Splendors of North Xinjiang in Spring

Diverse andscapes, fascinating culture and outstanding scenery defines North Xinjiang, especially in Spring where spring blossoms dot the entire Yili Valley, the beautiful turquoise lakes and the imposing canyons of the Tianshan Mountains make North Xinjiang a quintessential destination in the westernmost frontier of China. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Stay in the best local hotels in each destination

Experience diverse and magical landscapes of Xinjiang

Enjoy intimate experiences with locals

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE TURPAN

Arrive at Turpan Jiaohe Airport today where we discover the ancient sites over the next 2 days in this exciting destination at the crossroads of Western and Eastern religions and a geographically-important gateway on the ancient Silk Road. Depending on our arrival time, we will visit the ancient city and ruins of Jiaohe, with a history of more than 2,300 years and was the capital of the former Cheshi State. Jiaohe literally means where two rivers meet. The relics that we will see today feature Tang Dynasty (618-907) architectural style. Thereafter, proceed to the tallest minaret in China – Emin Minaret. We will then check in into the boutique The Vines Lodge, built in typical Uighur style of architecture and layout. The mud brick exterior surrounds a courtyard leading to the living areas. 

Overnight: The Vines Lodge, Turpan

Meals: Lunch & Dinner

DAY 2: TURPAN

We enjoy another day in Turpan where we begin the day with a drive to the surreal Flaming Mountains, a spectacular red sandstone ridge of 500 meters high stretching over 100 kilometers amidst gullies and trenches, made famous by the legend of the novel "Journey to the West".  Thereafter, we enjoy a donkey cart ride around the Ancient City of Gaochang, built as a garrison town in the 1st Century BC. Continue next to Tuyu Valley, composing of four parts namely the Grand Canyon, Mazar Village, Thousand-Buddha Grottoes and Huojiamu Mazar.  Visit the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, first chiseled in the Qu Gaochang State and have passed through to Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).    

Overnight: The Vines Lodge, Turpan

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 3: TURPAN / URUMQI / KANAS LAKE

Early this morning, we leave Turpan for a 3 hours drive to Urumqi Diwopu Airport where we board a short flight to the northernmost frontier of Xinjiang Province arriving into Kanas, a fairytale land known for its beautiful mountain lake. Today your sightseeing will be a visit to Kanas Lake Natural Reserve area after arrival. In Mongolian language Kanas means "lake in canyon". It is China's deepest freshwater lake famous for its stunning Swiss-esque view, and home to 798 species of plants and 117 varieties of birds. Embraced by snow-capped mountains and dense forests, the lake, takes on different colors in different seasons. For the next 2 evenings, we will enjoy a delightful stay in a yurt in a location that will optimize your experience of the lake district. 

Overnight: Yurt Camp

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4: KANAS LAKE

We spend a second day uncovering this fairy land where the day is explored on a flexible basis. Enjoy a boat trip, a kayak experience, consider a visit to a Tuwa family in the village of Hemu, a valiant ethnic minority with a long history in Xinjiang. The Tuwa people speak Turkic, resembling the language of the Kazakhs, and live by hunting and grazing. Through your expert guide, we will enjoy some interactive experiences into their community and understand their way of life. 

Overnight: Yurt Camp

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5: KANAS LAKE / KARAMAY

We leave early this morning on a long but scenic drive (total estimated 7hrs including stops) passing vast landscapes and initially, the backdrop of the Altai Mountains in Mongolia, lakes and pristine grasslands before arriving at the surreal wind-eroded Wuerhe Ghost Town, so named for its special landforms and "devil" atmosphere. You have the option of taking a tram to go around marveling at the formations in comfort or consider taking a camel ride. Thereafter, we enter into one of China's richest cities, Karamay which gained its wealth from crude oil. We will arrive and check into the Long Hua Hotel for some refreshments and thereafter, we hit the bustling night markets at Tahe Road where you have the chance to sample local snacks and cuisine. 

