When you are planning your itinerary in Urumqi, you should turn away your attention from the downtown area of Urumqi where there are not many things to do. Actually, the real highlights are located a bit far away but worth going to. They are the alluring Heavenly Lake and ancient Silk Road destination - Turpan. By travelling to Urumqi with the Heavenly Lake and Turpan, you are rewarded with a comprehensive exploration of ancient Silk Road sites, history and culture of the whole Xinjiang region and joys of spectacular natural beauty.
This is a custom tour. You can start and end the tour either at Urumqi or in Turpan. Generally, Urumqi is connected with a lot of Chinese cities by flight, while Turpan is closer to Dunhuang, Zhangye and other famous Silk Road sites. Itinerary, hotels, food, activities can all be customized to meet your personal needs.
Day 1 Urumqi ArrivalUrumqi airport/train station pick up
Welcome to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Meet your tour guide and driver at the airport/train station, then transfer a short while to the downtown of Urumqi. Check in to your hotel. The rest time is free for you to relax. Feel free to ask for recommendations of places to go from your guide.
How to get to Urumqi? currently you can take flights to Urumqi from Beijing (about 4 hours), Xian (about 3.5 hours), Shanghai (about 5.5 hours), Guangzhou (about 5 hours), Chengdu (about 3.5 hours), etc., or high speed trains from Turpan (about 2 hours), Dunhuang (about 4.5 hours), Lanzhou (about 11 hours), Xining (about 9.5 hours), etc.
- Modern Urumqi city with Tianshan Mountains as background
Day 2 Urumqi – Heavenly Lake – Urumqi (B, L)Today's highlight: Heavenly Lake full day exploration
Today you are going to explore the Heavenly Lake (or Tianchi in Chinese) which is only about 70km away from Urumqi downtown. Your tour guide and driver will meet you at your hotel, then drive about 1.5 hours to the scenic area of Heavenly Lake. To protect the authenticity of the natural environment, our private car can only bring you to the entrance of the park. You will then shift on to a park bus to the parking lot around the lake area. Walking about 15 minutes, you will get to the lakeside of the Heavenly Lake. The rest time is free for you to stroll along the periphery of the lake, breathe the remarkably fresh air, and soak in the wonderful scenery. With an altitude of 1980m, Heavenly Lake and its alluring surrounding truly offer you a visual feast like heaven, featuring in serene alpine lake, rugged slopes with snow-capped mountains, pure glaciers, wild forest, vast grassland as well as unique ethnic culture.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to explore Heavenly Lake. You can go to walk around the lake, take a boat cruise, or ride cable car to the mountain top. If time allows, you can even enjoy all the experiences. The Boat cruise and cable car need extra fees. Tell your preference to your guide who will then arrange accordingly for you.
- Walking around the lake. Plank roads were constructed to encircle the lake. But since the lake is very large, it takes about 5 hours to finish the circle. You can decide the hiking length on your own according to your physical condition and time. Fee: free.
- Boat Cruise on the lake. It is very popular among travelers to take a boat cruising to the deeper area of the lake and back, which is leisure and scenic. There are modern ships, Chinese-style ships and high-speed boats available with different prices. Fee: about CNY 100.
- Panoramic view from Maya Mountain. If you want more landscape, you can take a cable car up to Maya Mountain where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Heavenly Lake and closer view of Tianshan Mountain Range. Fee: about CNY 220.
After the landscape trip, take park bus to exit the park, and drive back to Urumqi.
- Aluring Heavenly Lake scenery in autumn day
Day 3 Urumqi - Turpan (B, L)Today's highlights: Karez System, Turpan Museum, Jiaohe Ancient City
This morning, you will drive about 3 hours (167 km) from Urumqi to the "fire land" – Turpan. It is China's hottest city that its highest temperature reaches about 50°C in summer. Besides, it is also an outpost on the Silk Road and a lot of cultural heritage sites can be explored.
As you reach Turpan, you will firstly discover the brilliant project of Karez System. Together with the Great Wall and Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Karez System is regarded as one of China’s Three Greatest Ancient Projects. It is a special kind of irrigation system consisting 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 be melted from snow mountains of Tianshan range to desired farmlands on the desert area. Visiting Turpan Karez Museum, you will not only see the pictures and models detailing the history of Karez System, but also visit the real underground tunnels.
