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A Complete Guide to Xinjiang Train Travel

Last updated:Nov 14,2023; By: Alice; Hits: 916

Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China, is a land of mesmerizing natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and diverse ethnic groups. It is renowned for its stunning landscapes, encompassing snow-capped mountains, vast deserts, and crystal-clear lakes. The region's unique blend of Chinese, Turkish, and Central Asian influences creates a captivating tapestry of traditions, art, and cuisine. As the largest province-level division in China, Xinjiang offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in its enchanting allure.

xinjiang tianshan mountiansxinjiang flaming mountains

The Allure of Train Travel in Xinjiang

Train travel in Xinjiang presents an unparalleled opportunity to witness the region's breathtaking scenery while enjoying the comfort and convenience of modern transportation. The extensive railway network connects major cities and remote areas, offering travelers a chance to traverse diverse terrains, from the desolate beauty of the Gobi Desert to the lush oases nestled along the ancient Silk Road. Whether embarking on a short journey or an extended expedition, the rhythmic chug of the train becomes a soothing soundtrack to the unfolding vistas outside the window.

karakul lakeKalajun grassland

Exploring the Best Xinjiang Train Routes

Xinjiang boasts several iconic train routes that showcase the region's natural wonders and cultural heritage. There are 42 train stations available in Xinjiang. The Lanzhou-Xinjiang High-Speed Railway, for instance, provides a swift and scenic journey from the plains of Gansu to the heart of Xinjiang, passing through dramatic landscapes and connecting travelers to the vibrant city of Urumqi. Meanwhile, the Southern Xinjiang Railway traverses the awe-inspiring Taklamakan Desert, offering a glimpse of its otherworldly dunes and ancient archaeological sites. The China Orient Express train in Xinjiang is by far the most luxurious train in China, providing a panoramic Xinjiang view with great comfort. Each route presents a unique perspective of Xinjiang's diverse landscapes, allowing passengers to appreciate the region's splendor from the comfort of a train carriage.

orient express golden diamond roomorient express blue diamond room

Luxurious Train Options in Xinjiang

For those seeking a truly indulgent travel experience, Xinjiang offers luxurious train options that combine opulence with the allure of adventure. The "Lanzhou-Xinjiang high- speed train" and "New China Xinjiang Orient Express ", for example, provide first-class amenities, including elegant dining cars, spacious private cabins, and attentive service that caters to the discerning traveler's every need. These luxury trains redefine the concept of train travel, elevating the journey itself to a highlight of the Xinjiang experience.

Xinjiang Bullet train option

There are six bullet train stations in Xinjiang: Hami,Tuha,Shanshan,Turpan, Urumqi, and Yining with a coverage of 710km in total.  If travelers would like to take the bullet train to Xinjiang, it is recommended to take the train from Lanzhou/Xi’an/Xining/Zhangye etc where the bullet train option to Xinjiang is available.  Xinjiang Bullet train is the same as the bullet train in other cities, there are 3 types of tickets: Business class ticket,  first-class ticket and second class ticket, travelers can choose and book in advance according to their preference

Tuyoq villageKarakul lake

Tips for a Memorable Xinjiang Train Journey

Embarking on a train journey through Xinjiang requires careful planning and consideration to ensure a seamless and memorable experience. Travelers are advised to book tickets well in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure preferred seating and accommodation options, for Xinjiang New Orient Express train, usually needs to be booked at least 1 year in advance to ensure the most luxury option. Additionally, packing essentials such as sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water is essential, as the region's climate can fluctuate dramatically, particularly during long train rides. Embracing the local customs and interacting with fellow passengers can also enrich the journey, offering insights into the warmth and hospitality of Xinjiang's people.

16 days Xinjiang Panoramic view tour

stone fortresskarajun grassland

Scenic Highlights Along Xinjiang Train Routes

The train routes in Xinjiang offer an array of scenic highlights that captivate the senses and ignite the imagination. As the train meanders through the Tianshan Mountains, passengers are treated to panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, verdant valleys, and winding rivers that have shaped the region's landscapes for millennia. The journey through the Turpan Depression, one of the lowest points on Earth, reveals a stark yet mesmerizing expanse of salt lakes and desert terrain, while the passage through the Kazakh grasslands immerses travelers in the timeless beauty of rolling meadows and nomadic settlements.

naraty grasslandfive color pond

Cultural Experiences During Train Travel in Xinjiang

Train travel in Xinjiang not only showcases its natural splendor but also provides an opportunity to engage with the region's rich cultural tapestry. Passengers can partake in onboard cultural performances, featuring traditional music, dance, and storytelling, offering a glimpse into the vibrant heritage of Xinjiang's ethnic communities. Additionally, stops at key railway stations present opportunities to explore local markets, sample regional delicacies, and interact with artisans who create exquisite handicrafts, providing a deeper understanding of Xinjiang's living traditions.

kashgar old cityxinjiang folk village

Planning Your Xinjiang Train Adventure

When planning a train adventure in Xinjiang, travelers are encouraged to research the various routes and destinations to tailor their itinerary to their interests. Whether it's visiting the ancient city of Kashgar, known for its bustling bazaars and historic architecture, or venturing into the remote wilderness of the Altai Mountains, each stop along the way offers a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered. Seeking guidance from experienced travel agencies or local experts can also provide invaluable insights into the best routes, accommodations, and cultural experiences, ensuring a well-rounded and fulfilling journey through Xinjiang.

karez welljiaohe ruins

Safety and Practical Considerations

While exploring the beauty of Xinjiang through train travel is a remarkable experience, it's important for travelers to prioritize safety and practical considerations throughout their journey. Being mindful of local customs and etiquette, respecting the environment, and staying informed about potential travel restrictions or advisories are essential for a smooth and secure adventure. Additionally, staying vigilant and safeguarding personal belongings while onboard trains and during excursions is crucial for peace of mind, allowing travelers to fully embrace the wonders of Xinjiang with confidence and serenity.

kanas lakexinjiang wusun trekking


In conclusion, embarking on a Xinjiang tour by train unveils a world of natural splendor, cultural richness, and unforgettable encounters. Whether traversing the rugged landscapes of the Tian Shan Mountains or immersing in the vibrant traditions of Uighur communities, each moment on the Xinjiang train becomes a part of an unforgettable tapestry of experiences. With careful planning, an open heart, and a spirit of adventure, travelers can unlock the true beauty of Xinjiang, savoring every breathtaking vista and cultural revelation along the way.


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