Welcome to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Meet your tour guide and driver at the airport/train station, then transfer a short while to the downtown of Urumqi. Check in to your hotel. The rest time is free for you to relax. Feel free to ask for recommendations of places to go from your guide.
How to get to Urumqi? Currently, you can take flights to Urumqi from Beijing (about 4 hours), Xian (about 3.5 hours), Shanghai (about 5.5 hours), Guangzhou (about 5 hours), Chengdu (about 3.5 hours), etc., or high speed trains from Turpan (about 2 hours), Dunhuang (about 4.5 hours), Lanzhou (about 11 hours), Xining (about 9.5 hours), etc.
Free time idea: 1. Red Hill Park which is regarded as the symbol of Urumqi. It is the most popular place for the locals to relax and gather. For travelers, it is a great place to experience folk culture and local living style. Finding a higher location in the park, you are rewarded a pleasant panoramic view of Urumqi city; 2. Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar, a great place to enjoy a leisure stroll and purchase some snacks, souvenirs, etc.
This morning after breakfast, you will be taken to have an educational visit to the Xinjiang Regional Museum. It is the most important ancient Silk Road themed museum in China, which exhibits about 50,000 historical relics including more than 400 National First-class relics (60% of the total in Xinjiang). Among all the exhibitions, the most unique exhibition is the Mummy Hall. It collects 10 more than 4000 years old mummies which were mostly found in Loulan Ancient Kingdom Ruin and preserved almost intact. Loulan Princess, the most famous mummy in the museum, will definitely strike you with its typical European face. All these important exhibitions help you learn deep into the history and culture of Xinjiang as well as the ancient Silk Road.
Leaving the museum, you are going to explore the Heavenly Lake (or Tianchi in Chinese) which is only about 70 km (about 1.5 hrs' drive) away from Urumqi downtown. To protect the authenticity of the natural environment, our private car can only bring you to the entrance of the park. You will then shift onto a park bus to the parking lot around the lake area. Walking for about 15 minutes, you will get to the lakeside of Heavenly Lake. The rest time is free for you to stroll along the periphery of the lake, breathe the remarkably fresh air, and soak in the wonderful scenery. With an altitude of 1980 meters, Heavenly Lake and its alluring surroundings truly offer you a visual feast like heaven, featuring in serene alpine lake, rugged slopes with snow-capped mountains, pure glaciers, wild forest, vast grassland as well as unique ethnic culture.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to explore Heavenly Lake. You can walk around the lake, take a boat cruise, or ride a cable car to the mountain top. If time allows, you can even enjoy all the experiences. The Boat cruise and cable car need extra fees. Tell your preference to your guide, who will then arrange accordingly for you.
Walking around the lake. Plank roads were constructed to encircle the lake. But since the lake is very large, it takes about 5 hours to finish the circle. You can decide the hiking length on your own according to your physical condition and time. Fee: free.
Boat Cruise on the lake. It is very popular among travelers to take a boat cruising to the deeper area of the lake and back, which is leisure and scenic. There are modern ships, Chinese-style ships and high-speed boats available at different prices. Fee: about CNY 100.
Panoramic view from Maya Mountain. If you want more landscape, you can take a cable car up to Maya Mountain, where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Heavenly Lake and a closer view of Tianshan Mountain Range. Fee: about CNY 220.
After the landscape trip, take a park bus to exit the park, and drive back to Urumqi.
This morning, you will drive about 3 hours (167 km) from Urumqi to the "fire land" – Turpan. It is China's hottest city that its highest temperature reaches about 50°C in summer. Besides, it is also an outpost on the Silk Road and a lot of cultural heritage sites can be explored.
As you reach Turpan, you will firstly discover the brilliant project of Karez System. Together with the Great Wall and Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Karez System is regarded as one of China’s Three Greatest Ancient Projects. It is a special kind of irrigation system consisting of vertical wells, underground canals, ground canals and waterlogging pond. The vertically dug wells are linked together to channel the water which occurs during summer rain season, or be melted from snow mountains of Tianshan range to desired farmlands on the desert area. Visiting Turpan Karez Museum, you will not only see the pictures and models detailing the history of Karez System, but also visit the real underground tunnels.
Next, turn to Turpan Museum, an informative museum with great collections as well as a good place to avoid summer heat. The first floor has the exhibits (like dinosaur fossils, terracotta figurines, clothing, utensils, weapons…) from prehistoric ages to Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907) on the history of Turpan. There are also many Silk Road displays from which you will understand why Turpan plays a crucial role on the Silk Road for trading, water and agriculture. Getting to the second floor, you will be awed at the millennia-old mummies well-preserved as to how they were found in their tombs.
