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21 Days Panoramic Xinjiang Tour to Southern and Northern Xinjiang

Trip Length
21 Days
Urumqi-Burqin-Hemu-Karamay-Khorgos-Yining-Korla-Kuche or Kuqa-Akesu-Kashgar-Tashkorghan-Yarkant-Hotan or Hetian-Urumqi
Tianchi, Hemu Village, Kanas Lake, Monster City of Yadan Landform, Sayram Lake, Narati Grassland, Bayanbulak Prairie, Kizilgaha Thousand Buddha Cave, Tianshan Grand Canyon, Kashgar Sunday Bazaar, Karakuri Lake of Pamir Plateau

Itinerary Day by Day

Day 1: Arrive in Urumqi

Famous Grand Bazaar in UrumqiToday's Highlights:

Airport/train station transfer to hotel


Arrive in Urumqi Diwopu Airport by air or Urumqi Railway Station by train. Our guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. The rest time is free. You can have a good rest in the hotel, or roam the local streets nearby recommended by our guide.


Xinjiang is the largest one of the five autonomous regions in China. The total land area is 1/6 of the whole China with 47 minorities, the largest one in China. The clock time in Urumqi, Xinjiang is the same as Beijing Time, but there is 2-hour difference because of the longitude. You should adjust your rest and dinning time 2 hours later as compared with that in mainland China.

Day 2: Urumqi-Tianchi (Heavenly Lake)-Fuyun

Tianchi is Surrounded by Tianshan Mountain RangeToday's highlights:

Tianchi-Heavenly Lake, Tianshan Mountain


Drive to Tianchi (Heavenly Lake), a marvelous view of mountain lake formed more than million years ago in the 4th glacial epoch. It is famed as the "Jewel in the Crown". The pine trees covering the hillsides and the snow capped mountains in the background make the huge clear water spectacular sight-reminiscent of Switzerland or the Rocky mountains but somehow with more vibrancy and color. Bogda Peak-the highest peak stands to the east of the lake in the east part of Tianshan Mountain which is capped by glacier and snow glistening in the sun, finely contrasted with blue lake water, forming fabulous scenery.

Transfer to Fuyun, 400km away from Urumqi.

Day 3: Fuyun-Burqin-Mount Altay-Kalakungai Prairie-Hemu

Sunset of Multi-Colored Bay (Wu Cai Tan), the place Zhang Ziyi was hidden in Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonToday's highlights:

Multi-Colored Bay, Mount Altay, Kalakungai Prairie, Hemu Village 


Visit the Multi-Colored Bay which is showed in the well-known movie "CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON". In the movie, the heroine Zhang Ziyi was hidden here.

Drive to Hemu via Burqin, Mount Altay and Kalakungai Prairie. Hemu, a small village within the Kanas Lake area in the north of Xinjiang province, China, enjoy the untraversed snow mountain, icy lake, grassland and primitive Tuwa minority village whom lived there thousand years. It is voted by the Chinese National Geography magazine (2005) as the 3rd most beautiful village/old town in China.

Day 4: Hemu-Jiadengyu-Kanas Lake

Hemu Village in the MorningToday's highlights:

Morning Photography of Hemu Village, Kanas Lake Nature Reserve, Laying Dragon Bay, Immortal Bay, Moon Bay


If you have already been in Hemu Village, you must take the photos of this small village in the early morning. It is the paradise for the photographers.

Drive 4hrs around to Jiadengyu, the tourist distribution center of Kanas area. After lunch we continue to drive 1 hour to arrive in this dreaming world-Kanas Lake Nature Reserve. It is the most beautiful mountain lake you have never seen. The lake takes on different colors following the four seasons of the year, sometimes it's crystal blue, sometimes it's dark green, or even gray.

You will see the beautiful landscape all along the road. We take a boat on the lake to check out the Laying Dragon Bay, Immortal Bay and Moon Bay, the most well known and beautiful scenery in this area. Stay overnight in Jiadengyu.

