Khotan (和田; Hétián; also known as Kotan or Hotan), is a town on the southern (Jade) Branch of the Silk Road in Xinjiang Province in China (East Turkestan). Khotan was once center of a Buddhist empire. The old capital, Yoktan, is about 10 km west of the current city.
Khotan Airport is located south of the city and can be accessed by taxi. Flights are available to/from Urumqi and Kashgar.
There are many trains per day that connect Hotan with Kashgar, and also Hotan with Urumqi.
There is a night train that departs from Kashgar at 03am Beijing Time (midnight in local time). This train is very interesting because it helps you to avoid sleeping in the city (it's almost impossible to find cheap hotels that accept foreigners). You can then do a 1 day trip to Hotan and come back in the same day to Kashgar.
UPDATE: As of June 2019, foreigners were tailed in the city by police or secret service. Expect to be detained several times after arriving. Release will follow after 1-2 hours of "passport checking". A good way to see the city is to ask your followers to drive you around, they are usually very friendly and cooperative.
The Long Distance Bus Station is north of the city center on the main highway.
- Kashgar - takes 7-10 hours (express buses are faster)
- Yarkand - takes about 6 hours
- Korla - takes about 15 hours
- Turpan - takes about 20 hours
- Urumqi - 6 24 hour buses leave daily (270RMB), 1 18 hour bus (320RMB) and 2 fast luxury buses (unsure of times, no longer than 18 hours, most expensive bus option).
- Yecheng - takes about 8 hours
- Yining - takes about 40 hours (shorter as soon as buses start using the new Hotan - Aksu highway)
- Qiemo - takes 11 hours -- daily morning bus leaves from East Bus Station, not Main Bus Station
There is a road west to Kashgar, about 500km, or east via Dunhuang and on toward Central China, a long way away.
CITS (China International Travel Service) phone: 09032516090 --> Organizes trips and transportation to local sights.
- Khotan Market. Almost as large as the Sunday Market in Kashgar but more chaotic and free-spirited. Open every day, busiest in the early afternoon (XJ time), and on Sundays. Not to be confused with the "International Bazaar" which is a tall landmark building near the bus station and more like a mall than a market. edit
- Jade Factory, (At the intersection of GuJiang BeiLu and JiaMai Lu, near the Hotan Market), ☎ 09032035281. Free entry to see people carving Jade with modern tools and intricate Jade pieces for sale. No tours, but you can look and ask questions if you speak Mandarin. edit
- Khotan Museum, (Take bus 2 or 6 West from the center of town on BeiJing Lu. On the corner of Beijing Lu and XiHuai Lu.). Free entry to look around, all items have tags in Chinese, Uyghur and English. Tours available in English for 10RMB. Museum has one floor of artifacts including two 2500 year old mummies. edit
- Khotan Public Square -- TuanJie GuangChang, (Pretty much in the center of town and walkable from most places.). There is communal dancing by both the Uyghur and Han communities and a great Uyghur night market on one of the corners (think it was the SW?). edit
- Khotan Carpet Factory, (There are several buses that go this route, including but 5 and 10 - it's just past the river on the edge of town, try to ask the bus driver when to get off because it is not immediately obvious from the road.). An industry over 2000 years old in Khotan, carpets woven by hand in a small workshop, tours and sales of carpets available. Seems to be free, without many services for visitors, especially in the off season. edit
- White Jade River. Locals search the riverbead for rare white jade but beauty lies in all the other stones left behind. edit
- Silk Workshop, (In nearby Jiya township northeast of the center, you can get there by taxi or by bus. To take the bus, take bus 2 on BeiJing Rd to the end of the line, which is a traffic circle and then take the 110 bus from the traffic circle. The bus driver will most likely be able to tell you when to get off if you say Atlas, but if you keep your eyes open its pretty obvious from the road.). Free tours, only in Chinese, of the local silk workshop, where Atlas Silk is made entirely by hand. Even if you don't speak Chinese it's an interesting place to wander around. Opens at 9AM XJ time, 11AM BJ time, though that may also vary by season. edit
