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Best & Must-see Sights on the Silk Road in China

Best & Must-see Sights on the Silk Road in China

Brief History of the Silk Road

The Silk Road refers to the ancient network of trade routes explored by Zhang Qian, a Chinese imperial envoy of the Western Han Dynasty (207BC-220AD). It spans a total distance of over 7000 kilometers, starting from Chang’an (now Xi’an), passing Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province, Ningxia Province, Qinghai Province and Xinjiang Province, crossing Congling (now the Pamirs), reaching sections of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and finally ends at the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. About 4000 kilometers of the Silk Road is located within Chinese border, more than half of the total distance. 

Key Attractions and Cities along the Silk Road in China

Xi’an-the Starting Point of the Silk Road

With a long history of over 3000 years, Xi’an boasts splendid culture, and also rivals Rome, Cairo and Athens as one of the four ancient capitals in the world. Its prosperous eras during Han Dynasty (202BD-220AD) and Tang Dynasty (618AD-907AD) were especially influential to Chinese history and culture. The exploration and prosperity of the ancient Silk Road also helped Xi’an to exert its influence.

Must-See Attractions in Xi’an

Big Wild Goose Pagoda - the Landmark of the Silk Road

In the early Tang Dynasty, eminent Buddhist Monk Xuanzang spent 18 years of overland journey westward along the Silk Road to India, and brought back a large number of Buddhist scripts. Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, a narrative of what he saw and heard during his journey, compiled by one of his disciples, is of great value to the exchanges of China with central Asia and India. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was especially built to house the Buddhist scripts and statues that Monk Xuanzang brought back from India. The pagoda is 64.5 meters tall with 7 floors, being thus far the earliest and the biggest Tang Dynasty square pavilion style brick tower. It is also a typical evidence of Han influence into Buddhism after it was introduced into central China. More about Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures built to protect Emperor Qin Shihuang in his afterlife. It was enrolled by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987, and more than 200 state leaders have visited it over the years. It is considered a great archaeological finding of the 20th century, the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, and a symbol of splendid ancient civilization of China. More about Terracotta Army 

In the pits of the world’s largest underground military museum, life-size figures include warriors, chariots and horses still stand firm in battle formation protecting the site, with vivid facial features and expression.

Mount Huashan

Mount Huashan is one of China’s Five Famous Mountains. It is located in Huayin City of Shaanxi Province, featuring precipitous peaks and religious significance. It is considered ‘the fourth Taoist fairyland’. Mount Huashan is part of the Qinling Mountains, with an altitude of 2154.9 meters. It connects Qinling in the south, overlooks Huangwei to the north, being the gateway into central China from Northwest China. Mount Huashan is known for being magnificent, precipitous, peculiar and beautiful, the rocks, pines, plank roads, clouds and fog all add to its infinite beauty.

Forest of Stele Museum

The Forest of Stele Museum located inside Wenchang Gate of the ancient city wall is the place with the largest collection of ancient stone inscriptions in China. Its steles and stone inscriptions cover a wide range of topics, such as the spreading of Christianity in ancient China, the stele of the spreader of Vajrayana in China, and various vivid stone animals that were not originated in China. All these collections are witnesses of the frequent exchanges of the East and the West via the miraculous Silk Road. More about Forest of Stele Museum

Grand Buddha Grottoes of Binxian County - Pearl on the Silk Road

Located 150 northeast of Xi’an, Binxian County is now just a normal county joining Pingliang City of Gansu Province. However, it served as an important pitch point on the Silk Road back in its prosperous period. Today it still reserves the Grand Buddha Grottoes, a significant Buddhist architecture on the Silk Road as well as the largest grottoes complex in Shaanxi Province.

Pingliang City and the Silk Road

Pingliang is a prefecture-level city in East Gansu, at the junction of three provinces: Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia. Bestowed with an advantageous geographic location and a long history, it was a vital transport and business hub in the east end of the north line on the Silk Road. Pingliang boasts pleasant weather and rich tourism resources, especially natural scenery, historical and cultural attractions. Located to the north of Kongtong Mountain is the famous Xiaoguan Pass, once the impregnable pass set by the Qin Kingdom, protecting the northwest part of Central Shaanxi Plain.

