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Urumqi Travel Guide

Urumqi Travel Guide 2023

Urumqi (乌鲁木齐) is the capital of Xinjiang which was called Dihu (迪化) and nowadays is often abbreviated to Wu City (乌市). The word - Urumqi means "beautiful pasture" in Mongol. Located in the central Xinjiang, the north foot of middle section of Tianshan Mountains and south edge of the Junggar Basin, the city once was a trade town on the ancient Silk Road, and now it has developed into the biggest city in Xinjiang as well as the economic, cultural and transportation center of Xinjiang. It is the furthest city from the ocean in the world and also the geographic center of Asia. Thanks to the convenient transportation, Urumqi is frequently visited as the first stop for a Xinjiang travel.

With the majestic Bogda Peak in the east, magnificent Tianshan Mountains in the south and Xishan Mountain in its west, Urumqi has a vast and flat plain in the north. Lush grasslands, primitive forests, waterfalls, snow mountains... all these wild and stunning scenery can be seen in Urumqi. Beyond those natural sights, Urumqi is a window to catch a glimpse of Xinjiang’s multi-ethnic culture and customs.

Why Visit Urumqi:

  • Best Gateway to Xinjiang & Important Transport Hub in Xinjiang - Compared to other cities, Urumqi owns the most developed and convenient traffic networks with other Xinjiang destinations, Chinese cities and some neighboring countries. It has the largest number of flights (including international flights) and trains for arrival and traveling around.
  • Absolute Beautiful Natural Scenery - Around Urumqi, the Tianchi Lake of Tianshan Mountains and Nanshan Pasture shows extraordinary landscape. The glittering snowy mountains stand under sunshine, spruce sea waves in gentle breeze, herds of cattle and sheep scattered in the vast green grasslands, aquamarine peaceful lakes surrounded by dense forests win the hearts of all travelers.
  • Diverse Ethnic Culture - China has 56 nationalities, while Urumqi has all of them. It's definitely more "ethnic" than other places in Xinjiang and is one of the best places in China to experience the colorful ethnic culture and folk customs. The most famous ethnic groups are the Uygur, Kazakh, Hui, Mongol, etc. Ethnic cultures, arts and customs of each nationality compose the most beautiful cultural landscapes in Urumqi.
  • Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar - The International Bazaar in Urumqi is considered as the best place to experience Uygur bazaar culture. Tourists can purchase all kinds of specialties from Xinjiang and neighboring countries, and taste the most authentic Xinjiang foods.
  • Mysterious Xinjiang Ancient Mummies - Xinjiang has the biggest number and best-preserved ancient corpses in the world. Some of the most famous and mysterious mummies are collected in Xinjiang Regional Museum in Urumqi. So the city is the best place to see the Xinjiang mummies and learn ancient funeral culture of Xinjiang areas.
  • Various Xinjiang Flavors - Ethnic groups have different cooking skills and eating habits in Xinjiang. In Urumqi, you can taste classic Xinjiang dishes and snacks to learn about their distinctive food culture. Must-try food includes the Nang (flatbread), Pilaf, laghman (noodle), Dapanji, roasted mutton, kebabs, etc.
  • ...

Top Attractions to Visit in Urumqi

Urumqi is normally the first top of a Xinjiang tour. By visiting the major attractions in and around Urumqi, you can catch a glimpse of Xinjiang’s amazing natural landscape and diverse ethnic culture. In the downtown area, you can visit famous landmarks like Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar to buy unique handicrafts, taste local snacks and feel Uygur’s bazaar culture, pay a visit to the Xinjiang Regional Museum to better understand the culture and history of Xinjiang and have a leisurely walk in the Red Hill Park, overlook Urumqi City and the faint snow-capped Tianshan Mountains. Nature lovers can get out of the city and visit the fairyland Tianchi Lake of Tianshan Mountains and the refreshing Nanshan Pasture if time allows.

Read more about the Top Things to Do & Tourist Attractions in Urumqi.

Urumqi Travel Guide
Heavenly Lake of Tianshan Mountains (Tianshan Tianchi)

It is a calabash-shaped turquoise lake Bogda Peak, northern Tianshan Mountains, with charming reflection of surrounding magnificent mountains and lush primitive forests. A truly pearl fallen from the sky and a must-go in Urumqi.

Urumqi Travel Guide
Xinjiang Regional Museum

With hundreds of thousands of cultural relics, the museum is a good place to learn about the previous history and diverse ethnic culture of Xinjiang. The ancient mummies are the highlights and most famous treasures.

Urumqi Travel Guide
Nanshan Pasture

The pastureland lies in the southern suburb of Urumqi, covers many mountain areas. During May to August, the pasture stands out with lovely grasslands, woods and coolness. An excellent summer resort and good place for hiking, horse riding near Urumqi.

Urumqi Travel Guide
Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar

A landmark of Urumqi and the biggest bazaar in the world. Tourists can walk around, view characteristic Islamic architecture, shop interesting handicrafts, try diverse local snacks and experience market culture on the ancient Silk Road.

