Xinjiang Hemu Village
Home China Tour China Group Tours 11 Days In-depth Northern Xinjiang Adventure Tour

Tour Overview

The Tianshan Mountains divide Xinjiang into two major parts, the North and the South. Our 11-day well-designed group tour focuses on the northern part of Xinjiang, which will be an unparalleled scenic journey.

Starting from Urumqi, you’ll be taken to travel counterclockwise around the Junggar Basin, and then return to Urumqi, visiting nearly 20 scenic spots along the way, including the Heavenly Lake, Kanas Lake, Hemu Village, Five-Colored Beach, Urho Ghost City, and Dushanzi Grand Canyon.

Not only does it cover magnificent natural landscapes, but this in-depth Northern Xinjiang tour extends to Turpan, a critically important stop on the ancient Silk Road. The travelers can delve deeper into the cultures of Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities, explore ancient pagodas and irrigation systems, and enjoy fun desert activities.

Travel destinations: Urumqi, Fuyun, Burqin, Hemu, Kanas, Kuitun, Turpan
Suitable for: Photographers, Nature Lovers
Tour type: Group

Highlights of this tour:

1. Visit the beautiful alpine lake – the Heavenly Lake, and experience an optional boat trip.
2. Explore the typical mineral deposits and learn about the significance of the No. 3 mine.
3. Take a leisurely walk through one of China’s most beautiful villages.
4. Learn about the mysterious legend of the water monster in Kanas Lake and enjoy the stunning scenery of Kanas.
5. Admire the Yardang landforms and learn the difference between Devil City and the Five-Colored Beach.
6. Catch a glimpse of Turpan’s culture through the ingenious Karez Well, the ancient Jiaoghe Ruins and the iconic Sugong Pagoda.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. We are so glad to have you on our 11-day Northern Xinjiang photography tour! Upon arrival in Urumqi (the capital city of Xinjiang), your driver will wait for you at the exit of the arrival hall holding a welcome sign, then escort you to your carefully selected hotel.

    The city of Urumqi is filled with a rich Western flavor, with Islamic-style buildings dotted around, distinctive ethnic commodities, unique food, melons, and fruits. The rest of the day is dedicated to exploring this exotic city on your own. (There is no English-speaking guide and no activities today)

    Meal: N/A

    Accommodation: in Urumqi

  2. After breakfast at the hotel, your trip to Northern Xinjiang officially begins. The first stop of the day is the beautiful Tianchi, aka the Heavenly Lake, which in ancient Chinese mythology was the place where the Queen Mother of the West bathed. At an altitude of 1,910 meters and a depth of 105 meters, the Tianchi Lake reflects Mount Bogda and is surrounded by spruce, just like a fairyland. Strolling in this scenic spot, you will enjoy the natural landscapes of alpine lakes, wetland meadows and forested canyons.

    Optional activities: you can pay extra to take a boat trip on the lake to get a unique perspective.

    Xinjiang Heavenly Lake Boat Ride
    Rent a Boat and Explore the Heavenly Lake

    Afterwards, drive along National Highway 216 through the vast Gurbantunggut Desert, the second largest desert in China, covering an area of 48,800 square kilometers with spectacular scenery along the way. Continue driving to Kalamari Nature Reserve, established in 1982, dedicated to providing a home for treasured animals such as Mongolian wild asses, wild horses, antelopes, etc. Here you will see them roaming freely on the Gobi.

    At the end of the tour, your driver will transfer you to Fuyun. Enjoy a relaxing evening in this quaint town, take a leisurely stroll, or indulge in the local cuisine.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Fuyun

  3. Today, we will take you to explore Xinjiang Keketuohai Geopark, which covers an area of 2337.9 square kilometers and is characterized by typical granite deposits and mines. Among them, the No.3 Mine is the most worth seeing, famous at home and abroad as the "Museum of Geology and Minerals", and the "Mecca" in the minds of Chinese and foreign geologists.

    Keketuohai No.3 Mine
    No.3 Mine in Keketuohai

    The mine is home to 86 of the 140 minerals known to exist on earth, with rare metals accounting for more than 90% of the mine's reserves. You will learn more about the mysteries of this place from your professional guide.

