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Xinjiang Ultimate Travel Itinerary


Xinjiang Travel

I completed the long outstanding Silk Road travel adventure last month. My final destination for the Silk Road was Xinjiang. It was my first trip after 4 years on a travel hiatus. It was a 12-day trip.

Urumqi (1 night) ---- Turpan (1 night)---- Urumqi (2 nights) ---- Kashgar (1 night) ---- Tashkurgan (1 night) ---- Kashgar (1 night) ---- Urumqi (extended for self-tour. Stay 4 nights)

Back home with a frozen shoulder due to check in check-out hotels too frequently. This means I have to open and close my luggage most of the time.😅 Only now after a few weeks, my health has recovered.

I chose to travel in mid-May 2024 after considering the extreme weather at each place. I would say it was the right choice indeed. I miss out on the beautiful view, but I am still blessed with some other fantastic scenery too. Nothing is perfect, right?


Personally, this side of China's territory is epic. It was a unique Uyghur cultural experience. I described it as fabulous natural scenery as well as a delicious culinary experience. It has a diverse cultural experience from eight neighbourhood countries: Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Russia.


Guess what? Xinjiang, being the largest autonomous region in China, is also home to both the hottest and second-coldest places in China. This is the main reason I personally think weather is the most crucial factor when it comes to considering the best month to visit.


I have been to many parts of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Lanzhou, Xining, Guilin, Luoyang, Xian, and Tianjin, and yet I think this part of China is where the most friendly people live. They can be Hui Chinese, usual Chinese, and even Uyghur or Tajik. They are friendly, welcome foreigners, and are curious about you. Very helpful too. I would say it is milder than the rest of China.

I was a bit sceptical about visiting this place at first. Well, I have read others' experiences of getting chased out by the locals for entering the restaurant and being dumped at the last minute by the hotel. Not sure whether those people's experiences are just Western propaganda to tarnish China or anything. It's hard to believe those people received that kind of treatment from the locals unless they are really extremely rude to them. I don't know! I feel safer in Xinjiang than in many parts of the world. 


8-Day Best Trip to Discover South Xinjiang


Day 1: Arrival in Urumqi 

It depends on what time your flight arrives. Mine arrived in the afternoon. So, I just walked around The People's Park and the nearby places.

Overnight at Urumqi for one night


View from the top of People's Park Urumqi, Xinjiang Province China

Day 2: Urumqi and Turpan (200 km/3-hour drive)

A fun 3-hour drive to Turpan, also known as China's hottest place, A place to visit in Turpan is the oldest Uyghur village, known as Tuyoq Village, located in the centre of Flaming Mountain Canyon. This place also used to be the holy site of Buddhism and Islam. The village consists of four parts: canyon scenery, Thousand Buddha Caves, Maza Tomb, and the old buildings of the ancient village. Then, the Karez Well museum, which is a special kind of irrigation system, explores the Sugong Minaret, the largest Islamic Minaret in China, built-in 1778.

Flaming Mountain

Flaming Mountain Canyon in Turpan, Xinjiang China

Tuyoq Village

Tuyoq Village, Turpan China. This place used to be the Uigyur Village

Turpan China

Uyghur Mosque in Tuyoq Village, Turpan

Turpan Xinjiang China

Sugong Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang China

Turpan Xinjiang

Part of Karez Well Museum view, Turpan, Xinjiang China

Overnight at Turpan for one night.

Day 3: Turpan-Urumqi (200 km/3 hour drive)

Explore the Jiaohe Ruins with a history 2,300 years ago, a city lay between two rivers on a loess plateau atop a cliff over 30 m. This place is one of the best-preserved ruins of its ancient era in China. It was included on the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014. 

Ancient Ruins, Xinjiang

Jiaohe Ruins, Turpan Xinjiang China

Drive back to Urumqi in the afternoon, and if you still have the energy to walk, you can explore the Xinjiang International Bazaar, the largest bazaar in Urumqi. Since I extended my trip from 8 days to another 2 full days to explore Urumqi on my own, I visited the bazaar on my final days in Urumqi. Free and easy travel is still the best!

