Nestled in the far western reaches of China, within the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, lies the historic city of Kashgar. A crossroads of cultures, Kashgar has long been a vibrant hub of trade, art, and spirituality, with its legacy deeply intertwined with the ancient Silk Road. Embarking on a journey to Kashgar is akin to stepping into a time capsule, offering glimpses of a rich mosaic of Central Asian heritage, influenced by the countless traders, travelers, and conquerors who passed through its gates. This guide delves into the many facets of Kashgar, aiming to equip you with a comprehensive understanding of its allure.
Kashgar has a history that spans over two millennia. Once a pivotal junction on the Silk Road, it connected China with the Mediterranean, facilitating the exchange not just of goods, but also ideas, religion, and technology. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, from the Han Dynasty to the Tang, and from the Mongols to the Qing. Each era has left its indelible mark on Kashgar, contributing to its rich architectural and cultural tapestry.
Cultural Melting Pot:
The beauty of Kashgar lies in its rich ethnic diversity. While the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, form the majority, the city is also home to Han Chinese, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and other ethnicities. This coalescence of cultures has given birth to a unique blend of traditions, cuisines, music, and dance. The famous Kashgar bazaar, for instance, is a riot of colors, sounds, and scents, reflecting the myriad influences that have shaped the city.
Kashgar boasts an array of architectural treasures. The Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, is a testament to the Islamic influence in the region. Its yellow walls and intricate carvings draw in thousands of visitors and worshippers alike. The ancient city center, with its labyrinthine alleys, mud-brick homes, and bustling bazaars, stands as a testament to Kashgar’s storied past. The remnants of the ancient city wall, the Mor Pagoda, and the Mausoleum of Apak Khoja further showcase the architectural splendor of different epochs.
While the city itself is a marvel, Kashgar is also blessed with breathtaking natural scenery. The Karakoram Highway, one of the world’s highest paved roads, begins here, leading adventurers towards Pakistan through the stunning Karakoram Range. The Pamir Mountains, Lake Karakul, and the Taklamakan Desert surround Kashgar, offering a diverse landscape of snow-capped peaks, serene lakes, and vast sandy expanses.
A journey to Kashgar would be incomplete without indulging in its culinary offerings. Influenced by Central Asian, Persian, and Chinese cuisines, the food here is a delightful mix of flavors and textures. From the succulent lamb skewers and hand-pulled noodles to the fragrant pilafs and freshly baked naan, Kashgar offers a gastronomic adventure like no other.
Kashgar, with its intoxicating blend of history, culture, architecture, and natural beauty, is a must-visit for any intrepid traveler. Whether you’re drawn to its ancient tales, diverse traditions, architectural wonders, or culinary delights, Kashgar promises an unforgettable journey of discovery.
Embarking on a trip to Kashgar is not just about visiting a city; it’s about experiencing a rich tapestry of history and culture that has been woven over centuries. Pack your bags, open your heart and mind, and let Kashgar enchant you!
Kashgar City Guide: A Brief History Of Kashgar, China For Visitors
Kashgar, a city that whispers tales of ancient caravans, epoch-making battles, and cultural symbiosis, is one of the most historically significant cities in China, particularly for its role in the famed Silk Road. Its history is a tapestry of dynastic power struggles, religious revolutions, and trade evolutions. For a traveler to truly appreciate Kashgar’s ambiance, understanding its history is paramount. Let’s take a journey back in time.
1. Ancient Beginnings:
Kashgar’s early history remains shrouded in mystery, but archaeological findings suggest that it was already a populated center during the Bronze Age. By the time historical records began in the Han Dynasty, Kashgar, known as ‘Shule’ in Chinese annals, was already an established kingdom.
2. The Silk Road Era:
From around the 2nd century BCE, the Han Dynasty of China began extending its influence westwards, seeking alliances against the nomadic Xiongnu and aiming to establish trade routes. This led to the formation of the Silk Road, and Kashgar, due to its strategic location, soon became a pivotal trading hub connecting China to Central Asia and beyond.
3. A Melting Pot of Religions:
Over time, Kashgar became a crucible of religious thought. Originally, the dominant religions were Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. However, by the 10th century, Islam began to take root, brought by Arab traders and missionaries. Today, the city remains predominantly Muslim, and its Islamic heritage is evident in its mosques, madrasas, and architecture.
4. Dynastic Shifts:
Throughout its history, Kashgar witnessed the ebb and flow of various empires. After the Han Dynasty, the city came under the influence of the Tang Dynasty. Post the Tang era, the Tibetan Empire and then the Uighur Khaganate took control. This constant change of hands added layers to Kashgar’s cultural identity.
5. The Mongol Era:
In the 13th century, Kashgar faced another transformative era with the rise of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and his successors. While the Mongols are often remembered for their military conquests, they were also instrumental in revitalizing the Silk Road and promoting cultural exchange. Kashgar flourished under their rule.