Must-See Attractions in Pingliang

Kongtong Mountain

Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism coexist at Kongtong Mountain over the last 1500 years. At its prime time of Buddhism and Taoism, there were altogether 42 religious places and 650 rooms, truly one of the representatives of ancient Chinese architecture, culture and art.

Wangmu Palace

Wangmu Palace is the location of the birth place, origin place and ancestor temple of Wangmu (Queen Mother of the West, a Chinese Goddess). Built in 109 BC on Wangmugong Mountain in Jingchuan County of Pingliang City, the palace went through two reconstructions in the Song Dynasty and the Ming Dynasty.

South Grotto Temple

South Grotto Temple is located 7.5 km east of Jingdong County, on the north bank precipice of Jinghe River. According to historical records, its first excavation happened 1500 years ago in the Northen Wei Dynasty in 510AD. At present five grottoes remain, and four of them housed with statues inside. The first grotto is the major one, with niches on both sides of the wall at the entrance. The grotto is rectangle at 13 meters tall, 17 meters long and 24 meters wide. The top of the grotto has a peculiar shape and a unique structure, looking magnificent.

Yunya Temple

Yunya Temple combines both grotto art and natural scenery. It was as famous as Kongtong Moungtain and Maiji Mountain in historical records. Located on Guan Mountain at a height between 1402-2875 meters, the mountains compose a natural tourist attraction with rolling peaks and green water. The main peak has four platforms with sharp cliffs.

Lanzhou - a Place of Strategic Importance on the Silk Road

Lanzhou has been a place of strategic importance since the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD), with armies, missionaries, envoys, trade caravans, poets and alike traveling pass Lanzhou and the Yellow River, between the east and the west. As an important hub of transportation and trade on the ancient Silk Road, Lanzhou has played an important role in the economic and cultural communication of the peoples between China, Asia, Africa and Europe. 

Must-See Attractions in Lanzhou

Zhongshan Bridge

Built in 1907 in the Qing Dynasty, Zhongshan Bridge was the first permanent bridge over the Yellow River, and also a landmark structure of Lanzhou. In 1942, it was named Zhongshan Bridge in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China.

Stele Forest of the Yellow River

It is located near Baita Mountain Park, featuring local calligraphy and art, presenting the splendid history and achievements of the Yellow River culture, Silk Road culture and West China culture.

Baita Mountain

Baita Mountain is located at a height of 1700 meters above the north bank of the Yellow River in Lanzhou. Its rolling peaks were considered to be of military importance in ancient times, with magnificent city passes down the mountain. The rolling peaks of Baita Mountain are one of the eight famous scenes of Lanzhou City. 

Music Fountain

A lot of cities have music fountains, but the one in Lanzhou is especially unique for its location near the Yellow River between the east of Zhongshan Bridge and the west of Yellow River Bridge. It is even more beautiful at night than at daytime.

Bingling Temple Grottoes

Bingling Temple Grottoes are located 35 km southwest of Yongjing County in Gansu Province. It was built over 1600 years ago in the Qin Dynasty. The grottoes were carved on the precipitous red sandstone cliffs, spanning 2 km long. The 169th grotto is a natural cave and the most important grotto in existence, with statues and frescos reserved from the Qin Dynasty in the 4th century. The grottoes at Bingling Temple form three major complexes, the upper complex, the lower complex and the gully complex. The lower complex is the most magnificent with embossment Buddhist pagodas and frescos equally famous as those in Mogao Grottoes and Maijishan Grottoes.

Wuwei - a Bright Pearl on the Silk Road

Wuwei is located in the east end of Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province. Formerly called Liangzhou in ancient times, Wuwei has a long history and is a place of strategic importance on the ancient Silk Road. Human activities here traced back to over 5000 years ago. The government had established settlements in Wuwei, which gradually became an important city west of Chang’an (now Xi’an) on the Silk Road. Wuwei is considered an important transportation junction between the east and the west, and a melting pot of nationalities.

Baita Temple

Baita Temple, also known as Hundred-Pagoda Temple, is one of the four important Tibetan Buddhist temples of Liangzhou, together with Jinta Temple, Lianhua Temple and Haicang Temple. The temple is 440 meters long, 420 meters wide, covering an area of over 180,000 square meters. The temple is enclosed by walls on four sides, with over one hundred Buddhist pagodas, hence the name Hundred-Pagoda Temple.

