Turpan (Chinese: 吐魯番, Tǔlǔfān; Uyghur: تۇرپان, Turpan; Turkish: Turfan) is a city in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), on the Silk Road. Mostly known as Tulufan.
The area around the city, the Turpan Depression is the lowest point in China and second lowest on Earth (after the Dead Sea) at 154 meters below sea level. It is very dry and sometimes very hot, well into the 40'sC. The local people have developed karez, an irrigation system composed of wells connected by underground channels, to counter the heat and drought of the place. No place in China is hotter than Flaming Mountain in Turpan, a mountain made famous by the classic Chinese mythological novel, Journey to the West.
Turpan is famous for their grapes, grown primarily for raisins but also wine. Uyghurs are the biggest ethnic group in the area (70%), followed by Han chinese.
The town runs from the bus station, through the market and up long pedestrian walk way, lined with places to eat and covered with grape vines which is cool and inviting in the summer.
Travelling to Turpan by air is a cozy choice. It is recommended to fly to the Urumqi airport first and take a bus to Turpan. Long-distance buses are available from 9:00 to 20:30 every day. 2. Taxi and donkey cart are main transportations inside Turpan. It is a good choice to take a short trip by donkey cart to go around the city.
Turpan Train Station - is actually located in the town of Daheyan, 50 km NW of the town center! Buses are available from bus station in Daheyan ( come out past the taxis and turn right up the hill and follow the locals.It is on the right after 5 minutes.It takes an hour to get into Turfan Bus Station and cost 11RMB ). Taxis will charge as little as 50 ( down hill and they want to get home)for the whole taxi and are worth it if your hotel is far from the bus station.
- Kashgar - takes about 22 hours
- Korla - takes about 8 hours
- Lanzhou - takes about 22 hours
- Liuyuan - takes about 8-9 hours
- Xi'an - takes about 40-45 hours
Turpan North Train Station - A new train station mainly for bullet trains and some other fast trains to Lanzhou and Urmqi, it's about 15km northwest to the city center, which is much more closer and convenient than the old one. Bus 202 takes you to the center area, it takes about 40 minutes and 1RMB for each person.
- Lanzhou - takes about 10 hours
- Urmqi - takes about 1 hour,
- Jiayuguan - takes about 6 hours,
There is a ticket center in the city, some hotels like Dap Youth Hostel also provide ticket booking service.
Long Distance Bus Station is on Laocheng Road
- Hami - takes about 6-7 hours
- Kashgar - takes about 32 hours
- Korla - takes about 6-7 hours
- Kuqa - takes about 13-14 hours
- Urumqi - takes about 2.5 hours (as of Fall 2012 First bus from Urumqi's Southern bus station leaves for Turpan at 8:40, the bus station itself only opens around 08:20)
The downtown area is small and you can walk around it. But not all attractions are within easy walking distance. There are private, English-speaking tour guides who will drive you to the sites and give you an insight into history and culture. It is a good idea to arrange these tours before you travel, via the internet, as this gives you the opportunity to arrange a fixed price. Prices can be very reasonable if you go with a reputable tour company.
Public buses, Y1.
- Bus 102 - going all along Laocheng lu (老城路), you can take it on crossing Laocheng Eastern street and Qingnian pedestrian street.
- Direction to East - the last stop is Su Gong Ta (苏公塔) Sugong pagoda = Emin minaret (额敏塔).
- to West - East mosque, North mosque and West mosque. Take off on the last stop and walk (hitchhike) next 5km to Jiaohe Ancient City. Alternatively, from the last stop of the line 102, you can hire a vehicle for around 10 RMB to take you the rest of the way to the site if one happens to be there.
By Private car / English speaking driver
please try to have an english speaking driver to make your stay easy in Turpan . contact with local English speaking driver and tour guide : [email protected] he could able to take you around Turpan area .