Day 5: Jiadengyu-Kanas Lake-Kanas Village-Jiadengyu

Moon Bay in Kanas Lake Nature ReserveToday's highlights:

Kanas Lake, Guan Yu Pavilion, Kanas Village, Local Family-Tuwa Tribe


Today we will re-enter the Kanas Lake. We take a boat to the opposite of the lake and climb up to Guan Yu Pavilion (Watching fish Pavilion ) where it is the best place to take a bird-eye view of whole lake landscape.

We will also visit the Kanas village, where lives 700 Tuwa people. They are the local ethnic family, the Tuwa Tribe. It's a Mongolian tribe called Tuwa lives on the south bank of the Kanas Lake. They believe in Lamaism. Tuwa is a valiant ethic minority with a long history. They speak Turkish, resembling the language of Kazakh, and live on hunting and graze. They also have a special folk custom.

Day 6: Jiadengyu-Karamay

Monster City is the Typical Yadan LandformakeToday's highlights:

Monster City-Yadan Landform


Visit Monster City on the way. It is a Yardan landform shaped by wind erosion and looks like ruined castles or various kinds of animals. When the day falls, the furious wind blows wildly in the city, which sounds just like angry ghost's wailing, so the local Kazakh people call it "Monster City".

Day 7: Karamay-Bole

Today's highlights:

Jinghe Mongolian Aobao 


Drive to Bole, which is a small town between China and Kazakhstan. When you approach Bole, you will see many Mongolian Aobao in Jinghe Town.

Day 8: Bole-Sayram Lake-Khorgos-Yining

Sayram LakeToday's highlights:

Sayram Lake, Khorgos Port


Drive to Yining. On the way you can visit the Sayram Lake, a fairyland with wonderful natural scenery. The lake is like a brilliant emerald inlaid in the basin surrounded by Tianshan Mountain. The water in the lake is very pure and clear. Flocks of ducks and swans coast on its surface. Flourishing cypress and cedar trees cover the whole mountain range. Cottages scatter the foothills of the mountains. Horses and sheep call on the mountain slope.

Khorgos Port is one of the biggest border between China and Kazakhstan, so you can see lots of goods for sale here.

Day 9: Yining-Nalati

Today's highlights:

Nalati Grassland


Yining is famous for its beautiful grasslands, and Nalati Grassland is the best in Yining area. You can walk on this grassland leisurely or ride the horse to have a different experience.

Day 10: Nalati-Bayanbulak Grassland-Swan Lake

Bayanbulak GrasslandToday's highlights:

Bayanbulak Grassland, Swan Lake


Covering an area of more than 23,000 square kilometers, Bayanbulak is the second largest grassland in China and is one the most important stock raising bases of Xinjiang. Bayanbulak means 'abundant spring water' in Mongolian. If you come here you will be provided a unique chance to enjoy vast green grasslands which stretch as far as the eye can see.

In this vast Bayanbulak Grassland there is the famous Swan Lake. Specifically, Swan Lake is a wide area of wetland that is made up of many interconnected small lakes.

Day 11: Bayanbulak-Korla

Today's highlights:

Drive to Korla.


Since the National Highway 217 to Kuche is still under construction, we will have to detour around the National Highway 218 to Korla. The Highway 217 will be opened to transportation in 2013.

Day 12: Korla-Kuche

Today's highlights:

Grand Kuqa Mosque


Drive from Korla to Kuche to visit Grand Kuqa Mosque, the second biggest mosque in Xinjiang, first built in the 17th century, but after the burnt down it was rebuilt in 1931. The great praying hall, which can accommodate 1000 prayers, is supported by 88 pillars, embellished with carved designs and in many colors, a fine example of Uygur architecture.

Day 13: Kuche-Akesu

Tianshan Grand CanyonToday's highlights:

Kizilgaha Thousand Buddha Cave, Wensu Grand Canyon


Before our departure to Akesu, we firstly visit Kizilgaha Thousand Buddha Cave, one of the four biggest groups of grottoes in China, is national Class A Cultural Relics Reserve, it lies in Mingutag Mountains in Baicheng County.

On the way to Akesu, you will see the amazing Wensu Grand Canyon.

Day 14: Akesu-Kashgar

Today's highlights:

Akesu Tianshan Divine Wood Garden


After visit Tianshan Divine Wood Garden, we head to Kashgar.

