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12 Days Fascinating Xinjiang Tour

Destinations: Kashgar- Karakorum Highway- Yarkant-Hotan-Taklimakan Desert- Aksu- Kuqa- Korla- Tianshan Mountain Range- Turpan-Urumqi

Our 12 day Fascinating Xinjiang Tour is similar to our 13 day Adventurer Xinjiang Tour. It’s only difference is that the latter one takes the new Taklamakan Desert Highway to Kucha via Aksu whereas the first one takes the old Taklamakan Desert Highway to Kucha via Niya.

Day 1: Arrival to Kashgar

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: Our guide and driver will meet you at Kashgar Airport then transfer you to your hotel. You will be given time to rest and explore the area near to your hotel rest of the day.

Accommodation: Hotel Eden Kashgar or Similar

 

Day 2: Tour to Karakul Lake then return to Kashgar

Attractions: Karakorum Highway, Kirgiz People, Kirgiz Yurt, Karakol Lake, Snow Capped Mountains, Muztagh Ata Mountain, Konggor Mountain

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: We start our day early today in order to spend more time along the way. We will be driving on Karakoram highway which is known as the Friendship Highway in China. The views are unparalleled along this one of the highest roads of the world.

Kashgar Corner Lake

Kashgar Corner Lake

It also cuts along the collision zone of the Eurasian and Indian plates where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan come close to one another. Bulung Kul (Corner Lake) is located besides the Karakoram Highway. The view of the lake reflecting the mountains of sand in the distance is absolutely stunning. Karakul Lakeis the highest lake on the Pamir plateau where the Pamir, Kunlun and Tianshan mountain ranges meet. Surrounded by mountains which remain covered by snow throughout the year, the three highest peaks visible from the lake  are the Muztagh Ata (7546m), the Kongur Tagh (7649) and the Kongur Tiube (7530m).  There are Kirgiz settlements along the shores of the Karakul lake, living in yurts and mud brick houses. After our tour at the lake, we will return to Kashgar. Night will be spent in Kashgar.

Accommodation: Hotel Eden Kashgar or Similar

 

Day 3:  Day Tour in Kashgar City

Attractions: Sunday Market, Id Kah Mosque,  Kashgar Old Town, Appak Hoja Tomb/Fragrant Concubine Tomb, Handcraft Street

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: Our Kashgar tour starts by visiting the Apak Hoja Tomb located northeast of Kashgar city. Legend has it that seventy-two persons in five generations of the Hoja family are buried in the tomb. Kashgar Sunday Market also known as “The Grand Bazaar” in Uyghur.

Kashgar Old Town

Kashgar Old Town

It is the biggest market in Xinjiang. As early as two thousand years ago, it was the collecting and distributing center for trade. Nowadays, various special local products, handicrafts, articles of daily use, fruits and vegetables as well as all kinds of domestic animals can be found here. Kashgar Old Town is located in center of the city. The inhabitants of the Old Town are Uyghur’s whose ancestors have been living there since the city was established two thousand years ago. By walking through narrow streets and visiting the families there, you can learn about Uyghur culture and custom. Id Kah Mosque is a grand Islamic structure was built in 1442 AD. It was extended and renovated time and again through the ages, finally reaching its present shape and size. The mosque is the largest in all China with covering an area of 16,800 square meters. The Handicraft Street is located next to the Id Kah Mosque and provides a place where tourists can see traditional Uyghur craftsmen engaged in making different types of articles for special and daily use. Night will be spent in Kashgar.

Accommodation: Hotel Eden Kashgar or Similar 

 

Day 4: Drive to Hotan from Kashgar

Attractions: Yingsar Knife Factory, Yarkand, Golden Graveyard, Yarkand Old Town

 Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: We set out to Hotan from Kashgar after the breakfast at the hotel. On the way to Hotan, we will visit Yingsar which is famous for making traditional Uyghur knives known as Yingsar knives.

Yarkand Golden Grave Yard

Yarkand Golden Grave Yard

Visitors can visit workshops to observe how these sought after knives are made and maybe pick up one or two as souvenirs. Yarkant is a county of Kashgar and was once the capital of a Kingdom. I was also an important station on the ancient Silk Road back 2000 years ago. Aman Nisahan, the wife of the second king of the Yarkant kingdom and the compiler of the famous Uyghur 12 Music Mukams, is buried in a tomb in the Golden Grave Yard. After the trip at the Golden Graveyard, we will visit Yarkand Old Town which is non-tourist old town attached to the market. After our trip in Yarkand, we continue our journey to Hotan, we will be in Hotan late in the afternoon. Night will be spent in Hotan.