6. Qing Dynasty and Modern Era:
By the 18th century, the Qing Dynasty incorporated Kashgar into its territories. This led to significant demographic changes, with an influx of Han Chinese settlers. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the “Great Game” between the British Empire and Tsarist Russia, with Kashgar playing a central role in their Central Asian intrigues.
Following the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Kashgar experienced a period of instability, with intermittent periods of autonomy and rule by warlords. It was only in 1949, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, that Kashgar became an integral part of modern China.
7. Recent Times:
Today, while Kashgar is modernizing rapidly, with new infrastructure and development projects, it still retains much of its historical charm. Efforts have been made to preserve its old city and the unique culture of the Uighurs, the predominant ethnic group.
Kashgar is not just a city; it’s a living museum that encapsulates millennia of Central Asian history. Its streets echo tales of ancient merchants trading exotic wares, of scholars penning treatises under the shade of poplar trees, and of craftsmen honing their art. As you walk its alleys, visit its markets, or simply gaze upon its ancient structures, remember that you are treading on the very soil where history was made. Every brick, every cobblestone, has a story to tell. Your journey in Kashgar is not just one of sightseeing but of time travel. Enjoy the voyage!
Kashgar Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in China
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.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Kashgar, China
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.
Top 33 Things To Do in Kashgar, China For Visitors
Kashgar is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a curious traveler, Kashgar offers a plethora of experiences. Here are the top 33 things to do in this fascinating city:
- Visit the Id Kah Mosque: The largest mosque in China, the Id Kah Mosque is an architectural wonder. Explore its vast courtyard and admire its intricate Islamic designs.
- Stroll Through the Old City: Wander through the winding alleys of Kashgar’s Old City. The mud-brick houses, vibrant bazaars, and teahouses will transport you back in time.
- Shop at the Sunday Market: The Sunday Market, also known as the Grand Bazaar, is a vibrant and bustling affair where you can buy anything from spices to carpets.
- Taste Local Delicacies: Relish the flavors of Uighur cuisine. Don’t miss out on trying lamb skewers, pilaf, and hand-pulled noodles.
- Visit the Abakh Khoja Mausoleum: Often called the “Eastern Taj Mahal,” this mausoleum is a magnificent example of Islamic architecture.
- Explore the Mor Pagoda: A testament to Kashgar’s Buddhist past, this pagoda dates back to the Tang Dynasty.
- Journey Down the Karakoram Highway: Drive or bike along one of the highest paved roads in the world, offering breathtaking views of the Pamir Mountains.
- Experience the Yakshmbe Bazaar: A lesser-known market that specializes in livestock, it’s a unique cultural experience.
- Visit the Kashgar Museum: Dive into the region’s history and culture, with exhibits showcasing artifacts from the Silk Road era.
- Relax by Lake Karakul: Located at the foot of the Muztagh Ata Mountain, this lake offers stunning vistas and opportunities for yurt stays.
- Explore the Shipton’s Arch: Said to be the world’s tallest natural arch, it’s a geological marvel worth visiting.
- Attend a Uighur Music Performance: Immerse yourself in the soulful melodies of traditional Uighur music.
- Climb the Pamir Mountains: For adventure enthusiasts, the Pamirs offer challenging treks and unparalleled natural beauty.
- Visit the Tomb of Yusup Has Hajip: Pay your respects at the tomb of this revered Uighur philosopher and poet.
- Experience a Traditional Tea House: Sip on local teas while enjoying the serene ambiance of traditional teahouses.
- Explore Kashgar’s Night Market: As the sun sets, the night market comes alive with food stalls offering a plethora of local dishes.
- Admire Artisan Craftsmanship: Witness local artisans crafting pottery, textiles, and jewelry, and purchase unique souvenirs.
- Attend the Local Festivals: From the Nowruz (Persian New Year) to other regional celebrations, Kashgar’s festivals are a riot of colors, music, and dance.
- Visit the Stone City: Located near Tashkurgan, this ancient fortress offers insights into the region’s past.
- Explore the Taklamakan Desert: Engage in a desert safari or camp under the stars in China’s largest desert.
- Stay in a Yurt: Experience traditional nomadic life by staying in a yurt, complete with traditional meals and hospitality.
- Visit the Three Immortals Buddhist Caves: Admire the ancient murals and sculptures in these historic caves.
- Explore the Gaotai Ancient Homes: Wander through these historic homes that offer insights into Uighur life and architecture.
- Join a Cooking Class: Learn to prepare traditional Uighur dishes from local chefs.
- Climb the Kashgar City Wall: Though much of it is in ruins, certain sections offer panoramic views of the city.
- Attend the Mal Bazaar: Experience this traditional Uighur festival which includes horse racing, dancing, and more.
