Introduction to Tourist Attractions in Southern and Northern Xinjiang

Quickly understand the tourist attractions in northern and southern Xinjiang

First Time in Xinjiang: North or South

Xinjiang, a vast area located in western China, has the magnificent scenery of northern Xinjiang and the unique humanities of southern Xinjiang, forming a beautiful picture. Whether you are chasing scenery or obsessed with exotic customs, Northern and Southern Borders can meet your expectations.

Below are the main attractions in northern and southern Xinjiang so that you can quickly understand how to plan an unforgettable trip.

The differences between southern Xinjiang and northern Xinjiang

Map of southern Xinjiang and northern Xinjiang
Map of southern Xinjiang and northern Xinjiang

The two geographical concepts of Southern Xinjiang and Northern Xinjiang originate from the geographical location of Xinjiang, which is divided into two different regions by the Tianshan Mountains. The north of the Tianshan Mountains is called Northern Xinjiang, while the south of Tianshan Mountains is called Southern Xinjiang. This geographical separation results in significant differences in climate, geography and culture between the two regions.

Southern Xinjiang and Northern Xinjiang-Climate

There are obvious differences in climate types: Northern Xinjiang has a temperate continental arid and semi-arid climate, while southern Xinjiang has a warm temperate continental arid climate. This makes the two regions significantly different in meteorological conditions such as precipitation and temperature.

Southern Xinjiang and Northern Xinjiang-regional scope

Northern Xinjiang includes Urumqi, Karamay, Altay region, Tacheng region, Changji, Shihezi, Beitun, Kokdala, Ili, Bortala and other places; while southern Xinjiang includes Kashgar, Tumushuk, Aksu , Alar, Hotan, Korla, Tiemenguan, Kunyu and other places.

Southern Xinjiang and northern Xinjiang have different basins

Northern Xinjiang has the Junggar Basin, while southern Xinjiang has the Tarim Basin.

Between Southern Xinjiang and Northern Xinjiang-Duku Highway

Due to the existence of the Tianshan Mountains, transportation between southern Xinjiang and northern Xinjiang is relatively inconvenient and the travel time is long.

In order to solve this problem, the 561-kilometer-long Duku Highway was specially built, crossing the Tianshan Mountains. It is known as the magnificent wonder of "traveling through four seasons in one day and seeing different weather in ten miles". The construction of this highway has greatly promoted exchanges and connections between northern and southern Xinjiang.

Famous tourist attractions in northern Xinjiang

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📍 Urumqi (Diwopu International Airport)

  • As a transportation hub, it is the starting point of Northern Xinjiang and a departure or transfer point often chosen by tourists. The airport is conveniently located, providing convenience throughout the journey.

📍 Changji

  • Tianshan Tianchi: Sitting on the breathtaking scenery of lakes and mountains, it is a beautiful wonderland in northern Xinjiang. Walking around the lakeside and admiring the natural beauty is a peaceful and unforgettable experience.

📍 Turpan

  • Grape Valley: The valley with countless grape vines is like a piece of emerald and is an exquisite masterpiece of nature.
  • Flame Mountain: The majestic volcanic landform, showing flaming colors at sunset, is amazing.

📍 Altay

  • Hemu: The rhododendrons and pastoral style all over the mountains and plains are a picture of nature.
  • Kanas: With its picturesque lakes and mountains, it is known as the "Pearl of Northern Xinjiang" and is an unforgettable destination.
  • Keketuohai National Geopark: The rich geological landscape attracts photographers and nature lovers.
  • Baihaba Village: This village is located in the Altay region and retains the traditional Kazakh style. The houses are mainly white, which contrasts with the surrounding natural scenery.

📍 Yili (Yining Airport)

  • Huocheng Lavender: The dreamy sea of lavender flowers makes people immersed in the purple fairy tale world.
  • Nalati Grassland: The vast expanse of grassland, where cattle and sheep roam leisurely, is a peaceful resort in nature.
  • Sailimu Lake: Known as the Pearl of the Tianshan Mountains. The lake is as green as jade and is surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains, just like a fairyland. Strolling around the lake and admiring the spectacular natural beauty is a peaceful and unforgettable experience.
  • Ili River Valley: It is the main river in the Ili region of Xinjiang. The valley area is picturesque, with rich orchards, fields and snow-capped mountains complementing each other.
  • Karez Grand Canyon: The deep canyon and steep rock walls constitute a magnificent geological wonder.
  • Kanyili Grand Canyon: The canyon is winding and surging with rapids. It is a thrilling rafting resort and an excellent display of natural scenery.
  • Nalati Scenic Area: It includes two major scenic spots: sky grassland and river valley grassland. The sky grassland has a high terrain, overlooking the beautiful scenery of the entire grassland; the valley grassland is built along the river, with clear river water and pleasant grassland on both sides. This is a beautiful place that combines nature and humanity, attracting many tourists to appreciate the miraculous craftsmanship of nature.
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📍 Kanas

  • Including Wolong Bay, Yue Bay, Shenxian Bay and other beautiful scenic spots. This is a pearl in the northern Xinjiang region, and the scenery of lakes and mountains is intoxicating. Wolong Bay, Yue Bay and Shenxian Bay respectively show different styles of Kanas Lake and are ideal places for lovers of natural scenery and outdoor activities.

