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Ürümqi is a popular place to begin a tour of Xinjiang's vast desert expanses. A private tour probably makes the most sense. Travel agencies are happy to let you pick and choose from a list of destinations. A four-wheel-drive vehicle will cost around Y1,300 per day; a smaller Volkswagen Santana is Y900 per day.
CYTS, in the parking lot of the Bogda Hotel, offers trips lasting from one day to more than three weeks. Seek out English-speaking guide Ali to talk you through the options. A tour of sites around Turpan or a trip to the Heavenly Lake can be accomplished in a single day.
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