Accommodation: Hotan Taxna Hotel or Similar

 

Day 5: Day Tour in Hotan

Activities: Hotan Sunday Market (Bazaar),White Jade River, White Jade Factory, Carpet Factory, Silk Atlas Factory, Hotan Musuem

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: We start our tour by visiting the Atlas Silk Factory. Atlas is the Uyghur word for the soft and graceful silk and means “tie dyed silk fabric”.

Hotan Jade Market

Hotan Jade Market

Visitors can see the whole process of handmade silk from boiling the silk worm cocoons till weaving the cloth on the looms. Hotan Carpet Factory is on the way to Silk Atlas Factory. Hotan Carpets were sought after in ancient times and antique carpets are collector items. Modern carpets are considerably cheaper and the factory can make custom carpets to order. The Hotan Bazaar is sprawling over a vast area rivaling all other bazaars in the region. On every Sunday, the whole city and countryside community converge on the bazaar to trade, shop and enjoy themselves conjuring up a fascinating Aladdin’s world. The Jade Factory carries on Hotan’s more than 3000 years old tradition of supplying jade to central China where Hotanese jade was used to make the Imperial seals of power. Hotan Museum holding valuable relics excavated from Hotan area. Highlights of the museum are the mixtures of Caucasian and East Asian “mummies” reaching back two thousand years proving Hotan’s historically rich blend of peoples, cultures and religions. Night will be spent in Hotan.

Accommodation:

 

Day 6: Drive from Hotan to Aksu via Taklamakan Desert

Activities: Taklamakan Desert, Sand Dunes

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: We will set out for our journey after breakfast. On our way to Aksu, we will cross the World famous Taklamakan Desert; it is the second largest shifting sand desert in the world, covering an area of 337,600 square km.

Taklamakan Desert Highway

Taklamakan Desert Highway

The ancient silk road traders regarded it as the “sea of death” and dreaded the camel caravan crossings through it. Many traders entered the desert and were never seen again. Marco Polo himself recorded traveler’s stories of evil spirits haunting the desert and luring unwary travelers to their deaths. We will be in Aksu early in the afternoon. Aksu is a modern city which is not different from any other Chinese cities in mainland China. We will wonder around the town in order to get the general feeling of town. Night will be spent in Aksu.

Accommodation: Aksu Hongfujinlan Hotel or Similar

 

Day 7: Drive to Kuqa from Aksu then Sightseeing in Kuqa

Attractions: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

Transportation: Bus/Car

Kucha Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

Kucha Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

Activities: We will start our tour at the hotel after the breakfast. On the way, we will visit the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves before we entering to Kucha. The Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves is the one of the four biggest groups of grottoes in China.  75 of the caves are still intact with well-preserved frescoes. The Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves were amongst the earliest large-scale grotto-type temples built. The special grotto structures, the themes of the murals and artistic styles reflect the Buddhist faith of ancient Qiuci. After the visit, we will continue our journey to Kucha, we will be in Kucha late in the afternoon since we spend sometime at the caves.

Accommodation: Kuqa International Hotel or Similar

 

Day 8: Tour in Kuqa then leave for Korla

Attractions: Kuqa Grand Mosque, Kuqa Old Town, Kucha Grand Mosque, Subashi Ancient City

Transportation: Bus/Car

Kucha Subash Ancient City

Kucha Subash Ancient City

Activities: We start our tour after the breakfast at the hotel by visiting Beacon Tower which is located in the northwest of Kuqa County, about 12 km away from the town. The tower was the bulwark of a warning alarm system against enemy attacks. Kuqa Grand Mosque is located in the north of the old city of Kuqa County. It is the second largest mosque in the area after the Id Kah Mosque. The construction of the mosque, which even has its own religious court, was started in 1922. Kuqa Grand Mosque is the center of religious activities in Kuqa. Kucha Old Town is next to Kucha Mosque, where visitors can visit the village and get the general idea about how is their life style looks like. Subashi Ancient City was also an ancient capital of the Kingdom of Qiuci dating back to the 4th Century AD. Tourist can still see the ruins of halls, towers, houses, pagodas and monasteries.

