Located on the ancient Silk Route in the Xinjiang Province, China is a beautiful oasis city called Hotan. It has been alternatively called Hetian or Khotan over the ages. It has been the entry point into China from Tibet and India and across the Taklamakan Desert. Multiple nationalities and ethnicities have arrived and made their home here. Today’s Hotan City is a colorful blend of 19 nationalities consisting of the Uyghur, Hui, Han Chinese, Kazak, and others; among which the Uyghur people have a dominant presence. The city is known for its tourist-friendly environment and spectacular desert safaris. Being an oasis city in the Taklamakan Desert gives Hotan a Middle Eastern aura although it is in China. In ancient times traders from India, Tibet, and other countries came up the Silk Route and travelled across the Desert for business and trade.
White jade from the Tarim River basin was the most precious commodity that was traded in the past. In fact, the fine quality of the jade has been mentioned in ancient literature dating back to 200 BC. Today, after centuries of scouring the riverbeds, the quality of the jade is not the same anymore. But the locals are very talented and make beautiful souvenirs with the available stones that are worth buying for their exquisite art.
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|4. More Expensive||Expedia||4%|
|5. Most Expensive||Hotels.com||8%|
Tourists have a wide choice in accommodation in Hua Shan. There are hotels in downtown Hua Shan (Huayin) at the foothills of Mount Hua as well as on the upper slopes. The resorts on the slopes have wonderful views compared to the once in the city below but they also have premium tariffs, especially in the peak tourist season between April and October. Also, the resorts on top get booked faster than the once at the foothills. There are star hotels, boutique hill resorts, mid-range hotels, with various amenities as per their star rating. There are also a few guesthouses or inns where cheaper accommodation with limited amenities is available.
The Hua Shan Scenic Area is wild, abundant, thriving, spectacular, and awe-inspiring. The five peaks of Hua Shan are a delight for naturalists, tourists, botanists, and especially for photographers. The sunrise at the East Peak is a brilliant sight. The South Peak at 2160 meters above sea level is known for its height and steepness. The West Peak is smooth and complements the South Peak. The North Peak is better known as the Cloud Terrace Peak because it has a natural viewing platform that lends a panoramic view of the scenic area. And the Middle Peak is called the Jade Lady Peak due to its dense foliage.
Collectively, the five peaks have several attractions like the Lao Jun Li Gou, Golden Lock Pass, Yao Zi Fan Shen, Xianyu Area, Changkong Plank Road, Black Dragon Ridge, Bai Chi Xia, etc. There are also 20 Taoist temples or more in the Hua Shan Scenic Area. Those that have remained in excellent condition even today are the West Sacred Temple Area, Cuiyun Palace, Dongdao Courtyard, Baidi Temple (also called Jintian Palace), Yuquan Garden, and Zhenyue Hall which are considered among the top Taoist temples in China along with the Jade Spring Temple.
The cuisine of Shaanxi Province influenced by the salty flavors of the adjoining Shanxi Province and the spiciness and sourness of Sichuan. Pork and lamb are commonly used in their dishes along with sticky rice of flatbread made from wheat. The locals love grilled and barbequed meat which is a popular item in upscale restaurants as well as in the night-market food stalls.
Some of the local delicacies are flatbread with mutton soup, mutton kebabs (barbequed meat on skewers, pomegranate juice, meat burger, cold noodles, steamed meat with wheat powder, dumplings in hot and sour soup, Biangbiang noodles, cake made with sticky rice dates, etc.