This is a unique Xinjiang tour, covering many featured experiences in Urumqi and Turpan, which are two of the most recommended destinations in Xinjiang. Rather than exploring the most famous historical and cultural sites related to Silk Road and Xinjiang history, you will also be taken to try something different, something that is out of your expectation, such as riding a camel in the desert, sitting on the vast grassland, cruise on a heavenly lake...
7 Days is longer than usual Urumqi Turpan trip, but it is definitely worth your time and effort. We know it’s a big decision for you to travel to Xinjiang. A rush and short trip is not able to create a memorable journey, which is the reason why we create this longer in-depth Urumqi Turpan tour for you. It’s an enjoyable tour like a true holiday because we will take care of the hotel, transfer, sightseeing, meals and other necessary tour services for you.
Day 1 Urumqi ArrivalUrumqi airport/train station pick up and hotel check-in
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.
- Stunning scenery of Heavenly Lake of Tianshan
- Green mountains at the lakeside of Heavenly Lake (August)
- Grandiose view of Tianshan Mountains from Heavenly Lake
Day 3 Urumqi - Southern Pasture - Urumqi (B, L)Today's highlight: Souther Pasture (Wulasitai Grassland, Shenbulake Waterfall)
Today, you are going to be pleased by lovely grassland, pasture and Kazak culture. After breakfast, drive about 1.5 hours to the Southern Pasture. Located about 1000m higher than Urumqi on the northern slope of Tianshan Mountains, Southern Pasture has been the popular summer retreat for Urumqi people for centuries due to its cool weather, fresh air and lovely scenery.
You will visit the most highlighting West Baiyanggou Scenic Area where thick firs and pines cover all over the hillside, little streams flow through the craggy stones, Kazakh yurts are dotted in the vast grassland. Wulasitai Grassland is the No. 1 sight you cannot miss. Wild flowers and green grass spread over the left slope of the grassland while the right slope is covered by prosperous forest and cornfield. There is also a 70m high Shenbulake Waterfall hanging on a cliff like a white slice, which is stunning and amazing. To enrich your experience, you can ride horse to experience the quiet and serene natural scenery (optional activity with extra cost), or just lie down on the soft meadow under the warm sunshine, watch the eagle hovering in the sky, and enjoy the Kazakh performances by the local people. It is a rare cozy that you won't have in fast-paced city life.
After the pasture exploration, drive back to Urumqi.
Useful tips: 1) the best time to visit Southern Pasture is June ~ August; 2) please wear properly according to your time and weather condition. Keeping warm and protect yourself from the strong ultraviolet light and strong wind. 3) Sightseeing car with extra cost is available if you get tired of walking or want to save time.
- Walking on the grassland of West Baiyanggou Scenic Area of Southern Pasture
- Riding a horse in the Southern Pasture
Day 4 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.
- Vertical Well of Karez
- Exquisite Murals Exhibited in Turpan Museum
- The Model of Jiaohe Ancient City Displayed in the Museum
- Jiaohe Anicent City Sunset
Day 5 Turpan - Shanshan (B, L)Today's highlights: Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, 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 an 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.
After the great time in Mazar Village, you will drive 55 km (about 1 hour) to Shanshan County. Stay overnight in Shanshan.
- Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
- Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon
- Peaceful Mazar Village in Tuyugou Valley
Day 6 Shanshan - Urumqi (B, L)Today's highlight: Kumtag Desert (Sand Lake, Happy Sand Valley, the Base Camp)
After your breakfast in the hotel, you will drive to Kumtag Desert for an entertaining day. Just adjacent to Shanshan County, Kumtag Desert is the nearest desert to the city in the world. It has coexisted with local people harmoniously for thousands of years.