- Emin Minaret (额敏塔; Émǐn Tǎ; also known as 苏公塔, Sūgōng Tǎ). Emin Minaret was built in 1777 in honor of the heroic Turpan general, Emin Khoja; it's the tallest minaret in China. It looks quite nice from the outside, but you can neither climb up the big tower, nor go up to the second floor (due to maintenance going on, Feb. 2015). For 45 Yuan, there is not much to see. 45 yuan as of February 2015. edit
West of city
- Turpan Grape Gully (吐鲁番葡萄沟; Tǔlǔfān Pútaogōu), (10km from the city). Nicknamed Green Pearl City, an oasis of greenery, made up of more than 200 hectares of grape. The best grapes in China have been grown here for more than 1,000 years. The area you can actually see is painfully small, full of tourists taking pictures of nothing in-particular (often you if you're a western traveller), definitely not worth the 60RMB entrance ticket. 60 Y (30 for students but they'll try every excuse under the sun to avoid selling the half-price tickets to a non-Chinese student). edit
- Jiaohe Ancient City (交河故城; Jiāohé Gùchéng), (about 20km west of Turpan - take a taxi (30 RMB an hour),bus 102 or 101 heading west along Lao Cheng Lu from the bus station until it terminates (Jiahe Lu kou 交河路口), then walk/hitch (hitchhiking works like this: When you see a trike coming up your way, you either wave at them, or put up your thumb. The driver stops and you jump up. The driver will go on his way and you just tell him when you want to get off. You can try to give them some money, though most of the people will decline your offer.) the last 5KM). Ruins of an ancient Silk Road town. This city was established during the Western Han Dynasty and continued through from the period of Northern Wei Dynasty. 70 Rmb as of February 2015. edit
- kariz wells, turpan china. an underground channel for water for domestic use.clean and pure .a masterpiese built by local people 2000 years ago..the karez, an irragation system with a history of 2000 years, is considered as one of the three great ancient projects in china ,other two being the great wall and grand canal. being placed side by side with the dujiangyan irrigation project in sichuan province and the ling canal in guangxi , it is also known as one of the three ancient water conservancy projects in china. the karez is distributed in turpan, kumuk ,sanji , hotan ,atush ,kuqa and urumqi in history, but mainly in turpan and kumul. the karez is a very delicate irrigation system composed of vertical wells , underground canal , open canal and amall ponds or reservoirs , with the main body buried under the ground. the system can be devided into the water accumulation part and the water conveyance part. generally the underground canals are at a height of 1.5--1.7m and a width of 0.6--0.7m , with total length of 5-20 km. the number of the karez in xinjiang once reached 1784 . with 172367 vertical wells , 5272 km long underground canals and 858 million cubic meter of annual water output. today there are only 614 karez left with and an annual output of 301 million cubic meter.. of which there are 404 located in turpan are and yearly output is 230 million cubic meter of water, which remains the main water sources for irrigation , drinking and ecological uses in some villages , 40. edit
East of city
- Turpan Gaochang Ancient City (吐鲁番高昌故城; Tǔlǔfān Gāochāng Gùchéng), (46km southeast of the city, you can get there either by taxi or first by bus to Doushan or Sanbao Township and then by motorbike). 8AM-5PM. Ruins of an ancient Silk Road town standing isolated in the Gobi Desert. Built in the 1st century B.C. and originally called Gaochangbi, it used to be a garrison town. Not much of the ruins are left, especially compared to Jiaohe, but Gaochang is less frequented by tourists. The walk along the raised footpath around the entire site is about 6km, and can be done slowly in 2 hours. However, a 40-minute tour on a mini-bus (golf cart) can be done for an additional ¥30. ¥70. edit
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves.
- Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves (柏孜克里千佛洞; Bózīkèlǐ Qiānfódòng), (45km east of Turpan). Stand high on the cliffs of west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountain. Of the 83 original caves, 57 caves currently remain. The murals cover an area over 1,200 square meters in more than 40 caves. Beginning in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the construction experienced Tang Dynasty, the Five Dynasties, Song and Yuan dynasties. The Caves had been the Buddhist center of Gaochang. Near the end of the 13 century, the royal family of Gaochang moved to Yongchang, Gansu. Around this same time, Buddhism in Turpan began to decline in popularity with the introduction of Islam. Subsequently, the religious importance of The Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves became less apparent. Many of the caves were destroyed during the ensuing religious clashes. Vandals dug out the eyes of many of the portraits human figures contained in the murals. Later, at the beginning of the 20 century, foreign explorers robbed the caves of much of the treasures. Despite all the destruction, the surviving parts, such as the delicate Buddha seat and the bright color of the murals, give us some idea of its past glory. As of 2019, there are guards posted at the entrance to the caves - if they see you taking a picture, they will ask to see your phone and make you delete them. edit
