Kashgar Travel Guide
As an Uyghur majority city, Islam takes a front seat here, granting this place a culture which stands apart from cities further to the east.
Come check out our Kashgar travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Kashgar, China.
Once you get settled after your arrival in Kashgar, make seeing the Abakh Khoja Tomb your top priority. Home to the final resting place of Sufi master Muhammad Yusuf who had arrived in Western China in the 17th century with the intent of spreading the word of this Islamic sect to the people here.
He became a regional leader and later, was buried in a spectacular building which is easily one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in the whole of Xinjiang province. The mausoleum is named after Muhammad’s son, Afaq Khoja, who furthered his father’s influence through Xinjiang and beyond.
Get a look into the way Uyghurs have made their living off the land for countless generations by attending the Kashgar Live Stock Market. Every Sunday for the past 2,000 years or so, farmers from the surrounding countryside have brought cattle and other livestock to town in the hopes of selling off their beasts to willing buyers.
The atmosphere here is not for the faint-hearted: this is frontier country, so smells of every variety should be expected, and those who feel strongly in favour of animal rights may be upset by how the herders treat the livestock under their care.
This just serves as a reminder you aren’t in the west any more – just embrace it and watch out for sudden stampedes of sheep running down hallways!
Being a place where Uyghurs are in the majority, there is no shortage of mosques around. However, it’s safe to say the Id Kah Mosque stands out from all the rest. Sprawling over four acres of land, it is easily the largest mosque in all of China.
Attracting around 10,000 celebrants to Friday prayers, it is a well-attended place of worship among locals. Those wanting a look inside have a limited window to do so, as it is only open for tourists between 8:50 am and 10 am – don’t be late, and dress in a respectful manner.
While it is located more than five hours outside Kashgar, the beauty of Karakul Lake makes the long day trip needed to see it worth the time investment required. Sitting at over 3,600 metres above sea level, it is one of the highest alpine lakes in the world.
For much of the year, the peaks surrounding it are cloaked in snow, and the pure water shimmers with a clarity few other bodies of water in China can match.
If you have extra time to spare in your touring schedule while in Kashgar, be sure to check out the Three Immortals Buddhist Caves. Created during the days of the Han Dynasty, this cavern predates the more famous Mogao Caves by as much as 400 years.
Unlike its fellow caves, however, entrance to the Three Immortals cavern is far from an easy task – suspended in a side of a cliff high above the ground below, climbing is the only way to access this place. Once you manage to gain entrance, though, the effort expended will be worth it, as the murals, frescoes, reliefs, and statues are, with a few exceptions, in great condition.
Despite being the subject of renovations which were panned by experts, the streets of the Ga Er Ancient City will still prove to be an exotic experience for visitors to Kashgar. The people who made the older version of this city special are still unique from the Han Chinese – their handicrafts, street food, and generous nature will prove that to you soon after you encounter them for the first time.
In order to gain entrance to this part of Kashgar, you will need to show ID to security personnel on the way in, so don’t forget your passport at the hotel before setting out.
While out in the countryside of Kashgar, be sure your driver includes the Bulunkou Lakes as part of your itinerary. A creamy blue lake surrounded by the peaks of Xinjiang and backed by whitish-grey sand dunes, it is every bit as beautiful as Karakul Lake. Being close to the international border with Tajikistan, there are police roadblocks in the area, so be sure to take your passport to avoid an embarrassing scene.
End your time in Kashgar by spending a lively evening exploring the North Jiefang Road Market. Lively and full of locals after 8 pm, there are many food stalls serving local specialities like roasted lamb and handmade noodles, as well as a variety of fruits and desserts.
Keep an eye out for pickpockets, though, as they thrive off the crowds that come here every night.