Winter is early in the region as compared to the south. Though the first snowfall blanketed the north of Xinjiang in early October and can last for 7 months, this should not put anyone off from visiting the region. Did you know that Xinjiang is home to some of the best ski resorts in China? Logistically we recommend the Silk Road International Ski Resort. It is just 50 km from downtown Urumqi, the capital city and transportation hub of Xinjiang. Urumqi has a population of over 3 million people and is home to the Uyghurs, giving you an ethnic experience that is defined more by the Muslim customs of Central Asia than traditional Han Chinese culture. In this 6-day tour, we have included a one-day ski tour and a one-day tour to visit the best of what the city offers. Also included are two day tours to nearby Turpan, which was famed for its numerous cultural relics.
On arrival at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport (URC), our guide and driver will pick you up and take you to Excemon Xinjiang Yilite Hotel in the city center. The rest of the day is free.
One day tour to visit the Heavenly Lake and city highlights of Urumqi. Heavenly Lake is located on the north side of the Bogda Shan Mountains in the Tian Shan range. At 1,907 m (6,257 feet) above sea level, it is surrounded by jagged peaks, the highest of which is Bogda Peak (5,445 m or 17,864 feet).
A visit to the Xinjiang Museum (full name: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum), and is home to some of the area’s most famous and controversial artifacts: the Xinjiang mummies which date back to 1800 BCE. Not to be missed is the Silk Road section which contains an incredible number of artifacts that have been excavated over time.
Afterward, you will head to the International Grand Bazaar, the world's largest by scale, with a construction area of 100,000 square meters. Visitors are dazzled by the array of products which ranges from exotic dried fruits, jade, ethnic costumes, and handicrafts in Xinjiang style.
Our guide and driver will take you to The Silk Road International Ski Resort. The entrance fee and costs for hiring ski equipment are at your own expense. The resort is just over an hour's drive from downtown Urumqi. The ski resort is the largest of its kind in western China and offers skiers a prominent 360/560 meters of vertical descent. Enjoy your day skiing or snowboarding on the slopes.
Today you will travel 2.5 hours to Turpan, an oasis surrounded by desert and mountains, ruined cities, and Buddhist caves. Historically, it was once an important ancient Silk Road trading post that connected China to Central Asia and Europe. Turpan lies in the Turpan Depression at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. The city is the seat of the administrative office of the prefecture. The lowest place in the depression is 154 meters below sea level, and has a continental desert climate. It has also been known as the ‘Prefecture of Fire’ and ‘Wind Storehouse’.
The day will include a visit to Karez System, the Emin Minaret and the Ancient City of Jiaohe. The Karez System is a unique irrigation system consisting of vertical wells, underground channels, canals and small reservoirs. You will learn about the history and function of the Karez Well System.
The Emin Minaret or Emin Tower (Su Gong Ta) is a distinguished landmark of Turpan. The Minaret and Mosque were constructed in 1777 to honor a military general from Turpan, Emin Khoja. At 44 meters (144 feet) high, the Emin Minaret is the largest of its kind in the region and the only Islamic tower among the hundreds of famous towers in China.
From there, you will head to the Ancient City of Jiaohe or Yarkhoto, to explore the largest, oldest and well preserved local architectural city. Walk along the streets once dug out of a muddy plateau that will transport you back to time. The city has a history of more than 1,500 years and sits atop this 30-metre high plateau. In 2014, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under” Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor”.
You will stay in the Huozhou Hotel which is conveniently located near restaurants, the bazaar and Qingnian Road.
Today you will be heading to Tuyugou Village and Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. Tuyugou Village is an ancient village with a 1,700 years history, and, till this day they continue to preserve and use ancient Uyghur customs and culture. This valley village is also a pilgrimage area for many Muslims, with the main destination being The Mazar, or the tomb of the first Uyghur Muslim.
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves is a complex of 77 Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to 14th century. 40 of the caves contain murals of thousands of Buddhas.
After your visit to these historical sites, you will return to Urumqi and check in into Excemon Xinjiang Yilite Hotel. Rest of the day is free.
This is where we say farewell, and take you to the airport for your flight to your next destination.
Xinjiang is becoming a winter’s paradise and winter sports mecca, giving anyone who wants to explore the beautiful scenery, ancient cities, ethnic culture, customs, and food a taste of the past and traditions. If you are heading to the ski slopes, the prices vary from 200 yuan to 400 yuan for the day at the Ski Resort and is at your expense. Let us know how we can help you plan your winter destination.