- Tuyoq Village (Tuyoq or Tuyugou or Tuyuk ( Chinese : 吐峪沟 Tŭyùgōu )), (about 70km east of Turpan city, accessible by taxi or car). about a 1 hour drive outside Turpan city. Tuyoq is an ancient Muslim pilgrimage site and well-preserved ancient town. Some local followers claim 7 trips to Tuyoq is worth one trip to Mecca. It's not on the typical Turpan "tourist trail" so you won't be overrun with red-hats, flags and loudspeakers. This ancient village is situated 70km east of turpan city in a lush gully carved out of the Flaming Mountain. Verdant vineyards surround this site and it is famous for its oval-shaped seedless grapes. The raisins of this town is well-known in China. Tuyoq valley is a unique and special spot for the religious and traditional Uyghur lifestyle. This place is full of old buildings and houses are connected with out directions. This small village is full of the traditional atmosphere of local Uyghur culture, and everything has been kept intact--their lifestyle, their dress, their religious customs--are all traditional Uyghur. ¥30. edit
- Astana Ancient Tombs. More than 500 tombs have been excavated at this site where the wealthy people of Gaochang were buried. In one of the tombs, many historical and cultural relics were found from the Western Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, and the Tang Dynasty. These include a large number of all kinds of instruments, pottery, and other artifacts that fully reflect the prosperity and the rise and fall of the Western Regions and the Central Plains region. These all-encompassing, making fine heritage, embodied the then of Gaochang social material and spiritual civilization, showing the true face of that period, people said the Astana tombs of the the Gaochang history secret database. entrance ticket: ¥40. edit
- Flaming Mountain (Chinese : 火 焰 山 ; pinyin : huǒ yàn shān). The Flaming Mountains are 98km long and 9km wide, with its highest peak at 851m above the sea level and its average altitude at 510m above the sea level. The mountains cross the Turpan Depression from east to west. "Flaming Mountain" itself is a tourist attraction based on the Chinese epic, Journey to the West. The mountains are red, barren sandstone hills that can be seen from the road as you drive eastward from Turpan. It is the hottest place in China, where temperatures are said to reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer. Inside the paid part of the park, there is a thermometer along with a few other attractions set up for tourist photos. entrance ticket: ¥40. edit
Plenty of delicious dishes can be found in the market, in front of the bus station, or in the pedestrian zone downtown. Cheap (but spicy) food is the norm, with plenty of meat options. Vegetarians better find a Chinese restaurant, many of which are north of the main square ("Grape Girls" square)
艾力热孜快餐店 (ai li re zi kuai can dian) on a parallel alley on the eastern side of the bazaar opposite the long-distance bus station serves excellent laghman (noodles), baked dumplings and barbecue skewers. Try the tandoori lamb or lamb dumplings in black-eyed pea soup for a different taste of Uighur food you won't find in other cities in Xinjiang.
- Night Market, Guanghui Street, near Bezeklik Street. An alternative to the night market outside the bazaar, this option is more for locals than tourists. edit
- Marry Brown, Bezeklik Street 28, . 09:00 - 22:00. The Malaysian fast-food chain recently opened its first restaurant in Turpan. Fried chicken, chicken burgers/wrap/rice/noodle with prices comparable to Mc Donalds. Clean and with air conditioner and wi-fi, great for a break during those +40C Turpan summer days! edit
- Herembag, Shahezi Street 21 (At the artificial lake park), ☎ 0995-8555111, . An authentic Uyghur food restaurant chain with locations all over Xinjiang and Tianjin. Located downtown, at the corner of the artificial lake park. The restaurant has a very nice setting and offers Uyghur/Russian/Turkish/Chinese/Western (pasta & pizza) dishes at reasonable prices (not cheap though). Nice selection of teas available. edit
- (directly across from the Turpan museum). very simple place serving basically excellent Uyghur noodles for RMB 15 and lamb skewers for RMB 5.
Wusu beer - all around Xinjiang. Probably only 4% chinese beer.
There are a variety of options in Turpan for accommodations, but as with the rest of Xinjiang, it is not always guaranteed that these places will be allowed to host non-Chinese citizens. It is a good idea to call or message hotels and hostels in advance to make sure that they can accept you if you're traveling on a foreign passport.
- Dap Youth Hostel (吐鲁番达卜青年旅舍), 2nd Yard, 8th Lane, Shahezi Road, Donghuan Road(吐鲁番市东环路往沙河子路第八巷第二院子), ☎ +86 186 9951 3631,+86-995-6263193 ([email protected]), . Located on the eastern edge of Turpan city, this is a typical Uyghur-style house with grape trellises covering the front yard, and jujube trees and other plants in the back yard. Here, guests can spend the day lounging under the grape trellises and enjoying the cool shade with snow meltwaters flowing through the garden. The hostess speaks good English and guests can call for reservations. They have clean and spacious dorm rooms and private single/double bedrooms, with prices ranging from 40RMB to 280RMB. Bathrooms are shared with a big laundry area for handwashing clothes and hanging up clothes to dry. They also provide services such as organizing tours, car rentals with English-speaking drivers, bike rentals, free tour sites info, laundry facilities and a public fridge. They are open from late Feb to Dec, and closed in winter. 40RMB to 280RMB. edit
