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The heart of Guangzhou's former European concession—France and England both set up shop on this sandy river island in 1859 toward the end of the Opium Wars—Shamian Island...


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In 2004, the old Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi was demolished to make way for the new Xinjiang Museum (Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū Bówùguǎn, 新疆维吾尔自治区博物馆). With its new facelift, the museum gained larger, modern halls and a thorough smattering of English signage. A number of permanent exhibitions reside in the museum, detailing the history and culture of Xinjiang. Artifacts from some of Xinjiang's ancient "lost cities" are as close as visitors can get to locations such as Loulan, now a nuclear test site...

Tiān Shān (天山), or the Heavenly Mountains, are a massive mountain range that sheild Urumqi from the Taklamakan Desert to the south. The highest peak—"Iron Peak" (Tuōmù'ěr Fēng, 托木尔峰) to the Han Chinese and Uyghurs and "Victory Peak" to the Kyrgyz—lies on the China-Kyrgyzstan border. Many scenic areas near Urumqi are located in the Bogda Range (Bógédá Shãn, 博格达山), a branch of Tian Shan located to the east of Urumqi. Travelers looking to escape from the city or desert can take a cool, less..

A high altitude respite from Urumuqi's heat in the summer, Tiān Chí (天池), or "Heavenly Lake," is a lovely Alpine lake 2,000 m (6,600 ft) up in the Tian Shan mountain range. The pine-clad surrounding hills are filled with locals grazing their herds, and the snow-enameled mountains are picturesque to be sure. The summer months bring crowds who pay a day-visit to Tian Chi lake or spend the night in Kazahk-run yurts, which run about RMB 40 a person but while the area is a high-profile tourist spot, it remains largely undeveloped...

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