📍 Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture

  • Hongshan Tiankeng: It is a huge sinkhole, and the deep volcanic geological landscape is breathtaking.
  • Bayinbulak Grassland: In this pleasant scenery, cattle and sheep eat green grass leisurely, forming a pleasant picture against the blue sky and white clouds.
  • Bosten Lake: It is a mountain lake. The scenery of the lakes and mountains is intoxicating, and the natural environment surrounding the lake area also provides visitors with the opportunity to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Jiuqu and Eighteen Bends is a winding mountain road with beautiful scenery along the way. This attraction is located in southern Xinjiang and is an excellent choice for driving travelers. As the mountain road winds around, you can enjoy the magnificent natural scenery, which is a favorite check-in spot for photography enthusiasts.
  • Swan Lake Nanjiang Swan Lake is located in the Kashgar region of Xinjiang. It is a quiet and beautiful lake. The lake is clear and surrounded by mountains. There are a large number of swans living on the lakeside all year round, hence its name. Swan Lake is a natural wetland that attracts many tourists to enjoy the scenery of the lake and mountains and feel the tranquility and beauty of nature.

📍tex county

  • Bagua City: The landform echoes the traditional Chinese Bagua culture, integrating natural landscape and cultural connotation, providing tourists with opportunities to explore and appreciate.

📍Karamay City

  • Karamay City: It is a scenic spot famous for its special wind erosion landform. The unique terrain shape is reminiscent of a magical castle, as if you are in an exotic wonderland. Visiting this miraculous land makes people immersed in the miraculous craftsmanship of nature.

📍 Burqin County

  • Colorful Beach: Located in Burqin County, Xinjiang, it is famous for its colorful landforms. The Danxia landforms on this land show brilliant colors such as red, yellow, and orange, like a natural abstract painting. Under the reflection of the setting sun, the colorful beach becomes even more mysterious and charming.

📍 Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture

  • Dushanzi Grand Canyon: It is a breathtaking natural wonder. The cliffs on both sides of the canyon are of different shapes, making you feel like you are in a mysterious stone carving gallery. Walking there, you can feel the majesty and unique charm of nature.

📍 Duku Highway

Duku Highway is an important highway connecting Ili and Tacheng areas in Xinjiang, and it is also one of China's famous road travel routes. Along the way, you pass through canyons and mountains, and the scenery is breathtaking. Self-driving tourists can experience high mountains, rapid rivers and colorful natural scenery on this highway.

📍 S21 Desert Highway

S21 Desert Highway is a desert landscape highway in Xinjiang, passing through the vast desert area. Along the way, you can enjoy the magnificent desert scenery and feel the vastness and mystery of nature. This road provides a unique travel experience for those who enjoy self-driving adventure.

Famous tourist attractions in southern Xinjiang

📍Kashgar Region (Kashgar Airport)

  • Kashgar Ancient City: The thousand-year-old ancient city in Kashgar is an exotic ancient city. Its unique architecture and bustling markets show its long history and culture.
  • Ta County: The ancient Buddhist temples complement the surrounding desert, presenting a picture of the harmonious coexistence of ancient times and nature.
  • Chude Hot Spring: The hot spring environment is elegant and pleasant, and it is a good place to relax body and mind. It brings together the magical beauty of nature and provides a peaceful and comfortable hot spring experience. It is a must-visit place during your travels.
  • Yarkand: Famous for its unique natural scenery and strong national culture. Kashgar is one of the areas with the most folk customs in Xinjiang

📍Kizilsu region

  • Atush Tianmen:The majestic natural scenery and mysterious cultural landscape complement each other, making Atush Tianmen an intoxicating tourist attraction.

📍Bayingoleng area

  • Luobu Village: The ancient folk customs are perfectly presented in the Luobu Village. The unique architectural style and primitive lifestyle are fascinating.
  • Loulan Ancient City: The site of an ancient civilization is one of the important archaeological discoveries in western China. It is like a time tunnel, making people feel the long history.

