Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

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daway
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Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby daway » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:10 am

I'm finalizing a two month trip through Xinjiang, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Looking for opinions on the locations in parentheses. Currently have

Fly into Xi'an
Xi'an -> Jiayuguan -> Dunhuang -> Turpan -> Urumqi / (Tian Chi Lake) -> (Sayram) -> (Yining) -> (Narat) -> Kuqa -> Hotan -> Kashgar -> (Tashkurgan, Karakul) -> Osh -> Bishkek -> Song Kul -> Bishkek -> Issyk Kul -> Arslanbob -> Osh -> Pamir Highway -> Dushanbe -> Bishkek
Fly out

I'll be doing a couple weeks worth of hiking around Bishkek / Issyk Kul / Arslanbob, so I'm wondering if going to Karakul in Xinjiang or Tian Chi by Urumqi will be "redundant". Also wondering if Sayram, Yining, Narat grasslands are worth the detour, especially since public transit in that area seems spotty and I'd likely have to shell out for private transport. Would Issyk Kul be nicer than either Sayram, Karakul or Tian Chi?

The time I'd save would go to more hiking in Kyrgyzstan or more days in the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Currently planning on roughly 1.5-2 weeks on the Pamir Highway.

Thanks for any advice!
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Naja*
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby Naja* » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:22 am

Hi! I visited Xinjiang just this month (and travelled and lived in China before), so I would say: Taking into account your choice of cities along the way (especially Xi'an, Dunhuang and Urumqi which are interesting to see but exhausting to stay in...) Yining is a very nice variation. I was suprised how many different things you can do around there and how comparatively relaxing this city is - like spending a whole day at the Ili river side, seing the (pretty large!) old town, doing a day trip to Sayram lake (the mountains around are beautiful!), going to the grass lands and so on...
Also, North Xinjiang is supposed to be very different from South Xinjiang (for instance there is a huge difference between Kashgar and Yining!) and seing both ways of how Uyghur people and other Xinjiang groups live (also the differences how strict "security" checks are these days...) definitely worth it! So, if I did your tour, I would go to Yining (by high speed train it only takes 6h or something to Urumqi), do some day trips around there and rather skip Tian Chi (especially in summer it is super touristy!). Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to visit Karakul Lake but according to Josh Summer (Did you hear about his travel book "FarWestChina" yet? I think both his book and his facebook page+youtube channel are great for finding inspiration for Xinjiang! - Also, he always posts on facebook if there are any changes in the regulations; like recently that tourists are not allowed to do homestays amymore...) this is one of the most beautiful spots there. I don't know if you have travelled in China before, but I found any place offside many people very enjoyable; at the same time it can be disillusioning if you see you regulated everything in China seems to be... like building a fence around Sayram Lake in order to "protect" it (= making it easier for the authorities to keep people visiting it under control). So, in the end, I rarely found myself in the situation of feeling truly free to move, without the next police station in sight...
But anyway, I hope you will have a great trip and enjoy Xinjiang life! :-)
If you have any more questions, write me a pm or ask in the FarWestChina facebook group!
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bwv812
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby bwv812 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:34 am

I did something kind of similar.

I didn't go to any of the parenthetical places near Urumqi so I can't comment on them. But as Naja says, the feeling in the Kazakh and Mongolian north will be very different than in the Uyghur south.

Between Xi'an and Jiayuguan I visited Xiahe and Langmusi, and would recommend them highly. These places may satisfy your penchant for grasslands while also offering the culture of Tibetan Buddhism. There's nothing special about Issyk kul, I'm, so I don't think it's a real alternative to anything.

I also wouldn't miss Tashkurgan, and it would have been nice to stay with a shepherd family in Karakul although I didn't stop there. Although this area is similar to the tail pamirs, the pamirs are wider than the valleys the Karakorum Highway runs through and there's nothing similar to Karakul, which is right under the 7500m Muztagh Ata.

Also not sure that your rotation from Osh to northern Kyrgyzstan and then back down to Osh is the most efficient option. I think it might make sense to go from Kashgar to Osh, then down the Pamir highway and on to Dushanbe, then up to the Fann mountains (hiking there is going to be more interesting than Arslanbob, I think), up to Khojand, then back to Osh. Then make your​ way up to Bishkek and the area around Issyk kul.
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My 2012 overland trip from Tokyo to Istanbul: https://silkroadwanderings.blogspot.com

daway
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby daway » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:43 am

Thanks for the responses.

I'm unfortunately unable to go anywhere between Xi'an and Jiayuguan because I've already booked my tickets. But I had bookmarked Xiahe and Zhangye for a future trip, probably with Chengdu and farther south in China.

I have to fly out of Bishkek briefly to handle some business before flying back in, hence my Osh -> Bishkek rotation. While up there I wanted to go to Issyk Kul mostly for some hiking around Altyn Arashan. But I'll do some research into the Fann mountains and if that looks good I can consolidate my hiking into one region.
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sakara
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby sakara » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:52 am

I did a similar trip to you this and last year.
My suggestions and impressions: I found Xiahe and Linxia on the way to it very interesting. Both add an impression that you will not find in any of the other places you mentioned. Cancelling train tickets should be possible at a (low) cost. Certainly cheaper than going there a second time. If you like landscapes Zhangye with the danxia park AND Binggou park is a must see, the town is pleasant anyway plus mati si monastery is close and theres the giant lying buddha. In short: more superb "sightseeing spots" than all the other cities. (Although travelling is off course not about a bucket list)
Personally I probably would skip Kuqa, Hami and Turpan the next time, as for me they didnt add additional impressions. I liked Hotan (and Kashgar) much more. It was good to break the journey anyway.

