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Overview

Kashgar, China's Timbuktu, lies on the extreme western border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan near the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan. This desert oasis of 350,000 residents, where the Uighur people outnumber the Han Chinese, was once the main junction of the fabled Silk Road routes to the West. Marco Polo passed through here in 1273. Today, Kashgar remains the best-preserved traditional Islamic city in Central Asia. The Kite Runner (2007) was filmed in Kashgar's Old Town. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake prompted Chinese authorities to begin replacing Kashgar's historic buildings with modern reproductions and high-rises, but the Old Town ...

Kashgar, China's Timbuktu, lies on the extreme western border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan near the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan. This desert oasis of 350,000 residents, where the Uighur people outnumber the Han Chinese, was once the main junction of the fabled Silk Road routes to the West. Marco Polo passed through here in 1273. Today, Kashgar remains the best-preserved traditional Islamic city in Central Asia. The Kite Runner (2007) was filmed in Kashgar's Old Town. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake prompted Chinese authorities to begin replacing Kashgar's historic buildings with modern reproductions and high-rises, but the Old Town remains well worth exploring with its hodgepodge of shops and one-room factories churning out carpets, jewelry, musical instruments, hats, and hammered copper plates. Other top attractions are Kashgar's open-air markets, particularly the Sunday Market, said to be Asia's largest, and the livestock market, Mal Bazaar, renowned for its horse trading and camel swapping. Islamic monuments include the Abakh Hoja Tomb (1640 A.D.), with its scores of mesmerizing sarcofagi, and the Id Kah Mosque (1442 A.D.), China's largest and busiest. John's Cafe, the longtime gathering point for independent Silk Road travelers, is still open inside the former British Consulate, and local tour agencies offer visitors a chance to hike or bike the Karakoram Highway and ride camels in the Taklamakan Desert.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Kashgar is a city located in western China, near the border between China and Tajikistan.
  • Language: Mandarin, Uyghur
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Sweltering summers and chilly winters in this very dry desert location give way to lengthy springs, making March-June the most pleasant period for travel.