- Turpan Hotel, Qingnian Road, ☎ +86 995 522025. Three-bed dorms with A/C and attached bathroom (western toilets and hot showers). Cleaned by the hotel maid service daily and stocked with towels and toiletries. Chinese breakfast is served in the adjoining Muslim restaurant at 8am; arrive early or the food goes cold. Bathrooms in the double rooms smell really bad due to the sewers. Front-desk staff speak some English. Update Dec 2014: the dorm room is closed in Winter (except perhaps if you insist really a lot), double room available at discounted price of 100Y. 50 yuan per bed, as of August 2012. edit
- White Camel Hostel (吐鲁番白驼青年旅舍), No. 55 Road Bezeklik（Flaming hotel courtyard) 吐鲁番市柏孜克里克路55号，火焰山宾馆院内, ☎ +86 156 0995 5676 +86-995-8660556. White Camel Hostel is the first youth hostel in Turpan, they love traveling, love of freedom, like to make friends around the world. The hostel is located in the Turpan city center, easily accessible from the long-distance bus terminal is just a 15-minute walk or take the bus. Surrounded by distinctive local Uighur restaurants, shops, night markets, ATM machines. Large lobby with a large flower bed Uygur characteristics, many people are very fond of. Dorm rooms all have air cooler, definitely makes comfortable sleep through the night. The hostel has full wifi coverage. Various room operations. edit
- Jiaotong Hotel (Transportation Hotel), 230 laocheng west road, ☎ +86 995 6258666 or 6258688 (fax: +86 995 6258688). Widely regarded as a great value, this hotel is located directly adjacent to the bus station and across the street from the bazaar and one of the night markets, making it very conveniently located. Many travelers have recently speculated that this hotel is closed, but that is not the case. They simply changed their phone numbers. The phone number listed above is the new one, and the hotel was renovated in 2011. edit
- Oasis Hotel Turpan, 41 Qingnian Road, ☎ +86 995 522491 (fax: +86 995 522768). edit
- Turpan Hotel, Qingnian Road, ☎ +86 995 522025 (fax: +86 995 522025). A solid 3 star choice. Have 3 Bed Dorms 60Y per bed (Feb 2015), Staff is not so nice, but helpfull. Hot water is only available in the evening. edit
- Grand Turpan Hotel, Gaochang Middle Road 422, Turpan, ☎ +86 10-84831380. A solid hotel, conveniently located edit
- Tuha Petroleum Hotel (吐鲁番吐哈石油大厦; Tǔlǔfān Tǔhāshíyóu Dàshà), 230 Wenhua Road (文化路230号; Wénhuàlù 230hào), ☎ +86 995 8666666 (fax: +86 995 8666668). Five star hotel with large rooms with internet access against surcharge and with safes, air-conditioners and mini bars. Business center, currency exchange, gift shop, beauty salon, ticket office, karaoke, night club, billiard, table tennis, fitness, bowling, indoor swimming pool and massage available. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as coffee shop, bar and room service. The food in the Western restaurant is great, but the breakfast could be better. Listed rates for doubles ¥1,080-1,280, including breakfast. edit
- Silk Road Lodges - The Vines, 3 Grape Street, Munar, Turpan (In the centre of Munar Village on the outskirts of Turpan), ☎ +86 13639976886, . checkin: 2.00pm; checkout: 10.00am. Set in an ancient Uighur village just 1 km from the centre of Turpan, this delightful boutique Lodge accommodation is surrounded by green local vineyards and set well back from the road. With only 5 rooms set around a courtyard, the accommodation offered is luxurious. Rooms are large (40sm) and furnished to a 5 star standard. There is a large living area, a courtyard, and two roof garden areas. Prices range from cny480 - cny680 depending on season. A good local healthy breakfast is included (with real coffee!) Tour advice and transport advice is available and private transport can be arranged. The Lodge is well served by local taxi's and buses. The Lodge is open from early April to end October. English is spoken by most hotel staff. edit
There are a lot of young locals who can speak some English and will ask to practise their skills with you before offering you "help" with getting around. This usually involves a lot of "friends" and "uncles" who can take you wherever you want to go, "all you need is money for gas." Of course, don't trust them!
As of 2019, after exiting from Turpan North Train Station, guards will take your passport, have you wait outside until everyone has exited the train, and then escort you to the police station on the square outside the train station. The police will then ask why you're here, what you're doing, what's your hotel, etc.
A hired car or taxi will take you to the train station for 150 yuan. Alternatively, you can go to the Turpan bus station (客运站 ke yun zhan) and hop on the bus to the to the Daheyan bus station, which costs 25 yuan and takes about an hour. Plan for bad roads and delays, so do not underestimate the amount of time you will need. From the Daheyan bus station, turn right, and at the next intersection turn left, where you will shortly find the train station at the end of the road.
Though the train station itself is a bit out of town you can buy tickets at a hidden ticket office near the bazaar. The office is across the street from the bus station and about 200 meters west. It's to the right of a China Construction Bank, beneath a sign for China Tietong Laocheng Road Office and inside a China Mobile shop. Across the driveway is an address sign of 405.
Frequent buses to Urumqi take about 3 hours. There is a stop halfway for a toilet break. As of July 2013 all passengers had to disembark from the bus to go through a police checkpoint. This is a common occurence in Xinjiang around this time.