Leitai Tomb of Han Dynasty

It is located in Leitai Park on Beiguanzhong Road of Wuwei City, famous for the excavation of the precious bronze galloping horse that was chosen as a National Relic of China in 1986.

Kumarajiva Temple

Kumarajiva Temple was built in memory of the respectable and eminent monk Kumarajiva and his achievement in translating Buddhist sutra. It is the only temple in the world named after Kumarajiva. Main highlights of the temple include Kumarajiva stupa, library and the main hall.

Tiantishan Grottoes

Also known as Big Buddha Temple, Tiantishan Grottoes were chiseled over 1600 years ago. It is the source of Yungang Grottoes in Datong City and Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang City, playing a key role in China’s Buddhist history. Tiantishan Grottoes are located 50 km south of Wuwei City.

Zhangye - a Key City on the Ancient Silk Road

The city of Zhangye has long been considered a bright pearl on the ancient Silk Road, with a long history, beautiful scenery and unique cultural heritage. Main attractions in Zhangye include Grand Buddha Temple, Wooden Pagoda Temple, Xilai Temple, Mati Temple, Zhenyuan Building, Shanxi Guild Hall, Minqin Guild Hall, Site of Black Water State and Tombs, etc.

Grand Buddha Temple

The temple was built in 1098 during the Western Xia Dynasty according to imperial order. The reclining Buddha statue inside the temple is 35 meters long, being one of the biggest of its kind in China.

Mati Temple

The grotto complex of Mati Temple was chiseled about 1600 years ago, on the northwest bank of Mati River, about 60 km from Zhangye City. The 21st grotto on the 7th layer was awe-inspiringly chiseled on the precipitous cliff. Travelers’ can experience the unique lifestyle of grassland nomads, live in a tent, drink highland barley wine and eat meat with hands.

Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park

Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is located at the north foot of Qilian Mountain, 30 km east of Zhangye City, covering an area of 510 square kilometers. It is the only scenic area in China combining Danxia landform and colorful rock formations, and it was listed as one of the 10 most amazing geographic wonders of the world by National Geographic in 2011.

Jiayu Pass - the West Starting Point of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall

Located 5 km west of Jiayuguan City, Jiayu Pass is a significant fortress guarding the west end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall, and a transportation hub of the ancient Silk Road. It is one of the three wonders of the Great Wall of China, together with Shanhai Pass in the east end and Zhenbeitai Tower.

Dunhuang - the Throat of the Silk Road

Dunhuang is located in the west end of Hexi Corridor, at the vital transportation hub on the Silk Road. Trade and exchanges were flourishing at its prime time. Grottoes and frescos in Dunhuang are well-known to the world, and major attractions in Dunhuang include Mogao Grottoes, Yumen Pass of the Han Dynasty Great Wall and Yangguan Pass.

Mogao Grottoes

Also known as Thousand Buddha Cave, Mogao Grottoes is located at the foot of Echoing Sand Mountain in Mogao Town, 25 km southeast of Dunhuang. It is the largest and the most famous Buddhist grotto complex in China, and one of the top in the world. Spanning 1600 meters long, the 492 grottoes distribute on the cliff of Echoing Sand Mountain. The fresco covers an area of 45000 square meters. There are 2415 colored argillaceous sculptures inside the grottoes. As one of the four famous grottoes in China, Mogao Grottoes was enrolled as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1987.

Echoing Sand Mountain

Echoing Sand Mountain is located 7 km south of Dunhuang, covering 40 km long and 20 km wide, with the highest altitude at 1715 meters. The sand produces loud sound when there is wind, hence the name.

Crescent Spring

The Crescent Spring is 150 meters long and 50 meters wide, encircled by the Echoing Sand Mountain. It is shaped like a crescent moon, hence its name. Traditional Chinese medicinal materials abound at the foot of the Echoing Sand Mountain. The area is one of the classic sceneries of Dunhuang. The spring water is deep on the east side and shallow on the west side. There are four wonders about the Crescent Spring: its shape never changed over the years, its water is always clear, it is never dried by the sand, and its fish tastes tender.