- Visit the Orda Padshahim Shrine: A significant religious site, especially for Uighur women seeking blessings for their families.
- Photograph the Tuman River: Capture stunning shots of this river against the backdrop of the Pamir Mountains.
- Experience the Yengisar Knife Factory: Kashgar is famous for its knives. Visit this factory to understand the artistry behind them.
- Go Camel Riding: Experience the thrill of riding camels through the desert landscape.
- Visit the Mahmud al-Kashgari Tomb: Pay respects to this renowned Uighur scholar known for his works on Turkic languages.
- Discover the Kashgar Botanical Garden: A serene escape, explore various plant species and enjoy picnics.
- Stay at a Traditional Guesthouse: Experience local hospitality by opting to stay in one of Kashgar’s traditional guesthouses rather than modern hotels.
Kashgar is a city of contrasts, where ancient traditions meet modern aspirations. Every corner of the city has a story to tell, every dish a legacy to share, and every experience a memory to cherish. As you navigate through Kashgar, let its essence seep into you, and you’ll find yourself not just visiting, but truly living a slice of Central Asian history.
What To Eat and Drink in Kashgar, China
When in Kashgar, you’re not just tasting food; you’re delving into a rich tapestry of culinary traditions influenced by Central Asian, Turkic, and Chinese cultures. The city’s position along the Silk Road has endowed it with a diverse gastronomy, marrying flavors, textures, and techniques from across regions. Here’s an in-depth guide to the must-try dishes and beverages in Kashgar:
1. Lamb Skewers (Kawaplar):
- Seasoned with cumin, garlic, and red chili, these skewers are charcoal-grilled to perfection. The tantalizing aroma wafting through Kashgar’s streets is often from the grilling of these succulent lamb pieces.
2. Hand-Pulled Noodles (Laghman):
- A staple in Uighur cuisine, these chewy, hand-pulled noodles are served with a spicy, meaty sauce. Variations might include vegetables, beef, or mutton.
3. Polo (Pilaf):
- A flavorful rice dish typically made with carrots, mutton, and sometimes raisins. Cooked in a rich meat broth, every grain is infused with the flavors of the ingredients, making it a hearty meal.
4. Uighur Bread (Nang):
- A type of crusty flatbread, often decorated with sesame seeds or local herbs. It’s baked in clay ovens and is a common accompaniment to many meals.
- Similar to the Indian samosa, samsa is a pastry filled with meat (usually mutton or beef), onions, and spices, baked to a golden perfection in tandoor ovens.
6. Manta Dumplings:
- Steamed dumplings filled with minced meat, pumpkin, or spinach. They’re usually served with a side of yogurt and can be likened to Chinese jiaozi, though the fillings are distinctly Uighur.
7. Dapanji (Big Plate Chicken):
- A hearty dish of chicken stewed with potatoes, bell peppers, and spices, served atop wide, flat hand-pulled noodles. It’s a fusion of Chinese and Uighur flavors.
- Kashgar’s yogurt is rich and creamy, often served with honey or dried fruits. Some stalls might offer it with a sprinkle of sugar or nuts.
9. Roasted Fish:
- Fresh fish seasoned and roasted over open flames. While Kashgar is not a coastal city, freshwater fish from the region’s rivers make for a delectable treat.
- A mutton broth seasoned with local herbs and sometimes served with chunks of meat and vegetables. It’s a comforting dish, especially in the colder months.
- A type of fried flatbread, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It can be enjoyed with curries or even on its own.
- A refreshing yogurt drink, it’s slightly tangy and often served cold. It aids digestion, especially after a hearty meal.
2. Black Tea:
- The tea culture is strong in Kashgar. Black tea, often infused with local herbs or sometimes with a hint of milk, is a staple during gatherings and meals.
3. Rosehip Tea:
- Made from the dried fruits of rose plants, this tea is not only flavorful but also packed with vitamin C.
4. Grape Wine:
- Kashgar’s surrounding regions produce grapes, and local wine, though not as renowned as other Chinese varieties, has its unique charm.
- A slightly alcoholic beverage made from fermented mare’s milk. It’s an acquired taste but is deeply rooted in the region’s nomadic traditions.
The culinary landscape of Kashgar is a reflection of its rich history, a confluence of cultures that have met and mingled at this Silk Road crossroads for centuries. When you eat in Kashgar, every bite tells a story, every sip shares a legacy. So, let your taste buds wander and your palate explore, for Kashgar’s cuisine is an adventure in its own right.
Top Restaurants In Kashgar, China
Kashgar’s vibrant culinary scene is a blend of its rich historical heritage and contemporary influences. While street food is a significant part of the local gastronomy, there are also many restaurants that provide a deeper and broader experience of Uighur and Central Asian cuisines, along with global dishes. Here’s a detailed guide to the top restaurants in Kashgar:
1. Orda Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Uighur and Central Asian
- Highlight: Located in the heart of the Old City, Orda offers traditional Uighur dishes in a richly decorated ambiance. The restaurant is particularly known for its mutton pilaf and hand-pulled noodles. The interiors, with intricate woodwork and colorful carpets, create a warm and cozy atmosphere.