    After saying goodbye to the Keketuohai, we head to Burqin for an overnight stay.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Burqin

  4. After breakfast, your North Xinjiang group tour will take you to Hemu, a small picturesque village co-populated by Kazakhs and Tuva people. The village is small, with the main road through the village being about two to three kilometers long, and can be explored on foot. The viewpoint is located on the hillside across the Hemu River, where you can capture a panoramic view of the village.

    Xinjiang Hemu Village
    Admire the traditional Tuwa houses in Hemu Village

    Strolling through the village, you will notice that all the houses here are wooden and the local ethnic minority people maintain their quaint way of life (optional: we can arrange a home visit for you to learn about their unique customs, if you are interested). The Hemu River, with its light blue waters, flows alongside the village, while grasslands and birch forests surround the village. Autumn is the best season to visit Hemu, when it is golden, just like a fairy tale.

    Tonight, you will relax in a cabin.

    Meal: Breakfast + Dinner

    Accommodation: in Hemu

  5. Today, we are going to visit the highlight of the trip - Kanas Nature Reserve, which is located in the deep mountains and dense forests in the territory of Burqin County in Altay Region. It is a must-see in Xinjiang for photography enthusiasts. Upon arrival, we will transfer to a sightseeing bus for an excursion inside the scenic spot.

    You will see the clear and serene lake, which changes color with the season and weather. The lake is surrounded by a mixture of spruce, fir and Siberian larch forests, and the sunny slopes are covered with dense grasses and different plant communities, which in the fall are as beautiful as a fairyland, with different colors including gold, red, and dark green.

    Xinjiang Kanas Lake
    Explore the Pristine Waters of Kanas Lake

    You can also climb up to the 600-meter-high Fish Viewing Platform, where you can overlook the Kanas Lake and the misty green mountains and snow-covered ranges in the distance. If you are interested, you can take a cruise, for an additional fee, to see the fascinating aspects of this scenic spot from another angle.

    Meal: Breakfast + Dinner

    Accommodation: in Kanas

  6. This morning you will continue your stop in Kanas to enjoy the pristine mountain and lake views. After lunch, drive about 3 hours back to Burqin to enjoy a river beach - Five-Colored Beach, which is famous for its Yardang landforms.

    Five-Colored Beach is a small scenic spot with a depth of about 1 kilometer. There are a number of trestles and viewing platforms. The usual visiting time is about 2 hours, but if you are a photography enthusiast, you may need more time.

    The best time to visit Five-Colored Beach is at sunset. Due to the dry, flat terrain here, there are long golden or red sunsets in the evening that cast a beautiful glow over the colorful terrain. Across the river is a dense aspen forest that mirrors a beautiful scenery in the river.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Burqin

    Xinjiang Five-Colored Beach Burqin
    Five-Colored Beach

  7. After breakfast, say goodbye to Burqin and head to Urho Ghost City, which is a typical Yardang landform. Huge stone pillars of different shapes stand side by side on the Gobi Desert, very spectacular and majestic.

    Ghost City is located in a windy area, also known as the "Wind City". Strong winds often howl between the stone pillars, resembling the cries of ghosts, which is the reason why it is named "Ghost City".

    This is a typical wind-erosion landform. The wind stirs up sand, gravel, and rocks, constantly striking, colliding, and rubbing against the rocks. Over time, rocks of varying hardness are "blown" by the wind into various strange shapes.

    After the visit, we will drive to Kuitun. Upon arrival, check into a comfortable hotel and rest well for the night.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Kuitun

    Urho Ghost in Xinjiang
    Ghost City

  8. The in-depth Northern Xinjiang tour will return to Urumqi today. During the journey, we will visit the Dushanzi Grand Canyon, which was created by hundreds of millions of years of snow water from the Tianshan Mountains. Honored by the National Geographic of China, it is the first attraction along Xinjiang's most beautiful highway, the Duku Highway.

    We will then continue driving to Urumqi, where your local guide will take you to visit the Xinjiang Regional Museum, which showcases the history of Xinjiang and the folklore of various ethnic groups through numerous artifacts. You will see ancient corpses, which are rare in China, as well as artifacts such as the Han Dynasty brocade.