Yardang National Park

Yardang National Park is located 200 km west of Dunhuang, outside Yumen Pass. The north route of the Silk Road passes here. It is a rare natural museum of unique landform in peculiar shapes formed by wind erosion. It is also known as ‘Town of Demons’, due to its shapes and the sound similar to ghostly screaming when the wind blows.

Ancient Dunhuang City

Ancient Dunhuang City is located 25 kilometers south of Dunhuang City, with unique exotic style architecture. The city has three gates on the east, south and west side. The city is composed of five major streets – Gaochang, Dunhuang, Ganzhou, Xingqing and Bianliang. The streets are lined with temples, pawnshops, warehouses, folk houses and wine shops, reviving its prime time back in the Tang and the Song dynasties over 1,000 years ago.

Yumen Pass

Yumen Pass was built in 111 BC, 90 km northwest of Dunhuang City, on Gobi Desert. It is the throat of the north route leading to the West on the Silk Road. The pass is square shaped, with a gate on the west and the north side. The city wall is well reserved at 24 meters long from east to west, and 26.4 meters wide from south to north.

Yangguan Pass

Yangguan Pass, located in Yangguan Town about 70 km southwest of Dunhuang City, was the gateway out of Dunhuang and into the south route of the Silk Road. A famous Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty about 1500 years ago, Wang Wei, wrote a popular poem about Yangguan Pass, made it known to many Chinese people.

Kumul

Kumul’s location at the junction between Central China and West China made it an important post on the ancient Silk Road. Kumul boasts splendid history, culture and natural sights. It enjoys the reputation of the epitome of Xinjiang, for its mixture of the climate and sceneries of both South and North Xinjiang.

Tianshan Mountain Scenic Area

It is 70 km from Kumul, on the north slope of the east Tianshan Mountain. It boasts a mixture of natural scenery, including snow-capped mountains, lush forests, vast pastures and infertile Echoing Sand Mountain.

Wubao Demon City

Wubao Demon City is located south of Wubao Village, where you will see ruins, cliffs, castles, temples, steles and fossils. Its name came for its ghostly sounds at night.

Echoing Sand Mountain

The Echoing Sand Mountain is located 70 km from Kumul. A large sand dune of 5 km long and 50 meters tall appears out of nowhere on the vast grassland. Grass grows lushly around it, and small streams flow through the mountain foot. The sand is fine and smooth, and when the sand makes varieties of sounds while rolling down the mountain, hence its name.

Mausoleum of Kumul Uygur Kings

It is located in Huicheng Village, 2 km south of Kumul City. Built around 1840, the mausoleum buries the Uygur kings and their queens of the past dynasties. Two sites remain intact so far. On the south side there are two pavilions of upward eaves, supported by pillars with delicate carvings. On the north side there is a grand arch. The main part is 25 meters tall, with 36 spiral steps reaching the top of the tomb. On the west side opposite the tomb is a mosque, with frescos, engraved patterns and decorative scripts on the walls and ceiling. 

Turpan

Turpan was an important center and post on the ancient Silk Road, with richest open-air archaeological resources. This is a city of mystery, with Jiaohe Ruins, Gaochang Ruins, Karez Wells, to Emin Minaret, Grotto Temple and Flaming Mountain. Though not a large city, it combines various religions, cultures and civilizations. If you look for adventure, Turpan is the place for you to explore on the many ancient paths on the Tianshan Mountain.

Emin Minaret

Emin Minaret, or Sugong Tower, is located 2 km east of Turpan City. It is the largest existing tower in Xinjiang. Built in 1778, it is a tower-shaped Islamic building with unique style. It is 43 meters tall and 10 meters wide, built from simple materials like mud and bricks. Inside the tower, there are 72 steps spiraling up to the top. A mosque with capacity of housing 1,000 people is located next to it. More about Emin Minaret

Karez Well

Karez Well enjoys equal reputation together with the Great Wall of China and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal as Three Major Ancient Projects in China. Karez Well has over 1100 wells, totaling 5000 km long. It is an ancient irrigation system making use of underground water to irrigate farm fields and provide household water. The wells won’t dry due to heat and wind, and have a steady flow to guarantee gravity irrigation.