Urumqi Travel Guide
Red Hill Park (Hongshan Park)

The park with Hongshan Pagoda is a symbolic attraction and a popular local park in central Urumqi. It’s a leisure to see the local daily activities, see greens among modern buildings and overlook Urumqi city from the top.

Urumqi Weather & Temperature - Best Time to Go

Urumqi Travel Guide Urumqi Travel Guide Urumqi Travel Guide Urumqi Travel Guide

Urumqi is a landlocked city in northwest China with the furthest distance to the sea in the world. It has a Temperate Semi-arid Continental Climate, which features in dry air, little rainfall, hot summer, cold winter, short spring and autumn and big temperature difference between day and night. The annual average precipitation of Urumqi is 236 mm, most falls between April and August. Besides, the city is surrounded by mountains on three sides, so different temperatures and seasonal scenery happens in the downtown and suburbs.

Spring comes later in Urumqi. When the northern suburb starts to get warm in late March, the city center usually enters spring in early April and the southern outskirt is in late April. Spring often ends from early June in Urumqi.

Urumqi in summer is hot, not stuffy and has very big temperature difference between day and night. During this period, the trees in city center is lush and green and so are the grasslands in the suburbs. The hottest months are July and August with an average temperature of 31 °C in the day and around 20 °C in the evening. But Nanshan Pasture in summer is very cool, it is frequently visited as an ideal summer resort.

Urumqi turns to autumn from late August. Afterwards, the weather is stable, moderate and pleasant. Grasslands, forests and trees begin to change to yellow colors. Temperature drop sharply since late September. In October, the daytime temperature is 10~20 °C while it falls to a few degree centigrade at night.

Urumqi experiences freezing cold winter from November to March of next year, up to 5 months. Temperature even can go down to -20 °C in the coldest January and heavy snow occurs everywhere. Road condition is not well and scenic lakes will be frozen.

Generally, the best time to visit Urumqi is from May to October, when the weather is comfortable, cozy with more good-quality air and green natural scenery. Shutterbugs can make a photography tour in the surrounding natural spots during September and October, because autumn is quite colorful. December to February is a good time to appreciate the stunning and magnificent snow scenery, go skiing and other winter activities in Urumqi.

Read more about Urumqi Weather, Climate and Seasonal Things to Do.


Urumqi Diwopu International Airport Urumqi Railway Station High Speed Bullet Train to Urumqi Travel with China Discovery

Get to Urumqi

By Air: Urumqi Diwopu International Airport (IATA: URC) is the one and only airport serving Urumqi. It is located about 17 km (30 minutes’ drive) northwest of the downtown area. Currently, the airport operates nearly 200 airline routes with many domestic cities and some overseas destinations. Travelers who prefer a fast and comfortable air travel can fly to Urumqi from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xian, Shenzhen, Xining, Lanzhou, Lhasa, Ngari (Tibet), Harbin, Hohhot and other Chinese cities. Tourist in Kuala Lumpur, Alma-Ata, Baku, Dushanbe and a few Asia countries can also take a flight to Urumqi. Meanwhile, Urumqi Diwopu International Airport has regular regional flights, so you can conveniently fly from Urumqi to viist Kanas Lake, Kashgar, Yining, Aksu, Altay, Korla, Karamay, Tacheng and other destinations in Xinjiang.

>> Urumqi Diwopu International Airport & Flights

By Train: The Lanzhou-Urumqi High Speed Railway prefects links major tourist destinations in northwestern China. Therefore, tourist can take a fast high speed bullet train along the ancient Silk Road from Xian, Lanzhou, Zhangye, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan to get to Urumqi. The train journey is very scenic when the wild deserts, gobi and mountains successively appear out of the window. Moreover, there are intercity trains and normal trains running to Urumqi from other destinations in Xinjiang, like the Turpan, Kashgar, Khotan, Bortala, Korla, Karamay, Altay, Yining, Khorgos, Tacheng, etc.

>> High Speed Bullet Trains to/off Urumqi/ Urumqi Railway Station

Get around Urumqi

In Urumqi city, there is one metro line, a few airport shuttle buses, BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and Loop Express routes in service. And main bus stations have direct tourist buses to nearby destinations, like Tianchi Lake and Nanshan Pasture. But they are mainly used by the local citizens and usually take quite a long time. It’s convenient to get around Urumqi by taxi. When driving to Tianchi Lake and Nanshan Pasture in the suburbs, they’re unavailable.

Travel with China Discovery - Most Recommended

If you travel with us, you can take advantage of our private transfer service to get around Urumqi and Xinjiang. We can pick you up at the airport, train station or from your hotel in downtown, and then escort you to the attraction by a safe, clean, comfortable, licensed and non-smoking private car. So you can save time and energy, have a good rest and focus on the sightseeing trip. Sometimes, you can stop and enjoy the scenery on the way.

