Southern Xinjiang Travel Itineraries
Top tourist destinations in Southern Xinjiang
Kashgar: Known as the "Pearl of the Silk Road," Kashgar is a historic city that has been a crossroads of cultures for centuries. The city is home to the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, and the lively Kashgar Bazaar, where visitors can find a variety of goods including textiles, spices, and traditional handicrafts. More about Kashgar travel guide >>
Karakul Lake: Located in the Pamir Mountains, Karakul Lake is a stunning high-altitude lake known for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking scenery. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is a popular destination for hiking and camping.
Hotan: Hotan is a city known for its rich cultural heritage and traditional crafts. Visitors can explore the Hotan Museum to learn about the city's history, and visit local workshops to see artisans weaving silk carpets and crafting delicate jade objects.
Tashkurgan: Tashkurgan is a small town located near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The town is home to the historic Tashkurgan Fort, which was built in the 14th century and served as a key stop on the Silk Road.
Shipton's Arch: Shipton's Arch is a natural arch located in the Karakoram Mountains. The arch is one of the largest in the world, measuring over 1,200 feet from end to end. Visitors can hike to the arch and take in the stunning mountain views.
Turpan: Turpan is a desert oasis town that has been an important stop on the Silk Road for centuries. The town is home to the Jiaohe Ruins, an ancient city built on a natural plateau, and the Flaming Mountains, a range of mountains known for their red sandstone cliffs and extreme summer heat.
Kuqa: Kuqa is a historic city located on the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The city is home to the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, a complex of rock-cut Buddhist temples and murals dating back to the 3rd century, and the Subashi Ruins, an ancient city that served as an important center of trade on the Silk Road.
Aksu: Aksu is a city known for its unique blend of Uyghur and Han Chinese cultures. Visitors can explore the Aksu Museum to learn about the history of the region, and visit the nearby Kuqa Grand Canyon, a stunning natural formation with towering rock formations and a winding river.
The best time to visit southern Xinjiang
The best time to visit Southern Xinjiang is during the months of May to October when the weather is mild and the landscape is at its most picturesque. During this time, the temperatures are warm and dry, making it comfortable to explore the desert landscapes and visit the various historic sites in the region.
In particular, the months of September and October are a great time to visit Southern Xinjiang, as the temperatures are cooler, and the fall colors are at their peak, making it a beautiful time to explore the region's natural scenery.
However, it's important to note that Southern Xinjiang can get very hot in the summer months, with temperatures often reaching over 40°C, so be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water if you plan to visit during this time. Additionally, the winter months can be quite cold and may not be the best time for outdoor activities.
Southern Xinjiang itineraries
Kashgar and Surrounding Areas
Day 1: Explore Kashgar's Old City, including the Id Kah Mosque and Abakh Hoja Tomb
Day 2: Visit the famous Kashgar Sunday Market and the nearby livestock market
Day 3: Take a day trip to Karakul Lake, a stunning alpine lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains
Day 4: Visit the ancient city of Tashkurgan, which sits on the historic Silk Road and has a rich cultural heritage
Khotan and Yarkand
Day 1: Visit the Khotan Museum and see the famous jade carvings for which the region is known
Day 2: Explore Yarkand's Old City and see the impressive Golden Mosque
Day 3: Visit the nearby Doppa Village and see how the locals make traditional hats
Day 4: Take a day trip to the Taklamakan Desert and see the famous sand dunes
Aksu and Kuqa
Day 1: Visit the ancient city of Kucha, including the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and the Grand Mosque
Day 2: Explore Aksu's Old City and visit the impressive Aizirek Mosque
Day 3: Take a day trip to the Tianshan Grand Canyon, a stunning natural wonder
Day 4: Visit the nearby Kizilgaha Beacon Tower, an important historical site on the Silk Road
Turpan and Hami
Day 1: Explore Turpan's Old City and see the ancient Karez irrigation system
Day 2: Visit the famous Flaming Mountains and the nearby Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
Day 3: Take a day trip to the Jiaohe Ruins, an ancient city that has been well-preserved over the centuries
Day 4: Visit the city of Hami, which is known for its delicious melons and has a rich history on the Silk Road.
Day 1: Kashgar
Arrive in Kashgar, the cultural hub of Southern Xinjiang, and explore the old town. Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, and the Abakh Khoja Tomb, the resting place of a famous Uyghur leader. In the evening, stroll through the bustling night market and sample local street food.
Day 2: Karakul Lake
Take a scenic drive along the Karakorum Highway to Karakul Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in China. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is a popular spot for hiking, horseback riding, and camping.
Day 3: Tashkurgan
Visit the ancient Silk Road town of Tashkurgan, located at the border of China and Pakistan. Explore the historic stone fortress, the Tashkurgan Museum, and the local bazaar. In the afternoon, take a short hike to the nearby grasslands for stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Day 4: Hotan
Travel to Hotan, an oasis town known for its jade and silk production. Visit the Hotan Museum to learn about the town's history and culture, and explore the local bazaar for unique souvenirs.
Day 5: Yarkand
Visit Yarkand, another ancient Silk Road town located near Hotan. Explore the beautiful Golden Mosque and the nearby cemetery, where many famous Uyghur scholars are buried. In the afternoon, visit the nearby desert and ride a camel for an unforgettable experience.
Day 6: Aksu
Travel to Aksu, a city known for its beautiful gardens and historic sites. Visit the Aksu Museum to learn about the region's history and culture, and explore the nearby Afaq Khoja Mausoleum, a stunning example of Islamic architecture.
Day 7: Kuqa
Visit Kuqa, a city known for its Buddhist grottoes and ancient ruins. Explore the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, one of the earliest Buddhist art centers in China, and the Subashi Ruins, an ancient city with a history dating back to the Han Dynasty. In the evening, catch a flight or train back to your starting point.
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