Your last stop is the famous relic - Jiaohe Ancient City - an ancient city that was strategically located along the ancient Silk Road. Perching on a plateau, it acted as a natural barrier from the attacking enemies in the old times. Now, it is renowned as the best-preserved earthen architecture in the world. The interesting sculptures, videos and some other displays in Jiaohe Cultural Village Museum will give you an appreciation of the history of Jiaohe City before you start exploring. Then, take a shuttle bus to the core scenic area. Walking up along the pathway uphill, and you can see many historical structural remains, including the residential area, official area and Buddhist temples. It is also available to walk to the central platform for a more awesome view of the whole park. When the night drops, you will feast on a breathtaking sunset over the ruins.
Accommodate in Turpan this night.
Warm Tips: 1. Turpan is known as the grape capital of China, and don't forget to taste the delicious grapes, drink the fruit juices and buy some dried grape seeds. 2. Be ready for the hot weather in Turpan, especially in summer, and it is advised to wear long-sleeves, sunhat, sunglasses, etc., drink more water.
After breakfast, you will be taken to have a cultural visit to Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, a group of grottoes with rich murals. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley of Flaming Mountain. Originally drilled in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 ~ 589), the caves have gone through about 15 centuries. There are 57 existing caves, and about 40 of them are preserved with brightly-colored murals on the stone-walls. Appreciating the glorious murals in an artistic style and listening to the old Buddhist legends, you may imagine how Buddhism spread to mainland China via Xinjiang.
After enjoying the cultural relics in Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, you will drive to Tuyu Valley along Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, which condenses the essence of the landscape of Flaming Mountain - the hottest spot in Turpan. Flaming Mountain is immortalized in the Chinese classic Journey to the West as a blazing mountain that the monk Xuan Zang has to pass through. Finally, they use a magic fan to extinguish the blaze and go on with their trip. Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon splits the whole mountain in half and you will clearly admire the unique landform - red sandstones looking like flaming fire, distinctive rocks showing the uncanny workmanship of nature and deep gorge with crisscross valleys. The magnificence, strangeness, danger, and elegance of Flaming Mountain are fully shown here.
The winding road on the cliff of Flaming Mountain will soon lead you to Tuyuk Valley (Tuyugou in Chinese) which is a Uighur valley with lots of historical sites. Mazar Village, the oldest existing Uighur village with a history of over 2,600 years, is a big highlight of the valley. Mazar Village holds a significant status in Buddhism and Islam. It is said that 6 Muslims came to China and started preaching there, so Mazar Village is called Eastern Mekka. Before Islam, it once was a Buddhist center as well. Many Buddhist caves can be found in the village, but the statues and murals failed to survive. The villagers still live peacefully in the village and you can clearly see how they run their daily lives in the old mud adobe houses. Some villagers kindly ask the travelers to visit their vineyards and taste their fresh grapes or preserved fruits.
Sightseeing ends. You will be escorted back to Urumqi as well. Stay overnight in Urumqi city.
Today, you are heading to Sayram Lake which is about 545 km (6 hours' drive) from Urumqi City. The rest time after arrival is free for you to relax around the lake.
Sayram Lake (2,073m) or Sailimu Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes, as well as the largest and highest alpine lake in Xinjiang. It is about 20 km long from east to west, 30 km wide from north to south, covering an area of about 454 sq kilometers. The lake is the farthest place that the warm air of the Atlantic Ocean can reach, hence the romantic name “the last drop of the tears of the Atlantic”.
Accommodation notice: staying a night around Sayram Lake allows you to spend more time enjoy the landscape, sunset and sunrise, but please note the choices of the hotels around Sayram Lake is limited. Only some basic guesthouses and yurts are provided. Cleanness is guaranteed, but hotel amenities are usually the basic standard. If you prefer a better accommodation, you can stay your night in Bole city which is about 85 km (1.5 hrs' drive) from Sayram Lake.
Today, you will have more than a half day to explore the natural charm of Sayram Lake. What makes Sayram Lake outstanding is its dark blue water and variety of ecosystem. In the bright days, the reflection of the blue sky makes the blue color of the water even darker like a giant diamond. Around the Sayram Lake is pleasant natural view stacked by vast grassland, flourishing alpine trees and lofty ranges of snow mountains. You can also find some yurts of local Mongol and Kazakh families lining at the lake shore. So please be prepared for the numerous photo opportunities. The visit of Sayram Lake is mainly about walking along the paved trails on the lake shore. Biking around the lake is also available (with extra cost). Let your guide know if you want to do the biking.
