Kashgar

Travel Guide Asia China Xinjiang Kashgar

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Introduction

Mutton on sale in Kashgar, China

Mutton on sale in Kashgar, China

© schweboo

Kashgar (喀什, قەشقەر, Kāshí) has been a major commerce center on the Silk Road for over 2,000 years. This city has gone between many different powers over the millenniums. The Chinese started to take an off and on presence in Kashgar starting in the Tang Dynasty around 600 AD. Marco Polo visited Kashgar in 1237 and recorded several Nestorian Christian Churches. In 1759 the Manchus took back Kashgar and made it part of China. Kashgar was the capital for several different brief republics from the late 19th century till the Chinese Communists take over.

Today Kashgar has become a major gateway between China and Central Asia. Kashgar is a mixing pot of local Uigur, Tajiks, Kirghiz, Uzbekh and Han Chinese. Although the city is starting to become more and more modern there is still a great old town that feels like a throw back to a previous era.

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Sights and Activities

  • Tomb the Fragrant Concubine - Tomb the Fragrant Concubine (香妃, Xiāngfēi, ئىپارخان) is part of the Afaq Khoja Tomb (阿帕克霍加), which houses a few other bodies. There are several stories about the origins of this 17th century beauty. Some say she was Uyghur others a mix of Han/Uyghur. Other stories say she was kidnapped others say she was given to the emperor and fell in love with him. The tomb built in 1640 is amazing and the museum at the entrance houses a couple of ancient mummies that are worth the extra ticket. The tomb is located in the village of Haohan Village (浩罕村)

Mor Buddhist Pagoda (About 40 km northeast of Kashgar city). Built in 7th century during the Tang dynastyת and destroyed in the 12th century. Nowadays only one pagoda is left, next to the pagoda is a platform. The pagoda is the place where the monks in the city to come and do their worship. The Mor pagoda has three square layers, each a little smaller than the one below it. The bottom layer has circumferences of more than forty-eight meters, the second layer forty meters and the third layer thirty-two meters, while the pagoda stands more than twelve meters high. The platform beside the pagoda was one of the central temple structures, and in its side walls were carved niches housing Buddha figurines. But now there aren’t any figures left, and even the niches themselves are barely visible.
Old Town. The warren-like old town is worth visiting for its winding streets, friendly if occasionally guarded residents and delightfully improvised architecture. A RMB30 toll is levied at the main entrances to the residential district, but this can be evaded by finding a back entrance into the area through the multitudinous back alleys that exit onto the main roads.
Mal Bazaar (Take bus 23 from near the international bus station, next to the river. (RMB 1)). Sundays. The livestock market, where locals from all the surrounding villages come to town to buy and sell animals. It's held on an open and fenced ground. It's popular with tourists, yet is so big it still feels like (in fact it is) a working bazaar. It changed its location some three years ago; now it's a good 30 minute bus ride north of the city (bus 23, get off with everyone else - you'll know when) or a (RMB 15-20) metered taxi ride for around 15 minutes.
Id Kah Mosque. Open 08:50-22:00 though closed during services. First built in 1442, it is distinctive for its yellow walls and Central Asian architecture. Women are generally not allowed inside, but modestly dressed foreigners should have no problem. You should remove your shoes before entering the carpeted area. ¥20.
Tomb of Apak Hoja (3 km (1.9 mi) from the city centre, Bus number 20 from Renmin Square or taxi). 08:00-17:30, prayer day is Friday. A massive, elegant building created in 1640 in typical Islamic style. Also a pilgrimage site. This is also the resting place of the "Fragrant Concubine", although the historial mentions of her rebellion against the Chinese imperial army are delicately omitted in the tomb's accompanying introduction. ¥30.
Tomb of Yusup Khass Hajip. The tomb of Kashgar's much loved philosopher and poet who wrote the 13,290-line poem The Wisdom of Happiness and Pleasure in the Uighur language. RMB30.
Tomb of Mahmud Kashgari (About an hour's drive from Kashgar in Upal). The tomb of an Uyghur scribe, famous for compiling a dictionary of the Turkic languages in the 11th century. This picturesque complex is situated on a hillside and includes a mosque and a sacred spring. Upal has a lively bazaar. RMB30. edit
Davakul Lake. Davakul Lake is 130 km from Kashgar, on the southeast tip of Taklimakan Desert. Davakul means "curing lake" in Uyghur language. It is one of the nearest places to Kashgar to do one or more days camel trekking in the Taklamakan Desert. RMB30.

