Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins in Xinjiang ! Lost Kingdom of Yar – Jiaohe / 交河故城

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Unesco World Heritage Site

Jiaohe Ruins is one of the important archaeological site in Yarnaz Valley, 10 km west of Turpan in Xinjiang China. The ruins are located along the Silk Road and best preserved ancient city in the world, a Unesco World Heritage Site.  If you are in Xinjiang, this would be the number ONE must visit place!  You can do Karez Well and Jiaohe as both are located nearby at the west of Turpan.

Get an Intro at Museum

There is a little museum before entering to Jiaohe Ruins.  You can listen to the short video introductory of Jiaohe in Mandarin only and subtitles in English.

There is a model showing Jiaohe strategic location on top of the hill surrounded by river.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Touching Buddha Feet For Good Luck

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Preparation Before Stepping into Jiaohe Ruins

When you entering the Jiaohe ruins, you would feel the excruciating heat from this area.  Not sure how the ancient people survive back then? Bring along umbrella and water, wear hat, sun glasses and apply sunscreen before you stepped food at these ruins.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Meaning of Jiaohe /交河

Anyone who read Chinese will know Jiaohe mean where two rivers meet. It is the oldest and largest earthen cities which was built 2,300 years ago.   As you know ancient city usually has a city wall. However, there is no city walls for this ancient city if you try to look around.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Visit with Guide

It is better to come here with a knowledgeable guide so you can understand what these ruins was used for, eg Government office, residents or Buddhist temples. If you don’t have a guide, you may want to listen well to the intro at Jiaohe museum.  There are also small signboard telling what these ruins are for.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Tatoonie city in Star Wars

All the buildings here were constructed out of earth, look like the Tatoonie city in Star Wars.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Well Preserved Ancient City of 7,000 People

Jiaohe ruins used to have a population of 7,000 and it is located at a very important crossroads of Silk Road for ancient merchants to do their business here.  I have seen few ruins in other part of the world but none as complete set as this one here.  Jiaohe Ruins is vast!

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

2 Hours to complete the Ruins

As I said, Jiaohe Ruins are really huge, you need at least minimum of 2 hours to explore the whole area.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Good Walking Path 

There are plenty of walking but good walking path was done for the tourists, so it is very easy to walk.  Don’t step out from the walking path as you may damage the ruins.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

No Shelter 

NO shelter in this area, so bring along an umbrella or big scarf to protect you from the sun.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

This was a sophisticated cities which was divided into 4 parts :

  1. Stupa Grove – it marks Xinjiang’s earliest stupas.
  2. Great Monastery – there were several monasteries in Jiaohe and  also the city largest.
  3. Government Offices – this is dug underground so we walked down with stairs to check out the layout of the courtyard.
  4. Residential Area – Most of the houses were carved out of the ground.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

When you are done, enjoy the melons outside!

There are huge watermelons and hami melon selling at the resting area once you are done with Jiaohe Ruins. I didn’t get any of the melons as I was concerned with their hygiene.  I finished 2 bottle of drinks from the stall instead.  Yes, I was so thirsty after hours of pretending to be an archeologist.

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

Final thoughts :

We were here in the summer, also the hottest season of the year. You could not believe how hot it was, just like inside an oven! Bring along water to explore Jiaohe Ruins, you definitely need it half way. The good thing about coming in the summer is less crowded, that way better photo opportunities with no photo bombs.

This is a remarkable site along ancient Silk Road and you cannot miss this world largest and most well-maintained ruins!

Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins - Xinjiang Lost Kingdom of Yar - Jiaohe / 交河故城

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45 Replies to “Silk Road China : World Largest Ruins in Xinjiang ! Lost Kingdom of Yar – Jiaohe / 交河故城”

    1. Dear Aine,
      If you dont like holding umbrella, another option is to use a big scarf to cover. And you can also hang it on your neck so it is not much of a trouble. Furthermore the weather in Jiaohe Ruins is very dry, not so much of humidity so scarf is very ideal to block the sun. That’s why you see the desert people in the middle east usually use big scarf to cover their face.

  1. These ruins look nice and HOT, I can see why you would encourage other to bring along an umbrella, water, hat and so on. A tip I’ll be sure to follow if I visit Jiaohe.

    1. Dear Namra,

      If you ask me to describe the heat in Jiaohe Ruins, I would relate it to an oven and the visitors are the walking cookies. This is the desert land and the air we breath in is super dry. It was about 50 to 60’c during my visit in June summer. The one thing you should not forget is the water bottles. You may need more than 1 bottles of water if you wanted to explore the whole ruins which can take up more than 2 hours.

    1. Dear Preet,

      China is full of history and culture. This part of China is at the northern part called Xinjiang, even the ethnic people who lives here look different from normal Han Chinese. This part of China usually for advance traveller who have been to China several times.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Among all the ancient earth houses of the world, Jiaohe ruins is one of the best preserved. If you look at the landscape, it is pretty interesting to see the whole land is covered by earth buildings. Such a gorgeous landscape.

    1. Dear Heather,
      If you love history, this is the place for you to explore. Walk like an archaeologist for few hours and post as many pictures as possible like a supermodel 🙂 in this few thousand years old ruins – Jiaohe !

  2. Wow, that is such an amazing place to visit and I do love knowing the story behind of my visited places.

    1. Dear Kelli,
      You need to see it yourself to experience the oven heat! Then close your eyes and imagine how ancient people live in such environment! I doubt I can survive one day! Lol.

  3. As I was reading through I was formulating a comment in my head and I was going to comment about how it could almost be the set of Star Wars and then you put it! I would love to travel the area with the guide to tell me all the different things that I would probably miss if I went by myself.

    1. Dear Cassie,
      Hahaha, I totally agree this look like the star war scene. Pretty cool right? You got to see it with my own eyes there are such places existed. Great mind think alike Cassie 🙂

  4. Before reading this post, I had no idea these ruins existed – just never heard of them before. They look fascinating and no wonder they got UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Would love to see it for myself one day. Lovely photos.

    1. Dear Nicole,

      The ancient city of Jiaohe is the world’s architectural wonders. Very hot to explore the site especially during summer. There are many shelters for visitors to take a rest. Be prepared to sun bathe for few hours as the ruins site are so big.

  5. I would enjoy exploring the Jiaohe Ruins. I also think it’s worthwhile hiring a guide. For me, it’s much more interesting when you can learn the history.

    1. Dear Nancie,
      Thanks for your comment. There are only simple signboard in Jiaohe ruins so getting an expert guide is also a plus and make your trip more fun as you get to learn about the history.

    1. Dear Nicole,
      Jiaohe Ruins located not very far from Turpan City. This is one of the must see, a Unesco World Heritage site 2000 years old. The ruins are just incredibly huge, the whole town is literally a earthen ruins! Quite an amazing site to see!

    1. Dear Holly,

      Haha, I have fun exploring like a pretending archaeologist, supervising the site for few hours and I was burned!! How come there is no shade?? I wonder why!!

    1. Dear Kylie,

      The Jiaohe Ruins is one of the world largest ruins and all the building are made from earth. Pretty unique! We don’t see such architecture these days! 🙂

  6. It looks incredibly hot there. It was great advice about taking water. It seems like such an incredible place to explore though.

    1. Dear Mommy flies,
      Yes, these place is like an art to me. All the houses and buildings back few thousand years ago look like some kind of masterpiece of ingenious ancient people.

  7. Wow, it is incredibly beautiful there. I definitely want to visit when I can, I am bookmarking this for when I do make it there. BTW, you have such gorgeous pics!

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