Cherchen Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and local culture and customs of Cherchen in Northwest China. Learn about the natural and cultural attractions, food and drink scene, transportation options, and nearby destinations to plan your trip.

Introduction to Cherchen

Welcome to Cherchen, a hidden gem of Northwest China, famous for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Located in the Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang region, Cherchen offers visitors an off-the-beaten-path destination with a wealth of attractions and activities. From museums and historical sites to hiking and biking trails, there’s something for everyone in Cherchen.

In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll explore the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and local culture and customs of Cherchen. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or adventure seeker, Cherchen has something to offer.

List of Places to Visit in Cherchen

Cherchen boasts a variety of cultural and natural attractions that will keep you entertained throughout your trip. Here are some must-visit places in Cherchen:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Kunlun Jade River Scenic Area: Located in the town of the same name, this area is famous for its stunning natural scenery and jade deposits. You can also learn about the history and culture of the jade industry through exhibits at the Jade Museum.
  • Cherchen King’s Tomb: This tomb dates back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD) and is considered one of the most ancient tombs in China. Located in the south of Cherchen County, it’s a must-visit for history buffs.
  • Cherchen Museum: Learn about Cherchen’s cultural heritage, history, and archaeology through the artifacts on display at this museum. You can see a variety of items, including pottery, textiles, and tools from different periods of Cherchen’s history.

Natural Attractions of Cherchen: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Kunlun Mountains: This mountain range offers stunning views of the surrounding area, including snow-capped peaks and glaciers. It’s a popular spot for hiking and camping.
  • Cherchen River: A scenic river that offers opportunities for fishing and kayaking. Visitors can also hike along its banks to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
  • Mazar Tagh: A rock formation that’s located in the middle of the desert, and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. It’s a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Cherchen

For outdoor enthusiasts, Cherchen offers several hiking and biking routes that showcase the natural beauty of the area. Here are some of the best trails:

  • Kunlun Mountain Trail: This trail takes you through the mountains, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. It’s a challenging hike, but the views are well worth the effort.
  • Cherchen River Trail: This trail follows the river, allowing you to take in the natural scenery of the area. It’s an easy hike that’s perfect for families.
  • Jade River Cycling Route: This trail follows the Jade River, allowing you to take in the beauty of the area from a new perspective. It’s an easy ride that’s perfect for beginners.

Best Things to Do in Cherchen: Activities and Tours

Cherchen offers visitors a variety of activities and tours that showcase the best of the area. Here are some of the best things to do in Cherchen:

  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: Take in the stunning scenery of Cherchen from above with a hot air balloon ride.
  • Desert Tours: Explore the vast deserts of Cherchen on a guided tour. You’ll see stunning rock formations and learn about the area’s flora and fauna.
  • Cultural Tours: Learn about Cherchen’s rich history and culture with a guided tour of the area’s museums and historical sites.

Week-Long Itinerary for Cherchen

Here’s a sample itinerary for a week-long trip to Cherchen:

Day 1: Arrive in Cherchen and check into your hotel. Explore the town’s local markets, restaurants, and shops. Day 2: Visit the Cherchen Museum and learn about the area’s cultural heritage. In the afternoon, take a hike along the Cherchen River Trail. Day 3: Take a guided tour of the Kunlun Jade River Scenic Area and visit the Jade Museum. In the evening, enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the area. Day 4: Explore the vast deserts of Cherchen on a guided tour. Don’t miss the stunning Mazar Tagh rock formation. Day 5: Embark on a challenging hike along the Kunlun Mountain Trail to take in the panoramic views of the area. Day 6: Take a cultural tour of Cherchen’s historical sites, including the Cherchen King’s Tomb. In the evening, enjoy a local dinner at a traditional restaurant. Day 7: Depart Cherchen and head to your next destination.

Food and Drink Scene of Cherchen

Cherchen’s food and drink scene is a reflection of its cultural heritage, with influences from the surrounding regions. Here’s what to try:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Lamb Skewers: A local specialty, this dish features marinated lamb meat grilled over charcoal.
  • Naan: A type of bread commonly found in Xinjiang, it’s baked in a traditional oven and served with a variety of toppings, such as lamb or vegetables.
  • Polo: A rice dish cooked with carrots, raisins, and lamb meat.

