Xinjiang Province Travel Guide

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The ancient city of Jiaohe

The ancient city of Jiaohe

A.M. Bal

Xinjiang is an autonomous region in China, not a province. It is the largest provincial or autonomous region in China covering an area of 1,600,000 sq kilometers, with 20 million people living here. Xinjiang is home to Uyghurs (about 10 million according to official statistics) plus other minorities including Kazak, Kirgiz, and Tajik, with Han Chinese arriving in increasing numbers. 

Standing on the ancient Silk Road, Xinjiang is famous for being dominated by deserts, mountains, stunning lakes, green grasslands, and its various ethnic groups with their unique customs. The regions history is long, complex and written accounts vary depending on the perspective of the historian. Although remote and desolate, it is still a wonderful place retaining an air of mystery and adventure.

To follow the whole Silk Road is a unique experience. Kashgar is a city and oasis located at what was a strategic crossroads of the north and south Silk Road routes - the routes going around the Taklimakan Desert. The Kashgar Sunday bazaar is a great event and should not be missed. Kashgar is the being or end of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) which traverses the Pamirs, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountain ranges finally reaching Islamabad, Pakistan. The China-Pakistan border on the KKH is at Khunjerab Pass, said to be the highest paved road border crossing in the world. The KKH is popular amongst touring cyclists as well as those traveling by public or hired transportation as a way to get from Western China and Central Asia to the Indian Subcontinent. It is worth a side trip from Kashgar to go up the KKH into the Pamir to Kara Kul (literally "Black Lake") and on to Tashkorgan. The Tashkorgan area is home to the small population of ethnic Tajiks in China. Tashkorgan is also site of the "Tash Korgan" or "Stone Fortress". Located on the KKH Tashkorgan was once an important post on the trade routes to/from the Indian Subcontinent.

Hotan, Kuqa, and Turpan are other old cities on the Silk Road that are worth a visit. The capital of the autonomous region, Urumqi, is neither old nor very interesting with the exception of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum. If you are interested in the history and pre-history of the Silk Road, this museum has a collection of mummies and other interesting artifacts.


July 13, 2008 change by steveinkashgar (1 point)

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