Ürümqi (Uyghur: ئۈرۈمچی, Chinese: 乌鲁木齐 Wūlǔmùqí) is the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The city has a population of around 1.6 million.
Urumqi is quite famous for its claim that it is the most inland city in the world, that being the furthest from any ocean. Most people in Urumqi can speak some level of Mandarin Chinese. If you want to understand people, or try and speak a little bit, please check out Wikitravel's Chinese phrasebook. There are two major ethnic groups, the Han Chinese and the Uyghur, who can mostly speak Mandarin, albeit possibly with an accent, and Uyghur, a Turkic language. Wikitravel also has a Uyghur phrasebook under construction. Other ethnic groups in Urumqi include Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols and Hui Muslims. Despite what some of the guidebooks say, Urumqi has a lot to offer and can provide a great introduction to Xinjiang.
If you don't speak Mandarin or Uyghur, you may have difficulties in Urumqi. Few people speak English, even in some of the large hotels. When taking a taxi, it's a good idea to be armed with a piece of paper with the name of your destination written in Mandarin. Accordingly, some place names on this page have Mandarin translations.
Ürümqi is served by the Urumqi Diwopu International Airport (乌鲁木齐国际机场) (IATA: URC) which is located 20 km NW of the city center with regular domestic flights from Beijing, Shanghai (Hongqiao), Guangzhou, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Dunhuang, Hangzhou, Jilin, Kunming, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Sanya, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Xiamen, Xi'an, Xining, Yinchuan, and Zhengzhou.
Wulumuqi Huoche Zhan (乌鲁木齐火车站)- Qingfeng Lu
Regular trains from
- Beijing - takes about 41hr 35m (631 yuan)
- Chengdu - takes about 49hr 7m
- Dunhuang - takes about 14hr 4m
- Hami - takes about 9hr 30m
- Jiayuguan - about 16 hours
- Kashgar - takes about 33hr
- Kuche - takes about 14 hours
- Lanzhou - takes about 20hr 38m (338 yuan)
- Shanghai - takes about 44hr
- Turpan - takes about 2 hours
- Xi'an - takes about 34 hours
Semi-regular Trains from
- Almaty, Kazakhstan - - takes about 32-48 hours
Northern Long-Distance Bus Station
Location: Heilongjiang Lu
- Almaty, Kazakhstan (via Korgas) - takes 24+ hours 440 yuan. Tickets can be bought at the Bianjiang Hotel room 2121 (边疆宾馆2121号房间） or at the international bus station at Nianzigou (碾子沟国际客运站）. Time spent clearing customs at Korgas make the travel time rather variable.
- Burqin - takes about 13 hours
- Korgas - takes about 14 hours
- Lanzhou - takes about 40 hours
- Tacheng - takes about 12 hours
- Yining - takes about 11 to 14 hours and costs ¥165. July 2008.
Southern Long-Distance Bus Station (南郊客运站)
Location: southern part of city (Across from the Shui Shang Le Yuan (水上乐园） amusement park)
- Hotan - takes about 19 to 26 hours
- Kashgar - takes about 24 hours
- Korla - takes about 10 hours
- Kuche - takes about 17 hours
- Turpan - takes about 3 hours (heading for Gansu, will need to change buses for Hami)
China Highway 312 is a motorway crossing Xinjiang from Gansu to the border with Kazakhstan. Most destinations within Xinjiang can be accessed via private car. Drivers tend to congregate near the bus stations and will often approach passengers shouting their destination. Drivers usually try to fill the car with 4 passengers, but you can also rent the whole car (called bao che, 包车）. In almost every case, a car will save hours of travel time over a bus.
- Kazakhstan, 216 Kunming Lu. Mon-Thurs 10:00-13:00. Visas issued in two working-days. Cost varies depending on nationality: British and American ¥261. Visa collection from 12:00-13:00.
- Kyrgyzstan, 58 Hetan Bei Lu, ☎ 518-9980(fax: 518-9985).
Unfortunately, these are the only two consulates in Urumqi. For those heading to other destinations in Central Asia, instead of returning to Beijing, a good bet would be to pick up visas for those locations in Almaty, Kazakhstan or Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
On Foot or Taxi
The city centre's only a mile or two in length, so can be walked easily. Although in Summer it gets very hot and in Winter it can drop to -35 degrees C at night: So the many taxis might come in useful. Metered taxi fares start at 6 yuan. There are also "black taxis", usually driven by Uyghur men. Fares for these are negotiable and they definitely come in handy during rush hour when metered taxis are tough to come by. Regardless, you should never pay more than 20 yuan for a ride within the city.
