Xinjiang

Top things to do

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Kashgar

Shipton’s Arch

This extraordinary natural rock arch (the rather prosaic Uyghur name means simply ‘mountain with a hole in it’) is one of the tallest on earth. The first westerner to describe it was Eric Shipton, the last...

Top ChoiceMarket in Kashgar

Sunday Livestock Market

No visit to Kashgar is complete without a trip to the Livestock Market, which takes place once a week on Sunday. The day begins with Uyghur farmers and herders trekking into the city from nearby villages. By...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Ürümqi

Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum

Xinjiang’s massive provincial museum is a must for Silk Road aficionados. The highlight is the locally famous ‘Loulan Beauty’, the first of half a dozen 3800-year-old desert-mummified bodies of Xinjiang's...

Top ChoiceRuins in Turpan

Jiaohe Ruins

Also called Yarkhoto, Jiaohe was established by the ancient Jushi kingdom as a garrison town in the 2nd century BC. It’s one of the world’s largest (6500 residents once lived here), oldest (1600 years old) and...

Top ChoiceMarket in Hotan

Hotan Sunday Market

Hotan’s most popular attraction is its weekly Sunday market. The covered market bustles every day of the week, but on Sundays it swamps the northeast part of town, reaching fever pitch between noon and 2pm...

Top ChoiceMarket in Kashgar

Grand Sunday Bazaar

Kashgar’s main bazaar is open every day but really kicks it up a gear on Sunday. Step through the jam-packed entrance and allow your five senses to guide you through the market; spices and teas are an obvious...

Top ChoiceCave in Turpan

Bezeklik Cave Complex

This cave complex, which dates from the 6th to 14th centuries, is located in a mesmerising desert landscape. Bezeklik means ‘Place of Paintings’ in Uyghur and the murals painted in the 11th century represented a...

Top ChoiceUyghur in Kashgar

Altun Orda

Easily Kashgar's most memorable and atmospheric restaurant, Altun Orda is a sumptuously decorated place famous for its roast mutton, sweet pumpkin dumplings, meat pies and raisin and almond pastries. Though the...

Top ChoicePizza in Hami

Miss Chen's Pizza House

A young and friendly English-speaking team run this pizza joint, in perhaps the least likely culinary find in Hāmì. The pizzas (on an English-language menu) are handmade, and include the delicious Pannodo (basil,...

Top ChoiceUyghur in Kashgar

Ōu'ěr Dáxīkè Night Market

Across from the Id Kah Mosque, this photogenic night market is a great place to sample local fare. Among the goodies are fried fish, chickpeas, kebabs, fried dumplings known as hoshan and bubbling vats of...

Top ChoiceTeahouse in Kashgar

Ostangboyi Ancient Tea House

The last traditional Uyghur teahouse in Kashgar, this is a wonderfully atmospheric place to come for a drink. While it's certainly the preserve of Uyghur Old Town elders, the crowd here are quite used to tourists...

Top ChoiceMarket in Kuqa

Uchar Darvaza Bazaar

The best place in Kuga for Uyghur food is this street at the junction of Tianshan Zhonglu and Youyi Lu. Kebabs, noodles and samsas (baked mutton pies) are all served hot and fresh, though our favourites are the...

Lake in Karakoram Highway

Bulunkou Lake

This absolute wonder of nature is the first of the big plate-glass lakes you meet as you head up to Tashkurgan on the Karakoram Hwy. Backed by sublime sand mountains and often without a single ripple in its...

Cafe in Hotan

Marco’s Dream Cafe

This Malaysian-run place serves a very welcome range of Western and Asian dishes, including delicious curried chicken and steaks, while the friendly English-speaking owners can provide excellent travel advice....

Old Town in Kashgar

Kashgar Old Town

The Old Town is the soul of Kashgar, and as such the government has spent much of the past two decades knocking it down block by block and building a modern replacement. Yet it's still possible to see some of the...

Lake in Northern Xinjiang

Kanas Lake Nature Reserve

Stunning Kanas Lake (哈纳斯湖, Hānàsī Hú) is a long finger of water surrounded by soaring mountain peaks nestled in the southernmost reaches of the Siberian taiga ecosystem, pinched in between Mongolia, Russia and...

Lake in Tian Chi Lake

Tian Chi Lake

Two thousand metres up in the Tian Shan range is Tian Chi, a small, long steely-blue lake nestled below the view-grabbing 5445m Peak of God (博格达峰, Bógédá Fēng). Scattered across the alpine pine and spruce-covered...

Islamic Site in Turpan

Emin Minaret

Built to honour Turpan general Emin Hoja, this splendid 44m-high mud-brick structure is the tallest minaret in China. Named Sūgōng Tǎ after Emin’s son Suleiman, who oversaw its construction (1777–78), its...

Village in Turpan

Tuyoq

Set in a green valley fringed by the Flaming Mountains, this mud-brick village offers a fascinating glimpse of traditional Uyghur life and architecture. It has been a pilgrimage site for Muslims for centuries, as...

Mountain in Turpan

Flaming Mountains

Near the Bezeklik Caves in Turpan are the Flaming Mountains, which appear at midday like multicoloured tongues of fire. The Flaming Mountains were immortalised in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, in...