Grape Valley

Grape Valley is a 7-km-long 2-km-wide canyon known for producing high-quality grapes in abundance. In 1994, 315.6 hectares of grapes were grown in the valley, with a production of 8601 tons. About 13 varieties of grapes are grown in here including seedless white grape, Manaizi and red grape. More about Karez Well

Astana Tombs

Astana Tombs is about 40 km from Turpan City. It holds about 1,000 tombs, spanning 5 km long from east to west, and 2 km wide from south to north. This huge graveyard was the public graveyard for officials and civilians of the ancient Gaochang Kingdom.

The tombs are sectioned according to family names by gravels. Tens of thousands of precious relics have been unearthed from the tombs, including documents, epigraphs, drawings, clay figurines, gold wares, stone wares, potteries, coins, silk and fabrics, especially the dried corpse, or Chinese mummies, are comparable to those in Egypt. More about Astana Tombs

Turpan Museum

Turpan Museum is located on Xichang Road, in central Turpan City. Many precious historical, artistic and cultural relics are on exhibition, including ethnic scripts, letters, contracts and official documents.

Gaochang Ruins

Gaochang Ruins is located about 46 km from Turpan City. It is the biggest ancient ruins in Xinjiang, witnessing over 1300 years of history, and was destroyed and abandoned in the 14th century. More about Gaochang Ruins

Jiahe Ruins

Jiaohe Ruins is located in Ya’er Village about 13 km west of Turpan City. In ancient times the imperial court had set several establishments here. Many precious historical relics were unearthed from Jiaohe Ruins, and you can see the collection and mummies, Silk Road artifacts at the nearby Turpan Museum. More about Jiahe Ruins

Flaming Mountain

The Flaming Mountain is located 10 km northeast of Turpan City. It stretches 98 km long and 9 km wide, with the main peak at 831.7 meters. The famous Chinese novel Journey to the West made the Flaming Mountain famous all over China. There are many ravines deep in the mountainside of the Flaming Mountain, as a result of earth movement. More about Flaming Mountain

Mansion of the prefect of Turpan

Junwang Mansion (Mansion of the prefect of Turpan) is located 2 km from Turpan City, very close to Emin Minaret. According to historical records, the mansion was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, over 300 years ago. It served as the office and residence of Emin Hezhuo, the prefect of Turpan back then, and also the command center of Turpan’s politics, economy and culture during the Qing Dynasty.

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

The cave is one of the largest Buddhist grotto ruins in Xinjiang. It is located on the cliff side of the Tugou River banks, only 15 km south of Gaochang Ruins, at the middle section of the Flaming Mountain, 45 km east of Turpan City. More about Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

Tuyugou Canyon

Tuyugou Canyon is located in Shanshan County, 55 km east of Turpan City. It used to be a holy land for Buddhism and Islamism, but now it is relatively unknown to the outside world. More about Tuyugou Canyon

Urumqi

Urumqi is located in northwest China, in the hinterland of Eurasia, adjacent to several countries in Central Asia. It has been an important business hub linking between the east and west since ancient times. Urumqi is known as a large city with the longest distance away from ocean and coastline among all cities in the world. It is also the second largest city in Central Asia, after Alma-Ata

Xinjiang Silk Road Museum

Silk Road culture is a valuable heritage to the research and development of mankind civilization and ethnic cultures. Many precious historical traces of the ancient Silk Road were left in Xinjiang. Xinjiang Silk Road Museum revives the history and life of local people in Xinjiang over the past thousands of years, the ancient Silk Road and its impact on people’s life and local culture, which provide great value for relevant research.

Erdaoqiao Mosque

Erdaoqiao Mosque covers an area of 2400 square meters, with a capacity of holding religious activity for up to 300 people at the same time. It is one of the oldest and largest in the city, built and decorated in traditional Islamic style.

Urunqi International Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, or Erdaoqiao Market, is an interesting place to look at or shop for regional products of various kinds. Local food and snacks, street performances and staged shows are also available. The architecture was built in typical Islamic style, reviving the prime time prosperity of the ancient Silk Road.

Heavenly Lake

The picturesque Heavenly Lake is located 100 km northeast of Urumqi, on the north mountainside of Mount Bogda. The lake is at an altitude of 1910 meters above sea level, with a length of 3.5 km from south to north, 0.8-1.5 meters wide from east to west, and 103 meters at its deepest point. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and spruce, reflecting on the placid blue glacier water, forming a breathtaking scene attracting numerous travelers.