Next, turn to Turpan Museum, an informative museum with great collections as well as a good place to avoid summer heat. The first floor has the exhibits (like dinosaur fossils, terracotta figurines, clothing, utensils, weapons…) from prehistoric ages to Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907) on the history of Turpan. There are also many Silk Road displays from which you will understand why Turpan plays a crucial role on the Silk Road for trading, water and agriculture. Getting to the second floor, you will be awed at the millennia-old mummies well-preserved as to how they were found in their tombs.
Your last stop is the famous relic - Jiaohe Ancient City - an ancient city that was strategically located along the ancient Silk Road. Perching on a plateau, it acted as a natural barrier from the attacking enemies in the old times. Now, it is renowned as the best-preserved earthen architecture in the world. The interesting sculptures, videos and some other displays in Jiaohe Cultural Village Museum will give you an appreciation of the history of Jiaohe City before you start exploring. Then, take a shuttle bus to the core scenic area. Walking up along the pathway uphill, and you can see many historical structural remains, including the residential area, official area and Buddhist temples. It is also available to walk to the central platform for a more awesome view of the whole park. When the night drops, you will feast on a breathtaking sunset over the ruins.
Accommodate in Turpan this night.
Warm Tips: 1) Turpan is known as the grape capital of China, and don't forget to taste the delicious grapes, drink the fruit juices and buy some dried grape seeds. 2) Be ready for the hot weather in Turpan, especially in summer, and it is advised to wear long-sleeves, sunhat, sunglasses, etc., drink more water.
- First Glimpse of Jiaohe Ancient City
Day 4 Turpan - Urumqi (B, L)Today's highlights: Bezeklik Thousand Buddhas, Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, Tuyuk Valley
After breakfast, you will be taken to have a cultural visit to Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, a group of grottoes with rich murals. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley of Flaming Mountain. Originally drilled in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 ~ 589), the caves have gone through about 15 centuries. There are 57 existing caves, and about 40 of them are preserved with brightly-colored murals on the stone-walls. Appreciating the glorious murals in an artistic style and listening to the old Buddhist legends, you may imagine how Buddhism spread to mainland China via Xinjiang.
After enjoying the cultural relics in Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, you will drive to Tuyu Valley along Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, which condenses the essence of the landscape of Flaming Mountain - the hottest spot in Turpan. Flaming Mountain is immortalized in the Chinese classic Journey to the West as a blazing mountain that the monk Xuan Zang has to pass through. Finally, they use a magic fan to extinguish the blaze and go on with their trip. Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon splits the whole mountain in half and you will clearly admire the unique landform - red sandstones looking like flaming fire, distinctive rocks showing the uncanny workmanship of nature and deep gorge with crisscross valleys. The magnificence, strangeness, danger, and elegance of Flaming Mountain are fully shown here.
The winding road on the cliff of Flaming Mountain will soon lead you to Tuyuk Valley (Tuyugou in Chinese) which is a Uighur valley with lots of historical sites. Mazar Village, the oldest existing Uighur village with a history of over 2,600 years, is a big highlight of the valley. Mazar Village holds a significant status in Buddhism and Islam. It is said that 6 Muslims came to China and started preaching there, so Mazar Village is called Eastern Mekka. Before Islam, it once was a Buddhist center as well. Many Buddhist caves can be found in the village, but the statues and murals failed to survive. The villagers still live peacefully in the village and you can clearly see how they run their daily lives in the old mud adobe houses. Some villagers kindly ask the travelers to visit their vineyards and taste their fresh grapes or preserved fruits.
Sightseeing ends. You will be escorted back to Urumqi as well. Stay overnight in Urumqi city.
- Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
Day 5 Urumqi Departure (B, L)Today's highlights: Xinjiang Regional Museum, Red Hill Park, International Bazaar
This morning after breakfast, you will be taken to have an educational visit to the Xinjiang Regional Museum. It is the most important ancient Silk Road themed museum in China which exhibits about 50,000 historical relics including more than 400 National First-class relics (60% of the total in Xinjiang). Among all the exhibitions, the most unique exhibition is the Mummy Hall. It collects 10 more than 4000 years old mummies which were mostly found in Loulan Ancient Kingdom Ruin and preserved almost intact. Loulan Princess, the most famous mummy in the museum, will definitely strike you with its typical European face. All these important exhibitions help you learn deep into the history and culture of Xinjiang as well as ancient Silk Road.
