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Yili Travel Guide

Yili, also known as Ili, is a picturesque valley located in the northwest region of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is a stunning destination that is famous for its snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush green grasslands. The region is bordered by mountains on three sides and is home to a diverse mix of ethnic groups, including Kazakhs, Uyghurs, and Han Chinese, each with their own unique culture and traditions.

Yili is a popular destination for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty and rich culture. Visitors can explore the stunning natural reserves like Kanas Lake and Narati Grassland, experience the warm hospitality of the local people, and sample the delicious local cuisine. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Xinjiang Yili is a must-visit destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.

Xinjiang Tuergen Apricot Valley

Chinese: 伊犁 yī lí

Location: Northwest Xinjiang

Population (urban area):  2,848,393

Why Visit Yili?

1. Tranquility and breathtaking scenery

Yili is renowned for its abundant sunshine, clear blue skies, serene lakes, vibrant flowers, expansive grasslands, majestic snow-covered mountains, and welcoming ethnic communities. It’s a destination that’s perfect for those seeking tranquility and breathtaking scenery.

2. Rich cultural heritage

As a multicultural region, Yili boasts a rich cultural heritage that’s reflected in its diverse food, handicrafts, traditional attire, and performances. Visitors can sample the unique flavors of Uyghur, Kazakh, Mongolian, and Russian cuisines and witness the colorful displays of cultural performances.

3. Natural and historical attractions

Yili also offers a wealth of natural and historical attractions, including the picturesque Sayram Lake, the vast Nalati Grassland, the scenic Guozi Valley and Xinghua Valley, the ancient Xiata Path, and the fascinating Jiaohe Ancient City. Additionally, visitors can participate in local festivals and customs, such as the exciting Nadam Fair and the enchanting Lavender Festival.

Top Yili Attractions

Top Things to Do in Yili

  1. Visit the Sayram Lake Wetland Reserve– A protected area surrounding Sayram Lake that is home to a diverse range of bird species.
  2. Explore the Kanas Nature Reserve– A vast and stunning natural reserve that is home to diverse flora and fauna, including the elusive snow leopard.
  3. Experience local Kazakh culture at the Xinjiang Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Museum– A museum showcasing the history, culture, and traditions of the Kazakh people of Xinjiang.
  4. Taste the local cuisine at the Yining Night Market– A bustling market with a wide range of local food and snacks.
  5. Take a horseback ride through the Narati Grassland– A unique way to explore the stunning natural beauty of the region.
Nalati Grassland Xinjiang
Nalati Grassland

Yili Weather

Yili has a continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The best time to visit Yili is from May to October, when the weather is warm and dry, and the scenery is at its most beautiful. During the summer months, temperatures can reach as high as 30°C, while in the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing.

Yili Transportation

Getting to Yili is easiest by air, with flights available to the Yining Airport from major cities in China. Buses are also available from nearby cities like Urumqi and Kashgar. Once in Yili, taxis and buses are the most common modes of transportation.

Tips for Traveling in Yili

  • Yili is a region of remarkable cultural diversity, with a rich blend of ethnic groups that include Uyghur, Kazakh, Mongolian, and Russian. It’s important to respect the customs and beliefs of these communities, and learning some basic phrases in their languages can be a great way to communicate and show appreciation for their culture.
  • There are many natural and historical attractions to explore in Yili, such as the beautiful Sayram Lake, the vast Nalati Grassland, the picturesque Guozi Valley and Xinghua Valley, the ancient Xiata Path, and the intriguing Jiaohe Ancient City. It’s a good idea to plan your itinerary based on your interests and available time, and hiring a local guide or joining a tour group can help you make the most of your visit.
  • Yili serves as a gateway to other parts of Xinjiang and neighboring countries, with convenient air, train, and bus connections to cities such as Urumqi, Kashgar, and Turpan. For those looking to explore further afield, the Zhong-Ba International Highway offers a route to neighboring countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan. It’s important to check visa requirements and border regulations before embarking on any cross-border travel.
  • The climate in Yili is continental, with significant temperature fluctuations between day and night. It’s important to dress in layers and bring warm clothing, take precautions against the strong sunlight, and stay hydrated.
Xinjiang Xiata Ancient Road
Ride a Horse in Xiata Ancient Road

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