Travel to Xinjiang, China: A Guide for International Travelers

Xinjiang, located in northwest China, is a region renowned for its diverse cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant ethnic traditions

If you’re planning to travel to Xinjiang you might be wondering how to obtain a China visa, which are the best tourist attractions, where to stay, if it’s safe for tourists, etc.

In this comprehensive guide, you will find essential information for international travellers planning to visit Xinjiang, including highlights of the region, and practical tips for a memorable journey.

A mountainous landscape in Xinjiang, China

Understanding the China Visa Process

Before embarking on your trip to Xinjiang, it is crucial to obtain the necessary travel documentation, including a valid China visa. Here’s an overview of the visa application process for international travellers:

Visa Types

The most common visa types for tourists visiting Xinjiang are the tourist (L) visa and the group tourist (L) visa. The latter is applicable if you are travelling with a group organized by a Chinese travel agency, click here for more information.

Application Process

a. Complete the application form: Fill out the visa application form accurately and provide the required information about your travel itinerary, accommodations, and personal details.

b. Gather necessary documents: Prepare your valid passport (with at least six months validity remaining) and a recent passport-sized photograph.

c. Submit application: Submit the completed form along with the supporting documents to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country or the country of your residence.

d. Pay the visa fee: Pay the required visa application fee, which varies based on your nationality, visa type, and processing time.

Visa Processing Time

Visa processing times may vary, so it is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended travel dates. Expedited processing is available for an additional fee if you require a faster turnaround.

Entry Requirements

International travellers must present their valid passports, along with the approved China visa, upon arrival in Xinjiang.

It is also recommended to carry printed copies of your accommodation reservations, return flight tickets, and any other supporting documents.

a mosque surrounded by snow-peaked mountains in Xinjiang, China

Discovering the Best Xinjiang Tourist Attractions

Once you have obtained your China visa, get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Xinjiang. Here are some highlights to explore:

1 – Heavenly Lake (Tianchi)

Situated in the Tianshan Mountains, Heavenly Lake is a picturesque alpine lake renowned for its crystal-clear waters, stunning reflections, and surrounding snow-capped peaks. Enjoy boating, hiking, and the serene beauty of this natural wonder.

2 – The Silk Road

Xinjiang has a rich historical connection to the ancient Silk Road, which served as a vital trade route connecting East and West. Explore cities like Kashgar and Turpan, which boast well-preserved historical sites, bustling bazaars, and ancient architecture.

3 – Uyghur Culture and Cuisine

Xinjiang is home to the Uyghur ethnic group, known for its vibrant culture and delectable cuisine.

Experience the unique blend of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese influences through traditional Uyghur music, dance, crafts, and mouthwatering dishes like hand-pulled noodles (Laghman) and lamb kebabs.

4 – Karakoram Highway

Embark on an unforgettable road trip along the legendary Karakoram Highway, one of the world’s highest international highways.

This epic journey takes you through breathtaking mountain vistas, deep valleys, and remote villages, offering a glimpse of Xinjiang’s raw natural beauty.

Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang, China
The beautiful Tianshan Mountains

Practical Tips to Travel to Xinjiang

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to Xinjiang, consider the following practical tips:

Weather and Clothing

Xinjiang experiences a wide range of climates, from scorching deserts to snowy mountains. Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack appropriate clothing and gear accordingly.


Xinjiang has an extensive transportation network, including airports, trains, and buses.

You can fly directly to major cities in Xinjiang, such as Urumqi and Kashgar, or take a train or long-distance bus from neighbouring provinces.

Within the region, local buses, taxis, and car rentals are available for convenient transportation.


Xinjiang offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to budget guesthouses and traditional yurts in rural areas.

It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best options that suit your preferences and budget.

Respect Local Customs

Xinjiang is a culturally diverse region, with various ethnic groups and religious beliefs. Respect local customs and traditions by dressing modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or conservative areas.

It is also essential to seek permission before taking photographs of individuals, especially those from minority groups.

Some women shopping at Xinjiang Market, China

Security and Safety

Xinjiang, like any other travel destination, has its own security considerations. Stay informed about the current situation and follow any travel advisories issued by your country’s government.

Keep your belongings secure, be cautious in crowded areas, and stay aware of your surroundings.


While Mandarin Chinese is the official language in China, many people in Xinjiang, particularly the Uyghur ethnic group, primarily speak Uyghur. Basic Mandarin phrases can be helpful, but consider carrying a phrasebook or translation app to facilitate communication.

Currency and Payment

The official currency in China is the Chinese Yuan (CNY). ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas where you can withdraw cash.

Credit cards are accepted in some hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments, but it is advisable to carry some cash for smaller vendors and remote areas. If you do plan on using a credit card, click here to learn how you can maximize your credit card rewards.

Internet and Communication

Internet access and mobile coverage are generally available in urban areas of Xinjiang. However, some foreign social media platforms and websites may be restricted.

Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access blocked content and stay connected with family and friends.

Health and Hygiene

It is advisable to check with your healthcare provider about any necessary vaccinations or precautions before travelling to Xinjiang.

Carry a basic medical kit, including essential medications, and drink bottled water or boiled water to ensure your well-being during the trip.

Cultural Sensitivity

Embrace the local customs and be sensitive to cultural differences during your stay in Xinjiang. Ask for permission before entering someone’s home, be respectful when visiting religious sites, and observe local customs, such as removing your shoes before entering certain establishments.

Xinjiang people, China

A journey to Xinjiang offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, historical sites, and diverse cultural experiences.

By obtaining a China visa, international travellers can embark on a remarkable adventure filled with the splendours of the Silk Road, the warmth of Uyghur hospitality, and the breathtaking landscapes of this enchanting region.

Remember to plan your trip well in advance, respect local customs and traditions, and make the most of your time exploring the unique treasures of Xinjiang.

Safe travels and have fun in China.

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