Almaty – Urumqi by bus
Buses to Urumqi leave from Sairan bus station every day at 7am. A ticket costs 10000 tenge. Book in advance, they tend to sell out a few days beforehand, especially on the weekend. The bus takes 22 to 28 hours, depending on the wait at the Chinese border.
Almaty – Urumqi by airplane
Flights go a few times per week with China Southern Airlines and Air Astana. Prices are around 250$ one-way. It takes around 3 hours to get there.
Almaty – Urumqi by train
The train from Almaty to Urumqi runs twice weekly. It takes 30 hours.
The long travel time is due to the fact that the Kazakh railroad system has a different gauge than the Chinese one, and 8 hours will be spent on the border, changing the wheels of the train carriages. Taking the bus is about 10 hours faster. Another problem with this option is that it books up fast, especially in summer. The Saturday train in particular can be booked out up to 1 month in advance in peak season. Get your tickets as soon as possible.
In Almaty, go to the train station, a travel agent or one of the many booking offices around town. In Urumqi, tickets are sold in the office at the Yaou Hotel, to the right of the main station. Ticket sale for the Saturday train starts on Monday 10am, for the Monday train it starts Friday 10am. Current price for a ticket is around 110$ one way.
For more on trains, see trains in Kazakhstan.