2. John’s Information Cafe:
- Cuisine: Western and Uighur
- Highlight: This establishment is a favorite among international travelers. Apart from offering a range of western dishes like pizzas and sandwiches, the café is a hub for travel information, with owner John often assisting with tips and insights about Kashgar and its surroundings.
3. Pamir Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Tajik and Uighur
- Highlight: This is the place to savor dishes from the Pamir region. The décor, inspired by the Pamir Mountains, provides a rustic ambiance. They have an excellent variety of kebabs and the rich, flavorful Tajik tea.
4. Eden Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Western, Chinese, and Uighur
- Highlight: Offering a diverse menu, Eden is popular among both locals and tourists. Their outdoor seating area is perfect for a relaxed evening, especially in the summer.
5. Karakoram Café:
- Cuisine: Western and Vegan Options
- Highlight: A cozy café catering especially to foreign travelers. Apart from western comfort food, they offer a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. The coffee here is particularly notable.
6. Uighur Dining Hall:
- Cuisine: Uighur
- Highlight: A more upscale dining experience, this restaurant provides an authentic Uighur feast. The manta dumplings and yogurt desserts are must-tries.
7. Samarkand Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Uzbek and Uighur
- Highlight: Experience Uzbek cuisine in Kashgar at Samarkand. The décor draws inspiration from ancient Uzbek architecture, and the restaurant is famous for its rice pilafs and savory pastries.
8. Silk Road Café:
- Cuisine: Western and Chinese
- Highlight: An ideal spot for breakfast or a light lunch. The café offers a variety of sandwiches, coffees, and fresh juices. The serene ambiance, with soft music and comfortable seating, is a bonus.
9. Shipton’s Arch Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Chinese and Uighur Fusion
- Highlight: Named after the famous Shipton’s Arch nearby, this restaurant provides a modern twist to classic Uighur and Chinese dishes. The contemporary décor contrasts nicely with the traditional food offerings.
10. K2 Brewery and Restaurant:
- Cuisine: Western and Craft Beers
- Highlight: For those missing the taste of craft beers, K2 offers a delightful range brewed in-house. The accompanying western dishes, like burgers and fries, complement the beers perfectly.
Kashgar’s restaurants provide not just a gastronomical journey but also a cultural one. From traditional Uighur eateries that take you back in time to modern cafes meeting global standards, Kashgar’s culinary scene is as diverse as its history. Whether you’re looking to dive deep into local flavors or just craving a taste of home, Kashgar’s restaurants cater to all palates and preferences.
Tours For Visitors To Kashgar, China
Kashgar, with its unique blend of Central Asian and Chinese heritages, offers visitors a wide array of tour experiences. These curated tours help one delve deep into the city’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Here’s an extensive guide to some of the top tours available:
1. Historical Kashgar City Tour:
- Duration: Half-day or full-day.
- Highlights: Explore the ancient Old City, visit the Id Kah Mosque, and take a journey through history at the Kashgar Museum. Don’t miss the Abakh Khoja Mausoleum and the Mor Pagoda. Guides offer insights into the historical significance and architectural details of each site.
2. Kashgar Market Tours:
- Duration: Half-day.
- Highlights: Experience the bustling Sunday Market and the Yakshmbe Bazaar. These tours focus on the vibrant local trade, artisan crafts, and regional specialties. Visitors can sample local delicacies and interact with vendors.
3. Karakoram Highway Adventure:
- Duration: 2-3 days.
- Highlights: Travel the world-famous Karakoram Highway. Witness the stunning Pamir Mountains, visit Tashkurgan, and marvel at the beauty of Lake Karakul. Overnight stays often include yurt accommodations.
4. Taklamakan Desert Safari:
- Duration: 1-2 days.
- Highlights: Venture into the vastness of the Taklamakan Desert on camels or 4x4s. Experience dune bashing, desert camping, and a surreal sunrise or sunset.
5. Pamir Mountain Trekking Tour:
- Duration: 4-7 days.
- Highlights: Trek the majestic Pamir Mountains, meet local Kyrgyz herders, and camp under the stars. This is a challenging yet rewarding tour for adventure enthusiasts.
6. Culinary and Craft Tour of Kashgar:
- Duration: Half-day or full-day.
- Highlights: Dive deep into Uighur cuisine with visits to local eateries, bakeries, and food stalls. The tour also introduces visitors to local crafts, including pottery and textiles.
7. Kashgar River Rafting:
- Duration: Half-day.
