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Turpan Tour

Located at the junction of the east and the west of China, Turpan is a marvelous city combining Western and Eastern religions and culture together perfectly.  It has been a key point on the Silk Road since ancient times, with a large number of historical relics and unique landscapes. The abundant sunshine provides the fruit with ideal conditions to grow. The fruit here is widely famous for its high sugar content, especially the grapes. Thus, Turpan is praised as the 'Hometown of Grapes'.

Situated at the very center of Xinjiang, Turpan (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番) lies at the foot of the Heavenly Mountain (tiān shān 天山) and about 93.2 miles (150 km) southeast of Xinjiang's capital city Urumqi. Lying in the Turpan Basin, Turpan is the city with the lowest elevation in China.

History and Culture
The region around Turpan has a history of interaction and conflicts of many peoples. Recently discovered archeological evidence like the mummies found in the Xiaohe Tombs near the far western border of Xinjiang and in other places show that 3,000 and 4,000 years ago Caucasians lived in Xinjiang. Since no Mongoloid mummies or Mongoloid people’s artifacts have been found that date before 1,000 BC, this is evidence that the original inhabitants of the area were Caucasians. It was thought that Caucasians mainly lived in Europe, so historians have been rewriting history based on DNA testing of certain mummies and the European style advanced Bronze-age clothing and artifacts that have been discovered. It is obvious that Central Asia was linked culturally to Europe. Some mummies and their artifacts can be seen in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Museum.

Flaming MountainLittle is known about the history of the area around Turpan between 1,000 AD and 0 BC. But when trade between the Han Empire (hàn dì guó 汉帝国) and western countries started about 100 BC, it is known that the area turned into a fortress and oasis stop area on a Silk Road route. Traders followed the base of the long ridge of the Flaming Mountain (huǒ yàn shān 火焰山) that goes east to west along the northern edge of the Turpan Basin. About 30 kilometers or about 20 miles west of modern Turpan, a large fortress city called Gaochang was built along the trade route that eventually had a royal inner area, inner walls and outer walls. It is known that it was both multi-ethnic and multi-religious because both Caucasian and Mongoloid mummies have been found in the Astana Tombs (ā sī tǎ nà gǔ mù qún 阿斯塔那古墓群) about 4 kilometers north of Gaochang. The Bezeklik Caves that are in the Flaming Mountains about 10 kilometers north was a religious site that showed paintings of both Caucasian and Mongoloid Buddhists. A Christian church was found outside the Gaochang walls. The Gaochang (gāo chāng 高昌) walls were made of rammed earth and adobe. The outer walls were about 11 meters or 37 feet high and formed almost a square. The outer wall extended 5.4 kilometers or 3.4 miles and the inner wall extended about 3.3 kilometers or 2 miles. In ancient times, the city was considered to be large. Mongols destroyed the city in the 13th century.

Jiaohe (jiāo hé 交河) was another large fortress city that was built about the same time on a little islet in the middle of a river about 11 kilometers straight east of modern Turpan. The islet is about 1,650 meters in length and three hundred meters wide at its widest point. The river and the 30 meter high steep sides of the islet were its defenses. It is said that the Mongols destroyed the city in the 13th century also.

Skipping a lot of history, about 650 AD the Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝) conquered the area. Then the Tang were attacked by Tibet and lost much territory, and at about the same time Uyghur people took control of northern Xinjiang around 842 AD. Manichaeism was the main religion of these Uighurs. The religion is now extinct, but it was once one of the world’s major religions. Then some of the Uighurs adopted Buddhism, and others accepted Christianity.

In the 17th century, the Mongolian Dzungars established an empire over much of the region. But then the Qing Dynasty (qīng cháo 清朝) exterminated them, and it is thought that a million people were killed in a large region around Urumqi (wū lǔ mù qí 乌鲁木齐). The Qing Dynasty brought in people from other areas to resettle the area. During the middle of the 19th century, there were several big rebellions of Muslims in Yunnan (yún nán shěng 云南省), Shaanxi Province (shǎn xī shěng 陕西省) and Gansu Province (gān sù shěng 甘肃省). These rebellions were encouraged by the initially successful Taiping Rebellion (tài píng tiān guó qǐ yì 太平天国起义) of people  who had some Christian beliefs. In 1864, the Uighurs and non-Uighur Muslims started a rebellion in the area of Xinjiang. The Qing Dynasty quickly defeated them and retook most of the lost territory.