Say goodbye to Sayram Lake, and drive about 335 km (about 4 hrs) to Xinyuan County for accommodation.
After breakfast, drive about 80 km (about 1.5 hrs) to Naraty Grassland which is one of the most beautiful grasslands in China with endless grassland on the rolling ridges stretching to the sky.
There are two visiting routes in Naraty Grassland respectively to Sky Grassland and River Grassland, representing the highlights in Naraty Grassland. You will have a full day to explore both of them. Since the whole scenic area is so large, you will use park bus to save time and energy. Sky Grassland, also called the Summer Ranch, is where you can feel the grassland is so close to the sky. It is a basin in the mountains with beautiful grass and running water. Standing in the center of the basin and looking down, you can see the village in the distance and have a bird’s eye view of the grassland stretching at a lower altitude. It is quite a different feeling from visiting other grasslands such as the ones in Inner Mongolia. River Grassland is renowned for Kazakh customs and forest scenery. On the way to Hegu Grassland, snow capped peaks, dense forests, green hills, flat meadows… gradually appear before your eyes. Taking the tourist bus to meander through the sightseeing road, you can see the Gunes River on the left is like a shining silver blue ribbon falling in the wide valley and the boundless grassland is dotted with all kinds of flowers on both sides of the road. Looked from afar, the mountainside of the snow capped peaks is covered with dense and deep forests, and it is green everywhere. On the green grassland at the foot of the mountain, groups of cattle and sheep wander comfortably, because here is not only a scenic area, but also where the local herdsmen graze.
After the nature fun in Naraty Grassland, drive back to Xinyuan County for accommodation.
This early morning after breakfast, drive about 28 km (about 45mins) to visit Xinghuagou (Apricot Valley) in Turgen.
Xinghuagou is located on the north bank of the Gongnaisi River in Turgen Town of Xinyuan County. Covering an area of over 20 square kilometers, it is the largest primitive wild apricot forest surviving from the Middle Ages and the most concentrated area of wild apricot forests in Xinjiang. When the middle springs come, there are clusters of pink apricot blossoms dotting over the green mountainside valleys like patches of crimson clouds floating in the mountains, and villagers' flocks and horses scattering everywhere. Note: The flowering period of apricot blossoms is usually in early April or middle April and subject to change. It is necessary to contact us in advance for up-to-date information. If you miss out the apricot blossoms in Xinghuagou, we can take you to another location - Daxigou whose apricot blossoms usually bloom later than Xinghuagou.
After the visual feast of the apricot blossoms, keep driving about 200 km (about 3 hrs) to Yining City. Check in to your hotel there. The rest time is free for you to relax.
Today you will drive about 455 km (about 6 hrs) to Kuitun city for accommodation, and visit Dushanzi Grand Canyon which is only about 40km from Kuitun City. The river of melted snow water flowed down from Tianshan Mountains into the Dushanzi plain, curved the plain like a sword and created a 200-meter-deep canyon. The river beds at the bottom of the canyon is 100~400 meters wide, while the widths of the shoulders of the canyons from one side to another are unbelievable 800m~1000m. Standing along the cliff side of the canyon, one can look down upon on the river winding in the canyon, also stretch eyesight from the vast plain to the towering snow mountains of Tianshan. It is truly a visual feast. (To enrich travelers’ experience, there are some outdoor activities are held in the scenic area, such as glass bridge, rope bridge, archery, etc. These activities need extra costs if you want to try.)
Accommodate in Kuitun city.
After breakfast, drive about 240 km (about 3 hrs) to Urumqi to catch your flight/train to next destination. Your memorable Xinjiang tour ends.
The quotation for this trip is from Request P/P
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
Professional licensed English-speaking guide;
Admission tickets for all attractions listed in the itinerary;
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary (4-star standard);
Necessary vehicle transfers as listed in the itinerary;
Airport (and train station) pick up and drop off;
Luggage Transfers: between airports (railway station) and hotels;
All meals as listed(“B” for Chinese and Western breakfast buffet in your hotel; “L” for Chinese Lunch in local restaurant; “D” for Chinese dinner in local restaurant.);
Our service charge, including tour planning, handling, operational and communication charges.
Accommodation not listed in the itinerary;
Single Room Supplement;
Tourist sites which are not listed in the itinerary;
Recommended optional activities;
Flights or trains not listed in the itinerary;
Excess Baggage Charges;
Optional tips to guides, drivers, etc.
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