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Yining (伊宁; Yíníng Uyghur: غۇلجا Ghulja) is a city in the Xinjiang Province in China. Though the official Chinese name is Yining, the city is almost never referred to by that name even by the Chinese who live there. Local people call it Ghulja, Kulja or Yili.


Yining sits on the northern side of the Ili River in the Dzungarian basin, about 70 km (43 mi) east of the border with Kazakhstan and about 710 km (440 mi) west of Ürümqi. The Ili River valley is far wetter than most of Xinjiang and has rich grazing land.

Yining is the chief city and the agricultural and commercial center of the Ili valley. It is an old commercial center trading in tea and cattle and it is still an agricultural area with extensive livestock raising. It has fruit orchards. Iron, coal and uranium are mined nearby.


Yining has a semi-arid climate. Dry and sunny weather dominates year-round. Winters are cold, with a January average of −8.8 °C (16.2 °F), but the is city warmer than more easterly locales on a similar latitude. Summers are hot, with a July average of 23.1 °C (73.6 °F). Sunshine is abundant and the city receives 2,834 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Yining Airport (YIN IATA) (a 15-minute taxi ride north of town). Flights from Beijing Capital, Chengdu, Nanjing, Urumqi, Aletai, and other Chinese cities.

By bus[edit]

The Long Distance Bus Station is at the northwest end of Jiefang Road near the intersection with Ahemaitijiang Road.

  • Almaty, Kazakhstan - takes about 12-15 hours, but apparently no direct buses
  • Altai City via Burqin - takes about 48 hours
  • Khorgas - Small bus ¥25, Large bus ¥?. Use this to cross the border to Kazakhstan by foot. Takes about one hour after which you can walk to the border by foot in ten minutes. Once through the Chinese passport control and customs you must use a bus to travel over the border for ¥20. Bribes appear to have been formalised so that you need to pay a further ¥20 after the bus departs. On the Kazakh side there is another little bus that apparently costs 500 Tenge to take you to the taxi-stand. Do not forget to ask for your (apparently) free registration at the Kazakh border, you need two stamps on your immigration card for this. Otherwise it costs 767 Tenge, atleast in Almaty, to register. It is not really necessary but can save you a lot of hassle with corrupt officials.
  • Kashgar - takes about 48 hours
  • Korla - takes about 18-30 hours
  • Urumqi - takes about 15 hours, pretty rough road

By train[edit]

As of 2013, there are 3 overnight trains between Urumqi and Yining. One of the trains continues beyond Yining to Khorgas, on the Kazakhstan border. (Yining train schedule, in Chinese).

Get around[edit]

The police and the military are pretty touchy in Yining. No taking photographs of mosques and obviously don't take pictures of the military. The hassle is mainly due to them being confused how to deal with foreigners - best option seems to be to ask them to take you to your hotel, who can clear things up in about a minute.


  • 1 Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Museum, 188 Airport Rd, Gulja, +86 999 822 7531. It is one of Xinjiang's most important museums. The museum houses archaeological and ethnological artefacts from throughout the prefecture.
  • The small amusement park at the Yining River is worth a look.
  • 2 Tughluq Timur Mausoleum in Almaliq (take road G3016 NW from Yining, at the junction with G30 Khorgas/Jinghe Road, turn left/west, then turn right at the 3rd road). The over 600-year-old tomb notably features Islamic architecture. It is on the list of monuments of the People's Republic of China. In medieval times, Almaliq was an important Mongol city, capital of the Chagatai Khanate. Its greatest importance in the region was in the 13th and 14th centuries, after Genghis Khan became ruler in 1211. There were strong Islamic and Christian influences in the 14th century, and many Catholic missionaries visited the city. Almaliq was named after the local name for crab apple trees.








  • Jinshuiyuan Hotel (Opposite the bus station), +86 999 8165555, fax: +86 999 8191777. Double ¥228 (July 2008).
  • Yili Hotel, 8 Yingbin Rd, +86 999 8024964, fax: +86 999 8024964. Not a bad option, central and in a nice park. Double ¥140-180.


Go next[edit]

  • Qapqal - sleepy little village of the tiny Xiao minority (PSB permit required)
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