Urumqi Overview

Situated in a pocket of green on the north face of the Tian Shan mountain range and surrounded by expansive grasslands, desert basins and rugged, snow-capped peaks, Urumqi (Wūlǔmùqí, 乌鲁木齐), the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is full of surprises for newcomers. The resident Muslim Uyghur people often look more Central Asian or European than Chinese, and their culture is just as distinct. Urumqi is a landlocked city—in fact, the world's most landlocked, over 2,500 km (1,400 mi) from the nearest seacoast—surrounded by vast areas of harsh wilderness. Yet it is also a very modern city, sporting its share of new skyscrapers, highways, gourmet restaurants and luxury malls.

Its unique combination of urban sophistication and proximity to natural beauty, along with its mix of Central Asian and Chinese cultures, makes Urumqi a wonderful place to visit, whether for its own sake or as a base for explorations of Xinjiang's outlying destinations. Get a taste of old Silk Road commerce by shopping at the Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar, explore the history of Xinjiang and see the famous 3,800-some-year old "Loulan Beauty" mummy at the Xinjiang Museum, head into the Tian Shan mountain range for a hike or horseback ride before spending the night in a Kazakh yurt on the shores of Tian Chi (Heavenly Lake), then return to the city to spend the next night comfortably at a five-star hotel in Urumqi.

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