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Overview

Deep in the heart of central Asia, in a region that’s the farthest from any sea, Xinjiang has long been at the crossroads of different people and climes. It’s China’s largest province, and although much of it is inhospitable desert, it holds oases of greenery along its various ranges of mountains – the extremes of this geography illustrated by the juxtaposition of Turpan, one of the lowest and hottest places in the world, and Altay, which is buried under three feet of snow in winters. Xinjiang has a plethora of ethnicities, although the majority is Uyghurs – Turkic-speaking central Asian Muslim, whose identity defines anything from ...

Deep in the heart of central Asia, in a region that’s the farthest from any sea, Xinjiang has long been at the crossroads of different people and climes. It’s China’s largest province, and although much of it is inhospitable desert, it holds oases of greenery along its various ranges of mountains – the extremes of this geography illustrated by the juxtaposition of Turpan, one of the lowest and hottest places in the world, and Altay, which is buried under three feet of snow in winters. Xinjiang has a plethora of ethnicities, although the majority is Uyghurs – Turkic-speaking central Asian Muslim, whose identity defines anything from architecture to cuisine. Travel attractions in Xinjiang are clustered in three locations: the capital Urumqi and around; Altay county in the northern tip, where the Altay Mountains bring Siberia into China; and the far west, near the border with Pakistan, near the legendary Kashgar and the high mountains along the highway to Pakistan. For traveling between any of these points, unless you specifically want to experience the bleakness and desolation and vastness of the desert in long road trips, best is to fly.

Victor Borg
About the Expert

Victor Borg has authored whole guidebooks to Malta and Gozo for Time Out and Rough Guides, and has contributed to other guidebooks on Libya and China, where he lives.

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Victor Borg for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China and occupies the northwestern part of the country
  • Language: Mandarin, Uryghur
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Urumqi | Urumqi | Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    For anywhere in the mountains, best time is in the height of the summer - even then, temperatures drop to near freezing at night. For lowlands, best times is in late-spring or early-autumn, when temperatures are pleasantly warm.