Ili Prefecture

Ili is as dazzling as Princess Diana. Sandwiched between the southeast trending Borokonou Mountain and the southwest trending Haktau Mountain, the topography forms a wild Trumpet Notch to the West, which absorbs the rainwater from the Atlantic Ocean to the utmost, thus results in a variety of landscapes. Majestic mountains, vast Nalati grassland, green Guozigou National Forest Park, elegant horses, and purple lavender garden of Jieyou Princess have become the marvelous scenery of Ili.


Ili belongs to the semi-arid continental climate of the cold temperate zone. Summer is hot. Green trees are thick. Kids naked swim in the pond and cool wind comes slowly at night. Autumn of Ili always comes in a hurry and gone quickly. Beautiful things are always fleeting and desirable.


Why visit Ili Prefecture

1. Top hiking routes

There are two kinds of challenging and adventure routes to cross Ili. One is the Chater ancient road, Mengkete ancient road, and Wusun ancient road. The other is the more comfortable and friendly grassland light hiking such as Guozigou, Nalati and Tangbula. 


2. Grassland folds like those in illustrations

Nalati Prairie, Tangbula Prairie, kalajun Prairie, Zhaosu Prairie, and Gongnais Prairie are countless. Ili is a grassland paradise. Some grasslands are accompanied by snow-capped mountains. Some are adjacent to deserts, some look like machetes, and some are beauties. 


3. Lavender gardens

Large patches of lavenders spread from the foot of the Tianshan Mountains. Bits and pieces of purple slowly merge into a purple river with a mysterious fragrance woven into dreams. Many young lovers come here to take wedding photos to yearn for eternal love and vows.


4. Photographers' paradise

Stories of light and natural textures make Ili so beautiful beyond words description. So take them into photos and keep them forever.  


5. Kazakh ethnic customs

The full name of Ili is Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture. The land is Kazakhs' home. Living by water and grass, Kazakh has strong grassland nomadic cultural characteristics. Every year the mass migration of Kazakh herdsmen (from natural grazing in summer transfer to captive pasture in Winter) has become a special landscape. Kazakh people have become the most moving ethnic group in the world. The history of Kazakh is written in the transition. When Time comes, all families carry household goods and drive thousands of cattle and sheep on the vast ancient pastoral roads, where the smoke and dust are burning like a fire, and it is also born prosperous and developed. Every transition is a real migration of life. Like the splendid transition, Kazakh dance is enthusiastic and unrestrained. Women's clothes are gorgeous and colorful.


6. Philosophers in the kitchen

Philosophers study the nature of the world. Kazakhs study how to cook various dishes with rare ingredients. Their daily food includes noodles, cattle, sheep, horse meat and sausages, cream, butter, milk lumps, milk tofu, crisp cheese, etc. I prefer Bolsacks. Although they are fried in oil, very tasty, crispy, delicious, and less greasy.


Top Attractions

1. Nalati Prairie

It is kindly called the River Valley Grassland and the Sky Grassland and located at the eastern end of the Ili River Valley. You might not believe what you see in Nalati. The majestic snow-capped mountains around and pine trees are so much like Swiss. The rolling ups and downs of the grass sea may remind you of Italy's Tuscany, where Time is art and romance. Flowers are swaying on the grass. God's horses leisurely graze beside the yurts. Kazakh herders live here for generations. In summer, they feed sheep, cattle, and horses on the vast grassland. In Winter, the animals are driven to warmer places. The transition is Kazakh's life and hope. 


2. Tangbula Prairie

There are a few distinct scenic spots in Tangbula Prairie. Flowing springs and waterfalls, gurgling streams, the unique Alslang Stone Forest, the spectacular grassland sunset, the ice peak snow ridge reflecting in the quiet and deep mountain lakes, warm and fresh hot spring, and blue sky make people enjoy every minute in the prairie. 


