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Turpan – Ancient Capital of the Silk Road

Turpan China At a Glance

  • Chinese Name: 吐鲁番 (Tǔlǔfān)
  • Uyghur Name: تۇرپن
  • Population: Approximately 275,000
  • Transportation: Turpan is serviced by a train station in Daheyan (50km NW), an unused airport and a busy bus station.
  • Trivia: German explorer Albert von Le Coq and British explorer Aurel Stein are the most hated foreigners in Turpan thanks to their exploits in the early 1900’s

Located in the Turpan Depression, the lowest part of China and the second lowest in all the world, Turpan, China (sometimes referred to as Turfan) is known for having one of the sunniest and driest climates. It’s one of the reasons that Turpan grapes are so well-regarded across all of China. More than climates and grapes, though, Turpan is known as an ancient capital along the Silk Road. Beautiful remnants of Turpan’s former glory such as Jiaohe and Gaochang provide an incredible glimpse into the history of the region and an excellent adventure for tourists.

Turpan is one of the few cities in Xinjiang that can boast a population that is majority Uyghur, a big draw for many tourist. Their cultural influence is apparent in the food, night life and architecture of Turpan. Even their historical footprint can be seen in the incredible construction of the Uyghur karez well system, an engineering feat that is single-handedly responsible for keeping Turpan watered and alive.

Getting to and from Turpan is fairly easy. While an airport is available for use, the flights are infrequent and honestly quite unnecessary. The best way to travel to Turpan is to take Xinjiang’s new high speed train. It’s the same price as the buses and much faster and convenient. The train station is located a short 10 minute taxi ride from the center of Turpan.

Turpan's Tuyok Village in winter The ancient city of Jiaohe along the Silk Road in Turpan, Xinjiang The Turpan Night Market in Xinjiang, China along the Silk Road Turpan's ancient Gaochang Ruins in Xinjiang on the Silk Road Turpan's Emin Minaret and Mosque

Turpan City Map

A map of Turpan in English