KhotanSilk Road in Xinjiang Province in China. Khotan was once center of a Buddhist empire. The old capital, Yoktan, is about 10 km west of the current city.
While the main Silk Road route from here goes west to Kashgar and on toward Central Asia, an important branch cuts off here over a pass to Leh in the north of India. That pass is thought to be the route by which Marco Polo reached China.
By planeKhotan Airport is located south of the city. Flights are available to/from Urumqi on a number of carriers, which provides competition. There is also a daily flight to/from Kashgar.
The airport can be accessed by taxi (despite the meters, fares to/from the airport are shared among passengers and negotiated, typically ¥20-30 a person) or by bus #9. The bus stop is across the highway from the airport. Note that as of mid-2017 there were strictly no restaurants or stores in the airport either airside or outside security, only water dispensers. However, a small convenience store is located right across the highway, over the canal. Sometimes there is a food cart outside the airport.
By trainDaytime trains at least once a day from Kashgar - did not have night trains as of 10/2011.
By busThe Long Distance Bus Station is north of the city center on the main highway.
- Kashgar - takes 7-10 hours (express buses are faster)
- Yarkand - takes about 6 hours
- Korla - takes about 15 hours
- Kuqa - takes from 9 to 10 hours. Departures at 12.00 and 15.30 Beijing time.
- Turpan - takes about 20 hours
- Urumqi - 6 24 hour buses leave daily (260RMB), 1 18 hour bus (310RMB) and 2 fast luxury buses (unsure of times, no longer than 18 hours, most expensive bus option).
- Yecheng - takes about 8 hours
- Yining - takes about 40 hours (shorter as soon as buses start using the new Hotan - Aksu highway)
- Qiemo - takes 11 hours daily morning bus leaves from East Bus Station, not Main Bus Station
By carThere is a road west to Kashgar, about 500km, or east via Dunhuang and on toward Central China, a long way away. There is also the cross-desert highway (which passes by the desert viewing area just north of town) which is now paved and goes to Kuqa.
Buses have a late-night surcharge but otherwise cost .
Hiring a taxi to show you the sights outside of town, especially given many travel agencies have closed, is a good way to get around. It will cost in the hundreds of yuan depending on the number and distance of destinations, many of which are geographically close but may not be well known or quick to access, given the long lineups for checkpoints. Finding a taxi driver that speaks Chinese (if you speak do) and knows his/her way around can be a challenge but they do exist. It wouldn't hurt to ask your hotel staff to write down the names of your major destinations in Uyghur (a good idea in any case, even if your driver speaks Chinese) but even more experience drivers may not know many of the destinations due to the sharp fall-off in tourists in recent years.
Khotan MarketAlmost as large as the Sunday Market in Kashgar but more chaotic and free-spirited. Open every day, busiest in the early afternoon (XJ time), and on Sundays. Not to be confused with the "International Bazaar" which is a tall landmark building near the bus station and more like a mall than a market.
Jade Factoryphone: +86 9032035281Free entry to see people carving Jade with modern tools and intricate Jade pieces for sale. No tours, but you can look and ask questions if you speak Mandarin.
Khotan MuseumFree entry to look around, all items have tags in Chinese, Uyghur and English. Tours available in English for 10RMB. Museum has one floor of artifacts including two 2500 year old mummies. Closed for lunch so helpful to get their early enough to orient yourself vis-a-vis local architectural sites.
Melikawat RuinsFascinating and eerie. Pay your entrance fee to unlock the gate to the site, where you'll also get a sell on electric carts to take you around the site for an added charge (unlike fees to unlock the gate, you can bargain on the cart costs). Be ready for dust and be aware that the carts aren't strictly necessary and won't go all the way to some of the interesting buildings but are likely to make the friendly folks at the gate even happier to see you.
Rawaq StupaBetter preserved than most buildings at Melikawat but smaller and northeast of town, east of the cross-desert highway. A visitor center is under construction, but until it is completed then 20¥ ticket fees are paid on entry to the stone path leading to the boardwalk around the stupa. In mid-2017, the direct road was under construction but the site was accessible via the cross-desert highway, demarcated by a large sign to direct drivers who may not be familiar with the route.