    Afterwards, visit Erdaoqiao International Bazaar, a symbol of Xinjiang's commercial and tourist prosperity, with its rich Islamic architectural style. You'll see a wide range of handmade products such as ethnic clothing, printed hats, carpets, and musical instruments for sale here. Take the opportunity to try some local specialties and taste some seasonal fruits, which are famous throughout the country.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Urumqi

    Erdaoqiao International Bazaar Xinjiang
    Chinaxiantour's customers in Erdaoqiao International Bazaar

  9. After breakfast, drive 3 hours to Kumutag Desert. Located at the eastern edge of Turpan Basin in Xinjiang, Kumutag is a flowing desert with numerous sand dens and sand hills, etc. Here you have a wide selection of recreational programs to choose from, such as camel rides and desert buggy rides (additional charges).

    Kumutag Desert Xinjiang
    Kumutag Desert

    After the desert adventure, go to Tuyugou, located about 55 kilometers southeast of Turpan, which is the oldest surviving Uyghur village in Xinjiang, with a history of more than 1,700 years, and still preserves the oldest Uyghur folklore.

    Continue your journey to explore the Flaming Mountains, the hottest place in China, with a maximum temperature of 47.8℃ in summer. The main peak of Flaming Mountain is covered with pines and cypresses, which are evergreen in all seasons. You will also be impressed by the unique red geological formations here.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Turpan

    Xinjiang Tuyu Valley
    Tuyu Valley

  10. The first stop on today's journey is the Karez Well, a specialized irrigation system for desert regions. You will take a guided tour deep into the intricate underground channels to see how they distribute water efficiently.

    Continue your cultural tour to the Sugong Pagoda, the largest surviving ancient pagoda in Xinjiang completed in 1778 AD. It is an Islamic pagoda with a novel and chic shape, and the exterior is made of grayish-yellow bricks.

    Xinjiang Sugong Pagoda
    Sugong Pagoda

    Turpan has a 3000-year history of grape growing. Next, you will visit the Grape Valley where you will see lush vineyards and taste sweet grapes. Finally, end your Turpan tour with a 2-hour tour of Jiaohai Ruins, the ruins of an ancient city that has been preserved for more than 2,000 years. The buildings of this ancient city are built with rammed earth, making them very distinctive.

    After the tour, return to Urumqi city.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Urumqi

    Xinjiang Jiaohe Ruins
    Well-planned Jiaohe Ruins

  11. Your 11-day North Xinjiang tour will end today. Enjoy your leisurely morning until your driver escorts you to the airport for your flight to your next destination or home. Hope you had a good time in Northern Xinjiang and wish you all the best in the future.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: N/A

Tour Price

Arrival Date Departure Date Twin Occupancy Single Supplement
Jul. 19
Jul. 26
Jul. 29
Aug. 05
USD 1690 USD 600
Aug. 02
Aug. 09
Aug. 16
Aug. 23
Aug. 12
Aug. 19
Aug. 26
Sept. 02
USD 1690 USD 600
Sept. 06
Sept. 13
Sept. 20
Sept. 27
Sept. 16
Sept. 23
Sept. 30
Oct. 07
USD 1690 USD 600
Oct. 04 Oct. 14 USD 1690 USD 600
Apr. 18
Apr. 25
Apr. 28
May 05
USD 1190 USD 500
May 02
May 09
May 16
May 23
May 12
May 19
May 26
Jun. 02
USD 1190 USD 500
Jun. 06
Jun. 13
Jun. 20
Jun. 27
Jun. 16
Jun. 23
Jun. 30
Jul. 07
USD 1390 USD 600

Price Includes

  • 10 nights' accommodation in well-selected hotels;
  • Meals listed in the itinerary;
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle with licensed drivers;
  • Excellent local English-speaking tour guides services as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Entrance tickets as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • 1 bottle of mineral water per person per day;
  • China Travel Insurance.

Price Excludes

  • Flight/train tickets to/off Urumqi;
  • Any optional activities inside the attractions;
  • Any item not mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Single Room Supplement;
  • All kinds of gratuities for guides, drivers & others.
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