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum

The museum houses 32,000 pieces of precious collections including historical, artistic and cultural exhibitions. You will see fabrics, ancient scripts, wooden sculptures, clay figurines, drawings, bronze wares, ethnic costumes, handicrafts, ancient fossils, ancient corpse specimens, and more.

Kuqa

Kuqa County is the east gate of Aksu and Sidi Prefecture in South Xinjiang, the vital transportation hub linking South and North Xinjiang with Wudi Prefecture. It was an important town and military post on the ancient Silk Road.

Tianshan Grand Canyon

It is 70 km north of Kuqa County, 1,600 meters above sea level. The Tianshan Grand Canyon is a natural wonder, formed by natural erosion over the huge reddish-brown mountain group.

Kezi'er Red Sand Scenic Area

The scenic area was called North Mountain or Red Sand Mountain in ancient times. It is located 10 km southeast of Kuqa County, and served as a military establishment in Western Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago. 

Dragon Pond

The Dragon Pond is nestled deep among the Tianshan Mountain, 120 km north of Kuqa. It has two high mountain lakes, respectively named the Big Dragon Pond and the Small Dragon Pond.

Kuqa Royal Palace

Kuqa Royal Palace was built in 1759 under the order of Emperor Qianlong, to commend the local Uygur leader for his achievement in pacifying insurrections. The imperial court specifically sent Han artisans and workers from the inland to build the palace into a mixture of Central China style and Islamic style. It covers an area of 400,000 square meters.

Kezi'er Thousand Buddha Cave

Also known as Kezi'er Grottoes, or Qizil Ming Öy in Uygur language, it is a Buddhist grotto located on the cliff of Mingutag Mountain 7 km southeast of Kezi'er Town. There are 236 caves, with frescos covering an area of over 10,000 square meters.

Korla

Korla is historically the throat of the middle section of the ancient Silk Road, attracting numerous travelers and researchers. It boasts many unique natural scenic attractions, suitable for travelers who look for adventure. Attractions include Bosten Lake, Bayanbulak Grassland, Swan Lake, Gongnaisi Forest, Tarim River, Tianshan Stone Forest, yardang landform, the world’s longest desert highway, and Mushitage Peak at 6973 meters above sea level.

Iron Gate Pass

Iron Gate Pass (or Tiemen Pass), is located among the grotesque rocks of Kuruketag Mountain 8 km north of Korla City. The Silk Road back 2,000 years ago was lead from here into a grand canyon of 30 km long via Peacock River. The canyon is deep and winding with sharp cliffs like knife-cut. According to historical records, the pass had been set here in the Jin Dynasty (266-420 AD) due to its significant location, hence Iron Gate Pass. It is the first natural defense from Yanqi Basin into Tarim Basin, and had always been a strategic military position since ancient times.
Strategic military

Peacock River

Peacock River is originated from Bosten Lake, running through Korla City via Iron Gate Pass, and is considered the industrial, agricultural and economic lifeline of Korla City. The river is 785 km long, with stable flow at an annual volume of 1.2 billion cubic meters. The Peacock River Scenic Tourist Belt spans 10 km from Peacock Bridge to Sun Island in Yingxia Village.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon of the pasturing area of Korla Horticultural Farm is 100 km from Korla City. The canyon is almost 3000 meters above sea level, with cliffs on both sides as tall as 1000 meters. The widest point in the canyon is 50-60 meters, while the narrowest point is 30 meters. Crystal water flows at the bottom of the canyon, and lush shrubberies grow on both banks.

Populus Forest Resort

The resort is located 53 km southwest of Korla City, with a large natural populus forest of 17,000 Mu (2800 acres) and a dam and reservoir.

Jiamai Mosque

Jiamai Mosque is located on Tuanjie Road of Korla City, with a total building area of 734 square meters. Being the largest mosque in Korla, it was built in 1981, with Uygur traditional decorative images on the walls and ceilings.

Lopnur Village

Located on the Tarim River bank, 86 km from Korla City, Lopnur Village is the last living place of Lopnur people, a branch of Uygur. This is the only existing Lopnur community on earth, and Lopnur people still make a living on fishing and reserve their ancient original traditions and customs since long time ago. 

