Red Hill Park (红山公园, Hong Shan Gong Yuan) is basically in the center of the city of Urumqi and is easy to find since the hill is noticeable with a nine-story red brick pagoda called Zhen Long Ta on top. It is uncertain when the pagoda was built. In the evenings, the hill might glow red in the sunlight. After a short but steep climb on a stairway, you can see the tall buildings nearby in the downtown area and the woody area of People’s Park across a highway. Besides a panoramic view of the city, places to exercise, and the brick pagoda, the park has lots of water, shade trees, a Ferris wheel, a Buddhist temple and amusement park rides.
The park is a fun place to go. Admission is free, but you have to pay for rides and stuff. There are some trees and gardens, and you can cross the road to nearby People’s Park (人民公园). It has more shaded walkways and trees to stroll around in.
People’s park is about 300 meters south of Red Hill Park across Hetan Bei Lu and has a lot of trees and paved paths. It is a place to stroll around and watch Chinese people playing games or musical instruments. This park also has lots of water and greenery along with amusement park rides. It might be a place to go to keep cool on a summer day.
Nearby, only about 3 kilometers or 1.5 miles away, is Urumqi’s best historical and cultural museum called the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Museum (Qu Bowuguan, 自治区博物馆, 132 Xi Bei Lu). It has free admission and is next to the Sheraton Hotel. There are displays of silk objects that have been discovered from different eras of history and other artifacts. The most important discoveries archeologically are old Caucasian mummies that date from about 2,000 BC to 400 AD.
Most of Urumqi is a regular Chinese city, but to see some regional culture and shop, the Grand Bazaar and the Uighur district where it is located is an interesting place to go. If you only have a few hours in Urumqi and want to quickly experience Central Asian culture, that is the place to go. At the Grand Baazar, you can buy Xinjiang products and products from Russia, Mongolia and the new states to the west. There is a big mosque there. The Xinjiang Silk Road Museum (新疆丝绸之路博物馆) is easy to find since it is located right next to the Grand Bazaar at No. 160 Shengli Road. It is in a large European-style building that also has a shopping complex.
If you want to go on short excursions in the area of Urumqi to see ancient historical sites of the desert region, the mainly Uighur city of Turpan is only about three hours away. To see Kazakhs and enjoy the scenery, you can go to the South Pasture area on Nan Shan to see Kazakh shepherds and ranchers with herds and the Kazakh tourist industry. You can rent yurts and ride horses.