You will start today's sightseeing by taking a sightseeing car and firstly stop in Sand Lake. It is a picturesque lake with greenery which makes you wonder if you are in a beautiful water town in the south region of the Yangtze River instead of an arid desert. Then, continue with your trip to Happy Sand Valley – the core scenic area of Kumtag Desert. With the change of the sunlight, the desert takes on more fascinating colors, light yellow, yellow, orange, red, gray, etc. The sand of Kumtag Desert is as soft as the smooth, so a desert walk is quite comfortable. Climbing to a high sand dune is a little strenuous for travelers, but the view is striking – you will not only savor the endless desert land with rolling waves but also an awe-inspiring vista of the city with fascinating green color. There are many interesting programs in Happy Sand Valley to please you, including sand sliding, camels ridding, desert kart racing, desert motorbike riding, etc. Both grown-ups and kids can enjoy the desert by joining some exciting activities (optional). After a wonderful time here, continue your sightseeing car driving to the Base Camp where many camps are set. It is also possible to enjoy a great performance (like a concert here), especially you visit during Turpan Grape Festival which always takes place in late August.
Desert visiting tips: 1) bring enough water to protect you from dehydration and use hat, sunglasses, scarf and sunblock to avoid sun burn especially in summer; 2) it is necessary to prepare water-proof boots if you visit in winter, because the sand might be wet in the early; 3) pay attention to protect cameras, lenses, and other items to prevent sand from damaging the equipment; 4) wearing a dress with pure color of high saturation (such as bight red, jewelry blue, brilliant yellow, etc.) is a good idea for girls if you want to take some nice pictures.
After the memorable experience in Kumtag Desert, drive about 280 km (about 3.5 hours) back to Urumqi. Stay the night in Urumqi hotel.
- Sand Lake in Kumtag Desert
- Rolling Weaves of Kumtag Desert
- View the Desert and the City at the Same Time
- Charming Desert with Changing Colors
Day 7 Urumqi Departure (B, L )Today's highlights: Xinjiang Regional Museum, Red Hill Park, Erdaoqiao 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.
- 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
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 6.85. 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.
I have tried to leave the following review with tripadvisor several times now but somehow it is not accepted, I do not know why.
"Just back from our 9-day trip to Yunnan, long planned and waited for. It was our second time with China Discovery Tours. Once again they tailored the tour according to our ideas and interests - and succeeded in surprising us! Thanks to the local guides we learned a lot about history, traditions and customs, and, of course, food. We always felt in safe hands and the organization was just perfect with enough on spot flexibility. Big thanks to Jack who figured it all out so well and to the next time with China Discovery! Johannes (GER) & Elizabeth (GRC)"
Thanks again for an excellent trip, best regards, Johannes&Elizabeth
It's was great, we loved it! Our tour guide Frank was very kind, informative, and funny :) We loved how easy it was and how much we got to see in a day, I will definitely recommend to our friends!
we will be happy to when we get back to Shanghai It was a great trip and Kevin was a wonderful guide!
Absolutely fantastic trip. We enjoyed every moment and the guides were all really good.
I might only have one more year in China and I would like to see more. I believe that the best way for me is smaller trips leaving Thursday evening and returning Sunday.
Thank for our trip. Well organised. Driver & guide were super ! We have been lucky to have a sunny weather and the lantern festival! And not toooooo cold, only if you compare to the week before !
We are one of the few China travel agencies who have kept active and received lots of feedbacks and reviews during pandemic years
"Highest Standards of Quality and Honesty" is the core value of each specialized team at China Discovery.
Eveyone in our company is working hard for only one goal, which is to ensure the highest level of service, luxury, and attention to detail from the minute you begin planning your trip, to the day you return home.
Our travel consultants are professional, experienced and responsible, helping you from the very beginning to the end of your China trip!
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.
Beside, he/she will keep in contact with you during your entire tour in China, continually checking if everything is going well as planned.
We're working at Chengdu Bamboo International Tours, local based in Chengdu.
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.
Our guides are passionate about what they do, and it shows all the way!
Using our private transfer service makes you comfortable, relaxed and worry free all the way!
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.
Our private transfer service guarantees you the highest comfort!
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!
● More useful tips & packing list for desert travel in China >
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 / Kashgar / Karakul Lake / Tashikurgan / Kashgar
Beijing / Xian / Dunhuang / Turpan / Urumqi
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