For most travelers, flying into Urumqi Diwopu International Airport (乌鲁木齐地窝铺国际机场) marks their first step into the Xinjiang province. The Urumqi airport is the primary transportation hub and one of only two airports in Xinjiang that offer international flights (Kashgar is the other).
In the hopes of making things as easy for you – the traveler – as possible, below I’ve tried to answer the top 4 question I receive about Urumqi flights in Xinjiang. If you have any additional questions, please put them in the comments section and I’ll keep this updated.
1. Which Urumqi Airport Terminal Do I Use?
The Urumqi International Airport is currently divided into three different terminals which are creatively named “T1”, “T2” and “T3”. You can disregard Terminal 1 since it doesn’t accommodate any passenger flights, which leaves us only with Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.
Urumqi Airport TERMINAL 3
Urumqi’s Terminal 3 was opened back in 2010 and is the newest wing of the airport. Known for it’s “eagle’s wings” rooftop, it boasts a modern design and supposedly faster passenger check-in.
If you happen to be hungry, it also has the airport’s only overpriced KFC – which doesn’t sound great unless you compare it to T2’s “Best Food Burger” option. So I guess what I’m trying to say is…bring your own food.
There aren’t many duty free options if you’re flying international out of Urumqi. They have a perfume shop, a cigarette shop and a liquor shop, but they’re really not worth stopping by.
**You should use Terminal 3 if you are flying on China Southern. All other airlines fly out of Terminal 2.
Urumqi Airport TERMINAL 2
Urumqi’s Terminal 2 used to be the primary terminal prior to the T3 opening. It’s old, but it still functions well.
There aren’t that many food and drink options in Terminal 2, with the aforementioned Best Food Burger available before you enter the gate area. Past the security checkpoint there are a couple places to sit down and order tea or buy some last-minute, overpriced souvenirs, but that’s all.
2. Where can I fly to/from Urumqi airport?
Check out the Urumqi City Guide
Urumqi has become a major hub for travel not just within Xinjiang but also internationally. Considering it’s strategic location there’s no doubt that will continue to grow.
For simplicity sake, I’ll break out your flight options as either within Xinjiang, within China or internationally.
There are a total of 17 airports in Xinjiang, including the Urumqi International Airport (the Fuyun airport sometimes listed as Xinjiang’s 18th airport closed down in 1994). Although flights might not be available every day, Urumqi services all airports in the province.
Xinjiang Airports to/from Urumqi Airport
|Aksu 阿克苏||Altay 阿勒泰||Bole 博乐阿拉山口||Hami 哈密|
|Hotan 和田||Kanas 喀纳斯||Karamay 克拉玛依||Kashgar 喀什|
|Korla 库尔勒||Kuqa 库车||Nalati 那拉提||Qiemo 且末|
|Shihezi 石河子*||Tacheng 塔城||Turpan 吐鲁番||Yining 伊宁|
*Shihezi airport is being moved and is expected to reopen in 2014.
International flights to and from Urumqi have increased over the past few years, a reflection of the increased importance of Urumqi’s central location.
For those who are making Xinjiang a stop on their round-the-world adventures, here is a quick list of all the international destinations that Urumqi serves.
International Airports to/from Urumqi Airport
|Almaty, Kazakhstan||Astana, Kazakhstan||Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan|
|Kabul, Afghanistan||Baku, Azerbaijan||Osh, Russia|
|Moscow, Russia||Istanbul, Turkey||Dushanbe, Tajikistan|
*Other smaller international are serviced on occasion, but these are the major ones.
Instead of listing them all here, just know that Urumqi International Airport is serviced by every major airport in China and a few smaller ones as well.
3. Where do I Purchase Urumqi Airport Flight Tickets?
There are three primary ways that you can purchase tickets for flights to Urumqi but I’ll go ahead and tell you now that the best way is from the comfort of your computer. Thankfully it’s easy!
Here are all three options:
- At the Airport: ticket counters at the airport will sell you tickets on the spot, although I highly discourage this since you will have to pay full price for these tickets. They’re never discounted.
- Local Travel Agent: from within Xinjiang you can easily buy tickets at the many local travel agencies. They can often get you discount that are equal to or greater than what you can find online. There’s only one catch: 95% of these agencies only accept cash! It’s a great option if you want to avoid bank fees, though.
- Purchase Tickets Online: By far the easiest and most accepted way to purchase flight tickets in Xinjiang is online. The two most popular sites are eLong.net and Ctrip.com. I recommend either since they both offer English versions of their sites and accept all major credit cards.
4. Is there transportation to/from the Urumqi Airport?
The most nerve-wracking part of arriving in a new city is getting from the airport to your hotel. I don’t know about you, but I’m always on high alert for getting ripped off, especially when I arrive at night.
When you exit the baggage claim area in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, you’ll find a line of taxis that are a common way to get into the city. As long as you always take a certified taxi (it has a meter) and they drop the flag on the meter, you’ll be fine. Expect to pay between 30-50 RMB depending on where you’re going.
Another option is to take the shuttle. They have a couple, some of which go to the city center while others go to the train station, all with stops in between. There is a desk right before you exit the doors, so be prepared with the name of your hotel and show the clerk. They’ll let you know if they can take you there. By doing this, you’ll save yourself some money, as the average shuttle costs less than 20 RMB.
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