Ili Travel Guide

Ili Travel Guide

Ili Map

Ili Facts:

Full Name: Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture
Chinese Name: 伊犁哈萨克自治州 (yī lí hā sà kè zì zhì zhōu)
Location: Lying at the north foot of the Tianshan Mountain, Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture is in the west of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, bounded on the northeast by Russia and Mongolia, on the west by Kazakhstan.

Population: 4,193,100
Area: 350,000 square kilometers (135,136 square miles)
Nationalities: Han, Kazak, Uygur, Hui
Administrative Division: 1 autonomous county (Qapqal Xibe); 7 counties (Gulja, Korgas, Tokkuztara, Kvnes, Monglkvre, Tekes, Nilka,); 2 county-level cities (Gulja, Kuytun) ; 2 regions (Qoqek, Altay)

Useful Telephone Numbers:
Tourist Complaints: 0999-8028697
Weather Forecast: 121
Postal Code Inquiry: 184
Bank of China: 0999-8220347


 Guozigou Valley (Fruits Valley): Located 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Huocheng County, the Fruit Valley is well-known for its beautiful scenery, so it has been regarded as the ‘No.1 Beauty’ in Ili throughout the ages. The Valley, also named Talqi Valley, is an important pass of the present Urumqi–Yining Highway (No.312 National Highway). In ancient times, it was a vital strategic section and communication hub of the Northern Route of the Silk Road. In 1219, Genghis Khan made a west expedition to Ili, but he was blocked by the Tianshan Mountains. He ordered Qagatay, his second son, to knock through the Fruit Valley, the natural door of Ili. In the valley, 28 kilometers long, wild fruits, apricots, exotic flowers and rare herbs can be found everywhere. The valley takes on a different appearance with the passing of the seasons. In spring, brilliant aromatic flowers bloom and butterflies dance among the flowers. In summer, green pine and spruce forests cover it like a green ocean. In autumn, red leaves and mellow fruits spread through the valley. In winter, the valley covered with pure white snow is enchanting.

Sayram Lake
Sayram Lake
Khorgos Port
Khorgos Port

 Sayram Lake, the largest lake in Tianshan Mountains, stands at the peak of the Fruit Valley. It looks like a huge sapphire inlaid in the mountains. The Valley is open all day around and no entrance fee is charged. The best time to visit there is from late May to June. Another good time to visit is from end of July to the beginning of August, during that time, local Mongolian and Kazakh herdsmen hold the Nadam Fair. It consists of recreational sports and entertainment, such as wrestling, horse-racing, archery, singing and dancing. Tourists can take buses from Urumqi to Yining pass through the Fruit Valley. 

 Nalati Grassland: is one of the four largest alpine meadows in the world. 

Nalati Grassland
Nalati Grassland
Nalati Grassland
Nalati Grassland

How to Get to Ili

1. Yining Airport is only 5 kilometers (3 miles) from downtown Gulja City, operating flights to Urumqi and Kashgar.
2. Kazak is the largest ethnic minority living in this prefecture, and the Kazaks are hospitable. Visitors should be sure to see their traditional food and costumes.



The prefecture enjoys a cool, temperate, semi-arid, continental climate. Owing to the vast expanse of land, there are also microclimate features in different regions. Generally, summers here are short and the winters, long. The temperature varies greatly between day and night. The temperature in spring rises rapidly but unstably, while the autumn temperatures drop rapidly. Summer and autumn are the best time. The pastures are verdant. Melons and fruits are ripe. Notable is the sunset in Ili River. It is the favorite of many photographers. 

Ili Travel Tips

 History: The Ili River gave birth to the primitive civilization of this area. In 552, the Tujue (a nomadic tribe living in the Altai Mountains) established the Turk Khan Kingdom on the river bank. The orbit of the central government entered the region in Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was given the name of Ili in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and run as the political and military center of Xinjiang.

 Physical Features: This prefecture is located in the heart of Central Asia. The Tianshan Mountains, the Altai Mountains, the Poluokenu Mountains, the Junggar Basin and the Monglkvre-Tekes Basin make up its main landforms, along with the Ili River, the Erqis River and their valleys.

 Special Local Products: lavender, black currant

Recommended Tour Itinerary:
Hiking Tour: Information about hiking in Ili for your reference

- Last modified on Feb. 28, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Ili Travel
Asked by Edwin Tan from SINGAPORE | Feb. 15, 2019 14:05Reply
Would the taxi do day trip to Sayram Lake from Kuitun via Fruit Valley? If so roughly how much?
I have booked a hotel in Kuitun for 2 nights this June. I can get by in basic Mandarin. Will I be a ble to get a taxi for a day trip to Sayram Lake from Kuitun via Fruit Valley?
Answers (1)
Answered by Justice from CANADA | Feb. 28, 2019 18:54

As I know, the fare is CNY600-800 per day.
Asked by Christine from PHILIPPINES | Aug. 10, 2018 19:11Reply
How do I get to Nalati grassland from Turpan?
Answers (1)
Answered by Fenix from NEW ZEALAND | Aug. 13, 2018 00:20

Generally, people choose to hire a car to travel along the way and I’m not very clear about public transportation.
Asked by Daniel from KOLSKY | Aug. 25, 2017 07:16Reply
Is there any direct bus from either Buerjin or Altay to Ili?
Is there any direct busto Kuqa?
Is there a bus to Narat grasslands?

Answers (1)
Answered by Lisa from CHINA | Sep. 06, 2017 02:29

I remember only one long-distance bus runs from Altay to the city, leaving at 10:00am. It takes around 12h, and the fare is CNY200 or around. In case the schedule is changed or you cannot catch it, you are suggested to take a train to Urumqi first, then change to another one to Yining.

At Yining Autonomous Perfecture Bus Station, a bus is scheduled for Kuqa each day and it leaves at 12:00 and 16:00 on odd and even days respevtively.

At the same bus station, buses the grassland are available at 10:00, 12:00 and 15:00. If missing them, you can take a bus to Xinyuan County, then change to another one to reach there.
Asked by Budsarat from THAILAND | Aug. 30, 2016 22:01Reply
How to get from Buerjin to Wuerhe(ghost city) and Wuerhe to nalati grassland?
Is there a direct bus or have to transfer to some cities before?

Thanks you
Answers (1)
Answered by Cheryl from NEW ZEALAND | Sep. 01, 2016 02:28

To Wuerhe, you can take a direct bus from Buerjin. The bus departs at 9:00, and the trip takes about 4 hours.

To Nalati Grassland, there is no direct. You can take a bus from Wuerhe to Karamay. Next, ride a bus to Yining. Then, take a bus to Nalati Grassland. Have a nicet trip! ;)
Asked by Tun from MALAYSIA | Jul. 05, 2015 08:46Reply
Where is actually the location (coordinates) of Ili Bus Terminal ?
I want to take a bus to Kashgar. Is okay to walk-in to buy ticket?
Answers (1)
Answered by Juno from NEW | Jul. 06, 2015 03:40

I know at the local Passenger Transport Administration Service Center, there are direct buses to Kashgar. It is located at no. 460, West Jiefang Road. I found its coordinates are 81.30,43.94.
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