Bayanbulak Grassland

Bayanbulak Grassland is located on the south foot of Tianshan Mountain, 636 km from Korla City. It covers an area of 23,000 square kilometers, the second largest grassland in China. Its green pasture, flocks and herds, rolling peaks, winding rivers and abundant plant resources provide pleasant scenery and travel experience. Every summer, the annual Nadam Fair (a important Mongolian traditional fair) is held on Bayanbulak Grassland every summer, with activities and races like horse racing, archery and wrestling, attracting numerous travelers and locals.

Aksu

The name Aksu literally means white water in Uygur language, and it gets the name due to its location on the upper reaches of Tarim River, on the northwest edge of Taklimakan Desert. It enjoys the good name of ‘lush and fertile fields north of the Great Wall’. It is an important post on the ancient Silk Road, the birth place of Qiuci Culture and Dolan Culture, the political, economic and cultural center of Aksu Prefecture.

Tumur Peak

Tumur Peak in located in the west of Tianshan Mountain, in the northwest of Wensu County. The Biedieli Mountain Pass at its foot is the major passageway to the inland in ancient times. Tumur is the tallest peak of Tianshan Mountain, at 7435.29 meters above sea level. The peak is snow-capped and mist-shrouded all year round, forming a magnificent scene. It was officially open to tourists in 1985.  

Tianshan Grand Canyon

The mysterious Grand Canyon is located 72 km north of Kuche County of Aksu Prefecture, by No. 217 National Highway. The canyon is 5.5 km long in the depth from east to west, formed by natural erosion on the reddish-brown rock. The canyon is deep and winding with grotesque massifs, hidden ditches, valleys and spots. On the cliff about 1.4 km from the mouth of the canyon, there is a grotto with remains of frescos and Chinese characters inside remained from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

Tianshan Shenmu Garden

Tianshan Shenmu Garden is located 60 km northwest of Wensu County, covering an area of 600 Mu (40 hectares), at 1700 meters above sea level. It is considered the pearl on the Gobi Desert. It is the cemetery of saints dedicated to the transmission of religious scripts, and served as a holy land for Islamic assembly and pilgrimage.

Taklimakan Desert

Taklimakan Desert is in the center of Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, China. It is the largest desert in China, the second largest in the world, and also the largest shifting desert in the world.

Kezi’er Thousand Buddha Cave

Kezi’er Thousand Buddha Cave is one of the four famous grottoes in China. According to historical records, its first chiseling started in the 3rd century, and was abandoned in the 8th century. It is the earliest and the largest existing grotto temple in China, and plays a key role in China’s grotto art. It serves important resources for the research of Qiuci culture, West China history and culture, Buddhist culture, and the relations between West China and Central China.

Kashgar

Kashgar’s written history goes back 2100 years. It is the political, economic and cultural center, transportation hub, and the largest distributing center in South Xinjiang. Kashgar serves as an significant place of business, transport and intersection of civilization between the east and the west back in its prime time on the ancient Silk Road.

Abakh Khoja Tomb

The tomb is an ancient mausoleum building of typical Islamic feature. Built around 1640, it covers an area of 30 Mu (5 acres) in Haohan Village, 5 km northeast of Kashgar City. More about Abakh Khoja Tomb

Lake Karakuli

Lake Karakuli is located at the foot of Mushitage Peak, at a height of 3600 meters with a depth of 30 meters. Its name means ‘Black Sea’. Covering an area of over 100,000 square kilometers, the lake is a plateau glacier lake, reflecting the magnificent and mysterious Mushitage Peak. The snow-capped peak and glistening water form an engaging scene. More about Lake Karakuli

Id Kah Mosque

Id Kah Mosque was first built in 1442. It sits on the west side of Id Kah Square, covering an area of 16,800 square meters. It is the largest mosque in Xinjiang, and one of the largest of its kind in China with 140 meters long from south to north and 120 meters wide from east to west. More about Id Kah Mosque

Kashgar Old Town

Kashgar Old Town is in the center of Kashgar City, taking up an area of 4.25 square kilometers with 126,800 inhabitants. The crisscrossing streets and lanes form a huge mazy neighborhood well worth exploring. The houses are mostly brick-wood structure or earth-wood structure of over 100 years old. Kashgar Old Town is the only city block in China featuring Islamic culture. More about Kashgar Old Town