Accommodations: Korla Bazhou Hotel or Similar 

 

Day 9: Drive from Korla to Turpan

Attractions: Tianshan Mountains

Transportation: Bus/Car

Grand Conyon

Grand Conyon

Activities: We leave for Turpan afer our breakfast. In order to go to Turpan, we will cross the Tianshan Mountain which divides the Xinjiang to Southern and Nothern Xinjiang. Turpan is the second lowest depression of the world after the Dead Sea. It is the driest and hottest place in China. Despite its harsh climate, people have been living Turpan for thousands of years and the oasis is famous for the abundance its fruit, especially its sweet grapes and melons. Upon our arrival to Turpan, we will check in to our hotel then explore the town by foot in the evening. Night will be spent in Turpan.

Accommodation: Turpan Jiaohe Manor Hotel or Similar

 

Day 10: Day Tour in Turpan

Attractions: Bizaklik Tahousand Buddha Caves, Gaocheng Ancient City, Flaming Mountain, Astana Karahoja Ancient Tombs, Emin Minaret

Transportation:Bus/Car

Activities: We start our tour by visiting Gaochang Ancient Citywhich was built in first century BC and developed into one of the key points along the Silk Road.

Flaming Mountain

Flaming Mountain

The town was known as Kocho and ruled a wide area. In the 14th century however, it was abandoned after continued warfare between the Mongols and the Uyghurs.The remains of the city still testify as to its past glory,  with courtyards, Buddhist  temples and pagodas  scattered over  10000 square m in area. The Bezklik Thousand Buddha Caves stand on the cliffs under the Flaming Mountains.  There are seventy-seven numbered grottoes, about forty of which still have murals in them. The Caves were the religious temples of the HuiHu State who were the predecessor of the Uyghur’s. Although many of the cave murals were destroyed over the centuries, enough has survived to provide historians with valuable information about its past glory. Emin Minaret (Tower) or Turpan Tower was built 1778 AD by Suleman, the Aqimu Boke, in memory of his father. The whole sun dried brick tower tapers skywards in geometric and floral patterns. The Flaming Mountains stretch 100 km from east to west and are about 10 km wide. In the summer, temperatures go as high as 80 C and the airflow shimmers above the mountains like a fire.

Accommodation: Turpan Jiaohe Manor Hotel or Similar

 

Day 11: Day Tour in Turpan the Head to Urumqi

Attractions: Jiaohe Ancient City, Karez Underground Water System, Erdaoqiao Market, Urumqi International Bazaar

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: We start our tour by visiting Jiaohe Ancient City which is known as Yarghul  Ancient City in the Uyghur language. It is 13 kms to Turpan City, it was first the capital of the State of South Cheshi which was the one of the thirty six states in the Western Region. The Jiaohe Ancient City was bordered by rivers flowing by, hence the name of ‘Jiaohe’ or ‘the city of joining rivers’. 

Turpan Karez System

Turpan Karez System

Karez System an underground gravity irrigation system developed by the Uyghur’s over centuries. Karez is composed of a series of wells along the snow-covered mountains and linking underground channels that use slopes and gravity to bring water to the surface. There are around 1600 Karez Systems in Xinjiang and length of the Karez in Turpan is around 5000 km. It is considered as one of the three great ancient projects in China. After our trip in Turpan, we head to Urumqi and visit Erdaoqiao Market and Urumqi International Bazaar is the biggest distribution center of ethnic handicrafts in Xinjiang. It includes a banquet hall, a food court, a sightseeing tower, an open-air stage, and mosque. Night will be spend in Urumqi.

Accommodation:  Turpan Jiaohe Manor Hotel or Similar

 

Day 12: Urumqi Tour

Attractions: Xinjiang Museum

Transportation: Bus/Car

Activities: After our breakfast, we start Urumqi tour. Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous egion located at the northern foot of the Tianshan Mountains, and is surrounded by spectacular mountains   in the east, west and south. Urumqi has a population of more than 2 million people. The Xinjiang Museum serves as the archaeological and history research center of the region. The museum is famous as the home of the thousands year old Europoid mummies discovered in the deserts of southern Xinjiang at the end of the last century. After the trip at the museum, our guide and driver will take you to Urumqi International Airport to see you off. After you successfully check in, it will be end of our service.