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Events and Festivals

Due to being a mainly muslim area, all Islamic holidays are celebrated to an amazing degree. The Han Chinese population is growing, therefore all Chinese holidays are also celebrated.

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.

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Getting There

By Plane

Kashgar Airport (KHG) has a number of flights. Domestic flights include Urumqi with China Southern Airlines, Deer Jet, Chine Eastern Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Hainan Airlines. The only international flight is to Islamabad with China Southern Airlines but only seasonal. China Eastern Airlines also flies to Shanghai and Shandong Airlines to Jinan.

By Train

Kashgar Railway Station (喀什火车站; Kāshí Huǒchēzhàn) is the main railway station in the city. It is on Renmin East Road (人民东路; Rénmíndōnglù). Although it is east of the town centre, the distance is too far for walking. Bus 28 connects the city including Renmin Square (人民广场; Rénmín Guángchǎng), to the railway station. From the railway station, walk out and turn right and you will probably see a bus waiting there already. The fare is ¥1 and is paid onboard. If you do not know where you are going, get on bus 28, get off at Renmin Square and figure things out from there; the city centre is walkable and at Xinhua Bookstore (新华书店; Xīnhuá Shūdiàn), next to the main square, you will be able to purchase the best maps of Kashgar for about ¥5-8 (although these maps are only in Chinese).

From the railway station, Qinibagh and Seman Hotels can be reached a couple of stops after Renmin Square on bus 28 and then walking uphill for about 5 minutes; the people on the bus can probably help you and most people on the street know where these places are.

Kashgar is at the end of the Urumqi-Kashgar line. Destinations of interest include:
Korla - takes about 13-16 hours
Kuqa - takes about 9-11 hours
Urumqi - Fast train K9788 - takes 24 hours, departs at 13:15 ,Train 7558 - takes 32 hours, departs at 08:15
Turpan - about 22 hours by the fast train

Kashgar–Hotan Railway has been completed and is now also open. Stops include but are not limited to:
Yarkand - takes about 4 hours
Hotan - takes about 10-12 hours

By Car

The Karakoram Highway runs from Pakistan into China. Kashgar is the nearest major town on the Chinese end.

By Bus

International Bus Station is at 5 Jicheng Road.

Korla- takes about 16 hours
Kuqa- takes about 11 hours
Urumqi- takes about 24 hours
Sost, Pakistan- daily buses, which includes an overnight stay at Tashkurgan required at own expense. In Sost, there are connections from Gilgit.
Hotan- takes about 10 hours . If you take the night bus, it takes about seven hours, letting you out in front of Hotan's Jiaotong Bingguan (Traffic Hotel) at 3:30am.
Tashkurgan- takes about 8 hours
Yecheng- takes about 4 hours
Ili- takes about 26 hours

From Kyrgyzstan
To Osh: Two weekly direct sleeper buses (Mon and Fri) leave at 10:00 (Beijing time), and the trip takes about 18 hours. The trip is pricey at ¥550 and the buses depart from Kashgar International Bus Station (north of town on the road to the airport).

It is less expensive, and maybe even faster, to get to Osh, or at least to Sary Tash in Kyrgyzstan using a combination of service taxis and trucks. At Kashgar's International Bus Station, get a taxi around 08:30 (Beijing time) for the 2 hour journey to the immigration point near Wuqia (they'll want 300Y but you can bargain down to 150Y). If you want to take a shared taxi to Wuqia (25Y), go earlier to make sure you're at the immigration checkpoint when it opens at 11:00. From Wuqia, stick to the main road and flag down passing vehicles westwards or get another taxi for the five-minute journey to the immigration checkpoint. There, immigration officers will even help you to get on a truck or into a car - they all go at least to Sary Tash. Trucks might require a small payment, or at least prepare some cigarettes to give to the driver. If you're lucky to get a seat in a car, you may be in Sary Tash before 17:00. From there, it's only 3 hours to Osh (2000-2500 Som for a private taxi). There is no special permit (other than a Kyrgyz visa) required for this border.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - You will need a special permit if you're a foreigner. Most foreigners use the services of a travel agency. There is a direct bus, which takes about 16 hours including overnight stay (you must have PSB permit and valid visa for Kyrgyzstan).