Local Beverages

  • Kumiss: A fermented milk drink that’s been enjoyed in the area for centuries. It has a sour taste and is believed to have health benefits.
  • Tea: Tea is a staple beverage in China, and Cherchen is no exception. Try the local tea, which is grown in the surrounding mountains and has a unique flavor.

Where to Stay in Cherchen: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Cherchen offers a range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences. Here are some of the best options:

  • Cherchen Guesthouse: A traditional guesthouse located in the heart of Cherchen. It offers comfortable rooms with traditional decor and a homely atmosphere.
  • Kunlun Mountains Hotel: A luxury hotel located near the Kunlun Mountains. It offers stunning views of the surrounding area and a range of amenities.
  • Cherchen Youth Hostel: A budget-friendly option that’s perfect for backpackers. It offers clean and comfortable dormitory rooms and private rooms.

What to Buy in Cherchen: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Cherchen is famous for its jade, so it’s no surprise that the local markets are full of jade products. Here are some other souvenirs to consider:

  • Cherchen Carpets: These handmade carpets feature intricate designs and are a symbol of the area’s cultural heritage.
  • Kumiss: Bring home a bottle of this fermented milk drink that’s unique to the area.
  • Naan: Buy some fresh naan bread to enjoy at home as a reminder of your trip to Cherchen.

Local Culture and Customs of Cherchen

Cherchen is home to a variety of ethnic groups, each with their distinct cultures and customs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Dress Conservatively: Cherchen is a conservative area, so it’s best to dress modestly to avoid causing offense.
  • Respect Local Customs: Always be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Learn Some Mandarin: While many locals speak both Mandarin and Uighur, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak the local language.

Best Time to Visit Cherchen

The best time to visit Cherchen is from May to October when the weather is mild and pleasant. Summers can be hot, so it’s best to avoid the area from June to August.

Do’s and Don’ts of Cherchen

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Cherchen:


  • Try the local cuisine and beverages.
  • Dress modestly and respect local customs.
  • Learn some Mandarin or Uighur to communicate with the locals.


  • Disrespect local customs and traditions.
  • Venture into the desert without a guide.
  • Take photos or videos without asking for permission.

Safety and Health

Cherchen is a safe area for tourists, but it’s always best to take precautions. Here are some safety and health tips to keep in mind:

Safety in Cherchen

  • Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in tourist areas.
  • Avoid political demonstrations or large gatherings.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid venturing into unknown areas at night.

Health in Cherchen

  • It’s best to drink bottled water to avoid water-borne illnesses.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Be aware of altitude sickness when hiking or climbing in the mountains.

Getting to Cherchen: Transportation Options and Logistics

Cherchen is located in a remote area of China, but it’s still accessible by several transportation options. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Airports Near Cherchen: The nearest airport is located in Hotan, which is around 460 kilometers from Cherchen. It’s best to hire a private car or take a bus to get to Cherchen.
  • Bus Stations Near Cherchen: Cherchen has a bus station that connects it to other cities in the region.
  • Other Options: You can also hire a private car or book a tour to get to Cherchen.

How to Get Around in Cherchen

Cherchen is a small town, and most attractions are within walking distance. However, if you want to explore further afield, you can hire a car or take a bus.

Where to Go Next from Cherchen: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Cherchen is located in Xinjiang, which is a vast region with many other attractions. Here are some nearby destinations and excursions to consider:

  • Kashgar: Located around 900 kilometers from Cherchen, Kashgar is a bustling city with a rich history and culture.
  • Taklamakan Desert: The second-largest desert in the world, Taklamakan is a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the vast sand dunes.
  • Urumqi: The capital of Xinjiang, Urumqi is a modern city with a rich cultural heritage.


Cherchen is a hidden gem of Northwest China that offers visitors a variety of cultural and natural attractions. From museums and historical sites to outdoor adventures and scenic views, there’s something for everyone in Cherchen. Plan your trip today and discover the beauty of this off-the-beaten-path destination.