Bus number 52 goes from the round about near the airport to the museum. Other useful routes running generally north-south are 101, 61 and 63. Bus route information is also available on Google Maps
- People's Square (人民广场)
- Hongshan (红山) - Red Mountain park
- Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum (自治区博物馆)
- Shuimugou Hot Springs (水磨沟)
- Da Bazar (大吧扎) - The Big Bazaar, a traditional Islamic market area. In the summer time, the Da Bazar at night is a rather lively place, if you come just as it is getting dark you can see tight rope walkers walking from one side of two the next with the tall minaret in the background.
- Xinjiang Silk Road Museum (新疆丝绸之路博物馆)  Easy to find - located right next to the Grand Bazaar at No.160 Shengli Road. Bus No.110 stops very close to it. It is located on the fifth and sixth floor of a very large European style building which houses a shopping complex as well. The admission charge is 30 Yuan per person. Most of the exhibits have English names as well and some of their guides speak some English.
The Grand Bazaar is a great place not only for regional specialty items, but also has many goods from nearby countries such as Russia and Mongolia. It is a popular tourist destination although somewhat of a tourist trap these days. However, the surrounding area is the heart of the Uyghur community and makes visiting worthwhile.
- Imported delicacies can be found at the You Hao supermarket in the basement of the Tian Shan Shopping Center (天山百货), located across from the People's Square.
- A number of stores selling outdoor gear, camping supplies (户外用品) etc. can be found on Renmin Lu, east of Nan Men.
- Hua Lin (华凌市场)is a huge trade complex selling almost anything you can think of. Shang Mao Cheng (商贸城)is a similar huge bazaar in the south of the city.
Food is one of the things that Xinjiang is famous for. Fresh naan, spicy kababs, steaming pilaf, or famous hand streched noodles — there are a lot of choices, and lots of variety.
Local restaurants are available throughout the city, although most Uyghur restaurants are concentrated in Erdaoqiao, around the big bazaar. A standard price for a plate of hand-streched noodles with vegetable meat topping (laghman/ban mian) is about 9 RMB (1.4 USD)--if you are still hungry, you can request more noodles (jia mian). Among other common Uyghur foods are dumplings of mutton and onions (samsa), Uyghur fried rice (polo), dumpling soup (chuchura), meat pies (Gush Nan) and Opke Hessip (lungs and stuffed intestines) for the brave. Local specialty drinks include Kawas (carbonated drink flavored with honey) and Dogh (a mixture of crushed ice, yoghurt and honey available in summer). The best known Hui dish is big plate chicken (Da Pan Ji), a spicy mixture of chicken and potatoes. Personal experience leads me to recommend the following:
- Bodun （博盾）, 42 Heping Bei Lu(Less than five minutes south of People's Square). Delicious and cheap Uyghur staples. Good location in the city center.
- Avral, 60 Shengli Lu(In Erdaoqiao （二道桥）, across from large mosque.). Delicious and finely decorated, Avral is also well known for its Uyghur ice cream (marozhni). This location is currently undergoing renovation, but there delicious ice cream shows up in other restaurants.
Hui and Uyghur food can be very spicy, and it is a good idea unless you like very spicy food to tell them "bu yao ladza", or for Uyghurs "kizil mooch salmang!".
One warning before you go out and get local food though. Not everyone can stay healthy eating Uyghur and Hui food. Often it is cooked with a large amount of oil. Sanitary conditions are also perhaps not what you would have expected. If you have a weak stomach, or gall bladder problems it might be a good idea to try some of the other options. Or just stick to naan and kebab.
In town there are several mid-range options available for western food.
- Rendezvous, 958 Yan'an Road(right by the Silk Road Hotel, on the 16, 61, and 912 bus routes), ☎ (0991) 255-5003. American-run. Also offers a excellent breakfast menu (at the moment only on the weekends). For the money, the best and cheapest Western food in Urumqi.
- The Texas Cafe （德州咖啡屋）, Nanmen Mashixiaoqu(near Nanmer down the grapevine covered alley across from the south entrance to the computer market), ☎ (0991) 281-0025. 1pm to midnight. A Tex-Mex and classic American cafe.
- Vine Coffeehouse （德蔓咖啡屋）, 65 Minzhu Lu(Down a small street near the People's theater (Renmin Dianying Yuan)), ☎ (0991) 230-4831. A Caribbean cafe serving a wide array of western and Caribbean specialty dishes. Closed Mondays.