📍Aksu region

  • Wensu Grand Canyon: The Wensu Grand Canyon in Aksu is famous for its spectacular canyon landforms, which are breathtaking and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Tianshan Tomur Grand Canyon: The cliffs on both sides of the canyon form a rugged landscape, and the rivers and rich vegetation in the canyon add a lot of color to this area. This is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves are located in southern Xinjiang and are a group of Thousand Buddha Grottoes. These grottoes preserve a large number of Buddha statues and murals, showing the unique charm of ancient religious culture.

📍Hotan area

  • Niya ruins (Jingjue ancient city): Niya ruins have witnessed the rich accumulation of civilization. The ruins of Jingjue ancient city show the long history and unique culture of the place.
  • Taklimakan Desert: The Taklimakan Desert is one of the largest mobile deserts in the world, located in southern Xinjiang. This desert may feature vast sand dunes, spectacular desert landscapes, and unique natural wonders. You can choose to participate in a desert adventure, appreciate the beauty of sunrise and sunset in the desert, and feel the magic and vastness of nature.
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📍 Baisha Lake

  • Baisha Lake is located in southern Xinjiang and is a lake like a fairyland. The lake is clear and green, surrounded by mountains, presenting a peaceful and beautiful picture. The natural scenery around Baisha Lake is beautiful, and it is suitable for walking around the lake and appreciating the tranquility and mystery of nature.

📍 karakul lake

  • Karakul Lake is also located in southern Xinjiang. It is a mountain lake at the foot of Muztagh Peak. The lake is crystal clear, reflecting the reflection of the surrounding snow peaks, like a blue mirror. The natural environment around Lake Karakul is pristine and pure, making it an ideal place for photography enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

📍 Muztagh Peak

  • Muztagh Peak is on the eastern edge of the Pamir Plateau. The peak is covered with snow all year round and surrounded by peaks, forming a majestic natural picture. Climbing to the top of Muztagh Peak, you can overlook the surrounding mountains, rivers and valleys, and feel the magnificent scenery brought by the snow-capped mountains. This is also one of the destinations that mountaineering enthusiasts yearn for.


  • Kuqa Palace: Kuqa Palace is a historical building in the Kuqa area of southern Xinjiang. It was built in the Qing Dynasty. This palace shows the architectural style of ancient Central Asia, where visitors can appreciate the rich cultural and historical heritage.
  • Korla Mysterious Grand Canyon in Tianshan Mountains: It is a breathtaking natural wonder. The terrain of this grand canyon is steep, with cliffs of different shapes on both sides of the canyon, making it seem like you are in a mysterious geological world. Visitors can feel the majesty and unique charm of nature here, making it an ideal place for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers. At the same time, the rivers flowing in the canyon and the colorful rock formations also add a mysterious and unique landscape to this area.

📍Taxkorgan River Bank

  • Xinghua Village: It is a scenic spot like a fairyland. Every spring, apricot blossoms bloom, and the whole village is surrounded by a sea of flowers, making it picturesque. The long water of Tashkurgan River and the gorgeous almond blossoms form a perfect contrast, creating a peaceful and beautiful picture. The apricot blossoms here are not only unique and beautiful, but also carry rich cultural heritage, attracting tourists to linger in this peaceful countryside.

📍Korla City

  • Korla: Known for its unique city scenery and rich history. There are various museums and monuments in the city, making it a city worth visiting.

📍Tarim Basin

  • Tarim Populus euphratica forest: Located in the Tarim Basin in southern Xinjiang, it is the largest Populus euphratica nature reserve in China. The Populus euphratica forest here has a unique ecological environment and is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers.

📍 Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County

  • Pamir Plateau: The Pamir Plateau, located in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is one of the largest plateaus in the world and is part of the Karakoram Mountains. Featuring majestic mountains and the snow-capped Muztagh Peak, this plateau region presents stunning natural landscapes.
Swan Lake

Recommendations for suitable travel seasons in Xinjiang

  • Spring (March-May):

    Ili and Sailimu Lake in northern Xinjiang, Kashgar-Pamir Plateau in southern Xinjiang.

  • Summer and autumn (June-November):

    It is suitable for both northern and southern Xinjiang. The fruit maturity period in southern Xinjiang is from June to September, and the best viewing period for Populus euphratica forest is October.

  • Winter (December-February):

    Tianchi, Altay and Sailimu Lake in northern Xinjiang, Kashgar and Korla in southern Xinjiang.

Should I choose to travel to southern Xinjiang or northern Xinjiang?

In addition to referring to the above attractions, the simplest way to divide it is

Northern Xinjiang tourism focuses on the scenery

Grasslands, mountain lakes, seas of flowers, forests, and snow villages, like the scenery of Switzerland and Finland

Tourism in southern Xinjiang focuses on humanities

Characteristic architecture, exotic customs, Gobi desert, but also special natural landscapes, not only humanities,Similar to Morocco etc.

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