- Highlights: Experience the thrill of white-water rafting in the rivers around Kashgar. Suitable for beginners and experts alike, this tour offers a unique blend of adventure and scenic beauty.
8. Night Tour of Kashgar:
- Duration: Evening.
- Highlights: Discover Kashgar’s vibrant nightlife. Visit the bustling night markets, savor street food, and witness local performances.
9. Photography Tour of Kashgar:
- Duration: 1-2 days.
- Highlights: Tailored for photography enthusiasts, this tour takes visitors to the most picturesque locations in and around Kashgar, ensuring they capture the best shots during the golden hours.
10. Religious and Spiritual Tour:
- Duration: Half-day or full-day.
- Highlights: Explore the spiritual side of Kashgar. Visit the city’s mosques, shrines, and other religious sites, and understand the deep-rooted Islamic traditions of the Uighur community.
11. Shipton’s Arch Exploration:
- Duration: Full-day.
- Highlights: Visit the world’s tallest natural arch. The tour includes a trek, and upon reaching the arch, visitors are treated to panoramic views of the surroundings.
12. Customized Private Tours:
- Duration: Variable.
- Highlights: For those with specific interests or limited time, many tour operators offer personalized tours tailored to individual preferences, ensuring a curated experience.
Kashgar is not just a city but an experience. Its deep-rooted history, diverse culture, and breathtaking natural landscapes offer something for every traveler. Opting for a guided tour ensures that visitors not only witness the beauty of the region but also understand the stories and significance behind each attraction. Each tour, whether it’s venturing into the vast desert or strolling through ancient streets, promises memories that last a lifetime.
Kashgar Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Kashgar, a pivotal Silk Road outpost, offers a unique blend of Central Asian and Chinese influences. As a result, its accommodation options range from luxurious hotels that pamper guests with modern amenities to quaint guesthouses that provide a taste of traditional Uighur hospitality. This guide dives deep into the accommodation options available:
1. Radisson Blu Hotel Kashgar:
- Description: A part of the international Radisson chain, this hotel combines global standards with local flavors.
- Facilities: Indoor swimming pool, fitness center, in-house restaurants serving global and local cuisines, and a business center.
- Location: Conveniently located near the city center, it’s a short drive to major tourist attractions.
2. Qinibagh Hotel:
- Description: A heritage hotel, it has hosted numerous dignitaries over the years.
- Facilities: Lush gardens, traditional architecture, modern amenities, and an in-house museum.
- Location: Situated in the heart of Kashgar, many historical sites are within walking distance.
3. Tianyuan International Hotel:
- Description: A modern establishment offering a range of rooms and suites.
- Facilities: Indoor pool, spa, restaurants, and conference facilities.
- Location: Close to the city’s commercial districts, making it suitable for business travelers.
1. Pamir Youth Hostel:
- Description: A favorite among backpackers, this guesthouse offers a cozy atmosphere.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, communal lounge area, and cultural events.
- Location: Nestled in a quieter part of the city, yet accessible to major attractions.
2. Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel:
- Description: Housed in a traditional building, it provides a taste of Uighur architecture and hospitality.
- Facilities: Courtyard setting, cultural events, and a café serving local and western dishes.
- Location: Situated within the Old City, it’s perfect for those wanting to immerse themselves in Kashgar’s history.
3. Tumaris Guesthouse:
- Description: Run by a local family, it offers an authentic home-stay experience.
- Facilities: Home-cooked meals, traditional Uighur rooms, and guided tours arranged by the hosts.
- Location: A short distance from the city center, providing a blend of convenience and tranquility.
1. Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel:
- Description: Popular among solo and budget travelers, this hostel offers dormitory-style accommodations.
- Facilities: Shared kitchen, communal lounge with board games, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city.
- Location: Located in a bustling area, it’s surrounded by local eateries and markets.
2. Trail Hostel:
- Description: A modern hostel catering to international backpackers.
- Facilities: Dormitory and private rooms, travel desk for tour bookings, and cultural exchange events.
- Location: Proximity to the bus station makes it ideal for those planning to venture beyond Kashgar.
3. Nomad Hostel:
- Description: A space that celebrates Kashgar’s nomadic heritage.
- Facilities: Yurt-style rooms, shared kitchen, and nightly bonfires with musical events.
- Location: Slightly on the outskirts, offering a serene environment away from city hustle.
Kashgar’s accommodation options reflect its rich tapestry of cultures and histories. Whether you’re seeking luxury, a taste of local life, or the camaraderie of fellow travelers, Kashgar has something for every visitor. When booking, always consider factors like location, facilities, and the kind of experience you wish to have in this Silk Road gem.
Kashgar 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
Unearth the cultural mosaic of Kashgar in just a few days. This Silk Road gem blends Chinese, Uighur, Tajik, and Kyrgyz cultures into a vibrant mix of history, gastronomy, and natural beauty. Here’s a comprehensive 3-4 days itinerary to help you make the most of your Kashgar visit.