Overnight: Long Hua Hotel, Karamay

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: KARAMAY / HUIYUAN OLD TOWN / YINING

This morning, we set off to the astonishing Sayram Lake (5hrs drive including stops) via one of the most beautiful bridge settings in China, the Guozigou (Fruit Valley) Bridge. Upon arriving at the Sayram Lake, marvel at the largest alpine lake in Xinjiang, a fairyland with wonderful natural scenery. The lake is like a brilliant emerald inlaid in the basin which is surrounded by the Tianshan Mountains. In Mongolian language, the name of the lake means "a lake on the ridge". In Kazak, sayram means "blessing". Next, we make a visit to the Huiyuan Ancient Town, built as an administrative centre during the reign of Emperior Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty against the revolt of the "western tribes". Thereafter, we continue on the highway to the city of Yining where in the summer season, is adorned with endless fields of lavender plantations. Just before checking in, we make a visit to the Baytullah Mosque, a unique mosque that blends old and new architecture while retaining its Hui roots. 

Overnight: Jiangning Hotel, Yining

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7: YINING (VISIT TO THE APRICOT VALLEY & NALATI GRASSLANDS  )

We will spend a sensory day with an excursion to the Apricot Valley in the town of Tuergen, where we will enjoy one of the most remarkable spring blossoms spectacles in the world where you find thousands of apricot trees in full bloom in Spring over a space of over 2,000 hectares. Not far away, we will make a visit to the Nalati Grasslands, nicknamed "Air Grassland" for its high altitude prairies and pasture lands where it seemingly stretches till the horizons connecting the ground and the skies. 

OPTION:

You have the option to spend an amazing evening camping in the mesmerizing Apricot Valley, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where a simple tent with sleeping bags are arranged, a private guide will be with you. Meals are home made by villagers and will be lovingly-prepared and delivered to you. 

Overnight: Jiangning Hotel, Yining OR Camping in Apricot Valley

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8: YINING / URUMQI

Today, we transfer to Yining Airport for a short flight return to Urumqi where on arrival, we enjoy a visit to the Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar, a great place to begin your exploration of the city with its smell, taste, colors and sounds making it an atmospheric beginning. Later, we will visit the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum, which presents a wonderful collection of items from the local area as well as items from other areas along the ancient Silk Road. The museum has a large collection of silk items from many periods of history. Brocades from Eastern Han and specialized silk-woven products of the great Tang Dynasty are highlighted. Finally, we transfer to the hotel to check in where the rest of the day is at leisure. 

Overnight: Hilton Urumqi

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 9: DEPART URUMQI

We transfer to the Urumqi Diwopu Intl Airport for departure or continue your adventures in China and beyond. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

With five bedrooms, The Vines provides an intimate and discreet environment, and a home-like accommodation with excellent personal service and advice. Each room is themed to display a local iconic location. The luxury air-conditioned rooms are large (40 sq mtr) and offer all facilities. 

The Vines Lodge, Turpan

Experience an experiential stay in a traditional Kazakh yurt in the beautiful Kanas Lake where you can enjoy a subtle impact on carbon foot prints while immersing in the great nature and genuine hospitality of locals. 

Yurt Camp, Kanas Lake

Opened in 2015, the Long Hua Hotel is a local 5 star hotel offering modern and comfortable rooms for travelers on this unique travel route in Northwestern Xinjiang equipped with modern amenities, Wi-Fi and on-site restaurant. 

Long Hua Hotel, Karamay

Opened in 2016, the Jiangning Hotel is the best hotel in Yining, featuring modern and well-appointed rooms, amenities and in room Wi-Fi as well as on site restaurants. 

Jiangning Hotel, Yining

The Hilton Urumqi is a luxury hotel next to the Xinjiang International Exhibition Center offering a luxurious, modern and elegant stay in the city of Urumqi ideal for leisure or business travel. 

Hilton, Urumqi

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