3. Zhaosu Prairie

Walking into Zhaosu Prairie is like walking into a vast dreamland. The flood of colors of the prairie seems to be a tease to your gaze. Yellow, pink, blue, and purple flowers on the grassland extend straight down to far-reaching so that a few exquisite words can't tell. Even if your eyes become a wild horse, it is difficult to chase these colors, then your eyesight and imagination might be lost in the colorful scenery. Due to the special geography and climate, it is far away from summer and hot. Grassland stone man, Wusun ancient tombs, and rock paintings are the three wonders of Zhaosu Prairie, which seem to tell us something happened here in the past.


4. Xiata Valley

It is located in Zhaosu County, close to the main peak of Tianshan Mountains and Tekes River, running through Zhaosu Grassland, famous for its mountain passes, ancient ruins, ethnic customs, and natural landscapes. It is a magical tourist attraction. Xiata Ancient Road, also known as "Tang Seng Ancient Road", a monk of Tang Dynasty once passed here to India. The road used to be the main transportation route from Yili to southern Xinjiang, and it was also the most precarious and famous ancient pass on the Silk Road. Drive more than 20 kilometers away from the valley to Muzhalte Glacier, which does not melt all year round. It is wonderful to see crystal thick ice stands still in summer. The thickest ice layer reaches 20 meters. When breaking off, the glacier sounds very creepy but remains unique. It is a summer resort.


5. Bagua City

The city is in Tekes County of Yili Prefecture, famous for its Eight-diagram layout with a magical maze-like 64-hexagram street distribution without a single traffic light. In 2001, the city was awarded as the best "Bagua City" by Guinness World and listed as a national historical and cultural city in 2007. In Chinese history, Han Princess Xijun 105 BC married the king of Wusun in the city. It was a pioneer cementing marriage for political reasons.


6. Princess Jieyou Lavender Garden

Located in Qingshuihe Town of Huocheng County, it used to be an important town on the ancient Silk Road. The garden covers 220 acres. Large patches of purple lavenders are so fascinating as if they were woven by Goddess row and row for photographers and lovers. It says lavenders mean waiting for love. The fragrance of lavenders is irresistible. It also made the depressed Princess Jieyou, who married the King of Wusun for political reasons, became cheerful and brave to take the responsibility of uniting the Wusun and Han Dynasty.


When to come

In March and April, the apricot flowers of Yili are in full blossom, and pink petals are scattered on the grassland like exquisite patterns woven on looms by the skillful embroiderers. 


It is getting warmer and warmer in May. But in Xinjiang, colorful flowers and sliver snowy mountains are a mutual reflection of each other, which please our eyes. 


In June, don't be late for purple-blue lavender flowers and the fragrance of lovers.


July and August are the Time for hiking on the Ili's grasslands. Breathe fresh grassland air, enjoy rape flowers all over the mountains and drink a cup of milk tea of Kazakh herdsmen. Time belongs to you. 


On the day of September, driving along the Duku Highway from Ili, you will feel the surprising joy of seasonal changes in a day along the mountains. 


In golden Autumn, it brings us the smoked yellow of fallen leaves and ripe pear red, as well as the grand scene of Kazakh herdsmen's migration.


When Winter comes, the land is covered by snow. Either you stay at home to read Yeats' poetry or come to ski. 



Yili Prefecture has a sound highway-rail-aviation transportation infrastructure. Yining Airport is a million 4C airport with flights to inside cities and outside ones such as Beijing, Tianjin, Xi'an, Chengdu, Nanjing, Guangzhou, and other important cities. In addition to the electric train directly to Urumqi, the railway extends in all directions in Xinjiang, and highways leading to the scenic spots are very convenient.



Yili is a tourist destination, and a large number of tourists come here every year. Therefore, most of the tourist attractions in Ili have perfect hotel accommodation facilities. These hotels provide delicious meals and beverages. The details of interior decoration are in place. I lived in a grassland hotel when I visited Nalati Prairie. The hotel was very quiet at night, as if the outside world standstill. Please have a check the following hotels as your references.

Longxing International Hotel

Wenzhou International Grand Hotel

Meijing Hotel

Tianyuan International Hotel


Maps of Ili Prefecture you might need

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