Desert Vista "Platform"It is free to walk up to the "platform," a scenic vista point situated on top of a large dune, and down to the restrooms. Camel rides are also available on request, for a fee. Can combine with a trip to Rawaq, which is accessible by turning off the highway north of the desert viewing platform.
Khotan Public Square -- TuanJie GuangChangThere is communal dancing by both the Uyghur and Han communities and a great Uyghur night market on one of the corners (think it was the SW?).
Khotan Carpet FactoryAn industry over 2000 years old in Khotan, carpets woven by hand in a small workshop, tours and sales of carpets available. Seems to be free, without many services for visitors, especially in the off season.
White Jade RiverLocals search the riverbead for rare white jade but beauty lies in all the other stones left behind.
Silk WorkshopFree tours, only in Chinese, of the local silk workshop, where Atlas Silk is made entirely by hand. Even if you don't speak Chinese it's an interesting place to wander around. Opens at 9AM XJ time, 11AM BJ time, though that may also vary by season.
Imam Asim TombImam Asim Ancient Tomb is located in Jiya Township of Lop County. It is about 23km from Khotan city. The tomb is just 1km inside of the desert where the farmland and desert merged. Best time to visit the Imam Asim tomb is during April and May on Thursday. Local people will come from different part of Khotan as well as other part of Xinjiang. In this occasion you can enjoy the local wrestling and Legend telling with music. This is not really a tourist destination, but a site of religious worship. Women should bring head scarves.
Silk FactoryTours of the local Shatuo Silk Factory can be made, a larger and more mechanized factory.
Khotan WineryProduces specialty pomegranate and rice wines.
Desert Camp and Camel Trekcamel ride out into the Taklamakan Desert and camp over night there. You can enjoy a camp fire dinner and breakfast in the desert. Necessary camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and blankets etc can be provided by.Guide on Line
The bazaar area is full of carpet and clothing shops, which are also available at the bazaar and the merchants are often eager to clarify the origins and materials (e.g. which are Central Asian, which are machine-made either in Xinjiang or elsewhere, and which are handmade/of what). Clothing is available in the market, including traditional Uyghur designs (often at fixed posted prices for machine-made dresses, etc.) This isn't a tourist market in Eastern China so while bargaining is helpful for more expensive items (like carpets or more expensive cloth), it may not be needed for many of the cheaper and more common items like basic scarves or clothing items, for which there may be a variety of options at initially reasonable prices from the more reputable vendors.
Marco's Dream Cafephone: +86 15292661017address: YouYiLuRun by a Malaysian woman and her family, has awesome local travel information and affordable western and Malay food options, coffee and desserts. SE of the Public Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).
- The Night Market is a massive indoor food hall, about a twenty-minute walk south of the central square. At the eastern entrance there are some more common Chinese dishes and sweets, but going inside many more Uyghur options are available for food and desert. Somewhat higher prices than the atmospheric night market in Kashgar but typically still quite modest. Options for everyone and the ability to mix and match.
- Fresh-ground espresso (often at reasonable prices) is surprisingly common at numerous bakeries, juice joints and cafes. While an actual "espresso" often isn't on the menu (usually milk drinks or americanos are), ask for an americano with less water and more coffee.
- Beer is often available from shops but not restaurants. After making sure it is OK with staff, you can often BYOB. Homemade beer is available at a stall in the night market and from vendors selling bottles.
- There is a bar/cafe outside the eastern entrance to the night market.
It would not be a bad idea to go to a midrange hotel and at least get what you pay for.
Traffic HotelTakes foreigners. Reluctant to place foreigners in cheaper rooms. The staff can be as rude as someone can be.
Happy HotelNext to the main bus station, musty rooms have small toilets and hot water. No toileteries, no kettle and one towel per room. This kind of room is usually in the 40-60¥ range in other parts of china.
- Yudu Hotel is located directly across from the main square. Beds are hard, windows have no screens, the lobby is smoky and staff respond to most requests with futility. However, there doesn't appear to be systemic milking of foreigners. There is a seemingly nicer Super 8 located the alleyway behind the Yudu, but it didn't have a license for foreigners as of mid-2017.
If you stop in Yarkand you can find handmade pocket knives as opposed to the sheathed knives of Yengisar.