We "discovered" an amazing landscape between kuqa and kashgar (one hour by bus from kashgar).
It multicolored mountains, cliffs and canyons. It is not developed as a tourist sight or anything, and it doesnt have a name either. Youll have it to you alone. Just hop in a bus that goes in direction of kuqa in kashgar and get out when you see the mountains. Then cross under the highway through one of the wadis. I marked the place here:
Gesetzte Markierung
bei Payzawat, Kaxgar, Xinjiang, China
https://goo.gl/maps/DjcynzJtN9x
You see the colors already on the satellite view.

You can easiky spend a day there hiking the mountains, but bring water and food - theres nothing.
For going back you will have to hitch hike - theres many buses passing.
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daway
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby daway » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:24 pm

sakara wrote:I did a similar trip to you this and last year.
My suggestions and impressions: I found Xiahe and Linxia on the way to it very interesting. Both add an impression that you will not find in any of the other places you mentioned. Cancelling train tickets should be possible at a (low) cost. Certainly cheaper than going there a second time. If you like landscapes Zhangye with the danxia park AND Binggou park is a must see, the town is pleasant anyway plus mati si monastery is close and theres the giant lying buddha. In short: more superb "sightseeing spots" than all the other cities. (Although travelling is off course not about a bucket list)
Personally I probably would skip Kuqa, Hami and Turpan the next time, as for me they didnt add additional impressions. I liked Hotan (and Kashgar) much more. It was good to break the journey anyway.

We "discovered" an amazing landscape between kuqa and kashgar (one hour by bus from kashgar).
It multicolored mountains, cliffs and canyons. It is not developed as a tourist sight or anything, and it doesnt have a name either. Youll have it to you alone. Just hop in a bus that goes in direction of kuqa in kashgar and get out when you see the mountains. Then cross under the highway through one of the wadis. I marked the place here:
Gesetzte Markierung
bei Payzawat, Kaxgar, Xinjiang, China
https://goo.gl/maps/DjcynzJtN9x
You see the colors already on the satellite view.

You can easiky spend a day there hiking the mountains, but bring water and food - theres nothing.
For going back you will have to hitch hike - theres many buses passing.


I canceled Jiayuguan and stuck a day at Zhangye in instead. Surprised to hear you'd advise against Turpan as I've heard good things about the ruins. After Turpan I've added a few days for Sayram and Natali. I will try to hitchhike from Natali or bayanbulak to the Kuqa Grand Canyon and camp in the vicinity for a night. Then I'll probably continue on to Hotan without stopping in Kuqa proper (only to catch the bus). Lastly I've decided to spend a couple days by Tashkurgan and Karakul as well. Will try to take a look at your landscape also.

I'm more interested in Natali/Bayanbulak than Sayram, so if anyone can confirm that fences have taken away from Sayram, I might skip that. I'd also appreciate if anyone can tell me if foreigners are currently able to do any hiking near Muztagh Ata!
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daway
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby daway » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:09 pm

Re Danxia, Mati, and Binggou, do you think there's any way to see all three in one day? Would private taxi to Mati in the morning leave enough time to see Danxia and Binggou in the afternoon? If that's a bit rushed I'll cut out Mati
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Seradane
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby Seradane » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:02 pm

We did a day trip to Mati Si and Danxia last month - didn't do Binggou but we had enough time to come back to Zhangye for lunch plus about two hours rest back at the hostel in the early afternoon before heading out to Danxia. Depends of course what time of year you go as to how late the sun sets, but as visits to Danxia are best in the late afternoon into the evening so you get all the colours you have more time than you think and could potentially squeeze in a Binggou visit in the middle.
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sakara
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby sakara » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:01 pm

I did everyone of the places in a single day, although Bing gou and Danxia can certainly be done in one day, even by public transport. About mati si I'm not sure. I was there in winter, when only the caves (plus the mountains) could be visited. Having seen later Mo gao caves in Dunhuang and before a lot of temples and cave monasteries in an outside china I would probably skip mati si if I was short on time. But - I prefer mountains and landscapes to temples;-).
Thus said, I visited Bing gou and Danxia in winter, we were almost the only visitors and the temperatures were cold (which is pleasant in this case). In Summer it might be super full with chinese tourists and quite hot. But this applies to almost all tourist attractions in china.
If you want you can have a look at the pictures of my trip: there's pictures of most of the locations you intend to go to:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 427eb87cdb (first part is korea and western China). All the places are named in the description of the pictures.
Last edited by sakara on Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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roro
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Re: Xinjiang / Kyrgyzstan /Tajikistan redundancies?

Postby roro » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:04 am

Hi,We "discovered" an amazing landscape between kuqa and kashgar (one hour by bus from kashgar).
It multicolored mountains, cliffs and canyons. It is not developed as a tourist sight or anything, and it doesnt have a name either. Youll have it to you alone. Just hop in a bus that goes in direction of kuqa in kashgar and get out when you see the mountains. Then cross under the highway through one of the wadis. I marked the place here:
Gesetzte Markierung
bei Payzawat, Kaxgar, Xinjiang, China
https://goo.gl/maps/DjcynzJtN9x"

Thanks for this report, it's seems very nice!
Have you some pictures ? (I'm planning a trip in this area for 2018)

Do you know if it is possible to camp there , or did you did to come back to Kashgar?

RR.

"
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