Continuing your Urumqi city tour, you will move to Red Hill Park which is regarded as the symbol of Urumqi. It is the most popular place for the locals to relax and gather. For travelers, it is a great place to experience folk culture and living style. Finding a higher location in the park, you are rewarded with a pleasant panoramic view of Urumqi city. Leaving the Red Hill Park, you will get to Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar to enjoy a leisure stroll. If you want to purchase some souvenirs, here is the best place.
The rest of today is free for you to relax until you are escorted to catch your flight/train to the next destination. Tour ends.
- Urumqi city view from Red Hill Park
- Uygur dancers at Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar
- Loulan Princess mummy in Xinjiang Regional Museum
Kanas is an area resplendent with virtually untouched natural beauty - turquoise lake, beautiful rivers and bays, pure snow mountains, thick wild forest, fresh air and peaceful Tuva minority villages. It is no doubt one of the most beautiful places in China. Its major attractions are Kanas Lake, Kanas Rivers, Kanas Three Bays, Hemu Village, Beautiful Peak, etc. To explore Kanas to the fullest, you should stay at least 3 full days in the nature reserve, usually 1 day for Hemu Village and 2 days for Kanas Lake Scenic Area (Kanas Lake, Kanas Rivers, Kanas Three Bays…).
Your Xinjiang tour is not complete without Kashgar. It is the best place in Xinjiang to experience authentic Xinjiang culture as well as ancient Silk Road atmosphere. In Kashgar, you can stroll leisurely around the Kashgar Bazaar to find the trading tradition that has lasted more than 1500 years on the Silk Road and experience the Livestock Market if you are in Kashgar on Sunday, explore the traditional living quarter of local Uyghur people and enjoy a relaxing tea time in the Ancient Tea House, drive out the town to enter into a magnificent world of landscape and adventure – Pamirs' beautiful Karakul Lake and Muztagh Ata, the “father of glaciers” .
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
3. This price is only valid to March 31, 2023.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1= RMB 6.45. The final quote is based on current exchange rate. It may change according to the currency fluctuation, while the RMB quotation will be remained the same.
Our guide Tenzin is an excellent guide and we had an amazing time with him. He was very friendly and very knowledgeable...
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Our tour is really great ! So many nice moments.
we made it back to Shanghai. It was a great trip even with rain, COVID, and Sophie's personal issues.
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After sending us an inquiry, one of our travel consultants will get back to you within 0.5~23.5 hrs. In the next few days, he/she will be working closely with you to formulate a customized tour plan, as well as providing professional suggestions based on your travel interests, time, and budget.
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Our local guide in every destination is not only very friendly, enthusiastic but also very informative and knowledgeable.
Once you arrive in the destination, the patient and punctual guides will pick you up and take you to get under skin of the city at your own pace. By in-depth discovery and explanation, they’ll show you more about the history, culture, customs and authentic local life. Throughout the journey, they're not only expert guides who take care of all the details but also fellow travelers who are dedicated to help you explore in comfort and style.
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Our private service includes licensed drivers with many years’ driving experience and air-conditioned, non-smoking, clean and well-maintained cars/vans. Drivers are local, polite, friendly and helpful, taking you to your tourist sites, hotels, airport/train stations in safety. All kinds of vehicle are offered, and yours depends on the size of your group. Usually, we offer sedan cars, SUVs, business vans (MPV) and different types of buses, all with extra space for your luggage.
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In each destination, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in a great location!
The hotels we choose are based on star rating, great locations, well-equipped facilities, cozy bed, high quality service and guests’ feedbacks. Choices are a lot ranging from luxury 5 star, comfortable 4 star to budget 3 star. You could decide where to stay to best suit for your budget and likes. Generally, the hotels have both Western and Chinese breakfast with a wide choices.
If you have already got an ideal hotel, please feel free to tell our travel consultants and they'll book the hotel for you.
Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.
We can satisfy all the dietary requirements no matter you want Chinese local food, western food, vegetarian food or muslin food.
The restaurants we will take you for lunch or dinner are all designated tourist restaurants approved by local tourist administration bureau. They have very good sanitary conditions and the food is prepared fresh and clean.
There will be some meals excluded in your itinerary as you like, and your private guide will be delighted to give you some suggestions and take you to the local restaurants to taste like Beijing Roast Duck, Xian Dumpling Dinner, Sichuan Hotpot, etc., if you are interested in local food tasting.
All the dining options will satisfy your stomach!
