A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Kashgar

Kashgar

Kashgar Minaret

The minaret near the Id Kah mosque, the largest mosque in China

This is the western edge of China and one of the great market stops on the old Silk Road.  For more than 2000 years, Kashgar has been an important trading post for all of western China.  And it still is a bustling market town, even though much of the old city is fading away in the face of relentless development..

Kashgar sits at the western edge of the Tarim Basin and the edge of the Taklamakan desert, where the Khunjerab and the Torugart passes come together.  It is the point where goods coming from the East, meet with those coming up the Khunjerab pass from South Asia and through the Torugart pass from Central Asia and the West.

Kashgar’s position as a nexus point of cultures is reflected not only in trade, but also in it’s religious history.  Islam did not fully arrive in Kashgar until the 10th century, when the Karakhanids took the city.  Before then, both Zoroastrianism and Buddhism flourished.here.

The current political situation in Kashgar – and in other parts of Xinjiang – is a bit tenuous.  There is some agitation among the Uyghur population against the central government in Beijing.  Pay attention to the news before heading in to Kasghar, because, though violence against tourists is unlikely, tempers can get heated easily in this desert town.

What to see:

Kashgar Market

A bustling market in Kashgar

The Markets: You’d be remiss not to do some exploring in Kashgar’s many markets.  The highlight of which is the Grand Bazaar, which runs seven days a week, though is busiest on Sundays.  Yes, it’s going to be crowded, and the animal bazaars are going to be grimy and smell like dirty, unwashed animals, but it’s so worth it.  Hundreds of thousands of people come to these bazaars, and you’ll find thing everything from Iranian saffron, Turkish knives and helmets, to Chinese silks.  The mix and variety of people and goods is staggering.

The Id Kah Mosque: This is the largest mosque in China.  Built in the Central Asian style, it’s well worth a look.  It reflects Kashgar’s significance not only as a trading town, but also it’s importance in this Islamic part of China.  Some of the holiest sites in Xinjiang province are located here in Kashgar.

Kashgar Tomb of Apakh Khoja

The Tomb of Abakh Khoja, Central Asian Sufi master

The Tomb of Abakh Khoja: This Mausoleum is considered to be the finest example of Islamic architecture in Xinjiang province.  It is decorated with fantastic tilework, arabesque and floral patterns, and crowned with minarets.  It is an Islamic pilgrimage site, and people from all around will come to pay their respects.

Getting in/Out

Kashgar is connected to many other cities in the Tarim basin by train, bus, and plane.  If you’re heading eastward, you’ll have plenty of options.  If you’re heading west to Kyrgyzstan, you’ll want to take a bus.  Service to Osh runs twice a week, usually Mondays and Fridays.  It’s an 18 hour trip, and it goes through some cold, high-altitude territory, so remember to take some warm clothes.

Next Up

If you’re heading east, the city of Kuqa

If you’re heading west, the city of Osh

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Kashgar Travel Guide

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Kashgar Airport: 39.543056, 76.020000
Kashgar Railway Station: 39.492112, 76.050115
Kashgar International Bus Station: 39.481077, 75.991246
Kashgar Grand Bazaar: 39.467475, 75.994298
Id Kah Mosque: 39.472510, 75.988376
Tomb of Abakh Hoja: 39.486986, 76.032729
Tomb of Yusup Khass Hajip: 39.458463, 75.994921
Mausoleum of Mahmud al Kashgari: 39.301893, 75.550793
Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel: 39.473363, 75.986970
Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel: 39.470484, 75.983402
KKH Breeze Hostel: 39.472340, 75.975151
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Kashgar Airport
Kashgar Airport

Flights go direct to Urumqi, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.  Flights also operate to Dubai and Islamabad,  Shuttle buses run between the airport and some hotels, and the public bus line #2 also runs to the airport.
Kashgar aireportua, Kashi(Kaxgar), Xinjiang, China
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Kashgar Railway Station
Kashgar Railway Station

Kashgar's rail station is connected to the city, including the main Renmin Square, by bus #28.  Regular train service runs along the Kashgar -> Urumqi line, and includes stops at the following cities:
  • Korla
  • Kuqa
  • Urumqi
  • Turpan
  • Yarkand
  • Hotan

Kashgar Railway Station, Kashi(Kaxgar), Xinjiang, China
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Kashgar International Bus Station
Kashgar International Bus Station