Day 1: Immersion in the Heart of Kashgar
- Old City: Begin your journey in Kashgar’s Old City. Wander through its labyrinthine alleys, admiring the age-old architecture. Notice the wooden balconies, intricate carvings, and mud-brick houses.
- Id Kah Mosque: Visit China’s largest mosque. Observe the intricate patterns and the vast courtyard. If possible, visit during one of the prayer times to witness the mosque come alive with devotion.
- Kashgar Museum: Dive into Kashgar’s history. Discover artifacts from the region’s diverse inhabitants, including mummies, textiles, and pottery.
- Handicraft Street: See craftsmen at work – from blacksmiths and carpenters to jewelers.
- Night Market: Sample a smorgasbord of local delicacies, from mutton kebabs and hand-pulled noodles to fresh bread and yogurt. The market is also a great place to witness local life and purchase souvenirs.
Day 2: Markets and the Outskirts
- Sunday Market (Livestock Market): If you’re visiting on a Sunday, this is a must. Witness the centuries-old tradition of trading livestock. It’s a sensory overload with sounds, sights, and scents.
- Yakshmbe Bazaar: A bustling market any day of the week, offering everything from spices and carpets to daily household items.
- Mor Pagoda: Marvel at this Tang Dynasty relic, showcasing the Buddhist influences in Kashgar’s past.
- Apakh Hoja Mausoleum: A majestic architectural gem, this mausoleum is the resting place of the Islamic leader Apakh Hoja and his family. Notice the blend of Central Asian and Islamic architectures.
- Orda Restaurant: Savor a traditional Uighur meal. From mutton pilaf to savory pastries, experience Kashgar on a plate.
Day 3: Nature’s Marvels and Border Experiences
Morning and Afternoon:
- Karakul Lake Day Trip: Embark on a day trip along the famed Karakoram Highway to the stunning Karakul Lake. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the lake’s beauty is mesmerizing. Meet local Kyrgyz nomads, maybe even share a meal in their yurts.
- Tumaris Guesthouse: After returning from Karakul, enjoy a quiet evening at this local guesthouse. Relish a home-cooked Uighur meal.
Day 4: Relaxation and Farewell
- Pamir Plateau: Venture into the sprawling Pamir Plateau. Witness vast landscapes, nomadic settlements, and perhaps even some Marco Polo sheep.
- Taklamakan Desert (edge): While a full exploration requires more time, you can visit the edge of the world’s second-largest shifting sand desert.
- Local Tea Houses: Spend your last hours in Kashgar relaxing in a local teahouse, sipping on traditional tea and perhaps playing a game of backgammon with the locals.
- Souvenir Shopping: Return to the Old City or the night market for any last-minute souvenirs or gifts.
- Farewell Dinner at Eden Restaurant: Celebrate your journey in Kashgar with a blend of local and global flavors.
This 3-4 days itinerary encapsulates the essence of Kashgar, offering a blend of historical sites, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. Customize it based on your interests, and always allocate some time for spontaneous adventures – after all, some of the best travel memories are unplanned. Safe travels!
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Kashgar?
Kashgar serves as a gateway to a myriad of fascinating destinations that have been touched by the spirit of the ancient Silk Road. Whether you’re craving more natural beauty, historical depth, or vibrant cultures, the regions surrounding Kashgar have a lot to offer. Here’s an exhaustive guide on where to head next:
- Description: The capital city of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Urumqi stands as a testament to the blend of modern China and Central Asian influences.
- Highlights: Visit the Xinjiang Regional Museum to get a comprehensive understanding of the province’s diverse history. Don’t miss the picturesque Tian Shan mountain range and the serene Heaven Lake.
- Travel: Urumqi is well connected to Kashgar via flights and trains.
- Description: A scenic town near the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Tashkurgan boasts of a unique Tajik culture and surreal landscapes.
- Highlights: Explore the ancient Stone Fortress, walk around the grasslands, and interact with the local Tajik communities.
- Travel: You can reach Tashkurgan via the Karakoram Highway from Kashgar.
- Description: Often referred to as the ‘oven’ of China because of its intense heat, Turpan is a unique desert city with a rich history.
- Highlights: Visit the ancient city of Jiaohe, explore the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, and marvel at the Karez irrigation system. Also, sample the region’s renowned grapes.
- Travel: High-speed trains and flights connect Turpan and Kashgar.
4. Dunhuang, Gansu Province:
- Description: A crucial stop on the Silk Road, Dunhuang is famous for its Buddhist cave art.
- Highlights: The Mogao Caves house some of the world’s most exquisite Buddhist murals and statues. Explore the Crescent Moon Lake and Singing Sand Dunes.
- Travel: Although there’s no direct flight, you can first travel to Urumqi and then to Dunhuang.