Urumqi to Tianchi Lake of Tianshan Mountains: about 68 km, 1 hour by drive

Urumqi to Nanshan Pasture: about 62 km, 1.5 hours by drive

Urumqi to Kashgar: about 1,465 km, 2 hours by flight

Urumqi to Turpan: about 167 km, less than 1 hour by bullet train

>> How to Get to & Get around Urumqi

Urumqi Accommodation: Where to Stay

Hotels in Urumqi

As the capital city, tourist center and the biggest city in Xinjiang, Urumqi has the best accommodation among all Xinjiang’s destinations. The city provides a large section of accommodation choices, ranging from 5-star luxury hotels to budget hostel. Based on your trip itinerary and budget, you can easily find a place to stay during your Urumqi tour. The downtown Urumqi is the best and most recommended area to stay, because it has plenty of good hotels (top 5-star hotels: Hilton Urumqi, Sheraton Urumqi Hotel, Wanda Vista Urumqi, Grand Mercure Urumqi Hualing Hotel...), convenient transportation and accesses to city landmark like Red Hill Park, Xinjiang Regional Museum and Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar. If you make a day trip to the Tianchi Lake or Nanshan Pasture, it is highly advised that you drive back to central Urumqi to accommodate, unless you want to experience the Kazak yurt and ranch life of the locals. Besides, you can lodge in hotels near the airport and train station in Urumqi to meet your schedule.

Read more about Where to Stay in Urumqi & Recommended Urumqi Hotels.

Useful Urumqi Travel Maps

To help you have a better understanding of Urumqi, here we have collected some useful Urumqi maps for you. You can read the map to get the city’s location, major tourist attractions to visit and detailed Tianchi Lake tourist guide. Please feel free to use them.

Urumqi Tourist Attractions Map

Urumqi Tourist Attractions Map

Tianchi Lake Travel Map

Tianchi Lake Travel Map

Other Popular Destinations in Xinjiang

Covering an area of 1.66 million square meters, almost one in six of China’s total territory, Xinjiang is a vast land full of charms. Northern Xinjiang (Urumqi, Karamay, Altay, Kanas, Tacheng, Ili, Bortala-Sayram Lake) and Southern Xinjiang (Kashgar, Tashkourgan, Aksu, Khotan, Kuqa, Koral, Bayingol, ) are two main travel regions. Except Urumqi, there are more amazing natural beauty and cultural charm await your exploration. Discover the most classic destinations below.

Other Destinations along the Silk Road

The ancient Silk Road from Xian to Xinjiang is one of the mysterious and fantastic travel route in Northwestern China. Urumqi is a stop in the west part and there are more fascinating destinations along the road, including ancient capital - Xian, Dunhuang with Mogao Caves, Zhanye most known for rainbow-like Danxia mountains, Jiayuguan with Great Wall fortress. Check the following highlights on the Silk Road and select a great Silk Road adventure here.

Urumqi China Map

Chinese Name: 乌鲁木齐

Chinese Pinyin: wū lǔ mù qí

English IPA: [uːˈruːmki]

Area: 13,800 Square Kilometers

Population: 4.05 million

Average Altitude: 800 meters

Language: Uygur Language, Kazakh, Zhongyuan Mandarin, etc.

Tel Code: 0991

Zip Code: 830000

Time Zone: (UTC+8)

Plan your Xinjiang Urumqi Tour

Most tourist spend 2 days exploring Urumqi city, one day for the Tianchi Lake of Tianshan Mountains and another day for major landmarks in the city center. In summer, taking a day trip to the Nanshan Pasture is also popular and comfortable.

Xinjiang is vast and beautiful. We strongly recommend extending your Urumqi tour to more wonderful places in Xinjiang. The trip length and destinations depends on your preference and time. If you love nature more, then the Northern Xinjiang has many amazing places to go, such as the fairyland Kanas Lake and serene Hemu Village nearby, Turpan with Flaming Mountains, Jiaohe Ancient City, Karamay (Ghost City), Sayram Lake, Ili (Apricot Valley, Kalajun, Nalati Grasslands), etc. Culture fans can travel to the Southern Xinjiang, visit Kashgar and Tashkourgan, Khotan, Taklamakan Desert, Lop Nor and other amazing destinations. A classic Xinjiang discovery with Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar takes 8 days. In-depth Xinjiang exploration requires a longer holiday. If time allows, you can follow the ancient Silk Road from Xian, via Hexi Corridor in Gansu (Lanzhou, Zhangye, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang) to Xinjiang, and visit holy land Tibet, amazing Qinghai together.

China Discovery is a reliable and professional travel agency with many years’ experience. With our first-hand and comprehensive travel guide, you can enjoy a memorable Xinjiang travel as our other guests. You can select a suitable itinerary from our most popular Urumqi tour packages below, or contact us to customize a special trip on your own.

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Local old men in Kuqa Old City
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6 Days Urumqi to Kashgar Dream Tour - Best Xinjiang Tour for the First-timers

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