Zhiren Street

Also known as Wustanbowie Handicrafts Street, Zhiren Street is probably the most interesting street in Kashgar full of exotic local features. It gathers hundreds of workshops and stands selling a huge array of exotic goods along its length of about 1 kilometer. Located next to the Id Kah Mosque, it offers an interesting walk of people watching and goods exhibition. More about Zhiren Street

Kashgar Bazaar

The full name of Kashgar Bazaar is Central and West Asia International Trade Market. Located in the northeast corner of Kashgar City, it covers an area of 250 Mu (17 hectares) with 21 categorized markets. It is the largest international trade market in northwest China.

Livestock Bazaar

The livestock bazaar is the trading place of domestic animals for Uygur people. It only opens on Saturday and Sunday. Major trading categories are cattle, camel, donkey and especially goat. The whole bazaar is huge and bustling, divided into several trading areas according to categories. Here you can also taste various food and snacks made from mutton and beef, such as barbecue and steamed bun with meat stuffing. More about Livestock Bazaar

Tashkurgan

Tashkurgan is a small town in the far west of the Pamirs, about 300 km from Kashgar, Xinjiang Province of China. Bordering Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, it is the major international gateway of Xinjiang.

Tashkurgan Stone Fort

Tashkurgan Stone Fort is one of the three most famous stone forts in the history of China. The stone fort is irregular in round and square shape, divided into inner and outer forts. Ripraps pile up inside the fort. The outer fort is severely ruined, with only remnants of the ancient city wall, fortress and folk houses. Ripraps pile up inside the fort.

Tashkurgan Grassland

The grassland is located in Dafdar Village, on the banks of Tashkurgan River. Walking on the grassland, you will see the traditional life on the grassland and beautiful sceneries of the Pamirs, local nomad people, herds of animals and traditional yurts.

Princess Castle

The Princess Castle is located 60 km south of Tashkurgan, covering an area of 2000 square meters. It was built on the slopes of the mountain, with the frontage built with stones and the west side of the wall with rammed earth mingled from branches obtained on spot.  Best Time to Travel the Silk Road

Xinjiang is suitable for traveling between May and October. South Xinjiang features places of historic and cultural heritage, while North Xinjiang is bestowed with beautiful natural landscape of Snow Mountains, grasslands, lakes, river and yurts. The best time of the year is autumn from September to November, with colorful sceneries and abundant ripe fruits like watermelons, muskmelons and grapes.

Tips for Traveling the China Silk Road

Xinjiang is a Muslim-populated area with welcoming, friendly and frank people. They follow traditions and religions, and observe strict etiquette in their daily life, which is quite different with those in inland China. There are taboos passed down over generations of faith and life style. It is very important to respect their rules and traditions to avoid misunderstanding when traveling in this area.

  • Xinjiang is dry and windy with temperature difference between morning and evening as big as 10-35 degrees Celsius. It is suggested to prepare long-sleeved clothing, sweaters and jackets, and bring sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen, lip balm, medications for cold, gastrointestinal discomfort, diazepam, headache, aspirin, etc.
  • Parts of Xinjiang are located at a high altitude with strong Ultraviolet. The temperature of Turpan in summer can reach over 40 degrees Celsius. Do bring sun protection and prepare heatstroke prevention medications.
  • Xinjiang’s time is 2 hours behind inland cities in China. You can arrange your travel schedule according between 9 am and 8 pm.
  • Food flavors in Northwest China are generally sour, spicy and sweet. Onion, pepper and tomato are very common in most dishes. If you have any allergies, on a diet or have any special meal requirements, make sure to inform your tour guide in advance so that they can make proper arrangements.
  • Xinjiang covers a vast territory and it will take a long time to go from one place to another. You will spend a lot of time on the vehicle or walking. It is very important to wear a pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t stare a Uygur or their staff, or wander long at the market and even bargain but not buying anything. This will cause unnecessary misunderstanding or even trouble.
  • Uygur people are quite conservative in their daily clothing. Don’t wear revealing clothes when traveling in Xinjiang 
  • Avoid going out after dark or to remote areas.