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Getting Around

Most of Kashgar including the bus station, bazaar, main square, downtown (with the notable exception of the animal market) can be reached on foot within 15-20 minutes of each other if you are not carrying huge amounts of baggage. The railway station is too far to walk but is reachable with public bus 28 which, among other places, stops at Renmin Square (人民广场; Rénmín Guángchǎng), the main square. The international bus station is near the city and walkable.

The old town and narrow alleyways are pretty much only explorable on foot.

Cross streets carefully in Kashgar as no pedestrian crossings are available.

Cycling is an option but the traffic is somewhat dangerous, so only do this if you are experienced with this kind of traffic environment. Bicycles can be rented at major hotels such as Qinibagh for typically less than ¥30/day.

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Eat

Xinjiang cuisine is full of mutton. It's delicious but there's not a lot of variety. Try the rice pilaf, laghman (noodles with stir fry on top), and mutton kebabs in small restaurants all over the city. It may be wise to avoid anything with ice as the ice in Kashgar is usually carried in large blocks and frequently placed on the ground so they may not be clean, but there are places around Id Kah where the ice is clean and safe, and well-known all around Xinjiang. During the summer months there are huge heaps of melons and watermelons - cheap, tasty and refreshing. The going price for a hami melon (哈密瓜; hāmìguā) is around ¥1 per kilogramme, so in total, it costs ¥2-5 per melon depending on the size. Buying, washing and cutting it yourself is probably the most hygienic way to eat these fabulous tasty fruits. It would be wise to have the melon seller to cut the melon for you, as it will be hard to find a knife.

A little oasis for those looking for home style western food or a cup of "real" coffee, foreign-owned Gallery Cafe opened in October 2009. The place also acts as a showcase for local artists' oil paintings and a tourist information center. They are tucked away in an alley at the edge of Kashgar's old town. From the main intersection at Da Shi Zi, go north on JieFang N. Road towards Id Kah Mosque and take the first right.
Altun Orda Restaurant is the local restaurant with reasonable prices. It is not only good place to taste some local dishes but also to see the local architecture of Uighur people. Try the specialty pollo or rice pilaf with raisins. Tel: +86 (998) 2583555.
Karakoram Cafe (新疆), 87 Seman Road (新疆喀什色满路87号2822669), ☏ +86 998 3422888. Western style. Quality food, hot drinks and service that speak English, this may be an oasis in the middle of hectic Asia. Prices are a little pricey but if you can afford it, it is worth it.
K2 Rooftop Cafe, Rd Nuo'er Beixi (Right to the North of Id Kah Mosque), ☏ +86 998 2823376. Western style. Fine coffee& pizza, iced drinks, dessert and waiter that speaks good English, the terrace that covered with plants has great view of the mosque and the old town. The cafe is within the Kashgar Pamir Hostel.
Shawarma (Continental food), 110 Seman Road (Just north of Eden Hotel and Fubar on Seman Road). Owned and run by a native Pakistani, this is the place to get home-made Pakistani food in Kashgar. Serving mostly daily specials, such as a spicy ground beef platter or curried chicken, the taste of the food is impressive. Ask politely in advance to have delicious falafel or houmous made to order. 10-20 Yuan.
Yasin Kariagim Silk Road Uighur Restaurant, 库木代尔瓦扎路 Kumudaierwazha Road (Just off the main old city shopping road that runs up the west side of the Id Kah Mosque), ☏ +86 2820008. Popular among the locals, this place serves very fresh meat. In fact, sometimes they have no more meat to offer because they've sold out. Buy a nan bread fresh out of the oven from one of the many local bakers on the side of the road and bring it with you. Get lamb skewers and liver skewers and enjoy it with your nan bread. 10-20 Yuan.

