The sites of all over China are slowly being torn down, added on to or just demolished into a more appealing and high ticket worthy site. The desert town of Turpan or Tulupan is no exception. Despite this, some sites in the area still attractive enough to justify an uncomfortable day of riding in a van over pot filled roads without air conditioning. Visitors also need to learn to look beyond the cluttered with junk stalls, dressed up camels and buzzing two-seater planes that obstructed the view and take it for what it is fast becoming which is a genuine tourist trap.
Here are a few sights worth seeing:
The Xianjiang Regional Museum
The Xiajiang Regional Museum here is most travelers first stop before heading out of the city. The free museum offers great overview of the history of the area. This is the best way to help visualize how the area could have once looked like, and make a plan of what to see before heading out. The museum also is a great way to take a break from the mid day heat in the summer months.
The Ancient City of Jiaohe
The Jiaohe Ancient City is mostly ruins but the scale of it and the surrounding landscape make it well worth the trek out. It was tour bus free the day we arrived. It was later in the day so the views were spectacular and the vendors were too tired by then to even bother with us.
The Flaming Mountains
The mountains are along the highway that leads to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves making it an easy stop along the way. The subterranean museum/gift shop isn’t really that interesting, but the mountains beyond the entrance, the paragliders and dressed up camels are a beautiful especially at the end of the day.
The Emir Minaret
The Minaret itself is worth a visit, but don’t worry if it’s too late the enter the mosque area. It closes around 4:30pm and in the summer the sun doesn’t even set here until around 10pm. The Mosque and Minerat is fenced in and it’s surrounded by fields of grape vines and an older muslem neighborhood. It’s a surprise to see that it remains untouched by the authorities. Many of the homes contain second stories which are essentially large windcatchers which help cool traditional desert homes during the hot summer months. It’s easy to get lost here so it’s good to carry a good map or a GPS device if you got it.