Join YPT in the deserts and oasis towns of China’s Far West!
From the ancient city of Kashgar, through small Uyghur towns on the southern Silk Road, crossing the Taklamakan Desert to Turpan, the lowest city in China at 142m below sea level.
The Xinjiang Far West tour starts in the historic city of Kashgar, closer geographically to Tehran and Damascus than to Beijing, a border town between China and the Central Asian states of Kyrgystan and Tajikistan, and the site where traditional Uyghur life hits the Chinese state head on. We visit the old town, livestock market and main bazaar and, being YPT, can’t miss out on the huge statue of Chairman Mao in People’s Square.
We hit the southern Silk Road trail and a couple of small Uyghur towns that haven’t been developed along the Kashgar model, yet, skirting the Taklamakan Desert as we go, and stop in the oasis town of Hotan, famed for its jade and silk. On the north of the desert, we spend a day at Kuqa’s amazing Thousand Buddha caves, reminding us that before the spread of Islam southern Xinjiang was the place where Buddhism entered China.
Lastly, we hang out in the Turpan, China’s Death Valley, the lowest and hottest place in China. In the countryside outside the city, it’s surprisingly green though and we wander the ruins of ancient cities and stop in a Uyghur holy village for lunch.
Meet at the hostel in Kashgar at 2pm and get to know your guide and fellow travellers!
Stop by People’s Square and the largest statue of Chairman Mao in China!
Walking tour through the windy lanes of the old town and the Id Kah Mosque. See what Kashgar used to look like and get a first taste of Uyghur towns.
Dinner of the Uyghur speciality fried rice and mutton.
Go for an evening wander around the lively night markets full of all kinds of fruits, spices, Uyghur clothing and of course street food!
Thursday 7th September – Afaq Khoja, Grand Bazaar, Kashgar
Head out of town to the beautiful tomb of Afaq Khoja, a 17th century mausoleum of this important Uyghur figure.
Lunch of Xinjiang noodles.
Browse the bustling Grand Bazaar, which depending on how you measure it, is the biggest in Asia.
Free evening in Kashgar. Hang out with our guide and grab a few beers in the hostel, or go out and stock up on provisions for the road trip!
Friday 8th September – Kashgar, Yarkand, Hotan
Wake up nice and early to begin the two hour drive to Yarkand.
We’ll make a short stop on the way in Yengisar to see the hand-crafted Uyghur knife factories.
Whilst in Yengisar, we’ll take a stroll around the Altun Mosque complex, surrounding cemeteries and the Old Town of this Uyghur town, inhabited completely by Uyghur people.
Grab a quick lunch before we get back on the road!
In the afternoon, we’ll drive to Hotan, taking roughly three and a half hours.
Arrive in Hotan, check in to hotel, go for dinner and enjoy some well earned drinks!
Saturday 9th September – Hotan, Overnight train to Kuqa
Our first stop will be the Jiya silk factory to see Hotan’s famous silk-making first-hand.
Continue on to the Hotan Cultural Museum to learn about Hotan’s place in Uyghur and Chinese history as well as jade, silk and carpet production.
In the evening, we’ll take the eight hour overnight bus through the Taklamakan Desert to Kuqa, much better than doing it in the daytime heat, but we can enjoy the rest stops in the cold desert nighttime air!
Sunday 10th September – Kuqa, Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, Overnight train to Turpan
Head out to the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and Subashi Buddhist ancient town, a remarkably unique place which will be a trip highlight.
Return to Kuqa for dinner. For anyone sick of mutton by now we can try out the spicy chicken.
Catch the overnight train to Turpan, which takes about eight hours.
Monday 11th September – Turpan, Yarkhoto, Tuyoq
Arriving in the morning, we’ll check in to hotel in Turpan.
Turpan is China’s “death valley”, being the lowest and hottest part of the country at 142m below sea level.
Visit the Yarkhoto ruins, the site of a 1600 year old well-preserved ancient town.
Leaving the town, we’ll visit the holy village of Tuyoq, a traditional mud-walled Uyghur village beneath the Flaming Mountains.
Farewell dinner and drinks, we’ll check out the nightlife of Turpan!
Tuesday 12th September – Turpan, Urumqi, End of Tour
Catch the train back to Urumqi, which takes roughly two hours.