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Kashgar Old Town: Timeless Charms and Cultural Essence of Xinjiang

A vital hub on the ancient Silk Road, Kashgar Old Town (aka Kashgar Ancient City) is located in Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang. For thousands of years, it had served as a melting pot for cultural exchange between Central Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.

With its rich history and cultural heritage, this ancient city is a can’t-miss to experience the essential cultural allure of Xinjiang. It boasts the most exotic ancient city in China, with its rustic dwellings, labyrinthine alleys, and traditional workshops altogether exuding a traditional Central Asian ambiance.

Planning a trip to Kashgar Old Town? That means you will walk into the life of the local Uyghur ethnic group, sip a cup of tea in the century-old teahouse, listen to local elders narrate the stories of the old city, and watch ethnic performances by local folk artists…

Fast Facts of Kashgar Old Town

  • Location: In the heart of Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
  • Opening Hours:All day
  • Ticket Price: Free for entrance, some historical relics require tickets.
  • Area: Approximately 20square kilometers
  • Time Needed: 1-2 days
  • Highlights: Traditional architecture, narrow alleyways, markets, local cuisine, and cultural traditions of local Uyghur people.
  • Suited to: People interested in exploring the history, culture, and traditions of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang Kashgar Old Town
Welcome Ceremony in Kashgar Old Town

History of Kashgar Old Town

According to the record, as early as the 2nd century BCE, when Zhang Qian of the Western Han Dynasty was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Western Region, Kashgar Ancient City had served as a crucial hub. Throughout its long history, it has remained an important outpost for the government of the Central Plains to intervene in the affairs of the western areas. This contributes to it being a pivotal junction along the ancient Silk Road and facilitates the vibrant cultural exchange between East and West in this area.

Things to Do in Kashgar Old City

Walk Through Labyrinthine Alleys & Explore Beautiful Uyghur Architecture

Ancient City of Kashgar has been listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for being the largest and most complete Islamic architectural complex in China. With nearly 200 narrow alleys twisting through numerous Uyghur houses, the dwelling district of the city is just like a labyrinth, evoking a sense of mystery.

As you stroll around the ancient city, you will inevitably be drawn to the colorful Uyghur dwellings. Each dwelling is in vibrant colors and decorated with elaborate wood carvings, iron art, and intricate brick decorations. These structures are testaments of the Uyghur people’s enthusiasm for life.

Most of the houses are wood or brick frame structures, and have witnessed a history of over one hundred years.

Xinjiang Kashgar Ancient Town
Neighborhoods in Kashgar Ancient Town

Enjoy Leisure Time in Kashgar Century-old Teahouse

The teahouse is a two-story building on the Wusitang Boyi Road in Kashgar Old City. The decoration of the building exudes typical ethnic charm, with raised platforms known as “kang” being built along the walls to provide cozy seating for customers.

It is a haunt for locals to engage in leisurely conversations, and play musical instruments. More than just a cultural landmark, the Century-old Teahouse offers a glimpse into local’s daily life and human connection. Here visitors can not only savor authentic Uyghur tea, but also appreciate traditional performances by local folk artists, and immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural atmosphere.

Learn Traditions of Islam at Id Kah Mosque

The Id Kah Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Central Asia which can date back the Ming Dynasty. The mosque is in typical Islamic architectural style, being impressive for its imposing façade of yellow brick and white trim. The mosque is comprised of structures such as the gatehouse, main prayer hall, minaret, courtyards, and ablution rooms.

From the main entrance of the mosque, visitors will be led to the Id Kah Square where local Muslims gather for prayers, festivals, and ceremonies. If you visit here on grand festivals, you may encounter a jubilant atmosphere and celebration here.

Beyond its religious significance, Id Kah Mosque also stands as a witness to the vicissitudes of Kashgar.

Discover Diverse Traditional Crafts

A haven for authentic Xinjiang craftsmanship, the Handicrafts Street in Kashgar Old Down is teemed with shops of marvelous handicrafts. These handicrafts not only serve as visual delights but also the remarkable ingenuity of the local people.

Wool tapestry is one of the most outstanding treasures here. All the tapestries are crafted with traditional weaving techniques, featuring vibrant colors, soft textures, and intricate patterns.

Copper craftsmanship is another highlight of Kashgar’s craftsmanship. They are popular for their impeccable casting techniques and delicate designs.

Other noteworthy handicrafts in Kashgar include embroidery and jade carving,  gold and silver jewelry, woodcarvings, and wine flasks. Visitors can buy some of the handicrafts either as souvenirs or for home use.

Xinjiang Kashgar Handicrafts Market
Exquisite souvenirs on Handicrafts Market

Join in the Opening Ceremony

Enjoy the Opening Ceremony The opening ceremony is a lively event at the eastern gate of Kashgar Old Town. It usually commences with an introduction to the rich history of  Kashgar ancient town. After that, the audience will be invited to join in the local dance called “Mai Xilai Fu”. Following the dance, you can enjoy lively performances from some prominent figures in Kashgar’s history, including Zhang Qian, and Uncle Maimaiti, etc.

The opening ceremony is held twice daily at 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Additional shows will be arranged during peak tourist seasons.

Recommended Xinjiang Tours including Ancient City of Kashgar:

Best Time to Visit

Generally, spring and autumn are the best times to visit Kashgar when the weather is mild and comfortable.

Spring (March to May) is the time when the ancient city comes alive with blooming flowers, and also the time when many folk events are held.

In autumn (September to November), the weather is still pleasant, and the streets and alleys are blanketed with golden leaves. It is also the time to savore a large amount of fresh local fruits.

How to Choose Hotels in Kashgar

The Ancient Town is divided into east part and west part. If you prefer the lively atmosphere and plan to spoil yourself in bars at night, hotels near the East Gate are recommended. If you prefer a quiet environment, accommodations near the West Gate are better. Below are some popular accommodation options:


  • Kashgar Old City Scenic Area Meiju Hotel:Located at 272 Renmin East Road; offers rooms overlooking the entire city.
  • Hengyuan Hotel (Kashgar Old City People’s Square Branch): offers comfortable accommodation, near to the Century-old Teahouse.


  • Guli’s Home:with daily Uighur song and dance performances; prices are resonable; transformed from an old house.
  • Ulanduo Guesthouse:in Bohemian style; has a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Huajianli Guesthouse:slightly higher priced; features an artistic ambiance

How to Get to Kashgar Old Town

Visitors can conveniently get to Kashgar Old City by plane, train or bus.

By Plane:

You can fly directly from Urumqi, Beijing, and Shanghai to Kashgar airport which is about 15 km from the old city. It is easy to take a taxi or bus to reach.

By Train:

The nearest train station to the ancient city is Kashgar Railway Station. You can take a train from Urumqi, Lanzhou, Xian, and other major cities in XInjiang to Kashgar first, then, reach the old city by taxi or bus. The train station is about 8 km away.

Attractions Nearby Kashgar Old Town

  • Abakh Khoja Tomb: Located nearby, the Abakh Khoja Tomb is a historic mausoleum that offers a glimpse into the history and culture of the region.
  • Karakul Lake: Located approximately 200 kilometers from Kashgar, Karakul Lake is a stunning alpine lake that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and scenery.
  • Id Kah Mosque: a historic mosque that offers a unique glimpse into the Islamic heritage of Xinjiang
  • Kashgar Sunday Market: see the traditional trading methods and savor authentic local food.

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