- Edo No Sakura, 65 Guangming Lu(On first floor of brightly colored high rise near Hong Shan Park). For those intrigued by the prospect of eating sushi in the city furthest from an ocean. It is a bit pricey as can be expected. Next door is also a Brazilian Barbeque Restaurant, Sabbath.
- Tashkent （塔什干, Ташкент), 47 Xinhua Nan Lu, near the Hua Qiao Hotel(华侨宾馆）.. Nicely decorated Uzbek restaurant serving a variety of Central Asian and Russian cuisine. The clientele is an eclectic mix of Afghans, Pakistanis, Russian traders and other Central Asians, making for a unique atmosphere. Prices are cheap compared to other foreign restaurants and they now hav free wifi as well. Next door is Madina serving Pakistani and Afghan food with an English menu and English speaking staff (look for the golden arches on the sign).
- There are also a number of Russian restaurants near the Bian Jiang trade complex (边疆商贸城)on Yanan Lu.
Han Chinese dishes places, available all around town also fall into the mid-range category.
A good local Chinese chain is Shun Ming (顺明), serving Uyghur and Chinese food for a reasonable price. They are open twenty four hours and have several locations around town including at People's Square (人民广场) and the People's Movie Theater (人民电影院)
- Vegan Yuanqi Vegetarian Restaurant, 2 Altay Road, ☎ 0991-8735001/8487563. Located near the junction of Altay Road and Xinyi Road. Walk about 200 meters north from the jucntion. On the left side of the road stands a big hotel with two buildings. Restaurant is located 50 meters inside a little alley between A and B wings.
Another option is fast food, which has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants(肯德基）have sprung up all around town and are located at the Grand Bazaar, Peoples Square, Hong Shan, and the Children's Park among other locations. There are also two Pizza Huts (必胜客, located at 中山路 and 友好商场), and several smaller Chinese fast food chains--specifically Dicos （德克士） & Fastfood Burgers （百富烤霸, also known as Roast King）. The quality in these fast food places isn't quite American, but it's not that bad either.
The buffet at the China Southern Airlines Hotel is an ideal place to splurge. The head Chef is Austrian, and the food is very authentic Western fare, with some local dishes as well. Dinner costs 88RMB plus 15%, and includes tea, coffee, and a glass of red wine. The buffet at the Urumqi Sheraton ought to be rather good. It costs about 130 RMB per person.
- Korgan, (located next to the big bazaar (Da Baza) in Erdaoqiao). Luxuriously decorated Uyghur restaurant. Very good Uyghur food if somewhat inflated prices.
- Fubar, 40 Gongyuan Beijie(GongYuan Bei Jie runs along Peoples Park, and Fubar is about 100 metres from the back gate), ☎ 0991 5844498(email@example.com), . A western owned restaurant in the centre, run by 3 expats(Ireland, New Zealand, & Japan), you can get imported beers, Pizza, Fish & chips & much more. A great place to meet resident expats, and locals alike. Fubar also boasts a pool and Foosball table, was well as darts, and is the best place to get travel information, as the guys are both helpful and knowlegeable. The beer selection is frankly ridonkulous for this part of China.
- Victoria, 94 Shengli Lu, ☎ 0991-8555556. 11-1am. A popular hangout with hip Uyghurs, Central Asians and Russians. The dancing and atmosphere are good but the prices blow goats. Small beers start at 25 yuan (local beer by comparison is 2 yuan), and most entrees begin around 60 yuan. Drink elsewhere and then come for the dancing.
- Almaly Club （苹果之父）, 38 Renmin Lu - 新宏信大夏5楼(On Renmin Lu right before the highway overpass.), ☎ 0991-2334189. Newly opened in a very nice new venue, this Kazakh themed restaurant and club serves a wide variety of Kazakh and Russian dishes. After 10 pm Beijing time there is live music and dancing(but also a minimum expense of 200 yuan per party).
- Maitian International Youth Hostel, Youhao Nan Lu. In an alley next to the Parkson shopping center (Bai Sheng).Dorms: 8-bed ¥40 6-bed ¥50. Discounts for HI members.
- Peace Hotel(Hépíng Dàshà), 15 Cangfanggou Lu (仓防沟路)(near Heping Bridge 和平桥), ☎ (0991) 581-9666. 24 hrs. hot water. Big internet bar right next door, more in the neighbourhood - dito foot massage (20 Y)Triples + Quads w/o bath and Aircon 100 Y; Triples with bath, w/o Aircon 120 Y; Dbl with bath and Aircon 150-180 Y..
