Why it's Good to Live in (or Travel to) Xinjiang | Xinjiang: Far West China

Why it’s Good to Live in (or Travel to) Xinjiang

November 12 | 7 Comments

Why should you live or travel to China’s far western province of Xinjiang?  The better question is…why not? But for those who need a reason, here’s six.


Do you ever look back on the path that has brought you to where you are today and found yourself straining to locate the direction you came from? It’s like walking along a beach whose waves sweep away the very evidence of your footprints allowing you to turn around and wonder if you’ve made any progress at all. I always get that feeling whenever I’m asked the two most common questions from friends, family, and readers:

  1. Why did you move to China?
  2. Of all places, why stay in Xinjiang for so many years?

The first question seems to be the easiest, but is actually in itself quite a complicated answer. My wife and I both speak Spanish and upon graduation had planned to move to a preferably Spanish-speaking country to do education or humanitarian work. The Peace Corps was a good option, but the time required to place a married couple is more than a year after application and we didn’t want to wait that long.

I doubt we would have voluntarily chosen Xinjiang if given the option…

Before my wife graduated she became ESL certified for reasons unknown to either of us and we were told there were many opportunities to teach in China. Wait…China? No, no, no. We speak Spanish, not Chinese. Still, a friend’s distant cousin knew a dog whose neighbor knew a professor who had a working relationship with a school here in China and had openings available as ESL teachers.

So we took it. I will always ask myself why we did, but it’s not a decision we regret.

Living in Xinjiang

A beautiful Xinjiang highway with a mountain backdrop Before arriving here in China I doubt I could have located Chengdu or Xi’an on a map, much less the province of Xinjiang. We’ve never been attracted to big cities, though, and Xinjiang didn’t seem to have any, so we were ok with the idea of moving here. So it’s easy to answer the question why we came to Xinjiang – we didn’t mean to! But why have we stayed for the past two (going on three) years?  That is a much better question.

I doubt we would have voluntarily chosen Xinjiang if given the option, but now that we’re here we have no desire to live in any other province or city. With this in mind, and of course without previous experience living in another part of China, I began to think about the reasons why we love living and working in Xinjiang, China:

Uyghur people wander around a Friday market in Xinjiang1. The Cultural Diversity

Dapanji, or "Big Plate Chicken" is great Xinjiang food2. Diversity of Food and Music

The Xinjiang-Tibet highway, the highest in the world3. Obscurity

Muztag Ata in Xinjiang, China4. Exotic, Natural Beauty

Paparazzi taking pictures5. Foreigner Curiosity and Excitement

Riding a camel in Xinjiang's Taklamakan Desert6. Hone Your Survival Skills

Hopefully some of these reasons might be intriguing, so I’ll be giving more details in the days to come.  Enjoy!


Traveling to Xinjiang? Find out which China Travel Guide is best for YOU!

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. Hello,

    I really like your detailed and informative description of Xinjiang.
    Do you think it will be pleasant to travel on the second week of November in Xinjiang?



  2. hi i want to ask some question to you it is easy to get job on xinjiang on student visa?.


    Josh Summers on April 9th, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Hi Salman, while I know many people who get work on the side while on a student visa, I want to warn you that it is technically illegal. If you or the business get caught, your student visa will be revoked.


  3. I love your site…I did a year in xinjiang and it changed my life forever…I worked in fukang….I miss it so sooo much and will definitly be back when im in my 40s ….I CANT EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN the kindness of the Uyghur and Kazak and Han people in xinjiang….All i can say is GO TO XINJIANG…YOU will LOVE it….I did and its forever in my heart and soul…Ill be back in Fukang 1st week of August and im soo so excited to see my friends there!


  4. Hi Josh,

    It’s great to read your blog and watch your youtube video.
    I have been considering what my next move should be, Xinjiang never came up until I read your blog.

    Just out of curiosity, how easy/hard is it for a foreigner (I am from Taiwan, but lives in Australia) to do business (and potentially migrate) over there?

    Many thanks



    Josh Summers on October 26th, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Doing business here is hard. I won’t lie. The powers that be here don’t care about you making money or helping you get permissions you need. They only care about one thing: maintaining security and stability. That just makes business hard.


The 2015 Xinjiang travel guide is here!