10 Breathtaking China Landscapes in Xinjiang (the remote, western region)

10 Breathtaking China Landscapes in Xinjiang

November 13 | 11 Comments

When it comes to the beautiful China landscapes in Xinjiang, even a simple camera can produce the most beautiful photographs. This is a collection of the most breathtaking Xinjiang landscapes you’ll find in China’s far western region.

Breathtaking Xinjiang landscape photos

Xinjiang, the largest province in China and located in the country’s far northwest, boasts the most diversity of China landscapes: from one of the world’s largest deserts to one of the world’s tallest mountain ranges.

The result is that “Xinjiang landscape” can mean so many different things. The diversity comes as a shock to most people who think of China as either a concrete jungle of massive cities or large rice patties.

Below are some photos to prove this diversity exists, but if you want to see it for yourself, you’ll need to grab a copy of the FarWestChina Xinjiang Travel Guide, the most comprehensive guide to exploring the landscapes of Xinjiang.

These are the kinds of places that you won’t find in a Lonely Planet and most travelers don’t even know exist. That’s part of what makes Xinjiang such an attractive place to visit…

…the China landscapes you see below are still relatively untouched and undiscovered.

Xinjiang Desert Landscapes

Camels traveling through Xinjiang's Taklamakan Desert, an iconic China landscape
Photo Credit: dm4379

The Taklamakan Desert is the 2nd largest desert in the whole world and takes up almost 1/3 of the entire Xinjiang province.

Kumtagh Desert sand dunes near Turpan

In addition to the Taklamakan, you can visit the Kumtagh Desert near the ancient oasis of Turpan. It’s here where I’ve taken camel rides and even set up camp, as you can see above!

Log Cabin Village China Landscapes

Hemu Village in Altay, Xinjiang is one of the most beautiful China landscapes
Photo Credit: 辛同學

The famous Hemu village is located near the Kanas Lake in Altay, Xinjiang. It’s one of the most popular places for professional photographers in the region, especially during the fall months when the leaves turn various colors.

A beautiful view of Keketuohai Park in Xinjiang, China
Photo credit: calvin_y

The Keketuohai National Park is one of the most beautiful and least-recognized parks in China. Many compare it to Yosemite in the US.

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Xinjiang’s Odd Rock Formations

The combination of dry climate, harsh winds and lots of time have added up to some interesting rock formations in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang's Grand Canyon in Aksu, one of the China landscapes that resembles Antelope Canyon
Photo credit: Joshua Holko

This includes a placed referred to as the Xinjiang Grand Canyon located an hour north of Aksu. It’s very similar to Arizona’s Antelope Canyon.

There are other rock formations in Xinjiang known as “yardang” land forms, such as those found at the Karamay Ghost City.

Karamay's Ghost City is home to strange landscapes

These martian-like landscapes are created when fierce winds erode the rocks, leaving these towers of multi-colored rock standing in the desert.

Further south in Turpan, interesting Flaming Mountains feel like flames in the midst of incredible heat.

The Flaming Mountains of Turpan, one of the hottest China landscapes
Photo Credit: konrad

Natural Color Landscapes in Xinjiang

During different months of spring, Xinjiang experiences a number of colorful landscapes, some of which last for only a week or two.

Xinjiang's Apricot Blossoms in China

Beautiful apricot blossoms near Yili, Xinjiang spring up every year and provide incredible pink landscapes over the rolling hills.

The lavender fields of Xinjiang China at dusk

On the western side of Yili, fields of purple lavender spring up during the beginning of summer. Although this plant isn’t native to Xinjiang, it grows well here and is now a huge export of the region.

A forest in Xinjiang

Finally, the forest of poplar trees near the city of Korla provide a great contrast to the desert and the mountains. During the fall season, these trees turn a fierce yellow color that is mesmerizing.

Mountain Landscapes of Xinjiang

With the Tianshan, Kunlun, Pamir and Altay mountain ranges spanning the massive region of Xinjiang, there are numerous places to experience gorgeous mountain landscapes.

Tashkurgan's Stone City set with Xinjiang's Pamir Mountains
Photo credit: woOoly

The Stone Fort in Tashkorgan is a great place to see the Pamir mountains as well as the beautiful Golden Grasslands.

The Famous Kanas Lake, one of the most popular China landscapes in Xinjiang
Photo credit: baddoguy

One of China’s most photographed Xinjiang landscapes, this bend in Kanas Lake is hard to beat. The Altay mountains provide a phenomenal background to this amazing natural wonder.

Final Thoughts | China Landscapes in Xinjiang

As evidenced by these photos, which are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to beautiful photos of Xinjiang, China’s western region is home to an amazing diversity of landscapes.

In fact, it’s probably safe to say that there are more unique landscapes in Xinjiang than in any other part of China.

If you’d like to come see it for yourself, check out the FarWestChina Xinjiang Travel Guide, a book that will not only guide you through the popular tourist portions of the region, but will also show you off-the-beaten path locations.

Whatever your landscape preference, there’s likely a place worth visiting in Xinjiang!

About Josh Summers

Josh is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China's western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future.

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  1. I don’t know what to say, I was born in Xinjiang and lived there for 19 years, and now I frequently drive with my friends to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but forget that there is a place only 600 km from my hometown and it has such a beautiful canyon too. I used to talk with my friends and I am really proud of what Xinjiang has but we all agree that in US, you can drive with a compact car to those places, but in Xinjiang, most places with beautiful scene don’t even have road for a 4WD vehicle, as for those places which have, are full of people, I hope after few decades, Xinjiang, the great west of China could be developed as the great of US. Thank you so much for all you blogs, they give me another view to re-discover my lovely home town : )

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on June 6th, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for the comment Jiatai! I’m glad you have enjoyed reliving your hometown through my writing and I hope you get a chance to come back soon!

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks for the beautiful photos. I am an overseas Han Chinese and am always interested in articles concerning China.Have considered visiting Xinjiang with my family but hesitant. Enjoyed reading your blog anyway.

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on May 20th, 2015 at 12:57 am

    My pleasure, Esther! Thank you for stopping by the website and leaving a comment ;)

    [Reply]

  3. Can you provide the name of Kanas Lake bend as pictured above in Mandarin ? The only thing that appears is at Altay mountain, the other side of China !

    [Reply]