Located on the way to the airport, next to the Tuman River Hotel, the Kashgar International Bus Station has buses to the following (and other) destinations:
  • Korla
  • Kuqa
  • Urumqi
  • Sost, Pakistan
  • Hotan
  • Tashkurgan
  • Yecheng
  • Ili (Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture)
  • Osh, Kyrgyzstan - Buses depart twice-weekly (Mondays at Fridays) at 10am Beijing time.
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
 
5 Airport Road, Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
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Kashgar Grand Bazaar
Kashgar Grand Bazaar

Kashgar's Grand Bazaar is located right off the east gate.  Though there are many different bazaars located throughout Kashgar, this one is the largest, and also one of the largest bazaars in Asia.  The history of the bazaar goes back thousands of years, and there are more than 5,000 vendor stalls at the market.  Though the bazaar is open 7 days a week, the busiest day is Sunday.
Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
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Id Kah Mosque
Id Kah Mosque (Atiga'er Mosque)

It is the largest mosque in China, with roots dating back to 1442 (though the mosque itself incorporated older structures that dated back to 996).  Every Friday, nearly 10,000 worshippers attend prayers at the mosque, and it has the capacity to hold more than 20,000.  It is open every day from just before 9AM until 10PM,
Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
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Tomb of Abakh Hoja
Tomb of Abakh Hoja

Located in Haohan Village, the tomb is one of the holiest muslim sites in Kashgar.  The tomb is the resting place of Muhammad Yusuf, who was a Sufi master from Central Asia who came to the region in the early 17th century, and was also active in spreading Sufism throughout China. Later, Muhammad Yūsuf's son and successor, Afāq Khoja, was buried there. The mausoleum contains the tombs of five generations of the Afaq family, which encompasses 72 members.

The monument is also known as Xiangfei's tomb.  It is the resting place of Iparhan, who is said to be the legendary "fragrant concubine" Xiangfei.  She was the wife of a rogue leader who was captured by the Qianlong emperor and taken to Beijing to be his imperial concubine.She refused to serve him and was forced to commit suicide (or she may have been murdered by the Emperor's mother).
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Tomb of Yusup Khass Hajip
The Tomb of Yusup Khass Hajip

Noted Turkic philosopher and poet, Yusup Khass Hajip wrote the famed poem Kutadgu Bilig, which translated means "Wisdom Which Brings Good Fortune".  The poem was written in the 11th century and dedicated to the prince of Kashgar.  Yusup died in 1085 in the city of Kashgar, and a mausoleum was built for him there.
Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
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Mausoleum of Mahmud al Kashgari
The Mausoleum of Mahmud Kashgari

Mahmud Kashgari was a famed Uyghur scribe and linguist, who in the 11th century compiled a comprehensive dictionary of the Turkic languages.  He traveled widely, writing his tome on Turkic languages in Baghdad in the 1070's.  He returned to Upal in 1080 and opened an Islamic school, where he taught until his death in 1105 at the age of 97.
Upal, Kashi(Kaxgar), Xinjiang, China
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Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel
Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel

If you want to stay right next door to the Id Kah Mosque and right in the center of the Old Town, the Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel is the place to be.  Their terrace is decorated with grapes and figs, and the hostel is decorated in the Uyghur style.

Click here to book at the Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel.
Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel kashipamierqingnianlvshe, Nuo//'er Beixi Road, Kashi(Kaxgar), Xinjiang, China
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Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel
Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel

As the name would suggest, the KAshgar Old Town Youth Hostel is located smack-dab in the center of the old town.  It's less than a 1/4 mile away from the famed mosque, has a rooftop deck, and rooms decorated in both a modern and traditional Uyghur style.

Click here to book at the Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel.
中国新疆维吾尔自治区喀什地区喀什吾斯塘博依路kashgar old town youth hostel,喀什老城国际青年旅舍
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KKH Breeze Hostel
KKH Breeze Hostel

The KKH Breeze Hostel is new.  It's a smaller, quiet hostel located in the ground floor of a newer residential building.  Because it is so new, and I'm not able to find out much information on it, I'd recommend checking out the Kashgar Pamir Youth Hostel or the Kasghar Old Town Youth Hostel first.

Click here to book at the KKH Breeze Hostel.
268 Seman Rd, Kashi(Kaxgar), Xinjiang, China
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