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Yining Travel Guide

Located on the northern side of the Ili River in the Dzungarian Basin, near the border with Kazakhstan, and about 710Km west of Urumqi. The Ili River valley is far wetter than any other part of Xinjiang and has rich grazing land.

Major Attractions

Sayram Lake National Park

Picture of Sayram Lake

Sayram Lake, also called "Santai Haizi", is a stunning and peaceful lake. The lake received its name because the Elezhuyitubomu military dais was built on the east bank of the lake during the Qing Dynasty. Sayram in Kazak means 'blessing'.

It lies in the Botala Prefecture in the western section of the Tianshan Mountains. In the summer the sapphire water of the lake seems to meet the sky in the distance and the yurts of the Kazak or Mongolian herdsmen can be seen on the mountain slopes. The pasture is a charming scene of flourishing trees, waving grass and wildflowers which reflect off the clear water of the lake. The grassland, which stretches to the horizon, is dotted with the tents of the herdsmen. Smoke from kitchen chimneys curls upward, as groups of cattle and sheep move like clouds in the sky.

In August, the Mongolian people celebrate the 'Nadam Fair' for six days beside the lake. Nadam means recreation or games in Mongolian. Mongolians, Kazaks, Han Chinese and the people of other ethnic groups in Xinjiang participate in the festival. During this time, Sayram Lake is blessed with a double portion of good fortune in water and grassland. During the Nadam Fair, competitions are held in horse-racing, wrestling and archery, which are considered the three basic skills of men.

Nalati Grassland

Picture of Nalati Grassland

The Nalati grassland is not on most tourists' itineraries-for now. Nalati scenic area covers 400 sq km of the country's second largest grassland.The grassland has quiet streams, fresh air and abundant vegetation. It's home to a 10th of China's Kazakh community, and its rolling hills are dotted with their camps. The landscape is carpeted with wild flowers, upon which wander herds of goats, sheep and cows. A must-do in Nalati is staying a night in a Kazakh camp.

How to Get in?

By plane

There are 8 daily flight between Urumqi and Yining which will cost you 1.5 hrs around to arrive.

By train

The electric railway between Urumqi and Yining opens to passengers in July of the year 2010. Travel time between the two cities is less than 12 hours overnight with 11 stops.

Best Time to Visit Ili Kazakh Prefecture

From Yining to Nalati Grassland, it will cost you 6hrs around by road. The best time to visit Ili is from June to August, as the Nalati Grassland is dense with grasses at that time. Weather on the grassland is changeable, it can suddenly change from sunshine to drizzle.

Narati and Bayanbulak grasslands are ideal places for horseback riding and camping.  Horseback riding over the grasslands is very popular. In some areas locals don't allow outsiders to spend the night, so tents are advised.

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