Lonely Planet Writer

Travellers will soon be able to glimpse remote north-western China on sightseeing flights

Visitors to remote northwestern China will soon be able to get bird’s-eye views of the province’s incredible scenery by taking sightseeing flights. Xinjiang province announced this week that it would allow local aviation companies to operate charter aerial flights in the far north-western province. The Xinjiang bureau of China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said it would simplify applications for companies to be able to operate low-altitude aerial tours, including charter flights and hot air balloon rides.

Karakul lake, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China
Karakul lake, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China Image by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

Xinjiang is China’s largest province, and at 1.6 million square kilometres, is roughly the size of bordering Mongolia and is more than double the size of any country in the European Union. Xinjiang is also largely rural and unpopulated and many visitors here are attracted by its vast landscapes, which include the Taklamakan Desert and the Tian Shan and Pamir mountain ranges.

Tao Runwen, deputy general manager of Xinjiang Airport Group, told China Daily that sightseeing tours would help visitors tackle the province’s massive size: “It will help tourists save time that they would have spent on the roads and shorten the distance they have to travel.”

The bureau is expected to release new regulations in time for the summer tourist season. These would allow aviation companies to operate flights within a radius of 300 kilometres from their base airport.
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