- White Birch International Hostel(Xinjiang International Youth Hostel), 186 Nan Hu Lu(From the airport you can take the shuttle which costs 10RMB per person and will go directly to You Hao Lu Then take a taxi which should cost 6RMB in low traffic to the Nan Hu Urumqi County Court, the hostel is across the street. ; Alternatively you can take the taxi straight from the airport which should cost 40RMB, you should tell the taxi to take this route:Wai4 Huan2- Bei3 Jing1 Lu4 ?Su1 Zhou1 Lu4 ?Shi4 Zhen4 Fu3 Nan2 Hu2. From the train station you can take either the number 8 or 58 bus to Beimen Medicine Company and then take the number 73 bus; You can also take the taxi for 15RMB to No. 186 Nanhu South Road), ☎ 0991-4881428 / 13809943984(firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com), . Dorms: 10-bed ¥?, 5-bed ¥45. Discounts for HI members..
- Islam Grand Hotel, 22 Zhong Shan Rd., Urumqi, ☎ (0991)2811017(fax: (0991)2811513).
- Hoi Tak Hotel (海德宾馆）, 1 Dongfeng St., Urumqi, ☎ (0991)2322828. Broadband internet access, and satellite tv. 5 stars hotel in centre.
- Holiday Inn Urumqi （假日饭店）, 168 North Xinhua Rd., Urumqi, ☎ (0991)2818788(fax: (0991)2817422).
- Yindu Hotel Urumqi （银都酒店）, 39 Xibei Rd., Urumqi, ☎ (0991)4536688(fax: (0991)45171663), . Broadband internet access, and satellite TV. Located in the business district, 312 rooms, six restaurants, exercise equipment, spa, sauna, massage, swimming pool, night club, KTV rooms.
- Sheraton Hotel （喜来登酒店）, 669 North Youhao Lu, Urumqi, ☎ (0991)699-9999. Broadband internet access, and satellite tv. Five star hotel north of the city center. Urumqi's most luxurious hotel. There's super luxurious shopping next door now too.
- China Southern Airlines Hotel (南航饭店）, North Youhao Lu, Urumqi near Parkson Department store. Another high quality foreign hotel. Formerly known as the Kempinski Hotel.
In general Xinjiang is a rather safe place. However, in the bigger bazaars and on public transportation pickpockets do operate so be sure to secure your valuables.
In all most Islamic cultures, naan (bread), is very important. It is not a good idea to throw it away. If you drop it, pick it up and carry it with you. Do not step on naan--It is important to treat it with some respect. Also, if you decide to eat naan while walking, break off a piece, and eat that. Do not bite into the whole loaf.
- Tianshan Tianchi National Park (天池) - scenic with prismatic splendor. Tickets are approximately 100 yuan.
- Nan Shan (南山) - Picturesque mountains south of Urumqi. In summer the valleys are populated with Kazakh Yurts, which accept travellers for 50-100 yuan per night including food. Excellent for hiking and horseback riding. Cheap buses (8-25 yuan) leave for the area throughout the day from the bus station south of People's Park (Renmin Gongyuan). Particularly recommended is Juhua Tai (菊花台, chysanthemum terrace), with plenty of food and sleeping options along with mountain pastures filled with alpine flowers.
- Number One Glacier (一号冰川) - Located in the far south of Nan Shan is this fast disappearing glacier, the first in China to be thoroughly researched. The area is located in the higher peaks in the Nan Shan range (over 14,000 ft)and boasts spectacular views along with few tourists. The glacier can be reached after first taking the Nan Shan bus to Hou Xia (后峡, 12.6 yuan), and then finding a driver in the town to take you to the glacier(150-200 yuan one way, about an hour). Several kilometers from the glacier are Kazakh families that rent their yurts to tourists for 20 yuan. Polo (fried rice), bread, kebabs and tea are also available for about 15 yuan or so. Coming back, you should be able to hitch a ride for free with trucks returning to town from a nearby mine.
- Heart of Asia Monument - South of Urumqi is a monument supposedly marking the center of the Eurasian landmass, underscoring just how far from the ocean you really are.
This page was last edited at 05:24, on 25 March 2009 by Kevin Komoroski. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Timothy Chuter and Marc Heiden, Wikitravel user(s) Donaldnr, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.