street food

Exploring The Remote City Of Urumqi

Standing like an oasis in the middle of Xinjiang’s vast desert area, this metropolis of Urumqi is home to over 3 million people.

As it was once a part of the ancient Silk Road trade route, this vibrant city has grown from a well-traveled resting stop to a fully grown, modern city.

It is known for being one of the most remote cities in the world, at 2248 kilometers from the nearest ocean. So what can you see in Urumqi, and how can you best enjoy your stay?


What to See

Confucian Temple

For 30 yuan, enter the beautiful temple, rising from the time of the Ming Dynasty and holding true to its ancient architecture and beauty.

You’ll see an unusual style which features the now forgotten Xixia language and be able to appreciate a different time.

Grand Bazaar

This enormous market is located in the Uighur district and features wonderful local foods and products, as well as items that have been brought in from nearby Russia and other eastern European countries.

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Head to this area at night to see different kinds of entertainment, including tightrope walking! With the backdrop of the Muslim minaret, you can wander around the various shops and taste exotic local dishes.

Grand Bazaar

Hongshan (Red Mountain)

This lovely park area is home to intricate Chinese architecture and is known for housing the Symbol of Urumqi.

It is a beautiful place to get away from the busy city life, although it is right in the city’s center! In the sprawling garden walkways, you can enjoy a bit of greenery and nature.

Entrance is free, and you’ll be able to visit a temple which was constructed during the Tang Dynasty.


To really take advantage of the incredible views that this spot offers, head there either just before 7:30 am to see the sunrise, or later in the evening to watch the sunset.

Xinjiang Uygur Regional Museum

Exploring the wonders of this historical museum opens you up to an ancient world shrouded in mystery.

Here you’ll be able to see the mummies and artifacts of a Caucasian people who once inhabited this area.

This is still a mystery to historians. Different artifacts, including silk clothes, and even some dried foods that have been incredibly well preserved, even thousands of years later.

Learn about the history of this fascinating city, and its rise to prominence in recent years.

Where to Stay

Urumqi features a host of different hotels, hostels, and other accommodation options, as any major city should.

If you’re looking for luxury, you have plenty of places at your disposal, such as the Hilton Urumqi, the Sheraton Urumqi Hotel, and others for around $100 USD.

However, when looking for budget hotels, you’ll be able to find lodging in places like the Home Inn or the Green Tree Inn for less than $30 USD.

Also, Airbnb has many different private rooms and even entire houses or apartments that are at your disposal. Many of these have reasonable prices (some less than $15 USD per night) and excellent reviews.


What to Eat

Since Urumqi is so isolated from the rest of modern China, its foods are as unique as the rest of the city.

The typical foods of this area seem to be a mixture of Chinese ideas and Eastern European ingredients. As with other cities in the country, the food is one reason to fall in love with China!

Some typical dishes that you must try include mutton kabobs and lamian handmade noodles. These are two things you will easily find in the Grand Bazaar and other street markets, and you’ll be able to watch as they make them for you.

Also, look for delicious naan bread, and sweet nut cakes. Dried fruit is also very popular, and you’ll be able to buy some in the bazaar to take with you while you wander the city.


When to Visit

The average temperature in summer is around 23 degrees Celsius (or 73 Fahrenheit) and is a lush and green time of year for the area.

We recommend traveling to Urumqi during the warm summer or the cool beginnings of autumn in late August.

Due to its location, the temperatures during the day are drastically different to those of the night. So make sure to bring layered clothing!

Urumqi is a genuinely diverse city that has much to offer for travelers from around the world. Visiting this city will give you insight into the fantastic culture of Western China, and will open your mind to fascinating history and an evolving future.

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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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