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 forties Celsius. 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. The locals in the area are called Uygurs.
Turpan train station - located in the town of Daheyan, 50 km NW of the town center
- Kashgar - takes about 25 hours
- Korla - takes about 8 hours
- Lanzhou - takes about 25 hours
- Liuyuan - takes about 8-9 hours
- Xi'an - takes about 40-45 hours
Long Distance Bus Station is on Laocheng Road
- Kumul - takes about 6-7 hours
- Kashgar - takes about 32 hours
- Korla - takes about 6-7 hours
- Kucha - takes about 13-14 hours
- Urumchi - takes about 2.5 hours
- 1 Turpan Jiaohe Airport (TLQ IATA) (is located northwest of the city and can be accessed by taxi). Has direct flights to and from Shanghai, Hami and Urumqi.
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 to take you the rest of the way to the site.
- 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. 60 Y.
- 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.
- Turpan Idikut 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 called Gaochangbi, it used to be a garrison town. ¥20.
- 1 Yarghol Ancient City (Jiaohe Ruins) (about 20km west of Turpan). 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. ¥40.
- 2 Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves (柏孜克里千佛洞) (45km east of Turpan). Stand high on the cliffs of west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountain. Of the 83 original caves, 57 caves 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.
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 St. An alternative to the night market outside the bazaar, this option is more for locals than tourists.
Wusu beer - all around Xinjiang. Probably only 4% Chinese beer.
John's Information Cafe in the back of the Turpan Hotel sells wine, beer and imported spirits. Grab a bottle to enjoy under the grapes on their patio. (The white wine is maybe the best in China),
- 1 Turpan 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), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located on the eastern edge of Turpan city, 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 lazing 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 single bedrooms. Bathrooms are shared with a big clothing area. 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. Dorm: ¥35-45, Single: ¥100.
- 2 White Camel Hostel (白駝青年旅社). Decent budget hostel. Intersting common area with lots of seating. Bathrooms a bit run down. Staff spoke English. Dorm ¥35, private ¥120.
- Jiaotong Hotel (Transportation Hotel), 230 laocheng west Rd, ☏ , , fax: . Widely regarded as a great value, this hotel is adjacent to the bus station and across the street from the bazaar and one of the night markets.
- Oasis Hotel Turpan, 41 Qingnian Rd, ☏ , fax: .
- Turpan Hotel, Qingnian Rd, ☏ , fax: . A solid 3-star choice. They have 3-bed dorms for ¥50 per bed. The staff is not so nice.
- Grand Turpan Hotel, Gaochang Middle Road 422, ☏ . A solid hotel, conveniently located.
- 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), ☏ , fax: . 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, billiards, 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.
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!