Xinjiang Surreal Summer
8-Day Xinjiang Tour with Ili River Valley
If you visit Xinjiang in summer, the Ili River Valley must be the top destination for enjoying the natural beauty of Xinjiang.
West of Urumqi, cradled between the "two arms" of the Heavenly Mountains, the Ili River Valley embraces extremely beautiful scenery: flowers, grasslands, snowy mountains, and forests. There you will find picture-perfect landscapes that surpass even your dreams and imagination. It is also the homeland of many ethnic minorities, who you can meet: Uyghur, Kazakh, Mongolian, Kyrgyz…
During this 8-day Xinjiang tour, starting from Urumqi, you will drive forward the west and revel in the dreamlike Ili River Valley.
Tour 'Wow' Points
Find the Best-Kept Secret of the Heavenly Mountains on an Ancient Path
Enjoy a short hike on the ancient trail connecting the south and north of the Tianshan ('Heavenly Mountains') Range. Journey into an oil painting landscape of snow-topped peaks, grasslands, and forests.
Enjoy the Blue of "the Atlantic's Last Tears"
Have a relaxing walk on the banks of Sayram Lake. Warm moist air from the Atlantic Ocean travels more than 5,000 km (3,000 miles), but no further, to leave this beautiful sapphire-like lake.
Ride a Horse on the "3D Grassland"
Experience the lifestyle of Kazakh nomads. Visit a herdsman's yurt and enjoy a traditional meal.
Encounter the Romantic Purple in Ili River Valley
Visit the biggest lavender plantation in China. Dive in the 'ocean' of purple flowers
Meet Friendly People in a Lovely Town
Take a horse-drawn carriage to tour a traditional district where the Uyghur people live. Have a chat with local people under the grape terraces in their garden.
Why Choose Us
Your Wellbeing is Our Priority.
- 1-to-1 travel expert
- Vaccinated guides
- Private Rides
Your Trip is Perfectly Planned.
- No crowds
- Exclusive Exciting Experiences
Your Booking is Risk-Free.
- No cancellation fee
- Free changes
Finish Your Booking in as Quick as 1 Day
2. Work out your unique plan with 1 to 1 expert advice
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
Staycations for expats in Beijing
We are expats living in Beijing, and due to the current epidemic prevention rules, we had to cancel our original plans for a long weekend at the last minute. We contacted China Highlights and they planned a great last-minute staycation for us near the Great Wall. more
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
When you land in Urumqi, your personal tour guide will be waiting for you in the arrivals area and will be ready to transfer you to your hotel. Explore the Urumqi International Bazaar during the rest of the day to get your first impression of Xinjiang's ethnic culture.
Drive from Urumqi to Sayram Lake. Enjoy a nice walk along the plank path on the bank of the lake and sit on the glassy land dotted by little wildflowers. Feel the breeze, perhaps carrying some of the "last tears" from the Atlantic Ocean.
Admire the spectacular scenery of Guozigou — 'Fruit Valley'. The great highway project and towering Guozigou Bridge traverse the deep gorge and add to the magnificence of the valley views.
Drive from Sayram to Tekes via Huocheng. Stop at Huocheng for the romantic lavender vistas.
Visit the most beautiful grassland in the Ili River Valley — Kalajun. Enjoy strolling on the "green blanket" with colorful flowers. The dark green forest and snowy peaks may make you feel like you are walking in an oil painting. Ride a horse to experience the life of Kazakh herdsmen, if you like.
Explore Tekes Town in the late afternoon, which is built according to the shape of a bagua (an Eight Trigrams grid). A city with excellent fengshui and concentric octagons of roads, you will be surprised that this is a town without traffic lights. Walk around the Lijie Street. Take some interesting pictures in front of old walls painted with classical Xinjiang artwork.
Explore Kuokesu Canyon to enjoy the quirks of nature. Crocodile Bend (the big bend of the Kuokesu River whose promontory looks like a big crocodile) and Body Grassland (a mountain grassland with graceful hilly curves like a human body’s) are the highlights that you should not miss.
Head west to Zhaosu Town, just south of a central ridge of the Heavenly Mountains, at the end of the day to be in prime position for Day 7's hike.
You will explore a best-kept secret of the Heavenly Mountains on day 6. Enjoy a hike on an excellent section of the ancient path connecting the south and north zones of the Tianshan Range for centuries.
Climb to a meadow where little wild flowers decorate the green grassland and dark green cypress trees grow on the surrounding slopes. Snowy summits will face you like a huge screen that the trail somehow penetrates. Lose yourself in the beauty of summer mountain dreamscapes.
If you want, you can go 4 km (2½ miles) further to get closer to a glacier.
Head north through the Heavenly Mountains to Yining, capital of Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture.
Explore the Kazanqi District of Yining City, an area rich in Uyghur culture, where the residential houses are painted blue or green and have other traditional Uyghur ethnic features. Visit an old private museum where you can see more than 800 accordions. The owner of the museum will be happy to play a folk song for you.
If you are interested in some local snacks, the ice cream and the roast dumplings are recommended.
Your guide and driver will escort you to Yining Airport to catch your flight to your next destination.
—the Icing on the Cake
Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.
- Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
- English speaking local guide
- Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
- 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling
Tour code: xj-13