5 Ways to Have Adventures in China’s Xinjiang Province

The wild country of Xinjiang province is a place that will make you feel like you have left China entirely. Beautiful Xinjiang boasts tall mountains, sweeping valleys, and thousands of years of fascinating history are wrapped into this one province. Its people are mainly of the Uighur minority, a warm and hospitable culture that will immediately endear you to this area.

Known for its stunning natural beauty and fantastic landscapes, Xinjiang is a place full of adventures. Check out the top five ways to truly enjoy Xinjiang.

#1 Explore the Ruins of Gaochang

Located southeast of Turpan, this ancient city still stands in the middle of the desert after over 2000 years. Once this city was a main stop along the Silk Road, but it was later destroyed in battles between the Mongols and the Uigurs. However, due to its unique location in the middle of the Gobi desert, the city has been incredibly well preserved, leaving its entire city wall and many parts of the outer and inner city.


You’ll be able to see the ruins of two temples, including the ancient home of the monks, a beautiful tower, and an intricate mural in the worship grotto. Inside the northern part of the inner city, you will find the Palace City, where the imperial rulers once lived. Entrance to Gaochang is 40 yuan, and the easiest way to get there is by bus from Turpan.

#2 Wander the Glorious Fields of Jiangbulak

If you’re looking for luscious green valleys, perfectly warm temperatures, and the backdrop of majestic mountain ranges, then you have found your paradise! You’ll find this spot just 60 kilometers to the south of Qitai County, and lying in the shadow of Tianshan Mountain.

Road in Xinjiang

In stark contrast to the desert scene described above, this beautiful area is home to fantastic landscapes. With herds of sheep or yaks wandering the rolling hills. In June and July, you’ll see the area dotted with beautiful flowers in a variety of colors, and enjoy the crystal clear lakes.

#3 Take a Road Trip Down the Karakoram Highway

Following the route of the ancient Silk Road, this incredible highway links China to Pakistan and more. This beautiful road will take you to places like the cities of Kashgar, Tashgorkan, and Opal, and in between, you’ll be witness to incredible natural scenes, including deserts, marshlands, fantastic mountains, and the lovely Karakul Lake. You can follow the route through western China and then make your way to the icy Khunjerab Pass and cross the border into Pakistan if you wish to.


#4 Hike the Majestic Mountains and Valleys

The Tianshan mountain range is a beautiful area, full of lush, green mountains and rolling valleys. When hiking Nanshan, the smaller peak, you’ll find lovely hills, and the grasslands below offer vistas of locals herding sheep. It is easy to get to from Urumqi and is full of dense forest area, contrasted by sloping grassy hills. Mount Bogda, rising over 5000 meters, is a fantastic peak to hike. Head to the Bogda Mountaineering Base Camp from Daban and sleep in the camp, then start your trek early the next day. This is a difficult route, but the glaciers, alpine lakes, other spectacular views make it all worth it.


Another beautiful route is visiting the pristine Heavenly Lake. Take a bus from Urumqi for about 50 yuan, and enter the natural park for 100 yuan. After a five mile hike, you will arrive at this spectacular site. This is an absolute must-see if you are traveling to Xinjiang!

#5 Breathe in the Fresh Air of the Altai Mountains

Particularly, we recommend the beautiful Koktokay Scenic Spot. This beautiful area is filled with steep gorges, and towering mountains. It is also traversed by the vibrant Irtysh River, which actually flows directly into the Arctic Ocean. Follow the Irtysh River for about 23 kilometers, and you will find the beautiful Cocoa Sullivan Lake. The lake is dotted with islands and is home to thousands of migratory birds.


Xinjiang is home to a host of fantastic and wild adventures. You will truly get in touch with nature in this lovely province. You will be able to enjoy all of its stunning beauty without the pressure of mainstream tourism. This off-the-beaten-path adventure-land is sure to capture your imagination and hold a special place in your heart.

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Cez Krol

Travel blogger at eTramping
Cez lives in China like a local for the past 4 years. Apart from speaking the language, he loves to discover more about this unique country of extreme contrasts. He shares his China experiences here at Sublime China and on his blog eTramping, so go and check out what's out there for you in China.
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