Day 15: Kashgar Sightseeing

Kaxgar Ancient City, Kashgar Old CityToday's highlights:

Abakh Hoja Tomb, Id Kah Mosque, Sunday Bazaar, Kaxgar Ancient City 


Visit Abakh Hoja Tomb, a tomb of Uygur woman living Qing Dynasty who was forced to marry the Qianlong Emperor. However, the tomb is actually the tomb of her grandfather and his family including Xiangfei. Then the Id Kah Mosque built in 1442 for Shakesirmirzha, the ruler of Kashgar, it is the largest mosque in China and the religious center of Kashgar. The call to Prayer booming from the mosque can be heard throughout the city center.

We will also go to the local famous Sunday Bazaar has been operating since ancient times, and the scale has become larger and larger, attracting merchants from all over Xinjiang and neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Kirghizstan. Farmers from the suburbs of Kashi come to the bazaar early in the morning, using various means of transportation, such as bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, trucks and donkey-drawn carts. The highways leading to Kashi are crowded with these vehicles and pedestrians on Sunday mornings, as well as with flocks of sheep.

Kaxgar Ancient City is an old city, located at the north of new Kashgar city area. Compare to the modern society it still owns its special charm of long history. 'Kaxgar' means 'colorful city' in Uygur language, although it is dusty and damaged now but it must be a colorful and wonderful city thousands years ago.

Day 16: Kashgar-Karakuri Lake

Karakuri Lake and Mountain MuztagataToday's highlights:

Karakuri Lake, Mount Muztagata


Drive to Karakuri Lake, a very beautiful lake and the Muztagata Mountain, the unusual shape of the mountain covered in snow all year round, it associated with Chinese legend appears to have been divided into two parts, which is especially nice in the summer, when the flowers on the trees bloom.

Day 17: Karakuri Lake-Tashkorghan-Kashgar

Today's highlights:

Sunrise of Pamir Plateau, Ancient Stone City (Stone Castle)


In the morning we can appreciate the sunrise of Karakuri Lake on Pamir Plateau if you are lucky. Before our return to Kashgar, we drive to Tashkorghan to visit the Ancient Stone City, or called Stone Castle which has more than 1,300 years old history.

Day 18: Kashgar-Yengisar-Yarkant-Poskam

Diversifolious Poplar in Southern XinjiangToday's highlights:

Yarkant King Mausoleum, Yengisar Uigur Knife Making


Visit the Yarkant King Mausoleum and the Yengisar Uigur Knife Making on the way.

Yarkant, this city forms an oasis at the western end of the Taklimakan desert as a trade center. Mainly inhabited by Turkic-speaking Muslims, it has more than 120 mosques. Marco Polo visited the city in 1271 and in 1275; it was on the important Silk Road between China and Europe.

Day 19: Poskam-Hotan

Today's highlights:

Poskam Diversifolious Poplar National Park


35km away from Poskam, the Diversifolious Poplar National Park lies in the desert.

Day 20: Hotan-Urumqi

Local People in UrumqiToday's highlights:

Mallikurwatur Ruins, Jade Dragon Kashgar River, Flight from Hetian to Urumqi


Mallikurwatur Ruins, the ancient city lies 25 km southwest of Hetian, on the west bank of the Jade Dragon Kashgar River. Situated on a 1500 m long belt, it is believed to be the ancient city of Yutian Kingdom although disputes claim it used to be a monastery compound. From 1977, potsherds, ancient coins and other items have been excavated.

Transfer from your hotel to Hetian Airport for the flight back to Urumqi.

Day 21: Urumqi-Diwopu Airport or Urumqi Railway Station

Today's highlights:

Airport/train station transfer from your hotel


Pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to the airport or railway station for the flight or train to next destination.

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What Our Customers Say

"We are most grateful for the excellent care which Fiona and her colleagues took of us both before and during our visit. Ms. Fiona was probably the best travel advisor we have ever had. Mr. Abibulla gave us a good introduction to Uighur culture, enabled us to make some delightful mountain walks. Mr. Wang was a super driver, always drive safely, took great care in maintaining vehicle. He helped us with difficult climbs and was kindly, interesting and a pleasure to talk to. All the sites were interesting and spectacular and we had no disappointments."

Philip Snow

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