Tourist Attractions
The Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City
The Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient CityThe Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City (jiāo hé gù chéng yí zhǐ 交河故城遗址) are situated in the Yaernaizi Valley, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Turpan (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番) in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (xīn jiāng wéi wú ěr zì zhì qū 新疆维吾尔自治区). Jiaohe distinguishes itself from other ancient cities owing to three features. First, it had only two city gates, the South and East Gates. Second, the city faces cliffs on three sides, so there are no city walls commonly seen in other ancient cities. Third, all the buildings were dug from earth, and wood was rarely used.
Location: West of the city of Turpan
Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 9:00 to 18:00

The Ancient City of Gaochang
The Ancient City of GaochangWithstanding the test of time and weather, the ancient city of Gaochang is one of the best -preserved ruins of the ancient cities in China. Gaochang, which means the king city in Uyghur language, was the capital of the old Yugor (yì dōu 亦都) people's empire. It was also an important section of the Silk Road, a great trade route of the past.
Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 8:00 - 17:00
Location: 45 km to the east of the city of Turpan

Emin Minaret
Emin MinaretEmin Minaret is the largest extant old tower in Xinjiang; it is the only Islamic tower among the hundred famous towers in China. The Emin Minaret was constructed by local craftsmen using local materials. The structure itself is made of wood and brick. The towering architectural shape of a minaret, always taller than it is wide, is a clear sign of the presence of Islam as are the abstract, geometric decorative elements.
Admission Fee: CNY 23
Opening Hours: 8:50am to 8:00pm

Karez Well
Karez WellKarez Well (kǎn ér jǐng 坎儿井) is an unique underground water system invented and built by the ancient farmers of various ethnic minorities of Turpan (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番), which aiming to adapt to the basin natural environment, solar radiation and the atmosphere in the dry region. This irrigation system of wells connected by underground channels is considered to be one of the three great ancient projects in China.
Admission Fee: CNY210
Opening Hours: 8:00am-5:00pm

The Flaming Mountain
The Flaming MountainThe Flaming Mountain (huǒ yàn shān 火焰山) is located on the northern verge of Turpan Basin (tǔ lǔ fān pén dì 吐鲁番盆地), more than 10 kilometers away from Turpan city (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番). It is the cradle of the Turpan ancient civilization and oasis agriculture. Eighty percent of the total natural landscapes and human landscapes in Turpan are located here. In there, it is bare, red rock, and incredibly hot, high and dry. Great to look at from a distance, but going into the mountains is not for the faint-hearted, and only in the coolest part of the day. They provide a spectacular backdrop to the oasis and scenery of the Turpan area, and have given rise to many legends and stories, such as the classic "Journey into the West"(xī yóu jì 西游记).
Admission Fee: CNY 230

The Grape Valley in Turpan
The Grape ValleyThe Grape Valley in Turpan (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番), Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (xīn jiāng wéi wú ěr zì zhì qū 新疆维吾尔自治区) has already won a great fame in the world, as it is a place with both beautiful landscapes and unique cultural features. The valley is a world of green with brooks, canals and sparkling springs. Scattered everywhere in the valley are trees, mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pomegranate, pear, fig, walnut, elm, poplar and willow; also watermelons and muskmelons, making the valley into a "garden of one hundred flowers" in spring and an "orchard of one hundred kinds of fruits" in summer.
Best Time to Visit: July to September
Recommended Food: Grapes, Juice Wine
Ticket: CNY 90

How to Get There
As the main tourist destination in Xinjiang, Turpan has a relatively developed transportation system. Visitors can get there by air (Urumqi International Airport which is 2 hours driving from turpan city center), by train or by long-distance buses. The city transportation also has some specialties with Donkey taxi.

By Taxi
Turpan taxi is very convenient. If you just go around the downtown area, it costs only CNY 5. You should make an agreement with the driver when you go to the suburbs or any scenic spots of Turpan. Usually, going from city center to Grape Valley (pú táo gōu 葡萄沟) will cost from CNY 15-20. The charge of chartering a taxi for a whole day is about CNY 300-400.
Taxi Complaint Number: 0995-8561977 / 8561666

By Train
Train to TurpanTurpan, which is less than 200 km from Urumqi, is the last stop along the Lanzhou-Urumqi rail line. It takes between 4 and 5 hours to reach Urumqi. Turpan Railway Station is actually located at Daheyan county. There is no railway station in Turpan city,. Daheyan Railway station is about 50 killometers from Turpan city center. There are daily trains shuttling between Turpan and other cities in Xinjiang Province, such as Urumqi, Hotan (hé tián 和田), Kashgar (kā shí 喀什), Korla (kù ěr lè 库尔勒), etc. Additionally, There are trains to and from many major cities, including Beijing (běi jīng 北京), Shanghai (shàng hǎi 上海), Xi’an (xī ān 西安), Jinan (jì nán 济南), Chongqing (zhòng qìng 重庆) and Zhengzhou (zhèng zhōu 郑州). Visitors can choose to take buses or taxis outside the railway station to get Turpan city center. The buses leave for Turpan city center every 30 minutes from 07:00 to 20:00 every day which costs CNY 5. Taxis are waiting there, you can take it at any time which costs about CNY 80.
Inquiries phone number: 0995-8642233
There is another railway station named Qiquanhu which lies near the city center. There are many bus routes to reach there from Turpan city center.

