Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region covers over 1,600,000 square kilometers (617,763 square miles), one-sixth of China’s total territory, making it China’s largest province. Xinjiang borders Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. With a population of over 19 million, Xinjiang is home to 47 ethnic groups including the Uygur, the major ethnic group in Xinjiang.
When to go
Xinjiang has a desert climate with a low annual rainfall of only 150 millimeters (6 inches). Winters are very cold and summers extremely hot. The best time to visit this province is in the autumn, when the days are long, the sky is clear and temperatures more bearable than in the heat of the summer. Another excellent reason to visit at that time is the abundance of delicious melons and other fruits and vegetables which are then available. A feature of the climate is the great difference in temperature between daytime and night. A coat or sweater is needed during night even in the sweltering hot summer. The best time to travel the region is from May to October.
Xinjiang has a long history. The area was called Xiyu in ancient China which means "West Region". It was plundered by the Huns before the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). During the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD), Xinjiang was treated as an integral part of the nation’s territory. Since then, Xinjiang was governed by all successive dynasties.
What to see:
It is the most arid province; also contains the hottest and the coldest places; the longest inland river, the Tarim; the lowest marsh, the Aydingkol Lake (Moonlight Lake) in the Turpan Basin; the largest inland lake and the largest desert. In Xinjiang tourists can visit the world-famous Yardang Spectacle in Korla, stone forests, enjoy the mystery of the desert with its spectacular sand mountains. Located at the foot of the snow-capped Tianshan Mountain Range, Urmuqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest of China.
The ancient Silk Road brought Xinjiang a mix of eastern and western cultures which left behind stunning relics. Silk Road, is the collective name given to a number of trade routes linking the Chinese and Roman Empire. The long and winding Silk Road in northwest China has a history of more than two thousand years. This ancient route starts from the old capitals of Luoyang and Xi’an and reaches the Yellow River at Lanzhou and then follows along the "Gansu Corridor" and stretches along the edge of deserts and mountains.
South Pasture is located 60 kilometers away from Urumqi city which is about 2 hours drive. It is a vast natural area with fascinating scenery. It’s landscape stretches into the distance and is painted with flocks of sheep and horses and yaks grazing among the wild flowers. Deep in the lush valley, a waterfall gently drops down and integrates with the peaceful surroundings.
Yurts are sprinkled over the pasture and are home to the local Kazakh people. Visitors can visit a local family if they wish. Many foreign tourists say that a visit to a local family was a highlight of the day. The Kazak people are hospitable and generous. They usually invite their guests to share dinner of roasted lamb, milk and their traditional food-rice taken with hands.
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum
The museum has a large collection of silk items from many periods of history. Brocades from Eastern Han and specialised silk-woven products of the great Tang Dynasty are highlighted.
The Xinjiang area has long been China’s melting pot. Over 10 ethnic groups live in this vast area. The diversity of their scripts and cultures is exhibited in this museum through archaeological material, including documents in twelve different scripts including a particularly large number from the Han-dynasty finds at Turfan. This documents military, economic, cultural, and political affairs.
The museum also displays clay or terracotta sculptures. Among these are single-humped Central Asian camels, fat and vigorous Yuan-dynasty horses, women figurines in all postures and impressively fierce soldiers.
Other items in the collections include microliths, silver works of art, stone steles, ancient coins, potteries and wooden articles. Perhaps the most interesting things in the museum are the various foods from the Tang dynasty which, through the arid conditions have been preserved for more than one thousand years.