Urumqi

Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang, China's far western province, and is home to about two and a half million people. While Urumqi is said to be the most inland city on earth - that is, the farthest from any ocean - it is nonetheless surrounded by an abundance of dramatic natural wonders, from the snow-capped Tian Shan Mountains to the deep blue waters of the Tian Chi Lake. The city's former past as a prominent stop on the Silk Road gives it a wealth of historic and artistic wonders, including teeming bazaars, a flavorful, rich cuisine, a multi-ethnic, multicultural population, and archaeological artifacts and relics. Urumqi presents a side of China little-seen by outsiders, a bustling, culturally distinct city little-changed since the days of spice caravans and itinerant traders.
Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang, China's far western province, and is home to about two and a half million people. While Urumqi is said to be the most inland city on earth - that is, the farthest from any ocean - it is nonetheless surrounded by an abundance of dramatic natural wonders, from the snow-capped Tian Shan Mountains to the deep blue waters of the Tian Chi Lake. The city's former past as a prominent stop on the Silk Road gives it a wealth of historic and artistic wonders, including teeming bazaars, a flavorful, rich cuisine, a multi-ethnic, multicultural population, and archaeological artifacts and relics. Urumqi presents a side of China little-seen by outsiders, a bustling, culturally distinct city little-changed since the days of spice caravans and itinerant traders.

Experiences

Heavenly Lake

Visit the south bank of Tianchi, the Heavenly Lake, which is situated to the east of the Tian Shan Mountain range outside Urumqi. Cross the lake by boat and take in the majestic mountains, glaciers and forests that surround it.

Kazak Nomads

Visit a nomadic Kazak family, who are usually situated south of the city on the "Southern Pasture". Have a rare chance to understand the local Kazak nomads and their way of life.

Mount Bogda Hike

More adventurous travelers can hike and camp at the foot of Mount Bogda, then watch the sun rise at 10,600 feet (3,230 meters) above sea level, where there is a magnificent view of the countryside and the Heavenly Lake.

The Grand Bazaar

Browse the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s foremost consumer paradises; a raucous, dynamic mix of peoples and products from all over Central Asia, Russia and Mongolia. Items on sale include, among others, fine rugs of silk and wool, assorted spices, fine grapes and melons (for which Xinjiang is famous), and the distinct fat-tailed sheep - a breed of sheep known for its hardiness and considerable tail fat, which can account for almost twenty percent of its total body weight.

Urumqi History Museum

Meet a curator for a privately guided tour of the Urumqi History Museum, whose collection includes 3000-year-old mummies on display, and gain insight into the history of the most ancient states along the Silk Road.

Urumqi Night Market

Take in the local blend of central Asian and Chinese cultures on display at the local night market. Dine in the city’s backstreets on sumptuous Uighur and Hui (Chinese Muslim) food such as lamb kebabs, sprinkled with cumin and grilled over charcoal; lamian, or hand-stretched noodles in steaming broth; or dapanji, chicken roasted in a giant pan with vegetables.

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Travelogues

Urumqi: Gateway to Western China & the Silk Road

Author
Jay Tindall

I recently spent some time in Urumqi and discovered that though the city itself is somewhat plain, there are some truly beautiful sights just a short distance away

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