By Bus
There are two bus stations in Turpan: Turpan Bus Station and Daheyan Bus Station. They run buses to cities with Xinjiang, including Urumqi, Aqsu (ā kè sū 阿克苏), Tuokexun (tuō kè xùn  托克逊), Kashgar, Heshuo (hé shuò 河朔), Hami (hā mì 哈密), Korla and Tuyu Valley. It would be a comfortable experience for you to take bus in Turpan, which does not like other big cities in China. Because of the low population density, the bus is not crowd and you can easily find a seat when you get on. The eight bus routes in Turpan can take you to four directions of the city. The ticket fare is CNY 0.5 for the first 6 stops and another CNY 0.5 would be added if over that distance.

Turpan Coach
Turpan has buses to other Xinjiang cities. Everyday in the week, there are buses from Turpan to Urumqi which costs CNY 18. There are buses to Hami from Monday to Saturday which costs CNY 33. And on Monday and Wednesday, there are buses to Korla which costs CNY 41. There are buses to Aksu every Friday which costs CNY 91 and there are buses to Kashgar every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday which costs CNY 110.

Turpan By Other Vehicles
Turpan Donkey Taxi
Donkey taxi is a great specialty in Turpan city. Visitors can go to the near tourist attractions and local bazaar in and around the city. The donkey taxi is decorated with colorful blanket. It can hold about 10 people in it. You should bargain a suitable fare before starting your leisurely trip on it.

Local Food
The Roasted Whole LambSimilar to Urumqi food, Turpan food also includes many kinds of cuisine, such as Cantonese, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Muslim style and so on. Grapes and Hami melon are well known in the market for their sweet and juicy taste and loved by both the domestic and overseas customers. Every restaurant in Turpan has its own distinct feature. They offer famous Xinjiang food, all kinds of Chinese cuisines and Muslim specialties like ‘Baked Nang’, ’The Boiled Mutton Eaten by Hands’, ’The Cooked Chopped Entrails of Sheep‘ and ’The Roasted Whole Lamb‘. "The Musilaisi" is the special drink, which is loved by many people.

Guanghui Food Street: All cuisines and snacks what you can find in Turpan are gathered in this street. The street is about 2 kilometers long. There are barber and beauty shops, pharmacies, supermarkets and snack bars.  The snack bars are more than the others. The main snacks are as follows  “Baked Nang”, "The Boiled Mutton Eaten by Hands", "The Cooked Chopped Entrails of Sheep" and "The Roasted Whole Lamb". There are about 50 kinds of Nang in the street such as the commonly seen ones: Meat Nang, You (oil) Nang, Wowo Nang, Sesame Nang, Pian Nang and Hillman Nang.

Grapes RaisinsTurpan is famous for its handicrafts and other local products. The Grape Valley is famous for its grapes, raisins and splendid wines that are made from local grapes. Though the raisins are very convenient to bring home it would cost around CNY 10-200 per kilogram. The price for the local grapes is very cheap and you would get it for even CNY 1 per kilogram. You can also buy some products with Uyghur features such as knives, colorful caps, and carpets.

Turpan Shopping Tips
There are 2 tips of Turpan shopping from other Turpan travelers. If you have visited Turpan or living here and would like to share some tips of shopping in Turpan with other travelers, please share it here.

Recommended Place to Go Shopping
Shopping Malls & Department Stores in Turpan
What and where to buy: If you want to buy some daily consumer goods or tourism souvenirs of Turpan, there are many department stores and souvenir shop for this purpose:
Fairyland of Karez, Second Hotel Market, Silk Road Jade Carving Emporium, Turpan Department Building, Turpan Old City National Emporium

There are dozens of hotels with star ratings, including one five star hotel in Turpan by the end of 2008, according to source from China Online Hotels.There are many economic hotels catering to young budget travelers.
Turpan Silk Road Lvzhou HotelIf you are looking for some cheap accommodation options in Turpan, we have built a list of popular hostels in Turpan.
Popular Hostels in Turpan:
Gao Chang Hostel
Address: No.22 Gao Chang Road, Turpan city, Xinjiang
Phone: 0995-8523229
Lan Xin Hostel
Address: No.13 Laocheng Road, Turpan county-level city, Xinjiang
Phone: 0995- 8531740
Central Hostel
Address: Turpan county-level city, Xinjiang
Phone: 0995- 8522807

Turpan is also known as Huo Zhou (a place as hot as fire), which has an annual average temperature is 57.2 F (14 C). The city belongs to a arid continental climate with very hot summers, very cold winters. July is the hottest month, with averages ranging from highs of 77°F (25°C) to 111°F (44°C), while January is the coldest, with highs of 26°F (-4°C) and lows of -9°F (-23°C).

The Best Time to Visit:  the Best time for visiting is between July and August (though extremely hot) when the fruit crops are ripe. The annual Grape Festival held in August is a spectacular event that you would not want to miss.

Travel Tips
1. You should bring a sweater along even you visit there in Summer, because the temperature difference between day and night in Turpan is large.
2. Because the sea level of some region is very high in Turpan and the ultraviolet rays are strong in hot summer, you should bring enough sunscreen cosmetics and some OTC to prevent from heat stroking.
3. Never eat pork or talk about pigs when a Muslim is present.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 August 2010 11:58

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