5. Kyrgyzstan (via the Irkeshtam or Torugart passes):
- Description: A Central Asian gem, Kyrgyzstan is famed for its pastoral beauty and nomadic culture.
- Highlights: Spend nights in traditional yurts, visit the vast Issyk-Kul Lake, and explore the capital, Bishkek.
- Travel: Cross-border buses and shared taxis ply between Kashgar and destinations in Kyrgyzstan. Ensure you have the necessary visas and permissions.
6. Pakistan (via the Khunjerab Pass on the Karakoram Highway):
- Description: Traveling this route, you’ll witness the majestic landscapes of Northern Pakistan.
- Highlights: Visit the serene Hunza Valley, trek in the Fairy Meadows with a view of the Nanga Parbat peak, and explore the city of Gilgit.
- Travel: Buses and shared taxis connect Kashgar to destinations in Northern Pakistan. A valid visa for Pakistan is essential.
- Description: South of Kashgar, Hotan is another ancient Silk Road city known for its jade, silk, and carpets.
- Highlights: Explore the local bazaars, visit the ruins of the ancient city of Melikawat, and watch silk-making in traditional workshops.
- Travel: Regular buses and flights connect Kashgar and Hotan.
- Description: Located to the northeast of Kashgar, Aksu is an agricultural hub on the northern Silk Road route.
- Highlights: Visit the ancient city of Wensu and savor local fruit produce, particularly the fragrant pears.
- Travel: Aksu is connected to Kashgar via flights and trains.
9. Lhasa, Tibet:
- Description: The spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism, Lhasa is a city with deep religious significance and stunning Himalayan landscapes.
- Highlights: Visit the iconic Potala Palace, walk around the Jokhang Temple, and experience Tibetan culture at Barkhor Street. Engage with monks at the Sera and Drepung monasteries.
- Travel: While there’s no direct flight from Kashgar, you can reach Lhasa via a stopover in cities like Chengdu or Xi’an. Remember, a special Tibet Travel Permit is required.
- Description: An ancient Silk Road oasis town, Yarkand boasts a history steeped in Islamic and Uighur traditions.
- Highlights: Visit the mausoleums of Yarkand’s ancient kings and explore the old town to get a glimpse of its historical architecture.
- Travel: You can reach Yarkand from Kashgar via road. Buses are frequent, and the journey is scenic.
11. Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture:
- Description: Located to the west of Kashgar, this area is home to the Kyrgyz minority and offers stunning alpine landscapes.
- Highlights: Trek through the Tianshan mountain range, camp beside pristine alpine lakes, and engage with local Kyrgyz communities to learn about their nomadic lifestyle.
- Travel: There are regular buses from Kashgar that ply this route, offering a journey filled with picturesque landscapes.
12. Taklamakan Desert Tours:
- Description: Dive deep into one of the world’s largest sandy deserts, known as the “Sea of Death” for its harsh conditions.
- Highlights: Embark on a desert safari, camp under the stars, and experience the vastness of this unique landscape.
- Travel: There are tour operators in Kashgar that offer guided trips into the Taklamakan, complete with 4×4 vehicles and camping gear.
13. Tajikistan (via the Qolma Pass):
- Description: Tajikistan, another Central Asian gem, offers a mosaic of mountainous terrains and unique cultural experiences.
- Highlights: Drive along the Pamir Highway, visit the Wakhan Corridor, and explore the Fann Mountains. The capital, Dushanbe, also has an array of museums and parks worth visiting.
- Travel: The Qolma Pass connects China’s Xinjiang province to Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. A visa for Tajikistan and relevant permits are essential.
14. Kunming, Yunnan Province:
- Description: Known as the “Spring City” due to its pleasant climate throughout the year, Kunming serves as a gateway to the diverse and culturally rich province of Yunnan.
- Highlights: Visit the Stone Forest (Shilin) with its unique limestone formations. Explore the vibrant Green Lake Park, and delve into the local culture at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum.
- Travel: Direct flights are available from Urumqi to Kunming.
15. Chengdu, Sichuan Province:
- Description: The capital of Sichuan, Chengdu is famous for its spicy cuisine, teahouse culture, and as the home to giant pandas.
- Highlights: Visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, savor Sichuan hotpot, and stroll through Jinli Ancient Street. Don’t forget to enjoy a traditional Sichuan opera.
- Travel: Chengdu can be reached via flight from Urumqi or a train journey with a change in Xining or Lanzhou.
16. Baku, Azerbaijan:
- Description: On the shores of the Caspian Sea, Baku offers a blend of ancient history and modern architecture.
- Highlights: Explore the Old City (Icherisheher) with its medieval walls, the Flame Towers which illuminate the skyline, and the Gobustan National Park known for its ancient rock carvings.
- Travel: While there’s no direct route, one can fly from Urumqi to Baku with a layover in cities like Istanbul.
