Mountain highway enables tourists to experience region's ethnic groups, religions and cultures
Viewing the beauties of the four seasons in a single day amid diversified landforms ranging from snow-capped mountains to lakes, grasslands, deserts and fields of flowers is an amazing experience.
These attractions draw visitors to one of China's most beautiful roads, the 561-kilometer-long Dushanzi-Kuqa Highway, which wends its way through the Tianshan Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, connecting Dushanzi in the north with Kuqa in the south.
The highway is only open to traffic from June to early October, being closed throughout the winter and spring due to snowfalls and an icy road surface. Vehicles with more than seven seats are not allowed on the highway because of its sharp turns and steep slopes.
Short-video footage taken by visitors that has gone viral in recent years has attracted increasing numbers of tourists to explore the highway's scenic delights.
This year, the local authorities prepared for the highway to open by upgrading infrastructure and launching a range of activities to welcome arrivals from across the country. COVID-19 preventive measures have also been relaxed.
Gong Jiansheng, who is in charge of the Bairui Travel Agency in Urumqi, the region's capital, said, "There is a great deal to see in Xinjiang, but it is such a vast area that it is worth visiting several times to witness the stunning scenery."
The agency, which is owned by China Tourism Group, offers customized trips. A guide takes visitors to the homes of ethnic groups such as Uygurs and Kazaks, where they dine with the locals and help graze their livestock.
While traditional travel agencies often provide five-day tours starting from Urumqi, Gong suggests that visitors with plenty of time spend at least a week in Xinjiang.
He reminds arrivals that sometimes the narrow highway is congested during the peak tourist season.
Gong also suggests that travelers prepare well for their trip before departure, bringing with them food and warm clothing to keep out the cold.
Over 280 kms of the highway are located at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters.
In recent years, the local government has made every effort to upgrade infrastructure and repair the road. More public toilets have been provided, along with garbage disposal areas. Locations have also been established for visitors to take photos.