xian - Dunhuang - Turpan - Kashgar)
☛ 11 Days In-depth Wild Silk Road Adventure Tour (Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Urumqi - Kasgar)
☛ 12 Days Silk Road Tour from Beijing (Beijing - Xian - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi)

Turpan Tour Mazar Village in Tuyuk Valley Heavenly Lake of TianshanPotala Pa Heavenly Lake of Tianshan Zhangye Danxia Lanform Mrs. Chan's group from Canada visited Matisi Temple along the Silk Road

Recommended Turpan Tours

Top 3 Turpan tours chosen by most customers to explore Turpan in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Jiaohe Anicent City Sunset
2 Days Turpan Essence Tour from Urumqi

Urumqi - Turpan

Hospitable Uygur People at Turpan Grape Valley
5 Days Dunhuang to Turpan Silk Road Culture Tour

Dunhuang / Turpan

Tashkurgan Fort (Stone City Ruin) in the morning of September
8 Days Classic Xinjiang Tour including Urumqi Turpan Kashgar Tashkurgan

Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar - Tashkurgan

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