Urumqi Bazaar

Xinjiang International Bazaar, Urumqi Xinjiang China

Overnight in Urumqi for one night

Day 4: Urumqi-Heavenly Lake (110 km/2 hour drive)

As it is named Heavenly Lake, the view is also heavenly. It is surrounded by snowy mountains, blooming wildflowers, and evergreen pine trees. You need to ride a 50-minute shuttle bus to reach the lake. But I love this place the most in Xinjiang. I spent more time here to explore the surroundings. Then back to Urumqi to visit the Xinjiang Museum.

Heavenly Lake

View of Heavenly Lake or Tianchi Lake, Xinjiang China on May

Beauty of Loulan

The Famous Mummies in Xinjiang China

Overnight in Urumqi for one night

Day 5: Urumqi-Kashgar

I woke up in the morning to catch a morning flight from Urumqi to Kashgar. Upon arrival at Kashgar, drop by the nearby authority office to apply for a permit to enter Tasxkorgan the next day. Not only foreigners, but even local Xinjiang people require a permit to enter Taxkorgan. Right after, drive to explore the famous Sunday Bazaar. It was a busy bazaar that sold clothing, nuts, household goods, and many other things out of imagination. I have a quick, simple lunch at Sunday Bazaar. Then visit the Id Kah Mosque, which is also the largest mosque in Xinjiang. If you have energy left, you can explore Kashgar Old Town. I don't have the energy to explore further, so just visit the tea house and enjoy the local dance performance.

Urumqi top view

View from the plane when I was on the flight to Kashgar from Urumqi


Not far from Kashgar. My driver stopped by for the permit application to enter Taxkorgan the next day

Sunday Bazaar in Kashgar

Some of local fav delicacies at Sunday Bazaar, Kashgar Xinjiang China

Kashgar Old Town

Kashgar Old City

Tea House at Kashgar

Some of the musicians at the Tea House in Kashgar Old City

Id Kah Mosque

The largest Mosque in China, Id Kah Mosque, Old City Kashgar

Overnight in Kashgar for one night

Day 6: Kashgar to Taxkorgan (320 km, 6 hours driving, but I end up having an 8-hour road trip due to a few stops along the way)

Driving on the China and Pakistan highway with a magnificent landscape of the Pamir Plateau ascending towards a high altitude of 4,000+ meters and the stunning landscape surrounding the highway. 

Places to visit along the way are Baisha Lake and Karakul Lake. You can visit the Stone Fortress at Taxkorgan if you still have energy left to explore. Otherwise, you can just leave it to the next day's itinerary before leaving Taxkorgan back to Kashgar.


The drive stopped here for the rest area along the way to Taxkorgan. The beautiful red mountain here.

Baisha Lake

A beautiful view at Baisha Lake Xinjiang China

Karakul Lake

China Pakistan Highway

Part of the China Pakistan Highway view on the way back to Kashgar from Taxkorgan

Overnight in Taxkorgan for one night

Day 7: Taxkorgan-Kashgar (320 km, 6 hours drive)

I visited a Tajik family's house for a cultural experience. Along the way, drop by the viewpoint of the Pamir Plateau scenery and the viewpoint of Muztagh Ata, which is also part of Kunlun Mountain. 

Enjoy the stunning view of the China-Pakistan highway for the last time.

I explored Kashgar Old City in the evening and had a blast with the Kvass drinking experience on my last night in Kashgar.


A visit to the Tajik's house, Taxkorgan Xinjiang China

Pamir Plateau, Xinjiang China

A beautiful Pamir Plateau view on the way back from Taxkorgan to Kashgar

Muztagh Ata Mountain

Just drop by here for the rest room on the way back from Taxkorgan. 

Kashgar Old City

Ancient City of Kashi (Chinese called Kashgar as Kashi). I have a good time exploring this place on my own.

Overnight in Kashgar for one night

Day 8: Kashgar-Urumqi 

I spent 4 nights in Urumqi for the free and easy self-tour.

Catch a flight from Kashgar to Urumqi, and I will be on my own to explore Urumqi for the next 4 days. I have two full days to explore Urumqi at my own pace. I love this kind of exploration. 
For the last 8 days, I was with a local driver and guide since travelling on my own to those places isn't convenient and I want hassle-free travel since this is my first time travelling after 4 years. Taking this into consideration, I will have a language barrier and a health problem. I just want to travel safely. Anyway, it was a fulfilling trip with no regrets for me. Yeah! It cost me a lot of money with the personal guide and driver. It's worth the money spent!

I will write about Urumqi's self-tour in my next post.

Check out my YouTube Video here

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