As a city of northwestern China, bordering Kazakhstan, Yining is a rather empty tourist city apart from its few cultural landmarks. Unfortunately the continuous separatist riots have plagued the region and has made it an unsettling destination for visitors.
Yining has had a rough history of fighting and was even seized in 1871 by Russia before being returned to China under a treaty ten years after. Yining suffered again while fighting during the Muslim Rebellion then amongst themselves during several separatist riots that have taken hundreds of lives.
Apart from the conflicts, Yining is a modest city with a modern outlook. The architecture encompasses a unique mix of modern Chinese along with a hint of Russian influence. Its population recently increased due to the addition of two villages while its tourist numbers have remained low, largely a consequence of the local tensions.
Those who do choose to travel to Yining will find little in the way of entertainment, however there is a few scenic spots as well as a couple of cultural landmarks that you can put on your itinerary. The first thing you should aim to to do is visit the People’s Square early morning when people are out enjoying the fresh air and doing their morning exercises. This square is also used for celebrations and parades because of the wide open space. Later head to the Temple of the Qing Dynasty found in the centre square to admire the cultural relic.
Beware of the climate when you are planning your visit as both winters and summers are rather extreme. With its semi-arid climate, winters are generally very cold with temperatures often reaching as low as negative eight while summer brings temperatures up to thirty degrees Celsius. Yining can also be very dry throughout the year so summers can be even more difficult to handle.
Getting into Yining is not the easiest feat as both the airport and train solely services Urumqi. However if you plan to be in Urumqi you can quite easily take a day or two to explore Yining. If you plan on staying overnight in Yining there are a few quality hotels to check out. The Twin Star Hotel is one of the favourites as it is nice and central located on Yining’s busy Stanlin Street while also being in close proximity to the airport. Also both the Longxin Hotel and the Friendship Hotel are good places to base yourself while here.