ORT Tour Information Center

The ORT information center is designed to help you plan and prepare for a trip to Xinjiang, China.  We've included information about booking with our company, visas and paperwork, weather and climate, what to pack for your trip, cultural do's and don'ts and much more.

We love to give you opportunities to interact with locals in Xinjiang. A home stay in a Uyghur home, Kyrgyz stone home, village homes near Karakul Lake or a Tajik home will give you a true look at life in Xinjiang - beyond the well-traveled tourist areas. We've included a variety of information to help you prepare for your home stay including etiquette, meal expectations, best times for home stays and much more.  

Home Stay Locations:

  • Tuyuk Village: Uyghur home
  • Karakul Lake and Trekking: Kyrgyz Stone Homes (as of May, 2017 - overnight stays are not allowed)
  • Chaychun Village (Ghulja/Yining): Enjoy a stay in Abdul Wahab's family home!

Home Stay Seasons:

Year-round in most locations

Home Stay Accommodations:

Your home stay in Tuyuk Village will be an adventure and real-life experience! Living is simple and there is a high possibility that there will be no running water. In regard to facilities, some home stays may have running water and an indoor restroom. However, most have an outhouse or other rustic alternatives as if camping. You will most likely be sleeping on a slightly raised platform with a rug. They will also assign a padded mat and heavy blanket to each person. Similar to a Yurt, you may be sleeping all together on the same platform and may wish to sleep fully dressed. You will want to bring your own toilet paper and some hand sanitizer. Also note that the host family will stay in another room.


If you arrive at your home stay in the afternoon/evening dinner and breakfast will most likely be provided to you. The type of food offered at your home stay will depend primarily upon the family as well as the season.

Yurt Locations:

  • Karakul Lake: Kyrgyz Yurt (currently unavailable)
  • Heavenly Lake: Kazakh Yurt
  • Sayram Lake
  • Narat
  • Bayanbulak
  • Kanas Lake

Yurt Seasons:

  • Karakul Lake: May to October 25th. March to November-Yurts are also possibly available.
  • Heavenly Lake: April to November 15th

Yurt Accommodations:

Your night in a yurt will be a true real-life experience. Expect to be taken back in time where life was simple and rustic. You will be sitting, eating, and sleeping on a slightly raised platform with a rug. Each person will be given a padded mat and a heavy blanket from the host/hostess. Depending on the weather and other factors, you may be sleeping all together on the same platform. It is also customary for everyone to sleep fully dressed, especially when the weather is chilly. Please be advised that there is no running water and you will wish to bring your own toilet paper and some hand sanitizer. There may or may not be an outhouse, so be prepared to go natural because you may need to find a tree or rock to hide behind.

Yurt Meals:

A typical breakfast will include Etigen Chay (“morning tea”). This tea is a salty milk tea with pieces of nan (bread) inside it. Other meals may include a local rice dish called polo, simple noodle soups, mutton dishes, etc. Beverages offered typically include tea or boiled water. Since this is an unusual dish for a western palate, you may wish to bring a snack of your own. You may also wish to bring your own bottled drink preferences.

Gifts for Hosts in Home Stays / Yurt Stays:

It would be a kind and generous cultural gesture for you and your group to present your hosts with some small gift. Fruit or nuts are an acceptable gesture as are small toys, notebooks, or candy for any children. This is not required; however, it will aid you in understanding and relating to the culture around you.

Million Star Hotel (Camel Trek) Locations:

  • Yarkant (nearer to Kashgar)- ok for shorter 1-2 day treks (currently unavailable for overnight stays - only day treks are possible)
  • Hotan- this is better for longer treks (3-7) days; less grass, more of the real-life caravan feeling

Camel Trek Seasons:

These treks can be done year round but October is the best time. In the winter months there may be a little snow on the ground, so it may be a little chilly. Daytime is normally fair. Keep in mind that, in the desert, temperatures change drastically from daytime to nighttime.

Camel Trek Accommodations:

Your journey in the desert will afford you the opportunity of a lifetime! You will be able to stay in what we affectionately term the Million Star Hotel. Your caravan will consist of an appropriate number of camels to carry luggage and supplies, a camel guide, your tour guide, and your tour group. Larger groups will naturally have more camels and you will take turns riding the camel and walking. During your trek you will camp in tents and blankets provided by your guide or under the stars. For the sake of sanitation, if you desire a sleeping bag you will need to provide your own.

Camel Trek Meals: (Depends on how long spent in the desert)

During your dessert excursion you will experience life like you would on an old Silk Road caravan. Food will be cooked with local, traditional tools and we will build our own fire. Meals will be true to traditional custom; however, nuts, jams, sugar, coffee, and local breads will also be available.


In regards to a desert trek: You will need to have at least 3-4 camels for every 2 people to carry all the gear required for the trek. Young children (under 10) are not allowed to ride a camel by themselves; they must ride with an adult. For overnight treks, you can discuss with us about how many hours you would like to trek each day.

Experiences and Entertainment:

At night you will enjoy entertainment your camel man provides through the telling of folklore and the singing of ancient shepherding songs. During your journey you will have many opportunities to soak in the silence of the desert around you, far from the noise and busyness of city life. Although each trek is different you may expect to enjoy breath-taking sunsets and sunrises across the horizon. On longer treks you may visit different little villages along the way. During the Hotan trek you will be apt to see more sand dunes.

Camel Trek: