ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet Hotan in Xinjiang - map

Hotan - Ancient Kingdom of Jade and Silk

Uyghur:     خوتەن
Chinese:  和田  hé tián 

A large earthquake struck deep in the Kunlun Mountains southeast of Hotan on 20-March-2008. Although there was damage in small villages in the hills, there was no damage in Hotan, 225 km away from the epicenter, nor in Keriya / Yutian, north of the quake, and there was no impact on transport or tourism on the main roads.

In one place, this page has central and area maps, lodging and dining recommendations, sightseeing information, and transportation details. There is so much to see and do in Hotan!

Weaving Atlas Silk, Atlas Silk Workshop, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaEnjoy the vast array of delights in this largest city on the southern rim of the Taklamakan Desert, in the northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Observe the ancient handicrafts practiced here for two millennia. See silk made by hand in the ancient tradition from cocoon to the colorful King of Silk. On the other side of town, see the entire process in a 1950s-era mechanized factory. Watch carpets tied by hand in age-old patterns. Observe precious jade being carved into fantastic shapes, and paper made by hand from mulberry bark and desert plants.

Tying carpet, Gillam Karakhana Carpet Workshop, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaVisit the excellent museum in its newer, larger facility that brings together the region's 5,000 years of human history on the crossroads of Indian, Central Asian, Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern and even Greek cultures, a corridor for and center of shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Manichaeism and Islam. Plus the museum offers an entire floor of more recent cultural treasures of jade, carpets, silk, ethnic attire, jewelry, musical instruments and Uyghur traditional medicine.

Visit a Sunday bazaar that rivals any in Central Asia for size and variety, then stop by Hotan's nearby main mosque. Or head out on Thursday nearby to a weekly tiny bazaar and festivalin the desert an ancient sacred site of pilgrimage at the edge of the desert, with its ancient shrine, tomb and mosque.

Jade factory showroom, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaBeat the heat along more than 1,500 kilometers of shady grapevine-covered corridors in the county, or in one just outside your hotel door.Wander around neighborhoods with traditional Uyghur architecture. Watch nightly authentic Uyghur traditional music and dancing. Eat rice-based polo or noodle-based Carpet area, Main Bazaar, Hotan, Xinjiang, Chinalangmen from bottomless cauldrons in busy Uyghur restaurants and nibble your way along the stalls of an ancient night market, with sizzling lamb kebabs, mountains of fresh melons, stacks of nut bars and an endless variety of other treats.

But the old and new exist side-by-side in ancient Hotan. Marvel at the dramatic modern architecture in the center around the enormous Unity Square. Dance the night away at a score of flashy night clubs, grab a burger or fried chicken at a Chinese chain, wander the endless aisles of three enormous supermarkets, pick your live seafood for dinner from two walls of tanks in a new restaurant more than 2,500 kilometers from any ocean, or watch the world pass by as you linger at a number of modern coffee bars or internet cafes.

Spend Y20 to Y2,000 per night on a range of accommodations. Visit different nearby ancient ruins from this fabled Silk Road kingdom, by taxi, by 4WD, or by an overnight camel caravan. Wander along the bed of the Yorungkash River, whose jade has been traded from here to central China for more than three thousand years, washed down from the fabled Kunlun mountains of immortality, home of the Great Mother Goddess of the West.

Imam Asim Shrine, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaAncient coffin, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaYou can reach Hotan easily with daily inexpensive flights from Urumqi. Or travel on quality new sealed asphalt highways on many daily air-conditioned buses from Kashgar (500 km), Aksu (500 km), Korla (1000 km), or Urumqi (1500 km), choosing to watch the desert and oasis scenery from a seat bus or go overnight on a sleeper bus.

For the more adventurous, Hotan can be your gateway to two lesser-known routes into Tibet. The first is through remote western Tibet from nearby Karghilik / Yecheng, where you can reach the Tsaparang, the ancient hilltop capital of the Guge Kingdom, and the holy Mount Kailash. The other route is via a series of legs across southern Xinjiang and through Qinghai Province to Golmud, where you can catch the train to Lhasa. Through this latter route -- shunned by ancient China but well-known to and used by the locals, Tibetans, and Mongolians for their Silk Road trade and made famous by Ella Maillart's 'Forbidden Journey'-- you can also reach Dunhuang, Xining or Lanzhou.

This page has details on lodging, eating, transportation and sightseeing. See the Table of Contents.

  City of Hotan:    114,000 (2006), predominantly Uyghur


Photos at Flicker Site

Large versions, up to 600 pixels high or wide, of the author's photographs at this site can be seen by clicking on the thumbnails here. Even larger versions of the author's photographs, up to 2000 pixels high or wide, can be found at the author's Flickr site, as well as a hundred additional photos of Hotan.

Several of the images and all the quoted text on this page are the copyright of people other than the author. To the extent that copyright, ownership or source is known to the author, it has been noted. If not owned by the author of this page, but ownership is not known, "Source: Unknown" is listed. All other material is copyright © centralasiatraveler.com. The copyright, noted at the end of this page, applies to the author's photographs and text but does not extend to these images and text belonging to others.

Hotan oasis and rivers, Xinjiang, China - Satellite Image: GoogleORIENTATION

Hotan is on the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert and just north of the Kunlun Mountains, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.  Coordinates:  37°06'11"N   79°55'44"E.

Hotan Oasis map, 1900, Stein

Hotan Oasis, 1900
'Ancient Khotan', Aurel Stein

The city is in a major oasis between two rivers, the Yorungkash / White Jade River to the east and the Karakash / Black Jade River to the west.  Although a small city by Chinese standards, with about 114,000 inhabitants, it is by far the largest city and in the largest oasis along the southern rim of the Tarim Basin.  

At 1,410 m above sea level, Hotan is the highest of the oases in the Tarim Basin.  (In contrast, the lowest point in Xinjiang is the Turpan Depression (Tulufan Pendi), along the western edge of the Gobi Desert in eastern Xinjiang, which is the lowest point in all of Asia, at 154 metres below sea level, and the second lowest non-oceanic point on the earth's surface after the Dead Sea.)

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

The city’s name is often also spelled Khotan, especially in recent older sources.  The Pinyin transliteration of the Chinese name is Hetian.   See A Note about Names and Spelling for some of Khotan's other names throughout history, and a long list of Chinese and English names related to Hotan.

Towns along the Southeast Rim of the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, ChinaDistances

Hotan is located along Highway 315, which runs from Kashgar, 519 km to the west, to Xining in Qinghai Province. Niya / Minfeng is 394 km east and Cherchen / Qiemo is 605 km to the east. 

Korla is 1,045 km to the northeast across the Taklamakan Desert on the Tarim Highway, and Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, is 463 km further north.  For more distances along the southeastern rim, see the distances chart on the Niya / Minfeng page at this site.  

Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang in China mapNew Cross Desert Highway from Hotan

A new highway, opened in October 2007, was built from Hotan in the south 430 km to Alar, at the confluence of the Hotan River and the Tarim River, where the highway joins up with the existing road 30 kilometers north to Aksu. At Aksu, it joins Highway 314, which runs along the north side of the Taklamakan Desert.  This new highway generally follows the route of the Hotan River, which was also a significant ancient ancient trading route. 

This is the Taklamakan's second cross-desert highway, joining the Tarim Highway, which runs from Niya / Minfeng to Bügür / Luntai.  The author has only seen this called the Hotan-Alar Highway so far.  This new highway shortens the distance from Hotan to Aksu and to northern Xinjiang by some 300 km. But the total distance to Korla and Urumqi using the new highway is only about 30 km shorter than the Tarim Highway.

Hotan Prefecture and Counties Map, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaHotan City - 和田市 Hetian Shi, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang, ChinaHotan City, County and Prefecture

On this page, unless otherwise specified, Hotan refers to the city.  Hotan is also the name of Hotan County, 和田县 Hetian Xian, which is one of seven counties in Hotan Prefecture, 和田地区 Hetian Diqu, shown in the map to the left.

Politically, Hotan City - 和田市 Hetian Shi - is a county-level city. It is shown in the map to the right, in Chinese with some English place names. (This map was originally found at VB Good Maps.) Hotan City is administratively distinct from Hotan County and is nestled between Hotan, Karakash / Moyu and Lop / Luopu Counties.

Hotan County covers the area south to the borders of Tibet and India.  See a map of Hotan County below under Maps.


Uyghur children, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaUyghur men, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaInthe entire Hotan Prefecture, 96 percent of the population of about two million is Uyghur.  This is a higher Uyghur population ratio than Kashgar Prefecture (89 percent) or in any other prefecture in Xinjiang. The Han Chinese population is higher the closer one gets to the center of Hotan city, though they are still a clear minority.

About 20 percent of Uyghurs here speak Chinese.  In employment, 70 percent of Uyghurs are employed in agriculture, 20 percent in government, 8 percent in wholesale or other trades, and 2 percent in private retail such as hotels, shops, and restaurants. 

For some additional background on Hotan, check out the Hotan page at Wikipedia.



ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet


Hotan city center, satellite image, Image Source: GoogleMAPS

Street map of central Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaYou can buy a printed map of Hotan, in Chinese only, at most good hotels for about Y5.  But this street map, to the left, developed by the author from a Chinese map, should suffice for most needs.

To the right is a satellite image of central Hotan, which approximately matches the street map to the left.

In the new edition (2007) of 'Lonely Planet - China,' the editors finally decided Hotan was getting enough travelers to rate a center street map.  Unfortunately, a few things are not quite right. (This is a tiny drop of error in that excelent volume containing oceans of extremely useful, detailed information for the visitor to China.) There is still a PSB station in Hotan where marked, but the Aliens Entry and Exit Administration office, which can process visa extensions, has recently moved to the PSB office near the Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang) across Beijing Street and a few buildings east at 92 Beijing Xi Lu.  Also, on the Lonely Planet map, the Hotan Yingbinguan is shown a block north of its actual location. 

Northeast Hotan Oasis, showing Rawak Stupa, Imam Asim Shrine, and Jiya Township with Carpet Workshop and Atlas Silk Workshop - Image source: Google, adapted by centralasiatraveler.com

Jiya Townshop satellite Image, Hotan, Xinjiang, China, Image: GoogleThe 'Lonely Planet - China' map of Hotan, like the printed map you can buy mentioned above, places the name Dixia Jie on a portion of Beijing Xi Lu near the traffic circle.  Dixia (地下  dì xià) means underground / subterranean and Jie (街  jiē) is street, and there is an underground shopping mall in that area. But the street name above is still Beijing.

Hotan's most significant suburb for travelers is Jiya Township, shown in the satellite image to the right, northeast of central Hotan. Located in Jiya Township are the Gillam Karakhana carpet workshop, the Atlas silk workshop, the Imam Asim complex with its shrine, mosque and Thursday market, and the Rawak Stupa. The author does not have the exact locations of the carpet workshop or the Atlas silk workshop, so if a reader visits there with a GPS receiver, getting the coordinates would be appreciated. The carpet workshop is said to be just 5 km from the city center, while the Atlas silk workhop is 30 km from the center.

A larger area map is shown to the left. This is a satellite image of the northeast area of the Hotan oasis. On this map are the Yorungkash River, central Hotan in the lower left and the Rawak Stupa in the upper right. Also shown are the Imam Asim shrine,

Street Names
To get around in Hotan, it's a great help for the visitor to learn six words and characters in Chinese: west, east, north, south and two words for street.  Almost all the central streets include these words. 

路 lu (lǔ) (street) 西 xi (west)  南 nan (south)
街 jie (jiē) (street) 东 dong (east) 北 bei (north)

The city is centered a few blocks east of the new Unity Square.  For directional naming, the east-west axis division is at Beijing. The north-south axis division is called Wenhua north of Beijing and Ying Bin south of Beijing.  Thus, the main east-west street, Beijing, is called Beijing Xi Lu (Beijing West Street) and Beijing Dong Lu (Beijing East Street) to either side of Wenhua / Ying Bin.  

Highway 315, the main east-west highway along the southern rim of the Taklamakan, bypasses the center along the north and east side of the central district.  The main northwest-southeast street is Taibei, called Taibei Xi Lu and Taibei Dong Lu. 

Map of Highway 315 in western Hotan Prefecture, including Hotan, Goma / Pishan, Karakash / Moyu, Lop / Luopu, and Chira / Cele.  In Chinese with some English placenamesHotan County map, in Chinese with some English place names, Xinjiang, ChinaYorungkash and Karakash
The closest river to the center is the Yorungkash Darya or White Jade River is a few kilometers east of the center.  The other, to the west, is the Black Jade River or Karakash Darya. (Actually, in Uyghur, kash means river banks, but the translation from the Chinese name, with jade, has stuck in English.) North of Hotan, the two rivers merge and become the Hotan River. The Hotan River used to cross the Taklamakan and merge with the Tarim River, but now stops short and disappears into the sands. You can see both rivers in the map of the Hotan oasis above under Orientation.

Hotan County
To the left is a map of Hotan County, in Chinese with some English place names. The map also include parts of Karakash / Moyu County, Goma / Pishan County, Lop / Luopu County, and Chira / Cele County. A higher-resolution version of this map is available at the author's Flickr site. This map was originally found at VB Good Maps

To the right is a detail section of the central portion of this Hotan County map, along Highway 315, which may be more convenient for printing and has higher resolution (for those who may not have access to Flickr).

Aksai Chin region, disputed between India and China, controlled by ChinaAksai Chin
A large portion of southern Hotan County is a plain called the Aksai Chin, also called the Ling-Zi Thang Plain in Tibetan. This area is marked on the Hotan County map to the left and is shown in the regional map to the right. The Aksai Chin was ceded by treaty by Tibet to British India in the early 1900s, but since China does not recognize Tibet's independence from China at that time, it does not recognize the treaty. China took control of the Aksai Chin in a border war with India in 1962, but India still claims the territory as part of the state of Kashmir, the whole of which it disputes with Pakistan. This and other land disputes, including a large section to the east of Bhutan, controlled by India but claimed by China, keep relations between India and China a bit frosty. There are no openland border crossings between India and China, and there are few direct flights between the two countries. The two countries do have diplomatic relations and embassies, however, and their citizens and goods are allowed to travel between the countries, just not directly.

1873 map showing mountain passes between Hotan area in Xinjiang, China,  and Leh and Srinagar in IndiaThis dipute has been economically extremely difficult for Hotan and the surrounding area, as well as for Ladakh, because traders have travelled between the Ladakh region of today's India and southern Xinjiang for more than 2,500 years. The 1873 map to the left shows the passes across the mountains that these travelers had used.

A healthy trade, however, has been bustling between Pakistan and Xinjiang, especially since the completion of the Karakoram Highway. Pakistan, which claims Kashmir as its territory, has signed a treaty accepting China's claim to the Aksai Chin, and has also ceded additional territory, which India also still claims, in part in exchange for China's constructing the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan.

Map of Central Asia section of the ancient Silk RoadThe area of today's southeastern Xinjiang has long had ties with today's Pakistan going back thousands of years. One of the major cultural influence on southern Xinjiang, from even before the founding of the ancient Kingdom of Khotan in the mid-third century BCE, was from the Gandhara area of today's northern Pakistan as well as the Bactrian area of today's western Afghanistan, which can be see in the map to the right..

China's main road from Xinjiang thorough western Tibet, Highway 219, goes through the Aksai Chin region, between the Kunlun Mountains and the Karakoram Mountains. The highway begins in Karghilik / Yecheng, 328 km west of Hotan. It's 1,187 km from Karghilik / Yecheng to Ali / Shiquanhe, the first town of any size in western Tibet. Then it's 250 km from Ali to Darchen, where one can begin the kora around the sacred Mount Kailash. A further 440 km takes one to Saga, and another 450 km to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city and home to the Tashilhunpo monastery. Lhasa lies a further 266 km beyond Shigatse, for a total of about 2,600 km from Karghilik / Yecheng to Lhasa. Except in winter, one can take a bus three days a week for a 39 hour trip, over three passes near or exceeding 5,000 meters, from Karghilik / Yecheng to Ali / Shiquanhe in Tibet.

Xinjiang road map of Xinjiang, China, with distances, in Chinese with some EnglshTo the left is a map of Xinjiang, a road map with distances shown in kilometers, mainly in Chinese with some place names in English.

To the right is a more detailed map of Xinjiang, also a road map with distances in kilometers, also in Chinese, with some place names in English added by the author. (Both of these maps were found at Vbgood Maps.)

The second one has more place names listed, but this makes it also more difficult to read. Both of these are older maps, so they may not show newer roads, such as the new cross-desert Xinjiang road map of Xinjiang, China, with distances, in Chinese with some Englshhighway between Hotan and Aksu (which opened in October 2007 and roughly follows the Hotan River), or the extension of the railway to Kashgar, which was completed in 1999. The author has added to these maps the spur road from Tazhong to Highway 315 near Cherchen / Qiemo.

The links from the images give medium-resolution versions of these maps at this site.Higher resulution versions of these Xinjiang maps are available at the author's Flickr site: left Xinjiang map (1535 x 1273) and right Xinjiang map (2078 x 1370).

A large format (2196 x 1547) map of Xinjiang in English is available at Xinjiang Map at Maps of China. The author offers the reader three caveats about that English map. First, to download the map, which is actually in six file segments, one must right-click on each of the segments and then use a graphics program to paste them together. Second, this map erroneously shows the Tarim Highway reaching Highway 315 at Andirlingar, rather than near Niya / Minfeng, an error of 110 km to the east. Third, this map does not show distances.



Bank of China, main branch at Aqial Xi Lu and Urumqi Nan Lu, with ATM, currency exchange, and cash advances, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaBank

The main Bank of China branch in Hotan is at the corner of Aqial Xi Lu and Urumqi Nan Lu.  It has an ATM that accepts foreign cards.  Inside, the bank gives cash advances on credit or debit cards.  The bank window has icons for Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, and JBC.  The bank will exchange US dollars, Euros, Hong Kong dollars and British pounds, Japanese Yen, among other currencies. 

There is also a more central Bank of China branch at 28 Beijing Xi Lu, near Wenhua (near Unity Square - Tuanjie Guangchang), which also has an ATM that accepts foreign cards.  The author does not know if this staff in this branch can give credit card advances or exchange foreign currency. If you find out, please let us know.


PSB (police) station, 92 Beijing Xi Lu, with Aliens Entry and Exit Administaration - can extend visas, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThe main PSB office is at 92 Beijing Xi Lu, almost a block east of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang), on the north side of the street.  This location has an Aliens Entry and Exit Administration office, which will process 30-day visa extensions in one day, but only if you have a week or less remaining on your current visa.  (This is a newer location for the PSB with the AEEA office than the one given in older guides.)

Travel Agency

Hotan International Travel Service

和田国际旅行社Chinese pinyin: he tian gou ji lui xing she
Uyghur transliteration: hoten helik ara sayahetchilik coprativy

Hotan International Travel Service, Tunken Lu 23, Hotan, Xinjiang, China, 0903 251 6090Tel: 0903  251 6090, Fax: 0903 251 2845, Mobile: 13 999 653 711, Address:  Tunken Lu 23, Hotan, Xinjiang, China 878000
Manager: Gigi Kwok

The Hotan International Travel Service isthe local branch of the government's official China International Travel Service (CITS). Its full name is the China Xinjiang Hotan International Travel Service.

It is located on Tunken Lu.  Tunken Lu (formerly called Tambagh) turns southeast where Urumqi Nan Lu ends, two very long blocks south of Beijing Xi Lu.  The CITS is just a few doors down from where the road bends, on the west side of the street.  The agency is on the bottom floor of a three-story concrete building.  The entry gate has large red granite pillars flanking it. 

The folks at the CITS are quite friendly and helpful, especially Gigi Kwok, noted above, who speaks Mandarin and English, and Kurban, who speaks Uyghur, Mandarin, and English.  They are well informed about their area.

They can arrange tours for individuals or groups, for a day or many days, to one or many of the sights in the area.  For custom tours, in May-October, CITS charges Y150 per day for a guide; in winter, the fee is Y100 per day.  CITS can also help arrange for permits and camel caravans to the ancient cities in the desert, from an overnight to Rawak to a week or longer to Karadong or Niya.

Internet Access

China Post Office, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThere are many Internet cafes in central Hotan.  Ask at your hotel for the closest place.  Crazy Boy Internet Cafe is next door to Lokman Restaurant.

China Post

The main China Post office is on Beijing Xi Lu, just a few doors east from the Hotan Museum on the corner of Beijing Xi Lu and Xi Huai Lu.  This office can accept international parcels; don't seal the box until it is inspected at the post office.

Bus Station

Main long-distance bus station, Tai Bei Xi Lu near Hong Xing Jie, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThe main bus station is on Tai Bei Xi Lu just northwest of Hong Xing Jie.  Tel: 0903 203 2700.

The east bus station (dong che zhan) - for Niya / Minfeng and Cherchen / Qiemo and points along the way - is at _______________, near the corner of _________. Tel: 0903 ___ ____. To reach the east bus station, catch bus #10 at the main bus station and take it to the end of the line.  Use the east bus station for buses to Keriya / Yutian, Niya / Minfeng, Cherchen / Qiemo, and all points in between. (The author is seeking the address and telephone number of the east bus station. If you visit, please note this info to share and also take a photo.)

See bus schedules below under Getting There and Away.


The Hotan Airport (IATA: HTN, ICAO: ZWTN) is just southwest of town.  0903 251 2178
Three daily flights to/from Urumqi.  See information on flights below under Getting There and Away.



Hotan Yingbinguan

Hotan Yingbinguan, 42 Tanai Bei Lu, Hotan, Xinjiang, China和田迎宾馆  Uyghur name:  Marhaba
Tel: 0903 202 2824, Fax: 0903 202 7000, 42 Tanaiyi Bei Lu

The Hotan Yingbinguan is an old standby with a large new building, on Tanaiyi near the corner of Navakh / Nawage.  Listed prices for the main building in 11/2006:  Deluxe Suite Y1880, Suite Y880, Triple Y288, Standard Y268, Single Y268, Common Y180.   Much less expensive rooms -- Standard with bath negotiable to Y120 or less -- are in the older building to the northwest of the new main building.  There are also three-bed dormitory rooms in the older building, sharing a bathroom and showers in the hall for Y20 per bed.  Room rates include breakfast served in the small dining room just north of and adjacent to the new main building, or ask them to knock an additional Y20 off the room rate if you'll not be indulging.  The dining room also serves lunch and dinner with a limited menu, in Chinese only; ask for its hours of operation. 

Hotan Hotel  

Hotan Hotel, Hotan, Xinjiang, China和田宾馆 (he tian bin guan). Restaurant on premises.
Tel: 0903 251 3563 or 251 3564, Fax: 0903 251 3570
On the west side of Urumqi Nan Lu, a long half-block south of Beijing Xi Lu.

With three stars, the Hotan Hotel is one of the high-end traditional hotels in Hotan, and was formerly the main foreigner hotel.  It is more pleasant, overall, than the Hotan Yingbinguan.  Posted rates in 11/2006:  Deluxe suite 880, Suite 680, Single 320, Standard Room 380, Triple Room 280. 

The Hotan Hotel seems to have been recently renovated.  The Hotan Hotel has a pleasant advantage, especially in the summer - acres of walkways covered in grapevine trellises along mini-orchards and vegetable gardens behind the hotel.  Perhaps non-guests can slip in and enjoy this attractive oasis in the big city.  Very nice rooms have bottled hot and cold water dispensers and air conditioning.  The hotel has a good restaurant just to the right of the lobby, with Chinese and Uyghur dishes, average Y10-25, extensive menu in Uyghur and Chinese only.

Zhejiang Hotel

Zhejiang Hotel, Hotan, Xinjiang, China 浙江 Zhè Jiāng 大酒店 Da Jiǔ Diàn Fancy Hotel and Ri Yue Xin Guang Night Club
9 Beijing Xi Lu

Zhejiang is a new fancy four-star hotel on Beijing Xi Lu, probably the fanciest place in town.  It's just east of the northeast corner of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).  Posted prices in 11/2006:  Common Room 418, Standard Room 458, Single Room 468, Suite 788, Deluxe Suite 988.  Sleek, modern lobby and sleek, modern rooms with a sleek, modern night club on the third floor, and the Hai Jing Xuan Muslim restaurant on the second floor.

Ilqi Hotel and Restaurant

Ilqi Hotel, Ying Bin Lu at Aqial Xi Lu, Hotan, Xinjiang, China 伊奇 Yi Qi
Tel: 204-0299.  Corner of Ying Bin Lu and Aqial Xi Lu

The Ilqi Hotel just opened in fall 2006, and seems a very pleasant midrange hotel.  Posted prices in 11/2006: Deluxe suite Y888, Suite Y666, Single Room Y148, Standard Room Y180, O'Clock Room (hourly rental) Y60.  The plus, for this author, is the restaurant.  (See below under Eating and Entertainment.)  The hotel is named after a former name of Hotan.  In relatively recent times, the old city was called Ilchi.  Ilchi is also the name of the pass across the Kunlun Mountains just south of Hotan.

Across the street from the Ilqi Hotel on Ying Bin Lu is the popular Hao Lai Wu disco and night club.  (See below under Eating and Entertainment.)

Jiao Tong Traffic Hotel, viewed from Bus Station yard, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaJiao Tong Traffic Hotel

交通 (jiāo tōng)
Tel 0903-2032700 or 2022622.  This is the usual "traffic hotel" of any Chinese town, just next door to the bus station.  The stairways rise around a pleasant small courtyard.  Posted prices in 11/2006: Ordinary four-bed dorm room Y15/bed, ordinary three-bed room Y20/bed, ordinary two-bed room Y30/bed.  There is a small restaurant behind the lobby, facing the bus yard, with space for hot-pots in each table.  The restaurant has several private dining rooms and a small bar.



Hotan is the best city for Uyghur food.  There are many Uyghur restaurants clustered near the main bus station, which are especially lively in the evening.  There's also a large night market south of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).

If you're looking for take-away in the morning, pick up a tasty goshkurdah - a large fried pastry stuffed with lamb, potatoes and onions.  It is the staple lunch of Hotan farmers, much larger than a samsa -- and a bit juicy, so lean over before you bite in.

Lokman Restaurant, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaLokman Restaurant

Chef with Pots of Polo, Lokman Restaurant, Hotan, Xinjiang, Chinatel: 202 9744, on Zhong Nan Hai Lu (on or near Navakh / Navage, just west of Ta Nai).
The author didn't get the exact address, though it is very central and should be easy to findi. 
老科曼餐厅  Lao Ke Man Can Ting
Open every day (local time, 2 hours later than Beijing time) at either 08:00 (if they are serving breakfast) or 10:00 (if not a breakfast day) until 23:00.

The best place in town for Uyghur food is the Lokman Restaurant.  This place is always packed with Uyghur and some Han Chinese folks eating good food in large quantity.  The chef has always has six iron pots of polo (traditional Uyghur rice and lamb) and other Uyghur staples cooking on a rotating gas grill.  The Laghman is also excellent -- hand-pulled noodles with vegetables and lamb.  Try the Tiger Salad if you like it spicy.  The extensive menu, in Uyghur, Chinese and English, has the best selection in Xinjiang.  For getting a little something to eat later, Lokman also has a tasty bakery counter and you can buy bottles of pomegranate juice.

Hotan Technical Cooking School Restaurant

Hotan Technical Cooking School Restaurant, 222 Urumqi Bei Lu, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaHotan Technical Cooking School Restaurant, 222 Urumqi Bei Lu, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaUyghur name:  hutan wilayetlik tihnik ixchilar mektipi milli axpez terbiyelex merkizi resturani
Chinese: 和田地区技工学校民族烹饪培训中心餐厅 He Tian Di Qu Ji Gong Xue Xiao Min
English sign says "Restaurant of Hotan Technian School Cooking Training Centel"
Zhu Peng Ren Pei Xun Zhong Xi Can Ting
Tel: 256 2777. 222 Urumqi Bei Lu, at the corner of Tai Bei Xi Lu

Don't let the name fool you, though it is also a training center.  This is a very large restaurant with elegant wooden decor. It has an extensive Uyghur menu, written in Uyghur and Chinese only, for a mostly Uyghur clientele.  The first menu has 18 pages, with prices from Y5 to 65, mostly in the Y15-25 range.  The second is a banquet menu, with dishes for 8-12 people ranging from Y250 to 800 each.

This establishment offers nightly authentic Uyghur music and dancing, unless it's closed for a Uyghur wedding or other celebration.  Music starts about 21:00 Xinjiang time and goes for four hours.

Hotan Hotel Restaurant, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaHotan Hotel Restaurant

  和田宾馆 (he tian bin guan)
  Cuisine:  Chinese and Uyghur
  Average prices: Y10-25

The Hotan Hotel has a nice restaurant, with a twelve-page menu of Chinese and Uyghur dishes, in Chinese and Uyghur only. If you left your phrasebook behind, likely someone on the hotel staff, just through the door, speaks some English. The restaurant opens at 10:00.  The twenty tables are all large, round, and family style with a rotating tray.

Ilqi Hotel and Restaurant 

Ilqi Hotel Restaurant, Hotan, Xinjiang, China伊奇 (yi qi)
Tel: 204 0299.  Corner of Ying Bin Lu and Aqial Xi Lu
  Cuisine: Seafood. 
  Average prices: Y10-25

This hotel's restaurant is primarily for seafood, which is obvious as the diner walks along the twenty or so tanks, with waterfalls, and selects one's very fresh meal.  A seafood restaurant seems surprising in this most landlocked corner of China on the rim of a desert. 

The extensive menu is posted on the wall, in the same room as the tanks, with more than 100 dishes shown in photos with the Chinese names and prices. Ilqi was an name for the old city of Hotan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and is still a name of a pass throuth the Kunlun Mountains.

Rock Fast Foods Restaurant

Rock Fast Foods Uyghur Restaurant, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaUyghur: Tash Yurti Tiz Tamakhanisi
  Cuisine or main dish types:  Uyghur
  Price range:  3-7

This Uyghur fast food place is on the east side of Ta Nai Bei Lu, just a few doors south of the Hotan Ying Binguan and north of Beijing Xi Lu.  The menu is posted outside, in Uyghur and Chinese, with quite reasonable prices.

Weilimai Burger

Weilimai Burger, Hotan, Xinjiang, China维利麦汉堡  (wéi lì mài hàn bǎo)
Cuisine:  Burgers, french fries, chicken, sundaes
Price range:  burgers Y6-10, fried chicken Y7/piece
This burger joint is across the street east of the northeast corner of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).  A counter menu with photos and prices makes ordering easy.  No McDonalds or KFC in town (yet), per CITS staff. 

Hong Rui Hotel & Night Club

汯瑞 (hóng ruì) 夜店  (yè diàn - night club) ruì - lucky / auspicious / propitious
Located on the east side of Urumqi Bei Lu, north of Navakh (na wa ge).

Hao Lai Wu Disco and Night Club

好莱坞 (hǎo lái wù - Hollywood) 夜店  (yè diàn - night club)
This popular night spot is on the west side of Ying Bin Lu just north of Aqial Lu, across the street from the new Ilqi Hotel.

Ri Yue Xing Guang Nightclub, Zhejiang Hotel, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaAram Coffee, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaRi Yue Xing Guang Night Club

日月星光 (rì yuè xīng guāng) (Sun Moon Starlight) 夜店  (yè diàn - night club)
This night club is on the third floor of the Zhejiang Hotel.

Aram Coffee

A fancy coffee place on the northeast corner of Tanaiyi Lu and Navakh (na wa ge), just north of the Hotan Yingbinguan.

Jing Xin Ran Xiu Xian Ba (Your Heart Feels Peaceful) Coffee & Tea House, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaYour Heart Feels Peaceful Coffee / Tea House

静心然休闲吧 (jing xin ran xiu xian ba)
A fancy, small coffee / tea house on the west side of Urumqi Nan Lu, south of the Bank of China.

Wang Ke Long (King of Popularity) Supermarket, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaWang Ke Long Supermarket

王客隆超市 (wang ke long chao shi - King of Popularity)
This large supermarket is upstairs in the covered shopping mall at about 100 Beijing Xi Lu.  The mall is almost directly north of the northeast corner of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).   Very large store with almost no Western foods. 

Hao Di Fang (Nice Place) Supermarket, outside, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaHao Di Fang Supermarket

 好地方 (Nice Place)
This large supermarket is up the escalator in the large glass and steel building east of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang), a few doors down from Beijing Xi Lu.  Large store with almost no Western foods.


There is also a supermarket in the main bazaar.  Just after passing through the main archway into the bazaar, the supermarket is in the basement of the building to the right.

Fruit and Vegetable Market

Closer to the center than the main bazaar, an indoor fruit and vegetable market is found on Hong Xing Jie, between Navakh / Nawage and Tai Bei Xi Lu.

Kebab (Kewap) Vendor, Night Market, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaNight Market

Great Uyghur food is to be had every night in the stalls at the night market on Tanaiyi Nan Lu, a block south of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).

There are also many Uyghur restaurants clustered in the area of the bus station. These are also more active at night.


ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet



Tuanjie Guangchang
   (Unity Square)

Jade Hunting
Jade Factory
Jade Shopping
Hotan Museum
Atlas Silk Workshop
Carpet Workshop
Shatuo Silk Factory
Uyghur Neighborhoods
Melikawat Ancient Ruins
Yotkan Site
Rawak Stupa
Other Archaeological Sites
Imam Asim Tomb
King of Walnuts
King of Figs
Hotan Rose Winery
Grape Corridors
Mulberry Paper Workshop
Kokmarim Rock Cave
Hasa and Hasha Ancient Castles
Halalbagh Buddhist Temple
Sanju Rock Carvings
Mystic Spring in the Mountains
Natural Scenery Along the River
Yengi Erik Desert and Reservoir

From the Hotan CITS, you can get a 40-page color brochure about sights in Hotan, published by the Foreign Affairs and Tour Administrative Office of Hotan District. You can read the text of this document here.   The brochure is undated though it seems several years old.

If you only have one day to spend in Hotan,. In the morning, head for the Gillam Karakhana Carpet Workshop and the Atlas Silk Workshop, which are both in Jiya Township. Plan to arrive about 08:00 Beijing time / 10:00 local time. Try to continue north of the Atlas Silk Workhop to see the Imam Asim Shrine Complex, especially on Thursdays when the market is in swing. Then head back to the center for lunch at the Lokman Restauant. Then wander the Bazaar and perhaps stop by the Juma (Friday) Mosque. Take a taxi to see the Hotan Museum or the Hotan Jade Factory. In the evening, wander through the large Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang) and have appetizers at the lively night market one block south, then head for dinner at the Technical Cooking School Restaurant, with live Uyghur music nightly 09:00 until 01:00. (This is local time, two hours later than Beijing time.)

To try to make the above all happen in a day, unless you speak Uyghur or Chinese, you may want to contact the Hotan International Travel Service in advance to ask if they can arrange for a translator / guide for the day, for about Y150-200. But if you have a lot of energy, you can probably make do on your own with taxis -- although you'll want to negotiate with one taxi to take you to all three sights in Jiya Township and wait for you, because not too many taxis ply that route.

For a more leisurely single day, skip the carpet workshop, the Mazar Imam Asim, and the Juma Mosque.

To give yourself more time for sightseeing and spend time in transport, look into flying from Urumqi to Hotan and back from Kashgar to Urumqi. See Airport below for more details. Instead of 20+ hours on a bus to Hotan and 23 hours on a train from Kashgar, you can spend a few hours at the airport and on flights and have much more time for sightseeing. For example, the luxury, air-conditioned sleeper bus fare from Urumqi to Hotan is Y374. With the 60% discount plus about Y150 in fees, the one-way airfare from Urumqi to Hotan is Y680. Add in an inexpensive hotel room instead of sleeping on the bus and flying is still only about twice as much as the bus.

If you have two days, spread the above out over the two days, and be sure to take some time to just wander in the Uyghur neighborhoods, and catch the remnant of the city wall on the west site of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang). You may want to include the Shatuo Silk Factory -- as a contrast to the hand-made process at the Atlas Silk Workshop -- or take a taxi to the Melikawat ruins south of town. On your second night, check out the lively street night life east of the main bus station.

Tuanjie Guangchang (Unity Square), Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaTuanjie Guangchang (Unity Square)   

团结广场  tuán jié guǎng chǎng

Tuanjie Guangchang (Unity Square), Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThis large square is actually quite new to the city.  It was built in 2004, after they tore down much of the old center and most of the remaining old city wall.  Remnants of the wall can be seen west of the square.

The statue at the north end has a large statue Mao Zedong greeting southern Xinjiang resident Kurban Tulum.  Read more about Kurban Tulum here.

Briefly, as the story goes, Tulum (whom the Chinese call Uncle Kurban) was a Uyghur electrical worker, born in 1883, was relieved by the arrival of the People's Liberation Army, which promised relief from the corrupt Republican politicians and the fierce warlords who had controlled Xinjiang. He set out on a donkey (or donkey cart) from Keriya / Yutian County, planning to go to Beijing to bring Mao some fruit (some stories -- more likely -- say raisins, others say a melon).  When he had gotten as far as Urumqi, more than 1,500 km away, long before any paved roads, the party officials were so impressed, they reported back to Beijing, where Mao asked for him to be flown to Beijing to meet him. 

This statue, and a similar but smaller one in nearby Keriya / Yutian, are the only monumental public sculptures in all of China in which Mao is depicted with another person. The Chinese government presents Tulum as they would like all Uyghurs to respond to the government's policies in Xinjiang, and much of the Uyghur popluation resent him for the same reason. Further tellings of the story have Tulum older, with a more tragic life, and/or coming from the better-known Hotan or Kashgar.

At the south end of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang) is a column monument with a large boulder with carved map of China. The quote on the monument has old Chinese characters that say, "Five stars rising (in the) east (is) auspicious (for) China." This refers to a rare conjunction of five planets, and has a historical relevance in China.  These older characters were found embroidered on a brocade armband in ancient Niya 450 km to the east dating to the third century CE.  These are the modern Chinese characters for what is written: 五星出东方利中国.


Jade Hunting

Jade has been the claim to fame for Hotan and the entire southern rim of the Taklamakan for more than 3,500 years. It would be unfortunate not to see some jade being carved or at least buy a little nephrite bauble as a souvenir.

Until recently, you could have joined thousands of locals hunting for jade in the two main rivers in Hotan. But due to the enormous increase in the cost of the jade in recent years -- reaching 40 times the value of gold for the best 'mutton fat' white jade -- hundreds of thousands of people had come to Hotan prospect for jade, damaging their livelihoods as well as the ecology of the river systems. Many poor people had gone deeply into debt investing in heavy equipment on the hopes of striking it rich. From Google Earth satellite images, you can see the tracks of these earth movers, bulldozers and shovels along the Yorungkash / White Jade River.

Finally, in fall of 2007, the government acted to put stringent limits on jade prospecting in or near Hotan, as seen in the following two articles.

Despite Hotan's multi-millennium history as a jade capital, two-thirds of Xinjiang's jade today actually comes from the mountains south of Cherchen / Qiemo.  All jade from the Kunlun Mountains is chemically similar and is all usually referred to as Hotan jade.


Jade Rush 'Damages Chinese River' 

Thursday, 31 August 2006 

(BBC) As resources dwindle the price of Hotan jade has soared. Jade prospectors are putting one of China's rivers in peril and could soon exhaust supplies of the precious stone.

About 200,000 people are sifting the Yurungkax river in Xianjiang for Hotan jade - which costs up to $12 (£63) a gramme - state media reports have said.

As well as the prospectors, around 2,000 mechanical diggers are sifting through the river bed for the gemstone.  Experts say the search is damaging the river bed and its biological system leading to serious soil erosion.

"The river bed, which is hundreds of millions of years old, is undergoing unprecedented degradation," said Wang Shiqi, a gemstones expert at Beijing University.  "If the mass hunting continues like this, the river's Hotan jade resources will disappear in five to six years," he added.

Dwindling supplies

The price of Hotan jade has surged in recent years as a result of a sharp drop in output.  The stone is deemed to be the highest quality because of its texture and colour - said to be "as white as sheep fat". Most of the seals of Chinese emperors were made of Hotan jade.

Most prospectors rush to the river in north western China during the summer, before it freezes over in the autumn.

In 2004, jade hunters using heavy equipment wrecked the ruins of an ancient civilisation dating back as far as the Han Dynasty, which began in 206 BC, on the west bank of the Yurungkax river.  [Ed. This was damage to the Melikawat site.]

Despite the region's water conservation authorities admitting that the jade rush has damaged the environment, local authorities have yet to put any measures in place to limit activity at the river.


China Orders Crackdown on Rush for Rare White Jade

Tuesday, 30 October 2007http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSPEK7200120071030

BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in northwestern China have ordered a crackdown on private mining of a precious jade whose soaring value in local markets has lured thousands of people to a remote river to extract it.

The value of white Hotan jade, a rare nephrite jade found in alluvial deposits along the Yurungkax river in the Xinjiang region and prized in China for centuries, has exploded in recent years, fuelled by speculators and its increasing scarcity.

Trading at about 40 times the value of gold, the jade had drawn about 100,000 people and thousands of earth-moving vehicles to the Yurungkax, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday, citing an investigative report on state-run China Central Television.

The gold-rush had impoverished many villagers who had formed collectives and spent vast sums in unsuccessful attempts to find the jade, the paper said.

"They had already spent a long time digging but had not found any jade, and the significant expenses for earth-moving equipment and workers were proving difficult to bear," it said, citing local villagers.

The paper showed photographs of bulldozers dredging at the foot of towering slag-heaps and car-parks jammed with rows of earth-moving vehicles.

The situation had prompted authorities to issue a notice to "clean up" the phenomenon, and slap fines of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,300) on private prospectors who ignored orders to withdraw from the river.

But due to the large river area and widely-scattered nature of the jade deposits, the clean-up would be "difficult," the paper said, citing an local official.

"After it is put in order, we will do our best to implement legal and orderly extraction," the paper quoted Zhang Shaolong, a Hotan district official as saying.

($1=7.473 Yuan)


Jade Factory

China Xinjiang Hetian Arts & Crafts Jade Carving Factory, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaChina Jade Bracelet of 'Mutton Fat' White Jade, price: Y9860, Jade Factory, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaXinjiang Hetian Arts & Crafts Jade Carving Factory
Tel: 0903 203 5281, Fax: 0903 203 8236.  Gu Jiang Bei Lu 1, near the main bazaar.
Web:  www.kgyd.com    Email: ndh5005@xjnet.cn
Tour is free, but no English spoken. 

This site has a workshop on the first floor where 6-8 artists work with modern tools carving jade.  Since jade is so hard, no ancient metal tools could work it, so it was laboriously carved with sand. The workshop is closed from late fall to early spring.

An extensive showroom fills the second floor, with prices ranging from low-quality polished rocks for less than Y100 to intricate sculptures for tens of thousands of yuan. The showroom is open year-round.


Jade Shopping

Jade Shops, Beijing Dong Lu, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaJade Seller, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaYou will find jade for sale everywhere you turn in central Hotan, from large jade showrooms, as above, to small jade shops, to jade counters in shopping malls and hotels, to men with their own river finds on a cloth along the sidewalks. 

There is a large concentration of jade shops on Beijing Xi Lu west of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).  Another source said the biggest concentration of stalls selling jade is at the east end of Navakh / Nawage street, but the author has not been there.


Bazaar, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaBazaar

Bazaar Main Entry, Hotan, Xinjiang, China大巴扎 (dà bā zā)

The main bazaar radiates off in the area northeast of the intersection of Gu Jiang Bei Lu and Tai Bei Dong Lu.  The big market day here is Sunday, when the market spills out into the surrounding streets as the population from the city and countryside pours in.

Lonely Planet - China recommends heading for the section for gillam (carpet), which also has some Atlas silks and doppi (skullcap), and also checking out the livestock 牲畜 (sheng chu) area. 


Juma (Friday = Main) Mosque, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaMosque

Mosque on Beijing Dong Lu, hemmed in by neighboring buildings, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaUyghur: mechit    Chinese:  清真寺 (qīng zhēn sì)

There are many mosques in town.  To the left is the main or Juma (Friday) mosque, located just south of the main bazaar, on Jia Mai Lu, at the corner of Tai Bei Dong Lu.

To the right is a mosque gateway, on Beijing Dong Lu, being squeezed by new buildings on both sides.

Here are few words in Uyghur that might be useful if you strike up a conversation around here:

Uyghur:  Muslim - musulman.  Christian - kristiyan. Jewish - yehudi. Hindu - hindu.  Buddhist - budda'i. Alternatively, the hand sign for Christian is with the hands with palms together, fingers up, the position for Christian prayer, while the sign for Muslim is with the hands in front, palms cupped, facing up, the position for Muslim prayer.


Uyghur Neighborhoods

Small shops in Uyghur neighborhood, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaBalcony in traditional Uyghur style, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaMuch of the value of a visit to Xinjiang, and to Hotan in particular, is to experience the native Uyghur culture and the daily life of the Uyghur people, which you won't do if you stay in the modern center of Hotan. 

Since Hotan is predominantly Uyghur, you will find older Uyghur neighborhoods almost everywhere outside the modern center.  The author found a pleasant wander here:  North of the Hotan CITS office, Urumqi Lu ends at Tunken Lu.  Taking the northwest fork on Nanhuan 南环 Lu at the intersection leads into a Uyghur neighborhood. If you look down the side streets, you'll see remarkably rural roads for being so close to a city center.

A large area just southwest of Unity Square (Tuanjie Guangchang) also appears, from satellite images, to be an older Uyghur neighborhood.

ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet



Tuanjie Guangchang
   (Unity Square)

Jade Hunting
Jade Factory
Jade Shopping
Uyghur Neighborhoods
Hotan Museum
Atlas Silk Workshop
Carpet Workshop
Shatuo Silk Factory
Melikawat Ancient Ruins
Yotkan Site
Rawak Stupa
Other Archaeological Sites
Imam Asim Tomb
King of Walnuts
King of Figs
Hotan Rose Winery
Grape Corridors
Mulberry Paper Workshop
Kokmarim Rock Cave
Hasa and Hasha Ancient Castles
Halalbagh Buddhist Temple
Sanju Rock Carvings
Mystic Spring in the Mountains
Natural Scenery Along the River
Yengi Erik Desert and Reservoir

Hotan Museum

和田博物馆 Hetian Bowuguan
Tel:  0903 251 9286, Fax: 0903 251 5570, Beijing Xi Lu 342

Entry Y20.  Open 09:30-13:30, 15:30-19:00 Beijing time. (Winter: opens 10:00)  Photos restricted - see below.
Take bus 2 or 6 west from the center on Beijing Lu or take a nice long walk.

Museum building, Hotan, Xinjiang, China See the Hotan Museum in its new location at the corner of Beijing Xi Lu and Xi Huai Lu.  The first floor is the archaeology exhibit.  The second floor offers an extensive ethnographic display, including carpets, clothing, jewelry, musical instruments and an extensive collection related to Uyghur traditional medicine.  The museum has 10,000 artifacts in an exhibition space of 3,400 square meters.

Downstairs, in the ancient history exhibit, photos can be taken for a fee.  The fee depends on what you want to photograph, and the fees aren't written anywhere, don't seem to be fixed, and are likely negotiable.  Photographing either of the mummies is the most expensive -  this author was quoted Y200 - followed by the wooden coffin, Y100.  If you snag any photos of items on the first floor, apart from the mummies and the coffin, and would be willing to share them with others here, please contact us.

Photographs are free in the upstairs gallery. 

The building is new and spacious, the displays cases are of high quality, and the signage at the museum is all in Chinese, Uyghur, and English, down to the smallest item.  The staff is very pleasant and helpful, though very little English is spoken.

Coffin, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThe first floor archaeology exhibit has an interesting diorama of ancient Niya site, drawing the viewer into the site.  Another focus of the first floor is the two mummies.  Both are Caucasian women Buddhist nuns in red wool robes, with pointed slippers.  One was 10-15 years old, the other 35-45 years old.  Both are about 1,200 years old, from the Imam Musa Kazim cemetery.  Another main exhibit is the painted wooden coffin.

However, the archaeology display as a whole is somewhat difficult to follow.  One reason for this, in the author's opinion, is that the museum staff is constrained by the Chinese government's policy that all government venues must reflect the position that "Xinjiang has been, since 77 BCE, an inalienable part of China."  This problem is discussed at some length in a good article at China Heritage Quarterly of Australian National University.  This position is officially required despite the fact that, until the 19th century when the Qing dynasty entered in force, not even China considered the region to be part of China, but rather other kingdoms or countries where it had interests or which paid it tribute.  Central China's influence and even interest in various parts of the area it long called Xiyu 西域 (western regions) has waxed and waned through the ages. 

As a result of this policy, for example, each item is dutifully labeled with a central China dynasty for its date, even though these dynasty designations had almost no relevance for this region.  The Tocharians, the Yuezhi 月氏 and the Saka (which the Chinese call the Sai 塞) -- the main peoples who lived in Xinjiang in ancient times -- are not mentioned by name to the author's recollection.  (In the Hotan region, the population during most of the first millennium was mainly Saka, from what is now Iran from about 1200 BCE,along with some later immigrants from what is now India and Pakistan starting in the mid third century BCE, while the earliest entrants found to date, whose decendents became the settled Tocharians and the nomadic Yuezhi, who started entering Xinjiang as early as 5,000 years ago, were concentrated in the north and east of Xinjiang.)

To be fair, though, United States history museums, for the most part, give short shrift to Native American history and the Native American point of view.  In any case, a visitor with an interest in history may want to read up before visiting.  Wikipedia is a good source, but this site is usually blocked inside China. 

Mummy, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaMummy, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThe museum has two mummies on display. These mummies are Caucasoid / Europoid, like the hundreds of even older mummies that have been found in southern and eastern Xinjiang, as old as 3,800 years. These are two women, Buddhist nuns, who lived about 1,500 years ago, when the Kingdom of Khotan was a leading center of Buddhist learning, and more than 5,000 monks and nuns lived here in hundreds of monasteries. This woman was 15 years old when she died. The other mummy was 35 years old at her death.

The museum also refers to the city or area by the name of Udun.  The author finds this confusing for the English-speaking visitor. Udun is a very rare name for Hotan for a brief period of history.  Udun, in one Chinese source, is given as the Turkish translation of the Chinese ancient name Yutian (jade field).  However, the Uyghurs, the primary Turkic peoples in Xinjiang, did not enter the area until 850 CE, so this was clearly not its most ancient name.  One source indicates that Udun was an old Uyghur name for the area in Islamic times, but the author doesn't have exact details on the dates. 

The earliest item, a lonely fossil shell from 65 million years ago, reminds the visitor that the entire Taklamakan Desert was once under the sea. This was the remains of the vast Tethys Sea which was compressed by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate which collided with the Asian Plate 50-55 million years ago. The top of Mount Everest was originally at the bottom of the Tethys Sea.

The exhibit moves immediately to a Neolithic stone knife (5,000-6,000 years ago). Finds of these type of tools in the area indicates that the Hotan oasis has been populated for at least 9,000 years.

Several items from the Bronze Age and Iron Age (grouped together) (2,000-200 BCE) include stone sickles, a copper axe, a stone plough, a grinding stone, a red pottery jar, a bracelet with tiny clay heads, a pottery bowl and a blue jade axe.  (The Bronze Age in Xinjiang was from about 2000 to 900 BCE, and the Iron Age was from about 900 to 180 BCE.)

A sign notes that the Hotan area has been exporting jade for more than 3,000 years to central plains China, the Middle East, the West, and to Russia in the North. Not noted in the museum, more than 700 jade items in the Shang dynasty tomb of the famed woman general Fu Hao from 1200 BCE were all chemically determined to have originated in the Kunlun Mountains.

Displayed items from the undated "Jiango" period (which name the author cannot find referenced elsewhere) include ancient food made from millet, jade articles including a rabbit, tiny jug, buckles, bracelet, elephant and tray.  Photos include 'stone age rock carvings' at Kiyik Toz, Kiya Tax, and Suratliri.

A sign notes that "In 60 BCE, Eastern Han [dynasty] united Western region."  A large collection of Han dynasty Wuju coins found in Melikawat are displayed, plus a single large coin and pottery jars.

An entire case is devoted to some of the extensive finds at the nearby Sampul (aka Sampula, Shanpula) cemeteries, including metal knives, a leather bag, a hair pin, a horn spoon, a sleeve cover, bows and arrows, a spindle, combs, a yoke, bowls, and a tray.

Next is a display of items from ancient Niya, alongside a large full-wall diorama showing the ruin of Niya, with the wooden remains of a building including its door, half buried in the sand, which gives the visitor a sense of how it might feel to visit Niya today. 

Items from Niya include grape/walnut mixed candy, pottery, six types of seeds including Job's tears, bow & arrow, knotted rope with wood handles, carved wood items, and weaving tools.  In other sections of the museum, you will see some of the excellent woven wool fabric from Niya and some of the famous written wooden tablets from Niya.  See the Niya / Minfeng page of this web site for an extended discussion of ancient Niya.  [This discussion is not at the web site yet, but a draft is available from the author on request.]

Iron Age wool skirt, , Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaOne section is devoted to the development of weaving, especially textiles found at ancient Niya and Sampul, the Hotan Prefecture's largest cemetery.  Both sites date from about the fifth century BCE to third century CE.  Many wonderful items are on display.  The signage does not mention that these particular ancient woolen weaving techniques, as well as the art of making bronze, came into the Tarim Basin from the west more than 4,000 years ago.  Bronze metallurgy moved from the Tarim Basin, over the course of several hundred years, into central plains China.  Of course, Chinese silk weaving was developing independently and splendidly during the same period, and the Chinese took bronze metallurgy to unequalled heights.  Later, the chariot and iron making also moved into China via the Tarim Basin, though China also advanced iron manufacture and became a major exporter of quality iron works to the west.

Another section presents "Ancient Scripts."  The items are of excellent quality and well displayed.  The signs list the names of several of the scripts found from ancient times, but do not note that the scripts came from India, Tibet, Iran, and Central Asia.  Probably for the same reasons noted above, the sign seems intended not to convey the many deep cultural, social, economic and political ties of the region with other countries and cultures throughout its history.

One section is called Cultural Art of Udun (Hotan) Kingdom, for many items from after the Han period.

Atlas silk, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaFor brevity at this point, the author will only mention the other displays.
- Pottery Idol Art of Yotkan - wood, clay, and jade figurines. 
- The Art of Paintings discusses especially Buddhist murals, called the Udun (Hotan) style. 
- The Shining of Holy Buddhism discusses the history of Buddhism, with photos and various items from various Buddhist sites such as the Rawak Stupa. 
- Great Brotherhood of Udun Kingdom - 9th century. 
- Islamic Arts and Handicrafts - Condenses a thousand year of Islamic religious and cultural dominance in Xinjiang to a few copper pots and jade pencil boxes.

For those very interested in Xinjiang archaeology, the museum sells a 450-page photo book of ancient sites throughout Xinjiang called "A Grand View of Xinjiang's Cultural Relics and Historic Sites."  Only the site titles are in English and there is a table of contents in English at the back.  It has pictures of both the sites and of several artifacts found at each site, for nearly 200 sites throughout Xinjiang as well as its museums.  The list price is Y338, and the museum sells it at a discount.

Ayidal-style carpet, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThe visitor then moves to the second floor, with extensive ethnographic exhibits, each item signed in Uyghur, Chinese and English.  Because of Hotan's worldwide fame as a center for carpets, the museum presents an array of traditional carpets and patterns, including Sea Wave, Flower Scattering, Pomegranate, Irani, Adiyal, Gazi. 

Since jade has been much longer central to the history of Hotan, the museum has large jade collection, including several colors of jade: black, green, blue, yellow, and white.  Several colorful samples of the locally hand-made Atlas silk (khan-atlas) are also on display.

Hushtar musical instrument, Hotan Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThere is a large collection of men's and women's traditional clothing and hats, especially the tiny Keriya hat that holds the Guinness record for the world's smallest traditional hat.  Accompanying the clothing is a large assortment of traditional jewelry.  The exhibition has many household and farm items, including pottery, brass and wood, as well as traditional food items, as well as craftsman tools for weaving, wood working, and jade carving. 

The museum also presents a wide range of traditional musical instruments, including the hushtar, gejek, rawap (tambourine), dutar, tambur, satar, sunai, flute, balman, sapayi, dap (hand drum), and pairs of stones and wooden spoons.  The Chinese pipa and several other common Chinese traditional musical instruments originally came from Central Asia, and Central Asian musicians and dancers have been popular in central plains China for nearly two thousand years.  See pictures of these instruments at Uyghur Music & Dance.

Traditional Uyghur Medicine, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaTraditional Uyghur Medcine, Museum, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaTo experience Uyghur music, check out thousands of clips at youtube.com.  Search for: uyghur OR uygur OR uighur OR uigur. 

Read more at Music of the Uyghurs or Uyghur Art Music and the Ambiguities of Chinese Silk Roadism in Xinjiang.

An extensive exhibit on Uyghur traditional medicine is on offer at the museum.  If one has a great interest in this subject, the building on the opposite corner from the museum is a hospital of Uyghur traditional medicine.

See a review of the Hotan Museum here.

See more images from the Hotan Museum in the Hotan collection of the author's Flickr site.


Atlas Silk Workshop, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaAtlas Silk Workshop 

Uyghur: Atlas Karakhana (silk workshop)
Chinese *:吖棏喇丝  ā tè lā sī (a te la si) 丝绸厂sīchóu chǎng (silk fabric factory)
      (* Be sure to specify the Atlas silk factory, in Jiya, not the modern factory.)
In Jiya (吉亚) township , 25 km northeast of central Hotan
Y5 tour.  Author didn't record opening times or days; probably open seven days. May be closed 13:00-15:00 for lunch.

You can take a taxi here.  Or you can go by bus: Catch bus or minibus 2 east anywhere on Beijing Lu to the end of the line, which is at a traffic circle where Beijing Lu, Tai Bei Lu, and several other streets come together.  Walk clockwise from Beijing Dong Lu one street over to Tai Bei Dong Lu and there catch minibus 110 going further southeast.  Ask the driver for "at las." 

This is not the larger, mechanized Shatuo Silk Factory, northwest of the city (below). 
The carpet workshop (below) is in the same township the Atlas silk workshop, but 25 km closer to the center of Hotan.

Weaving Silk, Atlas Silk Workshop, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaSince you are probably in Hotan in part because of its historic place on the ancient Silk Road, it would be a shame to miss this excellent opportunity to see silk made in the age-old manual method, especially since Hotan is, according to legend, the first location where silk-making was established outside of China.

 This is a small workshop where you can take a tour of the entire silk-making process, which is done by hand, including boiling the cocoons, reeling the strands, spinning the thread, tying and dying the design, and weaving the fabric. 

This handwork is in contrast to the Shatuo Silk Factory, which is interesting in its own way, but is on a larger scale and has a much more mechanized process.  If you have time to see both places, by all means do.  But if you can only see one, definitely see this one.

The name Atlas is the Uyghur (and Uzbek) name for silk.   This process is identical to the one at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory in Margilan, Uzbekistan.  This particular tie-dye fabric is called khan-atlas, or the King's silk.

To make the traditional Atlas silk fabric, the thread warp is laid out on a two-meter rack and laboriously hand tied for the pattern with silk cords, then removed in sections and dyed.  The dyed threads are then, one by one, laid out again on tiny posts and the process is repeated for two or up to eight separate colors. See a picture of the beautiful result of this tie-dying.  If they can afford them, most Uyghur women have a khan-atlas dress for special occasions and, if not, a cotton or polyester silk with a pattern imitating the khan-atlas patterns.

You may want to arrange for a guide (perhaps from the Hotan CITS) to go with you, because the workshop likely will not be able to offer tours in English.  But there are English signs describing the procedures.

If you want to get an idea of where the story of silk begins before the cocoons reach the workshop, check out the excellent Wormspit.  The linked page there on the Bombyx mori is a wonderful, though photo-intensive page on every phase of the silkworm's life.  The link to Serving the Tiny Masters discusses the arduous process of caring for the world's only domesticated insect.  And the link to Silkworm Foods is not about food _for_ silkworms, which is always and only mulberry leaves, but rather about actual food products made from silkworms or, more accurately, their caterpillars.  The name of the page, worm spit, derives from the fact that silk is exactly that.

Find an excellent source on the History of Silk is presented here from the Silk Road Foundation, including the legend that a Chinese princess in the fourth century smuggled silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds with her when she married a prince of Hotan, bringing the knowledge of sericulture out of China for the first time..

See more pictures from the Atlas Silk Workshop in the Hotan collection of the author's Flickr site. Other pictures of the workshop can be seen at Don Croner's Silk Workshop page.

Don Croner notes that, in the showroom, "the naturally dyed silk is much more expensive than the chemically dyed version. One four-meter-length of chemically dyed atalas silk costs about 250 yuan ($30), while the naturally dyed version cost about 600 yuan ($72). "


Carpet Workshop

Gillam Karakhana - Carpet Workshop, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaUyghur: gillam karakhana, Chinese: 地毯厂 dì tǎn chǎng (carpet factory)
Free tour.  Author didn't record opening times or days; probably open most days. May be closed 13:00-15:00 for lunch.
The handmade carpet workshop is five kilometers from central Hotan, 25 km from the Atlas silk workshop (above), also in Jiya township, on the east side of the Yorungkash River.

Since ancient times, Hotan has been famous for its jade, its silk, and its carpets. This is no longer so true, alas, but the carpet-making tradition lives on in this small handmade carpet workshop and many other family-run operations around the region.  The oldest carpet in China, some 2,000 years old, was excavated in this region at Niya. 

The workshop is one large room, perhaps 20 m x 50 m.  The workers are exclusively women and almost exclusively young.  They kneel singly or in groups at one of about fifteen looms in the room, each following a complex computer-printed pattern sheet, hand-tying one knot at a time.  We were told that each of their carpets is custom ordered, for its designs and its colors. 

At the Hotan Museum, on the second floor, is an extensive and well-signed exhibit on Hotan carpets, showing the tools and techniques as well as the names for the different design styles.

Read an article here on the current issues in carpet-making in Hotan: The End of a Golden Age in China

See more images at Don Croner's page on the Carpet Workshop, which also includes information on carpet pricing.


Shatuo Silk Factory  

Formerly the Hotan Silk Factory
Shatuo Silk Factory entry gate, Hotan, Xinjiang, China Chinese:  沙驼 (沙漠骆驼)  丝绸厂
Chinese pinyin:  Sha Tuo (sha mo luo tuo)  Sichou Chang (silk fabric factory)
Tel:  0903 294 0918 294 0886, Fax: 0903 294 0310
Address:  和墨路 Hemo Lu #107, in the Laskui township, a short distance northwest of central Hotan.

One source says visitors can take bus #1 from outside the main bus station to the last stop and then walk back 150 m.  The factory has an enormous white tile gateway.

Reeling silk threads from cocoons by machine, Shatuo Silk Factory, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThere are no fixed times for tours, but rather tours are given when visitors arrive. Tours are Y10. 
The author did not write down the opening hours or days, but probably open most days.
One source said to avoid the long lunch hour, 13:00 -15:00.
No English is spoken, so it might be best to come with a guide or translator.

The factory's new name, Shatuo, is a contraction of shamo (沙漠 desert) and luotuo (骆驼 camel).  It was formerly called the Hotan Silk Factory.  It was clearly once a much larger operation, when it was apparently heavily subsidized. The main building is new with a sweeping circular stairway but on the rest of the large site, most of the facory buildings and equipment are quite dated. The site includes a school for children of the workers and a medical clinic for workers and their families.

On the tour, the visitor will see the entire process of silk manufacture.  In one building are the huge sacks of silk cocoons brought to the factory from all around the region.    One can imagine the amount of work the households to provide the bags of cocoons by reading the process at Serving the Tiny Masters. For all this work, the cocoon providers get paid just Y20 per kilo of the very lightweight cocoons. 

In the receiving room, staff examines the cocoons for quality. 

In the heating room, the larvae inside the cocoons are killed by dry heat, to preserve the single long silk strand. 

In the reeling room, many workers tend several hundred reeling machines for drawing the thread, ten cocoon strands spun together per thread, off the cocoons softening in the hot water chambers. 

In the boiling room, hanks of silk thread or woven silk fabrics are boiled in large machines. The boiling process remove the sericin or gummy covering over the thread, which distinguishes cultured silk from raw silk.  

In the spool room, thousands of machines roll colored thread off large reels or spools onto smaller retail spools, one clanking rotation at a time. 

In the weaving room, hundreds of mechanical looms weave huge rolls of silk, primarily for commercial purposes.

At the end of the tour, the visitor will be invited to see the silk showroom, where fabric is available for Y40 to Y90 per meter, as well as many finished silk items.  Some of the fabric is the famous Atlas silk and other designs which likely aren't actually made at this factory.  You can also buy cocoons for Y90 per kilogram, but you might have a problem getting more than a couple of the brazil-nut sized cocoons past your customs officer, even if you can show him in guidebooks that the worms are all killed by heating as soon as the cocoon is spun to protect the integrity of the single thread.

Within the grounds of the silk factory are a school and a medical clinic for the workers and their families. Directly across from the silk factory is a small Uyghur bazaar. 

See more pictures from the Shatuo Silk Factory in the Hotan collection of the author's Flickr site.


Hetian Rose Winery

Hetian Rose Winery, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaChinese: 和田he tian   玫酒瑰厂  méi jiǔ chǎng (mei jiu chang)
Lasikui Industrial Zone, Hemo Lu 6.  Entry / tour cost unknown, but likely free or very low cost.

This winery is said to make claret and pomegranate wine, and Hotan CITS says tours of the winery are possible.  The winery is near the Shatuo Silk Factory, on the same street.   

The winery was closed to tours in the winter when the author visited. 


Melikawat Ancient Ruins

瑪利克瓦特 (ma li ke wa te) 古城 (gu cheng = ancient city)
Entry Y10. 28km south of the city.  A taxi will cost about Y100 round trip (return).  Photo fee Y5.
37°56'39"N, 79°53'47"E

Melikawat Ancient Ruins, near Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaMost of the city is under a few meters of mud from two millennia of flooding of the nearby Yorungkash (White Jade River).  A few eroded remains emerge above the mud plain, of which the Buddhist monastery is slightly better preserved.  You may want to have a guide come to explain what you are seeing, but make sure before you hire him/her that your guide is actually familiar with the history of this site.  For a brief discussion of Khotan Buddhism, see Buddhism in Khotan.

One source says that the Melikawat site was the capital of ancient Khotan during the Han dynasty, which later moved to the Yotkan site. But most sources the author has read say the capital was and remained at the Yotkan site, until it was destroyed by the forced of Genghis Khan in the early twelfth century, and Melikawat was the location of one of the larger of the many, many monasteries in the area. In 644, the Chinese Buddhist monk, returning from a trip to India, reported more than a hundred monasteries in Khotan.

The kingdom of Khotan, however, was a major city for centuries in ancient times, with as many as _____ monasteries and ______ monks reported in __(year)___ by Chinese monk ______.  These, and the civilian population, spread out over a large area, and Melikawat was quite a large site, in any case.

At the Hotan museum, you will see a few items from this site, including a large pile of verdigris-patinaed ancient Han dynasty Chinese coins.

It would be unfortunate if you were to visit the famed Silk Road and didn't see at least one ancient city ruin. 

You can see some photos and a brief background at Don Croner's Melikawat page.

Melikawat is also written in various other ways, including, most commonly, Malikawate but also Miligawate and Malikurvatur. The Chinese characters for the place name also vary widely.

See more pictures from Melikawat in the Hotan collection of the author's Flickr site.


Yotkan Site

約特干 (yue te gan)
Entry Y15. Open 10:00-20:00
10km west of central Hotan, in Baghqi / Bageqi township in what is today called Ailaman / Alnama village (formerly called Yotkan / Yuetegan village).

Yotkan is not of interest to the casual observer since the site is completely submerged two meters or more underground in what is now a marsh. The only visible item at the site is the sign. 

Even the buried mud-brick structures have long since completely disintegrated, and only small artifacts have been excavated. Several artifacts from Yotkan can be seen at the Hotan Museum and in the Xinjiang Regional Museum in Urumqi.

The only reason the author mentions Yotkan here is because the site was the capital city of the Kingdom of Hotan. The Chinese called the place Yutian from at least the 2nd century BCE in the Han Dynasty until the 10th century CE in the Tang Dynasty -- from at least 123 BCE. (China has confused matters a bit by using the ancient name of Yutian as the new Chinese name for a town 170 km east, whose Uyghur name has long been Keriya.)

Some sources claim the Melikawat site was the capital of the kingdom of Khotan until the third century CE, and the Yotkan site was the capital after that. But most sources the author has seen indicate Yotkan was the capital until it was destroyed by the forces of Genghis Khan, and Melikawat was a large religious and administrative center.  Another source says that Khotan was a double-city state, with an Eastern and a Western city as the capital.

The site was a dry, sandy, silt flat by Yotkan Village until the 1860s.  It began to be irrigated for agriculture, with a canal dug from the Karakash River which was then crisscrossed in ditches around the fields.  Locals quickly began to find pottery, jade and gold items washed out by the canal and ditches.  The local governor heard of the gold finds and sent crews to pan for gold.  They increased the water flow to act like a sluice for prospecting all across the site in trenches, going down two meters or more where most of the ancient city lay buried. 

The former irrigation canal began to cut a deeper bed through this area and became a yar or a shallow ravine with steep banks running through loess.  The yar eventually cut 10 meters below the level of the fields and, unfortunately, tapped some underground springs at the bottom of the ravine which then turned the entire area into a swamp by the time archaeologists Sven Hedin (1896) and Aurel Stein (1901, 1906) arrived.

Stein was able, upon examination of the finds, which included written tablets and coins, to determine that this site had been the capital of  ancient Khotan.  Most of this section on Yotkan was taken from "Sir Aurel Stein:  Archaeological Explorer" by Jeannette Mirsky, 1998, pages 151-153. Other excerpts of this book can be previewed at this Google Books site.


Rawak Stupa

Northeast Hotan Oasis, showing Rawak Stupa, Imam Asim Shrine, and Jiya Township with Carpet Workshop and Atlas Silk Workshop - Image source: Google, adapted by centralasiatraveler.comPermit Y350 per person (may be negotiable), from Cultural Relics Bureau director at Hotan Museum. 
Permit can be arranged through CITS or any travel agency.
37°20'45.7" N (37.3460278), 80°09'49" E (80.16345278)

The famous stupa at Rawak (sometimes written Rawaq or Rewak) is in the desert northeast of Jiya Township..  An entry permit costs about Y400, which must be arranged ahead of time through a travel agency, such as CITS (above under Information) or directly with the Cultural Relics Bureau director at the Hotan Museum. 

To the right is a map of the northeast portion of the Hotan oasis, including the location of the Rawak Stupa in the upper right. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version. Head to our Flickr page for a much higher resolution image of this map.

The stupa is 20-30 kilometers northeast of the Imam Asim shrine complex. However, the dirt road approach is not from the shrine but instead from several kilometers to the west or east, first on a rough road with a 4WD vehicle and, according to reports (the author did not visit), the last par, through serious sand dunes is accessible only on foot or by camel. .

Rawak Stupa, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, China, Image: Don CronerSee a larger version of this excellent photo, left, of the Rawak Stupa, with a discussion of his challenges arranging access to the site a number of years ago, here: Don Croner's World-Wide Wanders - Rawak Stupa. If you would like to arrange a visit today, it is straightforward today, though still expensive and tough to reach.

At this blog under the heading Taklamakan Desert for Monday, 06 August 2007, you can read the adventures of two folks for whom Hotan CITS arranged an overnight camel trek to see Rawak, for Y2300, inclusive except for food. Here is a brief snippet of their journey with pricing details.

"Costs:  A tourguide Y150 per day, which happened to be Kurban himself [a CITS guide], a cameldriver Y50 per day, 3 camels Y150 per camel per day (normally it's Y100, but now it was too hot for desert trips, so we had to pay more), a tent/matrasses/waterkettle Y50, transportation to and from the camelplace Y150, permit Y400pp. All in all our Avis-rent-a-camel charged Y2300 (€230) for two days."

A 9-meter eroded Buddhist stupa is all that is visible of what was likely once a larger temple complex.  It was built in the third or fourth century C.E. when the Kingdom of Khotan was a leading center of Buddhist learning.  It was was abandoned by the fourth to seventh century, likely due to climate change in the region and a decrease in trade along the Silk Road in the period between the Han dynasty and Tang dynasty in China in the east and the fall of Rome in the west.  Explorer Christoph Baumer, in his book "Southern Silk Road," calls it "one of the most remarkable constructions of ... and the best preserved Buddhist sanctuary on the Southern Silk Road." 

Stein unearthed nearly a hundred stucco statues here along the sides of the stupa.  These have, unfortunately, all been destroyed by being exposed to the air or by later treasure hunters seeking possible gold or jewels inside.  Based on the statues found, it seems there were originally almost 500 larger-than-life-size Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the temple.

See a diagram of the Rawak Stupa in explorer M. Aurel Stein's 1901 book, Ancient Khotan. Read about Stein's discovery of the Rawak stupa in his less technical discussion of this expedition, Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan. See Stein's photographs of the now-destroyed statues on the stupa in 'Early Buddhist Art in China and Central Asia' by Marylin M. Rhie. (Type in 'Rawak' in the 'Search in this Book' box to read more about the site and the significance of its art.)

Rawak means pavilion or high mansion in Uyghur. (Sources:  Footprints of Foreign Explorers on the Silk Road, Dunfu Wu, p. 155; and Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan, M. Aurel Stein, p. 425)


Mazar Tagh

Permit Y200-300 per person, from Cultural Relics Bureau director at Hotan Museum.  Permit can be also be arranged by CITS or any travel agency, which can also arrange transport.
160 km north of Hotan.  38°27'03"N, 80°51'45"E.
Still at a distance from the new Hotan / Aksu Highway (opened October 2007), so a 4WD vehicle is still required. 

Mazar Tagh fort, 180 km north of Hotan, Xinjiang, China, Source: A Grand View of Xinjiang's Cultural Relics and Historic SitesThe Hotan River used to cross the entire Taklamakan, reaching the Tarim River in the north.  Thus it was a used as an ancient trade route since the Bronze Age.  With the new second cross-desert highway completed in October 2007, this site will become much more accessible to the visitor, though a more basic roadway along this route has long been in use. 

The ruins are located on a bluff at the southeastern terminus of the Mazar Tagh (Shrine Mountains) range, overlooking the Hotan River. Deep in the Taklamakan Desert, it is a strategic site for controlling north-south trade.

What remains primarily is a Chinese / Tibetan hill fort with a 6 m tower as shown in the image on the right.

Mazar Tagh ruins, 160 km north of Hotan, Xinjiang, China, Satellite Image source: GoogleChristoph Baumer writes in "Southern Silk Road," "About 180 km north of Hotan, a [200-m high] mountain range with a reddish hue rises up from the desert plain. ... On a rocky ledge about 150 m high, the well-preserved Mazar Tagh fort proudly looks down on the [Hotan] River and watches over the former trade route. The position of the fort was almost impregnable. ... Within the wall and at 60 cm intervals a layer of tamarisk and poplar wood separated the rough clay courses from one another, lending additional stability to the construction in an extremely dry climate. ... Below the fort thin poplar poles project from the sand.  ... Here was the Buddhist temple. ... The tower is certainly the most ancient structure and could date from the third or fourth century [C.E.] ... The Tibetan conquest of Mazar Tagh must have occurred in 790 or 791. ... The Tibetans reconstructed the fort and extended it. ... [Mazar Tagh was abandoned] when [the Tibetans] lost control of the Tarim Basin around 850." 

You might want to pick up Baumer's book if you are headed here since the guides in the region are not usually versed on its complex history.  Even though the book has but four pages (two of pictures / plans, and two of text) about this site, it also provides excellent environmental and human history for the southern region.

Some tour companies offer a six-day camel trek in the Taklamakan Desert. The tour starts by vehicle in Hotan or Keriya / Yutian. The trekking starts at Tongguzbasti, at the delta where the Keriya River dissipates into the sand, visiting the Karadong ruins, and walking on to Mazar Tagh, where the group is picked up again by vehicles.


Sampul / Shanpula

Tapestry with mounted archer, Sampula cemetery, near Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaA famous archaeological find about 50 km southeast of Hotan, in neighboring Lop / Luopu County, is the cemetery of Sampula, also written Sanpul, Sanpula and Shanpula.  This site is available for visitors with permission (Y100-150 permit, but all that has been excavated has been taken to museums, so the author believes there is not much for the casual visitor to see.  Many items from Sampula are in the Hotan Museum, and many others are in the Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi. 

Textile with Greco-Bactrian face and centaur, from Sampula cemetery, southeast of Hotan, Xinjiang, China"At Sampul, to the east of the city of Hotan, there is an extensive series of cemeteries scattered over an area about a kilometre wide and 23 km long. The excavated sites range from about 300 BCE - 100 CE.  The excavated graves have produced a number of fabrics of felt, wool, silk and cotton and even a fine bit of tapestry showing the face of Caucasoid man which was made of threads of 24 shades of colour.  The tapestry had been cut up and fashioned into trousers worn by one of the deceased!  Anthropological studies 56 individuals studied show a primarily Caucasoid population "similar to the Saka burials of the southern Pamirs." ((Wikipedia on Hotan)

DNA and Carbon-14 dating shows the cemeteries were used from 217 BCE to 283 CE, and that the people were Saka (eastern Scythians), migrants who began to enter Xinjiang about 1200 BCE originally from what is now eastern Iran and Ossetia in the Caucasus Mountains.

Even though the Hotan Kingdom was founded and ruled by immigrants from northern India in the third century BCE, the majority of the people already in the area were ethnically Saka. Though the administrative language was an Indian Prakrit language written in Kharosthi script, the vernacular language of the majority of residents was a dialect of Saka, which developed by the third century CE into Khotanese, an Indo-Aryan language, found on other ancient documents in the area.

The site name is spelled in a variety of ways in roman letters:  shanpul, shanpula, sanpul, sanpula, sampul, sampula, shampul, and shampula.


Other Archaeological Sites in the Region

The visitor can also visit several other ancient archaeological sites in the region.  The following is a quick summary of the distance and approximate permit cost.  The exact permit cost is not fixed but at the discretion of the Cultural Relics Bureau (CRB) director, based in the museum.  The permit fee is in addition to travel costs, which will include the cost of an authorized guide and may require a camel caravan for part of the trip.










Nearest Town

Akspil (Akesipil, Ak-Sipil)

Yes *

about 70


Jiya Township, Hotan

Sanpul(a) / Shampola

Yes *

about 100


southeast of Hotan

Endere (Andir)

Yes *

about 600


northeast of Niya / Minfeng

Dandan Oilik (Wulik)

Yes *

about 400


northeast of Keriya / Yutian

Sanju / Sangzhu Rock Carvings


about 400


southeast of Hotan

* May also / instead require camel caravan.
** The permit fees do not seem to be fixed, and may be negotiable. They seem to be quoted higher from Cultural Relic Bureaus further from Hotan than locally, and they seem to be quoted higher if you inquire through a travel agency than directly at the Cultural Relics Bureau.
The distances on this list are very rough approximations provided orally by a travel agency source.

The Hotan CRB can also grant permits and the Hotan CITS can arrange an expedition to see ancient Niya, 400 km east.  Niya, the best preserved of all the southern Silk Road sites is more expensive than the sites in the above list.

ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet



Tuanjie Guangchang
   (Unity Square)

Jade Hunting
Jade Factory
Jade Shopping
Uyghur Neighborhoods
Hotan Museum
Atlas Silk Workshop
Carpet Workshop
Shatuo Silk Factory
Melikawat Ancient Ruins
Yotkan Site
Rawak Stupa
Other Archaeological Sites
Imam Asim Tomb
King of Walnuts
King of Figs
Hotan Rose Winery
Grape Corridors
Mulberry Paper Workshop
Kokmarim Rock Cave
Hasa and Hasha Ancient Castles
Halalbagh Buddhist Temple
Sanju Rock Carvings
Mystic Spring in the Mountains
Natural Scenery Along the River
Yengi Erik Desert and Reservoir

King of Walnuts 

胡桃王  hu tao wang
Entry Y10.  7 km south of Hotan in Baghqi township.

The tree is said to be 500 years old and still producing a good crop of walnuts.  These are the thin-shelled walnuts Hotan is known for in China.  The 20 m tall tree has a trunk big enough for five people to hold hands around it. 

The site of this old tree, and the next one, seem to be more popular with Chinese than western tourists.

King of Figs 

无花果王 wu hua guo wang
Entry Y10.  22 kms away from Hotan, in Lakya township at the government garden. 
The reception area near the tree is said to have dining and lodging.

The Fig King is said to be 400 years old, and is still growing and producing fruit.

CITS reports a "legend about the king of fig trees. It is said that there was once a king of Yutian country. He had no son even at the age of 70. The king was afraid to be without any male offspring. The people were afraid that the king's sovereignty would stop. So the people went and explored how they could find an elixir to extent the life of the king, but they couldn't find anything. One day a mother of a Western country king was passing through the area. She met a farmer who was walking around looking for something. She asked him for the reason and was told that he was looking for an elixir to extend the life of the king. She was deeply moved and gave him a branch of a tree. The farmer put the branch into the ground in front of his house. On the second day he saw that the branch got many leaves and other branches. It was also bearing fruits without having blossomed. When the king ate of these figs, sure enough it was effective and he lived to be 100 years old."


Grape Corridors  

Grape Corridor common in southern Xinjiang, China葡萄莶甬道 pú táo kàn yǒng dào   (pu tao kan yong dao)

There are more than 1,500 kilometers of grape corridors in the countryside of Hotan County. Visitors can find them all along the southern rim, but they are particularly extensive in this largest oasis. 

Grape corridors are wood frames built over roadways on which grape vines are grown.  These grape corridors have several benefits.  They increase arable land, provide welcome shade in the heat of summer, and help protect against sand storms. 

In the yards of many private homes, you will also find large trellises for grape vines, and homes will often have a small room dedicated to drying raisins.

Making Mulberry Paper by Hand in Hotan, Xinjiang, China, Image:  http://www.fotolibra.com/gallery/67664/paper-making/
Making Mulberry
Paper in Hotan
© Fotolibra

Hand-made mulberry paperMulberry Paper 

桑皮纸sāng pí zhǐ (sang pi zhi)
Visiting fee not known.  Location not known, but near Hotan.

The Hotan CITS or other travel agency can arrange for a trip to the home of an extended family in Hotan which welcomes visitors to watch them make paper by hand from the bark of mulberry trees.  Since mulberry leaves are the only food of the silkworm, this is sometimes called Silk Paper.  The result is available for sale as a souvenir. 

The local tourism bureau's brochure says this technique dates back more than 2,000 years.  Most of the writing at ancient Niya was found on wooden tablets rather than paper because paper was more expensive at the time.  Papermaking from mulberry trees was invented in central plains China in the second century BCE, though it was used as packing material at first and doesn't seem to have been used for writing until nearly a few centuries later. 

For making paper pulp, the brochure says, in addition to mulberry bark, ingredients also include the ashes of the tamarisk, a hardy desert shrub, and the toghrak, the spreading or diversiform-leaved poplar, and boil it together with the bark.

A video was made in 1993 by Elaine Koretsky and Sidney Koretsky called 'Last Papermakers Along the Ancient Silk Road' about this paper-making family.


Imam Asim Shrine and Ancient Tomb

Imam Asim Shrine and Mosque, Jiya Township, Hotan, Xinjiang, China23 km from Hotan, 10 km past Jiya township (where Atlas silk workshop and carpet workshop are found).
Y5 Entry.  Best on Thursday for the bazaar and festival.
Can be visited any day at any time, and photos are allowed. Respect, however, should be shown for the sacred nature of the site and for worshippers.
Must walk several hundred meters along a sandy path past the road.
37°14'28" 80°03'08"

Imam Asim is said to have been one of the first Islamic missionaries in the region. His name is also spelled Imam Hashim. The shrine site includes the reputed tomb, a mosque, and several related tombs. It is located several hundred meters past the main road on a pedestrian path through the dunes -- wear good walking shoes.

One source said the public buses do not reach the shrine, so you would need to take a taxi or a long walk from the Atlas Silk Workshop -- the author doesn't know exactly how far, but has heard estimates of 10 km. Don't let the taxi leave you at the tiny Jiya mosque in town.

See the shrine and mosque (shown above) in several photographs by Cressica:
Imam Asim shrine and tomb by cressica (shown above with Cressica's kind permission)
An associated nearby tomb

This is a mazar or shrine and a pilgrimage site.  In May, more than 10,000 pilgrims are said to visit this tomb to pray.  It is also the site of a festival and market every Thursday.  More than a hundred busloads of vendors and buyers from the region descend on the area every week, as well as by donkey cart, motorcycle and tractor.

Around the grave is a wooden fence, in the traditional Uyghur style, followed by a wall plastered with clay and mud. Nearby is a mosque.

The following is from a May 2004 article entitled China and Islam in the Northwest Chinese Region.

"The Hotan region is a good example of what happens when Han and Uighur are thrown together. Hotan was and still is a center of Islam in Xinjiang – the tomb of Imam Asim, one of the first missionaries of Islam in the region is a pilgrimage spot and site of a festival and market every Thursday, pretty much year round."

"The gates to the festival, which I visited, are manned by Han and Uighur opportunists, who charge five yuan per person. On Wednesday, 138 buses full of Muslims bounced down the road through the fields and into the desert where the imam's tomb lies. A banner hangs above the entrance proclaiming 'The greatest threat to Xinjiang stability are the splittists' in Uighur Arabic script."

"Uighur police stroll through the sands with an eye out for suspicious foreigners. One displayed his loyalty to the center by calling in my presence and demanding my passport number."

"But the overall atmosphere of the festival is relaxed and religious – musician-preachers strut up and down aisles formed by sitting Muslims and bark out wisdom from the Quran and 'the University of Life.' Beggars line the path toward the tomb and benefit from the generosity of Muslims attending a holy event."

An October 2006 article in the Los Angeles Times notes the following: "'Completely abide by the Communist Party's religious policy,' reads an oversized banner straddling the gate of Imam Asim tomb, half a mile over desert dunes from the nearest road. 'Actively lead religion toward a just socialist society.'"

Like the Mazar Imam Jafar Sadiq described in detail in the Niya / Minfeng page of this web site, this tomb is said to be of a Muslim Imam and general at the time that Muslim forces defeated Buddhist forces in Hotan near the year 1,000 C.E.   More likely, however, is that this has been a Buddhist holy site and perhaps even a shamanistic sacred site from the time before Buddhism came.  In any case, the physical tomb is of much more recent vintage.

The author has not been to this site and thus cannot provide a recommendation, but can recommend Mazar Imam Jafar Sadiq.

The CIT brochure describes a pilgrimage ritual involving two nearby large poplar trees:  Under the large branches, Uyghur women poke needles into the tree trunk.  If some liquid or resin comes out it means that their prayers have been answered.

These trees are spreading or diversiform-leaved poplar trees, called toghrak in Uyghur.  The tree has three different kind of leaves at the same time - willow-type leaves lower down, traditional poplar leaves in the center, and maple-type leaves at the top, which it is believed helps it to thrive in desert conditions.  This is a different species than the straight Chinese white poplar trees planted along most roadways in Xinjiang.

ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet



Tuanjie Guangchang
   (Unity Square)

Jade Hunting
Jade Factory
Jade Shopping
Uyghur Neighborhoods
Hotan Museum
Atlas Silk Workshop
Carpet Workshop
Shatuo Silk Factory
Melikawat Ancient Ruins
Yotkan Site
Rawak Stupa
Other Archaeological Sites
Imam Asim Tomb
King of Walnuts
King of Figs
Hotan Rose Winery
Grape Corridors
Mulberry Paper Workshop
Kokmarim Rock Cave
Hasa and Hasha Ancient Castles
Halalbagh Buddhist Temple
Sanju Rock Carvings
Mystic Spring in the Mountains
Natural Scenery Along the River
Yengi Erik Desert and Reservoir


The following sights are described in the official sightseeing brochure mentioned above, "Introduction to Hotan."  Hotan CITS should be able to arrange a guide to these sights if they seem of interest to you. The Mystical Spring and the Natural Scenery sites are quite far from Hotan and much closer to Keriya / Yutian. If you visit any of these and have photos and/or additional information, please contact us about making this available to fellow travelers.

Kokmarim Rock Cave (Zanmu Miao)

"The Kokmarim Rock Cave is situated near Layka township, about 34 kms southwest of Hotan city at the east bank of the Karakash river. The cave is located half way up the mountains, about 80 ms above the river bank. The word Kokmarim is Persian and means 'snake mountain.'  It is a two-floor cave which is connected by stairs and a ladder. The cave is at the foot of a hill and beside a river. It has a beautiful scenery and below the cave the roaring Karakash river is flowing. On the opposite side of the river there are green fields, trees and some villages. The river from above looks like the shape of a dragon, its source springs from the Kunlun mountains. Walking to the rock cave and then standing on top of the cave looking into the distance you can enjoy a beautiful scenery of mountains and the river. 

According to historical records the rock cave was found by the great master Fa Xian when passing through in 401 B.C. Therefore the cave was called 'Zanmu Miao.' In his book 'The note of Buddha countries,' he mentions that there are three caves at the western part of the rock cave. As they are very deep you cannot see the end of the cave. Historical facts indicate that these three caves were used as a storage place for army officers."

Hasa and Hasha Ancient Castles

"The Hasa and Hasha ancient castles can also be called stone-wall castles. They are located in the south of Qira county. Passing through the Qakar village which is 180 kms away from Hotan city, it' s about 12 kms outside Qakar towards the west. The main castle is on top of the Hasha mountain bordering the Hasha village which is only 1 km away. On one side is a semi-desert and on the other three sides are mountains. The walls in the east and west weren't built because there is a river protecting it. The stone walls are made from stone pieces and clay. In the 11th century there was a 24-year war between the Yutian [Hotan] country and the Karahan [Karakhanid] imperial kingdom [headquartered in Belasagun at today's Burana Tower site near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with a strong presence in Kashgar]. The Yutian people believed in Buddhism and the Karahan in Islam. This religious war got won by the Karahan imperial kingdom and therefore fighting stopped. Two of the Yutian army commanders, one was named Qohtirishit and the other Nohtirishit, led the army back to Qakar and built these two castles. They hoped that one day they would stride across the Kunlun mountains and move into Tibet. Because of pursuing troops which approached quickly as well as bad weather and freezing temperatures all of them died in a battle in the winter of 1006. The castles got left behind and remind us of a tragic history."

Halalbagh Buddhist Temple

"It is located at Tusalla township in the Halalbagh village about 11 kms south of Hotan city. It covers an area of 1 square km. The temple was built more than 20 ms high on clay soil. It is well preserved. Nearby many pottery pieces were found and also a large number of human bones which were piled up. Among the excavated articles are copper coins, pottery pieces and pearls, etc. It is said that the temple was built by the king of the Yutian country to commemorate the princess of the Eastern Country who carried some silkworm eggs to the Yutian country."


Sanju Rock Painting

"The Sanju Rock Painting [actually petroglyphs or rock carvings] is located on a rock in Urqi village which is 180 kms away from Hotan city. Urqi belongs to the Sanju (桑株乡 sangzhu) township in Goma (گۇما / Pishan (皮山县) county. The painting is on the opposite side of a river. The length of the painting is 3.3 meters and its height is 1.3 meters. On the painting there are figure paintings, animals and other paintings whose meanings are not known yet. It is assumed that the ancient people spent their life with hunting. This place stands under the preservation of historical relics by the Autonomous Region since 1962." 

[Sanju township, also spelled Sanzu, Sangzu, or Sanzhu in Pinyin, is south of Hotan along the Sanju River on the way to Sanju Pass. Sanju Pass one of the three traditional main passes, in addition to the Karakoram Pass, over the Kunlun Mountains on the way to Ladakh, India. For thousands of years, this was a traditional trading route, which have all been closed since the Chinese revolution in 1949. The Sanju Pass, also called the Suget Pass, is 5,364 m. The Karakoram Highway into Pakistan crosses the Karakoram mountains via the Kunjerab Pass.]


Mystical Spring in the Mountains

"The mystical spring which comes out of a mountain is called by local people 'tears coming out of crying eyes.' It is located at the edge of the Kizil village which belongs to the Chakar / Qiaha (恰哈乡) township, Chira (چىرا) / Cele (策勒县) county.  It's 20 kms away from Qakar. The cool spring lays in the middle of the boundless semidesert. The water flows unceasingly throughout the whole year. Traditions tell that the water of the cool spring was the tears of a holy man called 'Imam Mahdi Ahir Zaman'. The red mountain slope behind it means the red color of the holy man's face. If people wash their face in the spring water, their eyes become bright and their face pretty. Under the mountain slope there are two poplar trees leaning on each other. They are so tall that they almost reach the clouds. The cool spring water irrigates the surrounding land so that flowers and grass can grow. All the visitors appreciate and like to enter this wonderful place."


Natural Scenery along the River

"In Uygur it is called 'Darya boyi' which means 'along the river'. This place is located in the middle of the Taklimakan desert, about 220 kms north of Keriya county where there is also a village with the same name. From Hotan it's about 420 kms. If you leave Keriya county and go along the Keriya river to the north, you will enter a vast sea of sanddunes which rise and fall swiftly. The view from the desert is amazing and takes your breath. After 100 kms you can see some oasis and a whole belt of poplar trees which are called 'toghrak.' They spread out over a vast area. The poplar belt is more than 200 kms long from the south to the north and several kilometers wide. In fall the leaves turn into a beautiful red and yellow and that will surely stir up your interest. On the way you can also see some wild animals."

Yengi Erik Desert and Reservoir

"This word means in Uygur 'new water channel.'  It is located 22 kms in the northwest of Hotan city. This place is located in the very far southern corner of the Taklimakan desert which is the second largest desert in the world but ranges as number one with its moving of sand. [Editor's note: The Taklimakan is the world's second largest shifting sand desert in the world, after Saudi Arabia's, and China's second largest desert.] The sand dunes are very majestic and they go as far as the eye reaches. The scenery is quite breath-taking and magnificent. Just behind the sand dunes in the south there is the Yengi Erik reservoir. Some farmers are also fishing in the reservoir. Tourists can swim in the warm water or also take a ride in a rowing boat. Nearby there are some neat cultivated rice fields and a forestry belt, Towards the northwest the oasis and desert meet and this makes beautiful scenery. Experiencing a sunrise or sunset is a special attraction nobody should miss."


ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet


Taxis are Y5 for most short distances around the center.

The formerly-popular motorcycle taxis are, the author was told, no longer permitted to carry passengers, at least in the urban center.  You might be able to take one in places outside the center.




Tel: 0903 251 2178  飞机场 fei ji chang (fēi jī chǎng)

The Hotan Airport (IATA: HTN, ICAO: ZWTN) is 9 km southwest of town. 

Information here is drawn primarily from Fare Compare and Flight Stats.


Fare Compare says China Southern Airlines has 2-3 daily flights from Hotan to Urumqi, for a total of 400 seats daily, and presumably the same going in the other direction. Fare Compare also says Shanghai Airlines has 1 daily flight to and from Hotan to Urumqi, for a total of 122 seats daily each way.  All flights seem to be in a Boeing 737.

Sample flight:  Urumqi (URC) to Hotan, flight FM 9423, Shanghai Airlines, arrival 13:40
Sample flight:  Hotan to Urumqi (URC), flight FM 9424, Shanghai Airlines, departure 14:20

The list price of Y1,250 for a ticket, plus 150 taxes and fees, may seem high, but even a few days in advance, you can get these tickets for as little as Y530 plus taxes and fees, and usually for a good discount even the same day or the day before. 

The folks at the Hotan CITS can probably help you find a helpful, reliable local agent to get a ticket.  You can buy tickets on-line, at web sites like elong.com or ctrip.com (click on the link for English), and they provide ticket delivery to Urumqi, but not to Hotan / Hetian.  Compared to Y374 for an express, air-conditioned bus for a 20-hour ride, it's only about twice as much, and this could be a good deal if you're pressed for time and don't have a strong desire to see a vast, deep desert from the inside.  You can also likely buy tickets in Kashgar for Hotan departures.

Other Destinations

As of the beginning of 2008, there are no other destinations from Hotan, by commercial flight, except Urumqi. From Urumqi, you can connect to a wide variety of other destinations inside and outside of China.

Flights to and from other nearby airports

Kashgar Airport, 519 km west, has flights to Urumqi as well as to Islamabad, Pakistan.

Cherchen / Qiemo Airport, 605 km east, has two flights a week to Urumqi with a stop in Korla. 



Main Bus Station, Hotan, Xinjiang, China长途车站    long-distance bus station  chang tu che zhan (cháng tú chē zhàn)
东车站  east bus station  dōng chē zhàn    dong che zhan

The main Hotan long-distance bus station is on Tai Bei Xi Lu just northwest of Hong Xing Jie.  It handles all buses to long-distance destinations such as Urumqi, Aksu, Turpan, Xiling, and Korla, as well as local traffic west to Kashgar.

The East Bus Station is located at __________________________ and handles buses to Keriya / Yutian, Niya / Minfeng, and Cherchen / Qiemo.  From the main bus station, take the #10 bus to the Dong Chezhan stop.

All of the highways are new and in good condition, though sand storms and car crashes can cause delays, and the buses (hopefully) drive somewhat slower at night.  Plan on two hours per 100 kilometers for the slower buses, and one and a half hours or less per 100 kilometers for the express buses.

The price schedule shows higher prices for the "2nd class" than for the "1st class," so the author assumes that, in China, 2nd class is better.  The time schedule shows "Luxury, Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus" and "Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus," so the author assumes the former is "2nd class" and the latter is "1st class."

Perhaps, in periods of slower demand, the same buses are used for going to Korla and Urumqi, since they leave at the same times.

Bus Schedule 1 of 2, Posted on Wall in Main Bus Station, Hotan, Xinjiang, China Bus Schedule 2 of 2, Posted on Wall in Main Bus Station, Hotan, Xinjiang, China Bus Fares and Distances 1 of 2, Posted on Wall in Main Bus Station, Hotan, Xinjiang, China Bus Fares and Distances 2 of 2, Posted on Wall in Main Bus Station, Hotan, Xinjiang, China

Hotan Bus Schedule
Chart 1 of 2 - 11/06

Hotan Bus Schedule
Chart 2 of 2 - 11/06
Hotan Fare and Distance
Chart 1 of 2 - 11/06
Hotan Fare and Distance
Chart 2 of 2 - 11/06

Three Paths Across the Desert

From Hotan, in addition to going northwest all the way to Kashgar and northeast again, there are three cross-desert highways across the Taklamakan. 

- The one best known to foreigners is the Tarim Highway, completed in 1996, which runs 562 km from Bugur / Luntai in the north to the junction 21 km east of Niya / Minfeng in the south.

- More locals from Hotan are familiar with the highway that heads northeast from Yarkand / Shache 上车, 328 km northwest of Hotan.  The highway goes 203 km northeast along the Yarkand River to Maralbashi / Bachu 巴楚, and then turns 20 km north to join Highway 314 about 216 km west of Aksu, along the northern rim of the desert.  On the bus station posters, this is called the Yarkand and Maralbashi route. (Maralbashi was also known as Tumshuk.)   Technically, this route skirts along the western rim of the desert rather than actually crossing it.
- Just opened in October 2007 is another cross-desert highway, 460 km from Hotan to Aksu.  This follows the traditional track of the Hotan River which, when it ran that far centuries ago, joined up with the Tarim River near Aksu.  In the south, the new highway ends in Jiya Township, just east of Hotan. At last report (12/07), though the new highway is open for private vehicles, buses are still taking the old route because there are not yet fueling and dining facilities along the new highway.

In fall 2006, the posted schedule in the bus station told which route, of the first two, the buses take.  Presumably, some buses that currently take the Yarkand and Maralbashi route have changed to the Hotan / Aksu route.  The author notes below which buses use the Yarkand and Maralbashi route, so the reader can assume the others take the Tarim Highway.

The total distance to Korla on the new highway would be only about 54 km shorter (996 versus 1,050 km) compared with the Tarim Highway.  But the stretch across the open desert would be 158 km shorter and the new route would eliminate 315 km across the sparsely-populated southern rim.  (Urumqi is 463 past Korla.)


Hotan -

Aral / Alar   (new highway)


Alar / Aral -



Aksu -



Kucha -

Bügür / Luntai


Bügür / Luntai -

Junction to Korla


Junction to Korla -









Hotan -

Niya / Minfeng


Niya / Minfeng -

Bügür / Luntai  (562 are on Tarim Hwy)


Bügür / Luntai -









Hotan -



Yarkand -



Maralbashi -



Aksu -



Kucha -

Bügür / Luntai


Bügür / Luntai -







Hotan to Urumqi  1,509 km

These buses have gone via the Tarim Highway.  They probably still go that way, since the new Hotan - Aksu highway hardly shortens the distance.  Still, ask at the bus station which way they go now that the new Hotan-Aksu highway has opened.  Then let the author know, please!

Luxury Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus (second class) - Also an express bus. 20 hours
  Y374 2nd class (lower or upper seat),
  Two daily:  13:00 and 17:00

Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus (first class) - Also an express bus:
  Y307 1st class (lower or upper seat),
  One daily:  11:00

Common Sleeper Bus:
  Lower berth Y255, Upper Y223   25 hours
  Six daily:  10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, 20:00

Hotan to Korla  1,045 km

These buses have gone via the Tarim Highway, and probably still do.  But ask at the bus station which way they go now that the new Hotan-Aksu highway has opened.  Then let the author know, please!

Luxury Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus:
   Y312 2nd class (lower or upper berth).
   Three daily:   11:00, 13:00, and 17:00

Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus
   Y223 1st class (lower or upper berth).
   None scheduled.

Common Sleeper Bus:
   Lower berth Y179, Upper Y157
   Two on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun:  13:00, 19:00
   Four on Tue, Thu, Sat:  10:00, 13:00, 16:00, 18:00

Hotan to Bügür (Bugur) / Luntai    873 km

    Luxury, Air-Conditioned Sleeper Bus
    Y281.50 (lower or upper seat).

    Common Sleeper Bus
    Lower berth Y150, Upper Y131

No schedule shown for this destination. The author assumes they put you on one of the Korla  or Urumqi buses and let you off in Bügür / Luntai, at the top of the Tarim Highway and 172 km west of Korla.


Hotan to Kucha   1,032 km

    Common Sleeper Bus
    Lower berth Y166, Upper 150

No schedule shown  - The author assumes that the traveler will be put on a bus going to Aksu and then transfer there to a bus to Kucha, 246 km east.  The posted schedule in fall 2006 said that buses to Kucha use the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.  These buses will almost surely change to the new Hotan-Aksu Highway route that opened in October 2007, a savings of about 300 kilometers and likely 5-6 hours. They haven't changed yet, as of December 2007, because of the lack of fueling and hospitality sites along the new route.

Hotan - Aksu via Yarkand / Shache and Maralbashi / Bachu Route   772
Aksu - Kucha   246

In the past, some travelers saved time by taking one of the many express buses heading east then north from Hotan, disembarking in Lunnan, near Bügür / Luntai, at the north end of the Tarim Highway. There they caught one of the frequent buses to Kucha from there. The difference is only 18 km, but there are many more buses along the latter route, including air-conditioned luxury buses, and the highway is in top shape so the buses go much faster.  

Hotan - Niya / Minfeng    294
Niya / Minfeng - Bügür / Luntai    583
Bügur / Luntai - Kucha    113

However, when bus service starts on the Hotan-Aksu route, an express bus on this new cross-desert highway will be much faster.

Hotan - Aksu via new cross-desert highway (430 Hotan to Aral + 30 Aral to Aksu)

Aksu - Kucha 246

Hotan to Yarkand / Shache   328 km

Main Bus Station Yard, Hotan, Xinjiang, ChinaThree daily minibuses each way between Hotan and Yarkand, Y38.50
11:00, 12:00, 13:00.
Or you can try to catch one of the larger, faster buses - with air-conditioning - going to or coming from a longer distance and pay up to Y51.50.

Hotan to Karghilik / Yecheng   264 km

Five daily minibuses each way between Hotan and Karghilik (Karkilik) / Yecheng, Y31
10:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00.
Or you can try to flag down one of the larger, faster, air-conditioned buses going to or coming from a longer distance and pay up to Y41.50.

From Karghilik / Yecheng, you can catch a bus three times a week going to Ali in western Tibet, 39 hours, operated by the Tibetan Antelope company.. This bus does not operate in the winter.

Hotan to Yengisar / Yingjisha    451 km

No specific bus times are shown on schedule, though pricing is given. The author assumes you take one of the Kashgar buses and get off in Yengisar / Yingjisha.
Fares: common seat bus Y50, luxury seat bus Y69, common sleeper Y63.50 upper, Y70.50 lower.

Hotan to Kashgar / Kashi     519 km

Express buses (presumably the luxury seat bus) take 7 hours and regular buses take 10 hours, per Lonely Planet - China. (Travel times are not listed in the bus station.)

Common sleeper bus: Y81 lower berth, Y73 upper
No schedule given, though table says there is one per day

Luxury seat bus: Y79
Daily 09:00, 10:30, 15:30, 17:00, 18:30, 21:30, 22:00

Common seat bus: Y57.50
Daily 11:00, 12:00, 13:00

Hotan to Aksu: Was 772, Now 460 km *

* The distance was shortened to 460 km when the new second cross-desert highway from Hotan to Alar / Aral (430 km), near Aksu, opened in October 2007. As of December 2007, buses were not yet using the new route because of the lack of fueling and hospitality sites. For the time being, then, these buses would still be going along the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.

Maybe the upcoming new highway was why prices for Luxury Sleeper Buses and Luxury Seat Buses to Aksu were on the price list in fall 2006 with no buses on the schedule. Probably the luxury buses will take the new highway, while the other buses, which serve communities all along the older route, may continue to use the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.  Ask before you buy your tickets.

Luxury Sleeper Bus (1st class) price: Y170.50 lower, Y153.50 upper.
No schedule is shown for a Luxury Sleeper Bus.

Common sleeper bus, lower Y125, upper Y112.
Two on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun: 13:00, 19:00

Luxury Seat Bus price: Y116.50.
No schedule is shown for a Luxury Seat Bus.

Common seat bus, Y94.
Four on Tue, Thu, Sat: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 20:00

Hotan to Niya / Minfeng     294 km

Buses going directly from Hotan to Niya / Minfeng leave from the East Bus Station, not the main bus station.

You take the #10 local bus from in front of the main Long-Distance Bus Station to the Dong Chezhan (东车站 East Bus Station).  There you buy your ticket and catch the bus for Niya / Minfeng, as well as for any other stop east along Highway 315 as far as Cherchen / Qiemo.

A fellow traveler reported he took the one daily bus which leaves at 09:30 in the morning.  The fare is probably Y35-45. This is likely the bus that runs from Hotan all the way to Cherchen / Qiemo in 11 hours.

Going the other way, from Niya / Minfeng to Hotan, is one scheduled daily bus, leaving Niya / Minfeng at 16:00, Y35-45, bus type unknown.  An express bus takes less than 4 hours for this route, but expect 5-8 hours on a regular bus.

In addition to this bus, the daily bus from Cherchen / Qiemo to Hotan leaves Cherchen / Qiemo at 10:00, probably stops in Niya / Minfeng about 15:00, and reaches Hotan at 21:00.

If money is no object and you really want an express bus -- which is faster and has air-conditioning, or if you just want to leave later in the day, you can try to ask at the main bus station if you can get a ticket for Niya / Minfeng on an express bus heading to Bügür / Luntai, Korla or even Urumqi.  The ticket sellers probably aren't allowed to do that, though. 

You might try appealing directly to the driver directly as a bus is boarding. Usually, bus drivers are accomodating if they are not full.  Be sure to know the prices in advance before you ask (Y35-45), and then ask the driver what he'll charge you.  It should be in the same ballpark.

As another alternative, if your wallet is fat, you could pay the Y282 (for a luxury, A/C sleeper bus) or Y150/131 (for a common sleeper bus) for an official ticket to Bügür / Luntai and ask the driver to let you off in Niya / Minfeng (294 km vs 877 km), in probably about 3.5 hours on the luxury bus and about 4 to 5 hours on the common sleeper.  The bus goes straight through Niya / Minfeng, so the driver probably won't mind, if he has room.  On the long cross-desert routes, there are usually two drivers who relieve each other, so you'll want to make sure _both_ drivers know.  (The second driver usually has a sleeping berth behind the driver's seat.) 

Hotan to Cherchen / Qiemo      605 km

Buses going directly from Hotan to Niya / Minfeng leave from the East Bus Station, not the main bus station.

You take the #10 local bus from in front of the main Long-Distance Bus Station to the Dong Chezhan (东车站 East Bus Station).  There you catch the bus for Cherchen / Qiemo. 

Option A.
The author does not know the departure time of the bus for Cherchen / Qiemo. It is probably be the same as the bus, above, heading for Niya / Minfeng, which leaves at 09:30 in the morning.  It would behoove you to go to the bus station the day before and check the time, in case it's a different bus and leaves earlier.

The fare is probably Y97.  Based on the schedule coming the other way (below), it should reach Cherchen / Qiemo at 20:30.

Going the other direction, from Cherchen / Qiemo, there is a daily bus that leaves Cherchen / Qiemo at 10:00, stops in Niya / Minfeng five hours later at 15:00, in Keriya / Yutian at 18:00, and then in Hotan at 21:00, eleven hours in total.  The fare from Cherchen / Qiemo to Hotan is Y97. 

Option B.
You could also try the alternatives, above, to get to Niya / Minfeng, sightsee in and around Niya / Minfeng, and then catch a bus from Niya / Minfeng to Cherchen / Qiemo. 

From Niya / Minfeng to Cherchen / Qiemo, the distance 314 km, fare 36-51Y, about 5-6 hours. The posted schedule on the wall in the Niya / Minfeng station says that there is only one daily bus from Niya / Minfeng to Cherchen / Qiemo, which jives with the schedule the author saw in Cherchen / Qiemo for the other direction. This is likely the bus going from Hotan to Cherchen / Qiemo. 

Another source says -- but the author doubts this frequency ! -- This doubtful source says, "There are six daily buses go east from Niya / Minfeng to Cherchen / Qiemo, with the earliest departure 04:00, latest 22:00, and at least one of these continues east to Charklik / Ruoqiang."  (This may be old information which may include buses going between Cherchen / Qiemo and Korla. The poster in the Cherchen / Qiemo bus station indicates that these Korla buses now go via the new spur road directly from Cherchen / Qiemo to Tazhong, bypassing Niya / Minfeng.)

Option C.
There is also a bus three times weekly night bus from Cherchen / Qiemo to Keriya / Yutian, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 20:00 (19:00 in winter).  Therefore, there are likely similar sleepers from Keriya / Yutian going the other direction, though the author doesn't know which nights, though probably Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings. 

Three days a week (but the author doesn't know which three days, but probably Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday), you could pick up the Keriya / Yutian-to-Cherchen / Qiemo sleeper bus in Niya / Minfeng.

You could take one of the several buses from Hotan to Keriya / Yutian (see below, 180 km east), enjoy the town for the day, and catch the above sleeper to Cherchen / Qiemo.  Or if you are in Niya / Minfeng, the bus station staff there might be able to help you figure out when to be out on the road in front of the bus station to flag down the night bus from Keriya / Yutian to Cherchen / Qiemo.

Hotan to Keriya / Yutian   180 km

Buses going directly from Hotan to Keriya / Yutian leave from the East Bus Station, not the main bus station.

You take the #10 local bus from in front of the main Long-Distance Bus Station to the Dong Chezhan (东车站 East Bus Station).  There you catch a long-distance bus for Keriya / Yutian.

Because it is a closer destination, there are likely several buses each day, in addition to the daily 09:30 bus that continues to Niya / Minfeng and Cherchen / Qiemo.

From Keriya / Yutian to Hotan, the posted fare is Y21.50 common or Y39.50 luxury, so it is likely the same price in the other direction.  A regular bus will probably take three to four hours, while an express may make it in two hours or less.


ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet

Other Destinations

Posted Schedules

These are the destinations as listed on the timetable schedule tables posted in the Hotan main long-distance bus station in November 2006.  The author did not get the schedules from the east bus station.

Posted Schedules - Left Table - November 2006

Ili (Gulja) / Yining

Daily, 13:00


Tue, Thu, Sat 12:00


(see above)


Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun at 09:30, 11:50, 12:40, 17:30 (common seat bus)


Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun at 10:25, 13:15, 16:00, 20:00 (common sleeper)
Tue, Thu, Sat at 14:00 (common seat bus)


(see above)


(see above)

(Turpan and Daheyan buses go via the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.)


Posted Schedules - Right Table - November 2006

Maralbashi / Bachu Daily, 09:30, minibus
Makat  Daily, 09:30, minibus (presumably the same bus as to Maralbashi, but 80km closer)
Kashgar (see above)
Yarkand / Shache (see above)
Goma / Pishan 12 daily minibuses
Duwa Daily, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30, 18:00


Posted Distances and Prices

These are the destinations and prices as listed on the distance / price schedule tables posted in the Hotan main long-distance bus station in November 2006.

Distances and Prices - Left table - November 2006



Luxury A/C 2nd Class Sleeper

Luxury A/C1st Class Sleeper

Common Sleeper


























Toksun *










Ushaqtal *










Hushut *










Karashar *




















Bügür / Luntai **




















Toksu ***




















Sajingze ***










Achal ***




















Karamai +










Turpan ****










Daheyan ****










Urumqi - Bügür - These destinations are reached via Highway 312, the Tarim Highway.
* These are destinations between Korla and Urumqi, presumably on the same bus as going to Urumqi.
** Presumably the buses for Bügür / Luntai are those going on to Korla or Urumqi, since no specific schedule is given (above).

Kucha - Achal - These above destinations are reached via the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.
*** Presumably Toksu is a stop on Highway 314 between Aksu and Kucha on the same bus, and Sajinze and Achal are stops before Aksu, along.the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.

+ The schedule says that Karamai is reached via Highway 312, the Tarim Highway, while Golja, Turpan, and Daheyan are reached via the Yarkand and Maralbashi route.
**** Turpan is actually 54 km south of Daheyan, but the difference in route from Hotan is just 6 km. The train station used for Turpan is in Daheyan.     


Distances and Prices - Right table - November 2006

























Seat Bus

Seat Bus











Maralbashi / Bachu




































Yengisar / Yingjisha









Yarkand / Shache


















Karghalik / Yecheng









Goma / Pishan













































Kareeya (not Keriya)



















ORIENTATION LOCAL SIGHTS MAPS Travel services, Banks, Internet


A Word About Names and Spelling

Hotan is the most common way today of spelling the name of this city in English. 

The pinyin for the Chinese name of the city today is Hetian.  The Chinese transliteration of the name is used on buses and in some translations of Chinese.

“Khotan (Khotana in Kharosthī script, Hvatäna in Brāhmī and Hvamna or Hvam in the later Khotanese texts) was known throughout its 1,200 years as a kingdom (Hvatäna-kshīra).” Zhang (1996), p. 284.

Another source says, "It is documented in early Prakrit documents as Kustana, or "the Breast of the Earth." (Source: ArchNet Digital Library)

Whichever pronunciation you choose, its most ancient known name came from the settlers from northern India in the mid-third century BCE.  But the Hotan oasis was inhabited for probably 10,000 years before then, based on tool finds. 

The best known of these earlier arrivals to Hotan were the semi-nomadic groups that migrated into the area from what is now northern Iran starting about 1,200 BCE, a people often called Saka or Eastern Scythian, which the Chinese call the Sai. Most of the cemetery remains in nearby Shanpul seem related to these earlier entrants. The Zaghunluq cemetery in Cherchen / Qiemo likely has Saka influence to some extent. Although the migrants from India became the ruling elite and conducted their affairs in an Indian language called Prakrit, the majority of the local population was and remained Saka, and spoke an Iranian language. Much later, this language appeared in written form and nineteenth century researchers have called it Khotanese.

The name in English has traditionally been spelled Khotan, and this spelling is still in use in some sources today.  This is how it is referred to on old maps in English and in the writings of late nineteenth and early twentieth century explorers, such as the book 'Ancient Khotan' by M. Aurel Stein.  For the archaeologically curious, this entire thousand pages of the two-volume set, along with many other Silk Road documents, has been OCR scanned and is available on the web at Toyo Bunko.)

One benefit of the Khotan spelling is that it indicates that the correct pronunciation of the initial consonant is in the back of the throat, like pronouncing the letter "h" with the back of the throat nearly closed in the manner used to make the "k" sound.   Be that as it may, that spelling is continually disappearing in favor of Hotan.
The ancient Chinese name for the kingdom, from the Han dynasty to the Tang dynasty, was Yutian. After that time, the Chinese used a variety of names to refer to Hotan, during the periods when they referred to it at all.

The Chinese have, confusingly, given this ancient name of Yutian in modern times to the city of Keriya / Yutian, 180 km to the east. Since ancient times, jade came from all the rivers along the Kunlun Mountains, which were mainly the Hotan rivers, the Yorungkash and Karakash, and the Yarkand River, but also likely included the Keriya River and the Cherchen River, so the idea has some plausibility.

In Marco Polo's book, he wrote the city's name as Cotan.  Marco Polo visited here in 1273.

A more recent historic name for the town itself was Ilchi (Yiqi), which was the capital of the kingdom or region of Khotan.  Ilchi later became the term for the old town, while the Qing dynasty Chinese began building the newer city of Hetian nearby.  Ilchi (or Ilqi) is still the name of one of the passes south of Hotan across the Kunlun Mountains to Tibet, as well as the name of a new hotel and restaurant in Hotan (see Eating above). This pass, the Sanju pass and the Karakoram pass are not in current use because of the border tension since the 1960s with India, which claims the Aksai Chin land that makes up most of southern Hotan County.

Other spellings include Hotian, Chotan, Ho tien, Ho-T'ien, Yu-t'ien.

The "six cities of Khotan" were Qaraqash, Yurungqash, Chira, Keriya and Niya and Ilchi (Khotan). (muslimwiki.com/mw/index.php/Xinjiang_Uprising)

The Kunlun mountains define the southern rim of the Tarim Basin.  Their pinyin name is Kuen Lun.