17. Xi’an, Shaanxi Province:
- Description: One of China’s ancient capitals, Xi’an is a treasure trove of historical artifacts and monuments.
- Highlights: Marvel at the Terracotta Army, walk on the ancient city walls, visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and taste local delicacies at the Muslim Quarter.
- Travel: Xi’an can be reached via direct flights from Urumqi.
18. Samarkand, Uzbekistan:
- Description: A key stop on the Silk Road, Samarkand is famous for its stunning architecture and rich history.
- Highlights: Visit the Registan Square with its majestic madrasahs, explore the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum, and take a stroll through the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis.
- Travel: To reach Samarkand, you’d typically fly from Urumqi to Tashkent and then take a train or flight to Samarkand.
19. Almaty, Kazakhstan:
- Description: A cosmopolitan city set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Zailiysky Alatau mountains.
- Highlights: Visit Panfilov Park, enjoy the views from Kok Tobe hill, and take a day trip to the Charyn Canyon or the Big Almaty Lake.
- Travel: Direct flights connect Urumqi and Almaty.
- Description: Land of the vast steppe, Mongolia is a realm of nomads, with traditions stretching back to the days of Genghis Khan.
- Highlights: Stay in a traditional ger, visit the capital Ulaanbaatar, and explore the Gobi Desert or the scenic Lake Khövsgöl.
- Travel: While there’s no direct connection from Kashgar, one can travel to Beijing and then take a train or flight to Ulaanbaatar.
After Kashgar, a world of Silk Road wonders awaits the intrepid traveler. From the soaring mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan to the sprawling deserts of Turpan and Dunhuang, the regions surrounding Kashgar offer a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Always remember to check visa requirements and local conditions before heading to these destinations. Safe travels!
Kashgar Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Kashgar, a gem on the Silk Road, stands as a testament to the amalgamation of cultures, histories, and landscapes. This frontier city at the crossroads of empires and trade routes has much to offer the intrepid traveler. As we look back on our journey through the vibrant streets, sprawling markets, and historic sites of Kashgar, several reflections come to mind.
1. Historical Significance:
The weight of history is palpable in every nook and corner of Kashgar. From the ancient mosques to the remnants of city walls, Kashgar narrates tales of the past, echoing the footsteps of traders, scholars, conquerors, and pilgrims. It’s a place that not only tells its own story but the story of the broader region and the Silk Road itself.
2. Culinary Delights:
One can’t reflect on Kashgar without salivating at the thought of its culinary offerings. The amalgamation of flavors – from Central Asia, China, and the Middle East – creates a culinary tableau that’s unparalleled. Whether it’s savoring a plate of spicy laghman noodles, biting into a juicy kebab, or sipping on aromatic tea, Kashgar’s culinary landscape is a treat for the senses.
3. Mosaic of Cultures:
Kashgar is more than just a city; it’s a melting pot. Uighurs, Han Chinese, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and many others call this city home. The vibrant bazaars and lively streets showcase this diversity, where languages, customs, and traditions intertwine, reminding visitors of the city’s historical role as a meeting point of cultures.
4. Natural Beauty:
The rugged landscapes surrounding Kashgar – from the looming Pamir Mountains to the vast stretches of the Taklamakan Desert – offer breathtaking vistas. These natural wonders, often just a short drive away, provide a stark and beautiful contrast to the bustling urban environment of the city.
5. Evolving Dynamics:
Modern Kashgar is undergoing rapid development, with new infrastructure, businesses, and housing complexes. This transformation, while indicative of China’s broader developmental trajectory, poses challenges to the preservation of Kashgar’s historical and cultural legacy. Travelers have the unique opportunity to witness this delicate balance between the ancient and the modern.
6. Gateway to Exploration:
As highlighted in our guide, Kashgar is not just a destination but a starting point. Its strategic location offers routes to diverse landscapes, from the Central Asian steppes to the towering peaks of Pakistan and the serene plateaus of Tibet. The potential for onward journeys is immense, ensuring that Kashgar remains a pivotal point in any extensive exploration of the region.
Traveling to Kashgar is akin to stepping into a living museum, a vibrant tapestry of times gone by interwoven with the threads of the present. It’s a city where stories await at every corner, where ancient traditions meld seamlessly with modern aspirations. For those willing to venture to this far-flung outpost, the rewards are many: a deeper understanding of the Silk Road’s legacy, a taste of some of Asia’s finest dishes, and memories that last a lifetime.
In a world increasingly homogenized by globalization, Kashgar remains defiantly unique, a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Silk Road. It serves as a poignant reminder that while routes may change and empires may fall, the human spirit’s drive to explore, trade, and connect endures. As you conclude your journey in Kashgar, carry forward its stories, share its wonders, and let its spirit inspire further adventures across our vast and diverse world. Safe travels!