Xinjiang can satisfy all your desires about different styles of travel, no matter you are seeking for nature fun, culture experience or some adventures. Generally speaking, Kashgar, Turpan and Urumqi are most popular as the Golden Triangle. They provide you Silk Road history and culture as well as Xinjiang featured scenery – beautiful lakes, gorges, mountains, etc. They are the best options for the first-timers, needing about 6~8 days. Kanas, with tranquil lake and bays, primitive villages and ethnic culture, is strongly recommended too. A trip to Kanas usually takes about 4~7 days. If you prefer natural landscape, the western Xinjiang offers you superb grassland, alpine like, wild flowers. Recommended places include Sayram Lake, Karajun Grassland, Naraty Grassland, etc. The southern Xinjiang has many hidden gems for an in-depth adventure, such as historical Silk Road cities, Takilamakan Desert, Hotan, Kuqa, etc. Such a trip usually costs over 10 days, but it is definitely worth your time and effort.
Xinjiang is far away from the sea with surrounding high mountains, forming an obvious temperate continental climate. The temperature difference is large; the sunshine time is sufficient; the ultraviolet ray is strong; the air is very dry. Since Xinjiang has a vast area, the climate differs a lot by regions. Generally speaking, the southern Xinjiang is hotter than northern Xinjiang; northern Xinjiang has more rainfall than the southern area. You can easily find different places to travel in different seasons.
♦ April to June: Ili Apricot Valley, Tianshan Tianchi Lake, Sayram Lake, Tashkurgan, Naraty Grassland, Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar, etc.
♦ July to August: Urumqi, Sayram Lake, Karajun Grassland, Naraty Grassland, Kanas, Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar, etc.
♦ September to early November: Kanas, Taklimakan Desert, Populus Euphratica in Tarim Basin, Kuqa Grand Canyon, Tashkurgan, Naraty Grassland, Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar, etc.
♦ Mid November to March: Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar, Kanas, etc.
Getting there: it usually takes a longer time than other China cities to get to Xinjiang. Travelers usually arrive in Urumqi first by flight or train then transfer to other cities of Xinjiang. Currently, you can take flights to Urumqi from Beijing (about 4 hours), Xian (about 42.5 hours), Shanghai (about 5.5 hours), Guangzhou (about 5 hours), Chengdu (about 3.5 hours), etc., or high speed trains from Dunhuang (about 4.5 hours), Lanzhou (about 11 hours), Xining (about 9.5 hours), etc. Kashgar is the secondly-used arrival hub. It operates some domestic flights to Xian, Chengdu, etc.
Getting around: from Urumqi, you can keep traveling by flights to Kashgar, Kanas, Kuqa, Ili, etc. Actually, traveling by driving is more popular than taking flight and train, because the best scenery can usually be reached by car. But it's hard to travel by public bus to many remote scenic areas.So let a travel agency like China Discovery arrange transfer for you is the best choice.
Apart from a few major cities such as Urumqi, Kashgar and Turpan whose hotels have complete facilities and wifi. In many other places, especially in some remote scenic spots, accommodation is relatively simple and basic, such as Kanas, Sayram Lake, Naraty, Tashkurgan, etc. where you can stay in a guesthouse, a homestay or a local yurt. Also, during the busy season from June to October every year, hotel occupancy will be much higher than normal days, so it is necessary to book your hotel in advance.
China Discover has included accommodation in our every tour package so that you don’t have trouble with booking hotels on your own. All our hotels are well-selected, comfortable, well-equipped with friendly services.
● Remember to always follow your groups instead of heading to the heart regions by your own, or you may get lost. Cell phone signal may be weak or zero in the grassland or forest areas in Xinjiang, stay calm.
● Wear the harness correctly when enjoying horse riding and follow the direction to keep safe!
Xinjiang’s Uyghur food and other local cuisine will be a memorable part of your trip. The local Uyghur food is famous throughout China and popular among travelers. There are not only Uyghur foods, but also traditional Chinese food, Hui food, Kazakh food, etc. Some hotels and restaurants in bigger cities, such as Urumqi, Kashgar, Turpan, Ili, etc., also provide western food and coffee.
We usually cover your breakfasts in your hotels and lunches during your trip. Dinner is your own chance to explore local food or other food you are interested in. Feel free to let your guide know your dinning interest and requirement in advance so that you can arrange meals accordingly.
Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar - Tashkurgan
Urumqi / Turpan / Kumtag Desert / Urumqi
Beijing / Xian / Dunhuang / Turpan / Urumqi
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