11 Days Xinjiang Adventure with Taklamakan Desert

Xinjiang is mostly covered with uninhabitable deserts and dry grasslands, with dotted oases at the foot of Mountains. Taklamgan desert is the largest desert in China and the 10th largest desert in the world. It is also the second largest shifting desert in the world. During the tour, we will drive across the Taklamgan desert and visit the highlights of the cities: Kashgar, Khotan, Turpan and Urumqi.


  • Drive across the Taklamgan desert – the largest desert in China.
  • Visit the highlights of the cities: Kashgar, Khotan, Turpan and Urumqi.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kashgar Arrival
  • Day 2: Kashgar – Karakul Lake
  • Day 3: Karakul Lake – Kashgar
  • Day 4: Kashgar – Yarkant
  • Day 5: Yarkant – Khotan
  • Day 6: Khotan – Kuqa
  • Day 7: Kuqa – Korla
  • Day 8: Korla – Turpan
  • Day 9: Turpan – Urumqi
  • Day 10: Urumqi – Heavenly Lake
  • Day 11: Urumqi

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Kashgar Arrival

Sightseeing and Activities:
Accommodation: Kashgar

Airport or train station pick up and then transfer to your hotel in Kashgar city. Have a good rest on the first day.

Day 2 Kashgar – Karakul Lake

Sightseeing and Activities: Karakul Lake
Accommodation: Yurt
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast at hotel, drive on Karakorum high way to view the fantastic scenery of Karakul Lake. On the road, enjoy the scenery of the Mt. Muztag. Karakul Lake is the highest lake of the Pamir Plateau. Enjoy the crystal water, the peaks and blue sky, and also the creatures here.

Today we will stay in the local Yurt for overnight.

Day 3 Karakul Lake – Kashgar

Sightseeing and Activities: stone city, Idgar Mosque, Handicraft street, the Old Town
Accommodation: Kashgar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, head to visit stone city. Then drive back to Kashgar and visit Id Kah Mosque, one of the biggest mosque in China, which was built by Saqsiz Mirza in 1442. Then head to handcraft street, which is full of unique and exotic goods. It is one of the most featured street in various local handicrafts in and around Kashgar Xinjiang China.

Afterwards visit the Kashgar old city, a major stop along the Silk Road, which is full of Uygur style folk residences.

Day 4 Kashgar – Yarkant

Sightseeing and Activities: Sunday Bazaar, Apak Hoja Tomb, Yarkant old town, Yarkant King Tombs
Accommodation: Yarkant
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Morning, head to visit Sunday Bazaar and Apak Hoja Tomb. Sunday Bazaar is the busiest part of the city, which covers a total area of 0.17 square kilometers with more than 5,000 stable stalls. Abakh Hoja Tomb is the largest Islamic mausoleum of Xinjiang. It is most known as the Tomb of Xiang Fei, who is one of the imperial concubines of Emperor Qianlong.

After the tour, drive to Yarkent and visit Yarkant old town and Yarkant King Tombs. Yarkant King Tombs is the most attractive sight of Yarkant County. First built in 1533, its structural layout and wall decorations still remain intact in classic Uygur style which attracts multitudes of sightseers.

Day 5 Yarkant – Khotan

Sightseeing and Activities: Atlas Silk Workshop, Malikawat Ruins, Khotan Museum
Accommodation: Khotan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Visit the Karsu Desert in the morning. Then head to Khotan and visit the Atlas Silk Workshop, Malikawat Ruins and Khotan Museum. Atlas is the Uyghur word for silk. See this silk made in the traditional handmade process from cocoon to weaving.

Lying 25 km southwest of Hotan, majority of the Malikawat ruins are buried underground in the deep sands. Hotan Museum houses over 400 pieces of cultural relics excavated from the ancient cities of Niya, Mallikurwatur, and Yotkan.

Day 6 Khotan – Kuqa

Sightseeing and Activities: Taklamakan Desert Highway
Accommodation: Kuqa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today drive a long way(8-9 hours) on Taklamakan Desert Highway to Kuqa and enjoy the desert landscape.

Day 7 Kuqa – Korla

Sightseeing and Activities: Kizil Grottoes, Kuqa Old Town
Accommodation: Korla
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, head to visit Kizil Grottoes and Kuqa Old Town. The Kizil Caves are a set of Buddhist rock-cut caves which are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China occurring between the 3rd and 8th centuries. Kuqa Old Town is one of those historically significant places to visit in China’s far western region of Xinjiang with its maze of narrow streets, mud brick houses, Arabic mosques and bazaar.

After the tour, head to Korla.

Day 8 Korla – Turpan

Sightseeing and Activities: Jiaohe Ruins, Karez Well System, Sugong Minaret
Accommodation: Turpan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Morning drive to Turpan for visiting. Upon arrival, head to visit Jiaohe Ruins. It is a natural fortress located atop a steep cliff on a leaf-shaped plateau between two deep river valleys. Then move on to Karez Well System. Located in the Turpan Depression, it is a vertical tunnel system adapted by the Turpan people.

After that, continue the tour to Sugong Minaret. At 44 meters high, it is the tallest minaret in China.

Day 9 Turpan – Urumqi

Sightseeing and Activities: Bezklik Grottoes, Astana Tombs, Tuyoq Valley
Accommodation: Urumqi
Meals: Breakfast

Today visit Bezklik Grottoes first, a complex of Buddhist cave grottos. Then move on to Astana Graves, an underground cemetery of ancient Gaochang residents, which is considered to be one of the humblest burial sites in China.

After that, head to visit Tuyoq Valley, splitting the grand Flaming Mountain into two parts, which is a gorgeous valley with a long history, splendid culture and charming natural scenery.

After the tour, drive to Urumqi.

Day 10 Urumqi – Heavenly Lake

Sightseeing and Activities: Xinjiang Museum, Heavenly Lake, International Bazaar
Accommodation: Urumqi
Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast at hotel and then head to Xinjiang Museum. A visit to Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi would be incomplete without a visit to the Xinjiang Museum. It is a comprehensive historical museum in China built in 1953, and famous for holding artifacts and mummies of Caucasians who lived in the region 1500 and 4000 years ago.

Then move on to Heavenly Lake, 98km northeast of Urumqi downtown. It is a crescent alpine lake in the north of Bogda Peak, which enjoys crystal water due to melted snow as its source.

Then back to the city and visit International Bazaar. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Urumqi city, which is the largest bazaar in the world by scale, combining Islamic culture, architecture, ethnic commerce, tourism and entertainment.

Day 11 Urumqi Departure

Sightseeing and Activities:
Meals: Breakfast

Transferred to the airport or train stataion for your next destination.

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • Domestic train tickets of soft sleeper.

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs.