Very close to Turpan is a green and highly cultivated valley called Grape Valley in the Flaming Mountains. It is about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to the northeast directly, and about 11 kilometers (7 miles) by road. The ridge of the Flaming Mountains is quite bleak in most places, but certain irrigated valleys or canyons are green and highly cultivated. The cultivated area in Grape Valley measures about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long by more than about 1 kilometer wide at the mouth of the canyon. The cultivated area narrows the further up one goes. There is an amusement park, several different touristy places and resorts, and a park. There are tourist villas, hotels, shops, restaurants, and gardens. If you have ever been to Knott’s Berry Farms in California, this is kind of a Chinese and Uighur version of it without big rides and with people living and working in it. People can buy grapes, wines, jams, and other produce and merchandise and enjoy the grape scenery and Uighur entertainment including pretty Uighur girls dancing.
The Grape Valley Scenic Area (吐鲁番葡萄沟风景区) is famous for its fruit production, but it has also become a tourist spot where people can go to eat and get refreshed during a tour. The total cultivated area for grapes and other fruit is about 400 hectares or 1,000 acres. There are also willows, poplars and other kinds of ornamental trees. Grapes cover about half the cultivated area. Uighurs often entertain tour groups in their houses and restaurants. There are local handicrafts and carpets for sale. A handicrafts factory was set up where people can watch carpets being made. There is also a wine brewery.
During very ancient times when caravan traders passed through the area as they went to or from the Gansu Corridor to the east, the Turpan area was a place to trade, get provisions and rest. Nowadays, people tired after touring the sites in the desert may enjoy this small valley that is like an oasis.
The Flaming Mountains has another valley not far to the east called Tuyugou Valley where there are ancient sites and natural scenery. The highest of the Flaming Mountain peaks is there. The Mutou Valley has the Bezeklik Grottoes and natural scenery. There are vineyards all over the area around Turpan and a lot of historic spots. At the Turpan Karez Museum that is nearby in Turpan, you can learn about the ancient karez irrigation system.