This new city, a product of China’s recent boom, is the regional transport hub and a useful base for exploring the surrounding region.
Dahlia DingChina Travel Specialist
Visit the south bank of Tian Chi, the Heavenly Lake, which is situated to the east of the Tian Shan Mountain range outside Urumqi. Cross the lake by boat and take in the majestic mountains, glaciers and forests that surround it.
Browse the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s foremost consumer paradises; a raucous, dynamic mix of peoples and products from all over Central Asia, Russia and Mongolia. Items on sale include, among others, fine rugs of silk and wool, assorted spices, fine grapes and melons (for which Xinjiang is famous), and the distinct fat-tailed sheep - a breed of sheep known for its hardiness and considerable tail fat, which can account for almost twenty percent of its total body weight.
Meet a curator for a privately guided tour of the Xinjiang Region Museum, whose collection includes 3000-year-old mummies on display, and gain insight into the history of the most ancient states along the Silk Road.
Take in the local blend of central Asian and Chinese cultures on display at the local night market. Dine in the city’s backstreets on sumptuous Uighur and Hui (Chinese Muslim) food such as lamb kebabs, sprinkled with cumin and grilled over charcoal; lamian, or hand-stretched noodles in steaming broth; or dapanji, chicken roasted in a giant pan with vegetables.
More adventurous travelers can hike and camp at the foot of Mount Bogda, then watch the sun rise at 10,600 feet (3,230 meters) above sea level, where there is a magnificent view of the countryside and the Heavenly Lake.
Visit a nomadic Kazakh family, who are usually situated south of the city on the "Southern Pasture". Have a rare chance to understand the local Kazakh nomads and their way of life.
Huocheng Lavendar Base, west of Urumqi, blooms in June, and has skiiing in the winter.
July to October is the harvest season for grapes in Grape Valley.