Lu    lù


Jie  jiē

street (less common than lu)


Xi   xī


Dong  dōng


Nan  nán


Bei   běi



Beijing Xi Lu  (běi jīng xī lù) 

Sample street name: Beijing West Street








bó wù guǎn    Bowuguan



zhōng guó yóu chǔ   Zhongguo Youchu

China Post


zhōng guó yín háng   Zhongguo Yinhang

Bank of China


bīn guǎn    Binguan  






guó jì  Guoji



lǚ xíng shè   

travel agency


he tian gou ji lui xing she  

Hotan international travel agency








tún kěn    Tunken

Hotan Street Name. Open up frontier land. Former street name was Tambagh  


Aqial (a qia le)

Hotan Street Name. Uyghur:  Aqial


Tai Bei (Tái Běi) Xī Lù

Hotan Street Name. Taipei West Street


Ta Nai Yi (usually written Ta Nai)

Hotan Street Name. Uyghur: ________


wū lǔ mù qí    Wulumuqi  

Hotan Street Name. Urumqi.


yíng bīn   Ying Bin 

Hotan Street Name. Welcome Visitor


wén huà    Wenhua  

Hotan Street Name. Civilization / Culture


hóng xīng jiē    Hong Xing Jie    

Hotan Street Name. Red Star Street


gǔ jiāng    Gu Jiang    

Hotan Street Name. Ancient River


xī huái     Xi Huai    

Hotan Street Name. West Heart


nà wǎ gé   Nawage 

Hotan Street Name. Uyghur: Navakh


jiá mǎi   Jia Mai

Hotan Street Name. Uyghur: Jama (for the Jama -- Friday -- Mosque)








shēng chù  Shengchu

domesticated animals, livestock



ancient city








hú táo  Hutao



wú huā guǒ  Wuhuaguo


wáng  Wang




Ri Yue Xingguang Yedian Night Club


rì yuè  ri yue

the sun and the moon

xīng   xing

star / satellite / small amount

guāng  guang

light / ray / bright


rì yuè xīng guāng   Ri Yue Xing Guang  

Sun Moon Starlight


yè diàn   Yedian     

night club





hēi yù hé   Heiyu He

Black Jade River. Uyghur: Karakash or Karakax (black river banks)


bái yù hé   Baiyu He 

White Jade River. Uyghur: Yorungkash or Yurungkash (white river banks)





pú táo  putao


kàn  kan



yǒng dào  yongdao

tunnel / covered corridor or passage way


pú táo kàn yǒng dào Putaokang Yongdao

grape corridor




sāng   sang

mulberry tree


sāng pí    sang pi

mulberry bark

zhǐ      zhi  



sāng pí zhǐ   sang pi zhi

mulberry bark paper



Atlas (Khan Atlas) Silk Workshop


ā tè lā sī     a te la si (Atlas)

Atlas is Uyghur for Silk; atelasi is Chinese for Khan Atlas silk

ā    a

used in transliteration

tè    te

used in transliteration

lā    la

used in transliteration

丝 ( 絲 traditional Chinese)

sī    si

silk / thread / trace


sī chóu     sichou

silk cloth


sī chóu zhī lù     Sichou Zhi Lu

The Silk Road



he tian méi jiǔ chǎng Hetian Mei Jiuchang

Hotan Rose Winery


méi    mei


jiǔ    jiu

wine / liquor / spirits

chǎng     chang





阿克蘇  or 阿克苏

ā kè sù or ā kè sū   Akesu

Uyghur: Aksu

龟兹 or 库车

kù chē    Kuche

Uyghur: Kucha or Kuqa


kù ěr lè    Kuerle

Uyghur: Korla


lún tái    Luntai

Uyghur: Bügür or Bugur


mín fèng    Minfeng

Uyghur: Niya


ā lā er    Alaer

Alar, also called Aral in some sources





chē zhàn    che zhan

bus station

cháng    chang

length / long / forever / always / constantly

tú    tu

way / route / road


cháng tú chē zhàn     Changtu Chezhan

long-distance bus station    


dōng chē zhàn    dong che zhan

east bus station





fēi jī chǎng     Feiji Chang






wéi wú ěr     Weiwuer







Ilqi - An old name of Hotan, Mountain Pass, Hotel

yī  Yi

he / she / (surname)

qí    Qi

strange / odd / weird / wonderful





luo pu

Lop (city, county)





jí yà     Jiya


xiǎng   xiang

country / village


zhèn qū   zhen qu


库尔班大叔 kù ěr bān dà shū

Uncle Kurban - Kurban Tulum, the Uyghur electrician who met Chairman Mao

大叔 dà shū uncle


Administrative Divisions in Hotan Prefecture

Khotan Prefecture

خوتەن ۋىلايىتى

Hotən Vilayiti


Hétián Dìqū

Khotan City

 خوتەن شەھىرى

Hotən Xəh̡iri


Hétián Shì

Khotan County

 خوتەن ناھىيىسى

Hotən Nah̡iyisi


Hétián Xiàn

Karakash County

 قاراقاش ناھىيىسى

K̡arak̡ax Nah̡iyisi


Mòyù Xiàn

Pishan County

 گۇما ناھىيىسى

Guma Nah̡iyisi


Píshān Xiàn

Lop County

 لوپ ناھىيىسى

Lop Nah̡iyisi


Luòpǔ Xiàn

Chira County

 چىرا ناھىيىسى

Qira Nah̡iyisi


Cèlè Xiàn

Keriye County

 كېرىيە ناھىيىسى

Keriyə Nah̡iyisi


Yútián Xiàn

Minfeng County

 نىيە ناھىيىسى

Niyə Nah̡iyisi


Mínfēng Xiàn




Visit Our Tourism Guides for Towns in Southern Xinjiang

Kunlun Square, Cherchen / QiemoChildren, Keriya / Yutian

Though not on most itineraries for Xinjiang travel, the towns of the southeastern rim of the Taklamakan, have much to offer the traveler. A major draw is the native ethnic Uyghur people. While their percentage of the population has fallen to less than half in much of Xinjiang due to a government policy of Han Chinese migration, more than 90 percent of the residents along the southern rim are still Uyghur.

Other sights in this area include 2,600-year-old mummies, museums, nature reserves, handmade silk and carpet workshops, jade mines, oil field, rock carvings, shrines, mosques, bazaars and twisty old towns to explore, as well as desert sand dunes and the extensive Chinese desert-taming systems trying to keep them at bay.

Our guides for each town include extensive information on sightseeing, transportation, dining and lodging, as well as many photos and maps.

Niya / Minfeng

Chairman Mao Monument, Niya / Minfeng, Xinjiang, ChinaDecorative courtyard door, Niya / Minfeng, Xinjiang, ChinaA small town with a big reputation as the gateway to the most famous Xinjiang archaeological site of ancient Niya. Today, more famous as the southern terminus of the Tarim Highway across the heart of the vast Taklamakan Desert, providing access to the enormous oil reserves there. The monument with the quote from Chairman Mao is the most obvious tourist sight, and the main bazaar is on Sunday. But the visitor pleasures in town are mainly access to the daily life of the rural Uyghur people in this oasis town, wandering Uyghur neighborhoods, agricultural roads and sheep pastures. A short taxi ride can take one to sand dunes for the visitor to climb like the caravans of yore.

Restaurant and lodging details are provided, along with bus schedules north, south, east and west, and Internet access.

Ninety kilometers north of town, and five kilometers north of an isolated hamlet in the desert, is an Islamic shrine, Mazar Imam Jafar Sadiq, famed as the Mecca of Turkestan, though the site likely has Buddhist and even pre-Buddhist roots as a sacred space. Information is provided on Tazhong, the rough oil field town near the derricks and pipelines.

Mosque Gateway Brickwork DetailLangmen Noodle MakerKeriya / Yutian

Visit the mosque with its intricate brickwork in this town 180 km east of Hotan. Wandering the winding Uyghur neighborhood along the river, inhabited since Han dynasty times at the dawn of the Silk Road as the Kingdom of Jumi. Eat at a Uyghur restaurant while watching the langmen noodles pulled by hand at the next table.

View the statue of Kurban Tulum, an elderly Uyghur electrician who is the only person to share a monument with Mao Zedong in all of China. For a contrast, first wander the new Keriya International On-Foot Street shopping mall and then cross the street to explore the traditional Uyghur bazaar. For the expedition minded, visit the ancient cities buried in the desert, Karadong and Dandan Oilik.

Charklik / Ruoqiang

Winged Genii Painting, Ancient MiranTree-Lined Bike LaneThe Charklik / Ruoqiang page, about this easternmost of the towns along Highway 315 along the Taklamakan, describes this small desert oasis town with its central plaza and several lodging and dining options and bus schedule. Some history of the area is included.

This page will assist you to access the famous ruins of Miran or Loulan and the enormous dried lake bed of Lop Nor across Marco Polo's notorious Desert of Lop. The enormous Nature Reserves in Lop Nor and the Altun Mountains are discussed, along with the nuclear testing sites in the greater Lop Nor area.

In addition, Charklik / Ruoqiang is the back door to the roads much less traveled through Qinghai to Dunhuang, Xining, or Golmud, gateway to Lhasa. Detailed information is given on this little known route, including transport schedules and some information on the lodging and dining options.


Produce vendor on cartCherchen / Qiemo

Zaghunluq MummiesAt the Cherchen / Qiemo page, you'll read about seeing fourteen 2,600-year-old mummies in the Zaghunluq Ancient Mummy Tomb and learning their history, visiting the Toghraklek Manor Museum with displays of 100-200 year old household and farming implements and 2,000-3,000 year old funerary offerings, walking a large central square and in rural Uyghur neighborhoods.

Nearby you can see Bronze Age rock carvings, a 60,000 hectare wild animal nature reserve, an international hunting park. You can take a two-day working jade mine tour in the Kunlun Mountains or plan an expedition to the nearly 7,000 meter Mount Ulugh Muztagh. Also, you can start from here to take an oil field tour -- because of the nearby highway spur, Tazhong is closer to Cherchen / Qiemo than to Niya / Minfeng.




From Wikipedia about Ladakh, India

"Ladakh was the connection point between Central Asia and South Asia when the Silk Road was in use. The sixty-day journey on the Ladakh route connecting Amritsar and Yarkand through eleven passes was frequently undertaken by traders till the third quarter of the 19th century. Trans-Himalayan Caravans – Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh. Oxford India Paperbacks.] Another common route in regular use was the Kalimpong route between Leh and Lhasa via Gartok, the administrative centre of western Tibet. Gartok could be reached either straight up the Indus in winter, or through either the Taglang la or the Chang la. Beyond Gartok, the Cherko la brought travelers to the Manasarovar and Rakshastal lakes, and then to Barka, which is connected to the main Lhasa road. These traditional routes have been closed since the Ladakh-Tibet border has been sealed by the Chinese government. Other routes connected Ladakh to Hunza and Chitral but similarly, there is currently no border crossing between Ladakh and Pakistan."


Journey from Leh to Yarkand and Kashgar, and Exploration of the Sources of the Yarkand River

G. W. Hayward, (c. 1868) Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol 14, No. 1 (1869-1870), pp. 41-74.

   "From Leh to Yarkand, there are three routes open to the traveller to choose.  The first is the Zamistânee, or winter route, which from Leh crosses the Digur Lá Pass, and ascends the valley of the Shayok River to near the Karakoram Range.  The second, Tabistânee, or summer route from Leh, crosses the Kardong Pass, 17,574 feet above the sea, and the Shayok River at Suttee;  from whence, ascending the Nubra Valley, it crosses Karowal Pass, and then the difficult Pass of Sasser, 17,972 feet above the sea, joining the former route at Moorghoo. 
   The third route from Leh is viâ Chang Chenmo and the Chang Lang Pass, 18,839 feet above the sea; and crosses the series of high plains lying between Chang Chenmo and the Kuen Luen [Kunlun] ...
... The distance from Leh to Yarkand by the Zanlistanee route is a30 [OCR error, maybe 530] miles, by the Tabistanee some 480 miles, while by the Chang Chenmo route it is 507 miles."
   480 miles = 774 km  (0.62:1)



Entry about Khotan (Yutian) from the Hou Hanshu, written shortly after the later Han Dynasty.

"The main centre of the kingdom of Yutian (Khotan) is the town of Xicheng (‘Western Town’ = Yotkan). It is 5,300 li (2,204 km) from the residence of the Senior Clerk [in Lukchun], and 11,700 li (4,865 km) from Luoyang. It controls 32,000 households, 83,000 individuals, and more than 30,000 men able to bear arms.
At the end of the Jianwu period (25-56 CE), Xian, the powerful and prosperous king of Suoju (Yarkand), attacked and annexed Yutian (Khotan). He transferred Yulin, its king, to become the king of Ligui.
During the Yongping period (58-76 CE), in the reign of Emperor Ming, Xiumo Ba, a Khotanese general, rebelled against Suoju (Yarkand), and made himself king of Yutian (in 60 CE). On the death of Xiumo Ba, Guangde, son of his elder brother, assumed power and then (in 61 CE) defeated Suoju (Yarkand). His kingdom became very prosperous after this. From Jingjue (Niya) northwest, as far as Shule (Kashgar), thirteen kingdoms submitted to him. Meanwhile, the king of Shanshan (the Lop Nor region, capital Charklik) had also begun to prosper. From then on, these two kingdoms were the only major ones on the Southern Route in the whole region to the east of the Congling (Pamirs).

In the sixth Yongjian year (131 CE), during the reign of Emperor Shun, Fangqian, the king of Yutian (Khotan), sent one of his sons to serve and offer tribute at the Imperial Palace.

In the first Yuanjia year (151 CE), the Chief Clerk Zhao Ping was in Yutian (Khotan) and died there from a carbuncle. (Zhao) Ping's son left to mourn for him. On his way, he passed through Jumi (Keriya). Now, Chengguo, the king of Jumi (Keriya), had had disagreements for some time with Jian, the king of Yutian (Khotan). He said to (Zhao) Ping’s son: “The king of Yutian (Khotan) ordered a Western (hu) doctor to put a poisonous drug in the wound, which caused [your father’s] death.” (Zhao) Ping's son believed this story. When he returned to the frontier region, he informed Ma Da, the Administrator of Dunhuang.

The following year (152 CE), Wang Jing was named Chief Clerk in place [of the late Zhao Ping]. (Ma) Da ordered (Wang) Jing to make a thorough secret investigation into the affair. (Wang) Jing first passed through Jumi. Chengguo again said: “The people of Yutian (Khotan) want to have me as king. Now, you should kill Jian because of the crime he is guilty of. Yutian (Khotan) will certainly agree.”

(Wang) Jing was eager to acquire merit and glory for himself and, besides, he believed what Chengguo had said to him. Before reaching Yutian (Khotan), he prepared everything to receive Jian, [then] invited him, meanwhile he developed a sinister plan. Someone had warned Jian of Wang Jing’s plot. He didn’t believe it and said: “I am innocent. Why would the Chief Clerk Wang (Jing) want to kill me?” The following morning Jian, with an escort of several tens of officials, came to pay a visit to (Wang) Jing. When they were seated, Jian got up to serve the wine. (Wang) Jing then ordered his retinue in a menacing tone to seize him but, as none of the officers and soldiers wanted to kill Jian, all the officials suddenly fled.

At this point, Qin Mu, Chengguo’s Secretary, following (Wang) Jing, drew his sword and said, “The main issue has already been decided. Why are we still hesitating?” He immediately advanced and beheaded Jian. Then the Khotanese Marquis-General, Shupo, and some others, joined up again with the soldiers and attacked (Wang) Jing who took Jian’s head, climbed a tower, and proclaimed: “The Son of Heaven ordered us to punish Jian.”

The Khotanese Marquis-General, Shupo, then set the camp buildings on fire killing the officials and soldiers. He climbed the tower and beheaded (Wang) Jing and hung his head in the marketplace. Shupo wanted to make himself king, but the people of the country killed him, and put Anguo, the son of Jian, on the throne.

When Ma Da was informed of what had happened, he wanted to put himself in charge of the troops of several commanderies, and head through the frontier regions to attack Yutian (Khotan), but Emperor Huan (147-167 CE) did not allow it. He recalled (Ma) Da and substituted Song Liang to be Administrator of Dunhuang. When (Song) Liang arrived, he appealed to the people of Yutian (Khotan), asking them to behead Shupo. By then, Shupo had already been dead for more than a month, so they sent the head of a dead man to Dunhuang without saying what had really happened. (Song) Liang was informed of this trickery later but, finally, he could not get the troops to go. Encouraged by this, Yutian (Khotan) became arrogant."[7]

The 8th century Tibetan Buddhist history, The Prophecy of the Li Country, claims that a Khotanese king helped the famous Kushan Emperor Kanishka to conquer the key town of Saketa in Middle India. If this is correct, and if modern dating of the beginning of Kanishka's era in 127 CE, this must have happened at about this date - just before Ban Yong reasserted Chinese influence over the region.

"Afterwards king Vijaya Krīti, for whom a manifestation of the Ārya Mañjuśrī, the Arhat called Spyi-pri who was propagating the religion (dharma) in Kam-śeṅ [a district of Khotan] was acting as pious friend, through being inspired with faith, built the vihāra of Sru-ño. Originally, King Kanika and the king of Gu-zan [Kucha] and the Li [Khotanese] ruler, King Vijaya Krīti, and others led an army into India, and when they captured the city called So-ked [Saketa], King Vijaya Krīti obtained many relics and put them in the stūpa of Sru-ño."[8]


From Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist monk traveling to India (4th century) :

"Seven or eight li to the west of the city [of Khotan] there is what is called the King's New monastery, the building of which took eighty years, and extended over three reigns. It may be 250 cubits in height, rich in elegant carving and inlaid work, covered above with gold and silver, and finished throughout with a combination of all the precious substances. Behind the tope there has been built a Hall of Buddha of the utmost magalficence and beauty, the beams, pillars, venetianed doors, and windows being all overlaid with goldleaf. Besides this, the apartments for the monks are imposingly and elegantly decorated, beyond the power of words to express. Of whatever things of highest value and preciousness the kings in the six countries on the east of the (Ts'ung) range of mountains [probably this means southwestern Xinjiang] are possessed, they contribute the greater portion (to this monastery), using but a small portion of them themselves."


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