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Drink

There are not as many places serving alcohol in Kashgar as in other areas of China.

John's Cafe (In Qiniwak Hotel (ancient british consulate)). Offers backpacker hospitality at 1.7 times the price of other locations, and is very popular among single travellers. Managed by Jack who speaks fluent English. Seems to be closed in the off-season.
The Gallery Cafe (Gallery Cafe), Jie Fang Bei Lu (From DaShiZi, go towards the Idkah mosque and take the first right turn), ☏ +86 998 2828207. A little oasis for those looking for home style western food or a cup of coffee. Foreign-owned Gallery Cafe opened in October 2009. The place also acts as a showcase for local artists' oil paintings and a tourist information center.

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Sleep

Kashgar Old City Youth Hostel (喀什老城青年旅舍), NO.233 in Wusitangboyi road (bus number 28), ☏ +86-998-2823262. A hostel centrally based with dorm beds and shared bathrooms. Beds were previously very hard, but in spring 2012, the hostel purchased new mattresses that are much more comfortable. Enclosed with a central courtyard with eastern styled areas. Seems to be very popular so a booking is suggested. Community Breakfast (10Y), lunch and dinner (20Y) is offered, as well as a kitchen area. April 2016: There are also doubles for 108Y (non-attached bathrom) or 140Y (own bathroom) 45Y/Night.
Qiniwak Hotel (喀什其尼瓦克宾馆; Kāshí Qíníwǎkè Bīnguǎn), 144 Seman Road (色满路144号; Sèmǎnlù) (Occupies the building that used to be the British Consulate, at the cross road with Nuoerbeixi), ☏ +86 998 2981158. Offers dorm style bedrooms in the adjacent building. More expensive doubles have free internet. Business centre, currency exchange, gift shop, ticket office, karaoke, massage and sauna available. Chinese and Western Restaurants as well as coffee shop and bar. Dorms ¥50 in a three bed room; discounted rates for doubles ¥160 including breakfast.
Kashgar Guest House, Tawaguzi Road, ☏ +86 998 2612360, fax: +86 998 2614679.
Chini Bagh Hotel, 337 Seman Road, ☏ +86 998 2822103, fax: +86 998 2842299. Prices for a double start at ¥60 in the older building.
Seman Hotel (Seman Binguan), 337 Seman Road, ☏ +86 998 2582150, fax: +86 998 2582129. In an old Russian consulate building, the rooms are oddly-shaped with simple bathrooms, common areas have high ceilings and military-themed oil paintings, 300 rooms. Prices for a double start at ¥100. Dorms from ¥40.
Hotel Eden, ☏ +8613899132103, ✉ abdulcafe@gmail.com. The hotel is right on the edge of the old town. Double Rooms are ¥238 per night incl. breakfast.Fantastic yogurt on the ground floor restaurant although served at room temperature. The ground floor restaurant of this hotel is one of the "happening" scenes of Kasghar among locals and is usually packed with affluent local Uyghurs.
Sultan Hotel (苏力旦大饭店), no 37 North Liberation Road (Just south of the Id Kah Mosque), ☏ +86 09982653333, ✉ sultanhotel@163.com. A four-star Uigher-run hotel just south of the central mosque. Reasonable price most easily obtained by calling them. ¥240.
Kashi Tianyuan International Hotel (喀什天缘国际酒店; Kāshí Tiānyuán Guójìjiǔdiàn), 8 Renmin East Road (人民东路8号; Rénmíndōnglù), ☏ +86 998 2801111, fax: +86 998 2802266. Four star hotel with large rooms with free internet and mini bar. Business center, gift shop, ticket office, karaoke, spa, massage and sauna available. Chinese restaurant coffee shop and room service. The restaurant is not good, but the 24 hour spa, massage and sauna are excellent. Listed rates for doubles ¥780-1,880 including breakfast.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.

Post

China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 39.4676901
  • Longitude: 75.9937942

Accommodation in Kashgar

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This is version 51. Last edited at 10:56 on Jan 10, 20 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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