- Imam Asim Tomb, (Last stop on the 110 bus listed above is about .5km from the tomb. If you say 'mazaah' a local will be able to point you in the right direction, you can also try to get a ride from one of the many three wheeled vehicles that carry people going to pray - the locals are more than friendly.). Imam Asim Ancient Tomb is located in Jiya Township of Lop County. It is about 23km from Hotan city. The tomb is just 1km inside of the desert where the farmland and desert merged. Best time to visit the Imam Asim tomb is during April and May on Thursday. Local people will come from different part of Hotan as well as other part of Xinjiang. In this occasion you can enjoy the local wrestling and Legend telling with music. This is not really a tourist destination, but a site of religious worship. Women should bring head scarves. Xinjiang Travel edit
- Silk Factory, (Northwest of the center, take the #1 bus from the bus station to the last stop, walk about 150m). Tours of the local Shatuo Silk Factory can be made, a larger and more mechanized factory. edit
- Khotan Winery, (Supposed to be down the road from the Silk Factory listed above.). Produces specialty pomegranate and rice wines. edit
- Desert Camp and Camel Trek. camel ride out into the Taklamakan Desert and camp over night there. You can enjoy a camp fire dinner and breakfast in the desert. Necessary camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, blankets etc will be provided by the company. Price may vary but will be around 1600 RMB for 2 people which covers everything. Guide on Line edit
The area has been famous for jade for centuries. Khotan jade is first mentioned in written history about 200BC. There are mines, but much of the stone is found in riverbeds. This is one of the few areas with black jade and white jade. Be prepared to bargain hard.
- Marco's Dream Cafe, Tianwang Mingdu Xiaoqu (south of the square inside the tall residential area less than 5 mins walk south of the square), ☎ 15292661017. Run by a Malaysian woman and her family, has awesome local travel information and affordable western and Malay food options, coffee and desserts. SW of the Public Square (tuanjie guangchang). edit
- No Worries Coffeeshop (Liao Fan Shi Guano - 了凡时光), Tian Yudu International Plaza, 1-13 Renmin West Street, Hotan, Xinjiang (新疆维吾尔自治区和田市人民西路玉都国际广场1-13号) (1km south of the main square and about 50 metres from the east exit of the night market), ☎ 18690330101. Opening hours: 11:00 - 02:00. Coffee shop and bar run by a friendly Chinese couple, serving a wide range of coffees, alcoholic drinks and a small western food menu, prices are average. The cafe is spacious and full of comfortable sofas and seating areas, they also have great wifi. The coffee is very good and it’s a great place to relax or get some work done. (37.100512,79.919068) edit
UPDATE: As of June 2019, there is no place where foreigners can stay overnight.
There are plenty of cheap places, but foreigners are often not allowed to stay there but are referred to the more expensive foreigner places.
Some travellers even don't find hotels and have to come back to Kashgar or other cities. Others are forced to sleep in expensive hotels (around 350 yuan/night).
It is possible to avoid sleeping in this city, visiting it in 1 day and coming back. You can take the night train from Kashgar, which arrives at Hotan at 10am Beijing time (07am local time). Another train comes back to Kashgar at 6pm. 8 hours are enough to see the basic places. You can also take the night flight to Urumqi, which has a very competitive price.
- Traffic Hotel (Jiaotong Binguan), (At the main bus station). Takes foreigners. ¥160 for a private double room with attached bathroom, but the rooms are dirty and dark, apparently no hot water, take the ones without bathroom for 80 or go to the Happy Hotel (July 2013). edit
- Happy Hotel, (500 m' to the right from the main bus station). Next to the main Bus station, very dirty rooms, blocked toilets and random hot water. Double 100¥. edit
- Hotan Muztagh Hotel, No.11 East Beijing RD, Hotan (It is just 5 minutes walking distance to Hotan Long Distance Bus Station and Hotan Sunday Market), . Locate center of Hotan city, few minutes walking to restaurants, markets, public transport and bus station. edit
If you decide to go by car west out of Khotan to Kashgar stop in Yengisar and visit the knife factories. Knives are handmade and you can bargain with the owner for some very nice pieces. (As of 2013/07, it is not possible to ship knives out of China via the China Post, all packages are inspected thoroughly and even boring things like scissors and even some calculators can not be shipped, apparently there is no way to get them out of the country, they take them away at the bus or train station, even at the airport).
If you stop in Yarkand you can find handmade pocket knives as opposed to the sheathed knives of Yengisar.