Urumqi Travel Guide

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Urumqi MapUrumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China, is just like a piece of emerald embedded at the foot of the Tianshan Mountains. With a population of two million gaily-dressed ethnic inhabitants, This graceful prairie city is an important stop along the ancient Silk Road, leading to the Central Asia and even as far as Europe.

The city lies in the lofty ice-capped Bogda Peak with vast Salt Lake to the east, the rolling pine-covered Southern hill to the south, and the alternating fields and sand dunes of Zunggar Basin to the northwest.

The temperature in the area widely ranges between day and night as it belongs to the semi-arid continental climate of middle temperate zone. The climate is extremely arid due to long period of sunlight and bare precipitation. It has shorter spring and autumn; and longer winter and summer. May to October is the golden season to visit it, when flowers are in full bloom and the fruits, like melons, are ripe with its fragrance. Here we should indicate that there are two hours time difference between Xinjiang and Beijing. The local working time is usually from 09:30 or 10:00. You had better not start your visit before 08:00 in the morning since it is still dark at that time.

Tourist resources of the region have its own advantages and distinctions, which are strategically important in the ancient Silk Road that assembles the cultures of both eastern and western countries. The most famous scenic spots among the numerous cultural relics and natural landscapes include the Heavenly Lake, the Southern Pastures, the Red Hill, the Southern Mosque, the Tartar Mosque, and the Xinjiang Regional Museum.

Heavenly Lake
Heavenly Lake
Southern Pasture
Southern Pasture
In recent years, the city has continuously developed its economy, industry, culture as well as tourism and transportation. More choices for accommodation and dining, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hostels and from western restaurants to the local food street have been  established. Nightlife there provides multiple-range of choices such as watching the ethnic sing-and-dance show, tasting native delicacies in the night market, or simply hanging out in bars. Coming to Urumqi will not let you return to your country empty-handed. Shopping in the International Grand Bazaar is a pleasant experience. Bargain hunting for handicraft souvenirs such as rugs, carpets, Uygur-style hats, knitted sweaters, ethnic costumes, hand-made embroideries and jade carvings, will definitely draw your intense interest.

Muslims go to the Southern Mosque on Corban Festival
Muslims go to the mosque on
Corban Festival
The most important local festivals are the annual Corban Festival and Lesser Bairam. According to the Islamic calendar Corban Festival falls on December 10th and Lesser Bairam is 70 days before of Corban Festival. Having a strong ethnic flavor, Guniang Zhui (a kind of funny way to express love between young men and women) and Diaoyang (a traditional sport of the local minority) are very interesting activities at that time. If you are lucky enough, you can appreciate such amusing movements.

Corban Festival is one of the most important festivals.It is also known as 'Sacrifice Festival', which is hosted every December 10th by Islamic population. In preparation all Muslims should clean and dress up to attend the ceremony at the Great Mosque. During the three-day holidays, people go door to door to exchange greetings in their best ethnic costumes. All homes serve the visitors delicious mutton. The thumping singing and dancing parties will be held in both urban and rural areas. Some sports activities: such as horse races, wrestling and sheep snatching are most popular among the Kazaks, Ozbeks and Tajiks nationalities.

Lesser Bairam is also called 'Fast breaking Festival'. It is the New Year festival of the Hui nationality as well as other groups. Every adult Muslim fasts one month every year. During the Ramadan, the Muslims eat either before sunrise or after sunset. The last day of Ramadan is a holiday.

The annual Silk Road Snow Folk Festival (Sichou Zhilu Bingxue Fengqing Jie) is a rising tourist festival in Urumqi. The grand opening ceremony is held in December and the festival usually lasts till the following March offering visitors a different experience.
Great Bazar in Urumqi
Great Bazaar in Urumqi
Silk Road Snow Folk Festival
Silk Road Snow Folk Festival


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