The animal market can be mucky, so wear shoes that can be easily cleaned.
Good to know
Both the animal market and the Grand Bazaar can be quite busy, so keep your kids close and away from the traffic.
The animal market only happens on Sunday, and the Grand Bazaar is at it's best on Sunday, so this is by far the best day to visit.
Recommended time of the year
It gets cold in this part of the world in the winter; try to visit between April and October.
You can take a cab to the animal market, but the bus is easy and much cheaper. If you choose to take the bus, be prepared for a hot, crammed ride. Just remember, it's part of the experience.
About This Day
The Kashgar market or Grand Bazaar, as its also known, is steeped in history and riddled with diversity. This also speaks to the city of Kashgar, it is a melting pot of cultures. Here in China's northwest region of Xinjiang, the culture is more Central Asian with a hint of China. Visiting the markets here is an excellent way to spend a day in Kashgar with kids. They offer great opportunities to observe Uighur culture. Moreover, visitors also get an authentic feel for the way life functions in this often-forgotten part of China.
To begin, the Grand Bazaar. It is open 7 days a week, but Sunday is the busiest day. Come early to beat the crowds and have a more enjoyable market experience. Following this Kashgar market, take the 30-minute bus ride to the northwest corner of town to see the Kashgar animal market. It's a bit muddy, and kinda smelly, but that's all part of the fun! Here, watch the locals buy and sell livestock at break-neck speed and pet some of the smaller animals. Grab a slice of watermelon and munch away while you take in the sights. Watch as the animals are loaded into the back of trucks and whisked away to their new "home." End the day at the night market, sampling as much of the local cuisine as your belly will let you. Make sure to share each dish in order leave room to try more things. There's an amazing amount of variety available, including dessert.
This Kashgar market is at it's best on Sunday, with many Uighur families coming in to the Grand Bazaar from the surrounding countryside to sell their products. The central market is covered and thrives 7 days a week. It is great to visit for dried snacks and souvenirs, but the real charm occurs on the outskirts. If you take bus 7, either wander through the market or head up the street to the north side of the market. If you're wandering out in the open, or under make-shift umbrellas, you're in the right place.
Our favourite people to spot were the healers, with their baskets of dried snakes and reptiles. If you wait long enough, they'll get a customer and you can watch them pick and choose things from a variety of baskets, and then crush it all together with a mortar and pestle.
DIRECTIONS The Grand Bazaar is located just outside the east edge of Old Town in Kashgar, on Aizirete Road. Bus 7 goes straight here from Id Kah Mosque.
TIP It can get very busy on Sundays, so keep a hand on your kids at all times. Make sure you're walking closest to the centre of the walkways, as there are carts and motorbikes winding their way through the market at all times.
Kashgar Animal Market
314 Guo Dao, Kashi Diqu
The Kashgar animal market is an overdose of sights, smells and sounds. People come from all over Western China to buy or sell livestock. The mornings can be busier with tour buses, so by starting with the Grand Bazaar and heading to the animal market around (or right after) lunch, there should be fewer tourists around. The ground is dirty, but watching the fast transactions of the locals buying and selling is incredibly interesting. There are camels, donkeys, yaks, cows, goats and lots of mutton. My girls love baby animals, so we were always on the hunt for baby animals to "pet." By simply motioning to the owners what we wanted to do, everyone was happy to let us pet their animals. One man even lifted the girls up on to his camel! The treatment of animals is not amazing, so make sure you and your kids are prepared for this.
DIRECTIONS You can catch either a taxi or the bus from the Grand Bazaar. The bus is easy, although it can get a bit full. Not all the taxi drivers will head this far out of town. If you plan on taking a taxi, have your hotel write down "animal market" in Mandarin and Uighur prior to heading out for the day. If you take the bus, head to the southwest corner of the market and then start walking toward the university. There's a bus stop with a large dirt parking lot behind it, this is where you catch bus 28. It's the start and end for bus 28, so if it seems too full, just wait and hop on the next one. If you're one of the first ones on the bus you'll get a seat (highly recommended, as it's a 30-minute ride).
TIP There is lots of food on the eastern side of the market, although much of it is mutton and you're likely to see part of the carcasses on the ground. It's best to give your kids a heads up regarding this. If you visit during the summer, watermelon and sweet melon will also be available, so bring hand wipes.
Kashgar Night Market
86号 Ou Er Da Xi Ke Lu, Kashi Diqu
The night market has some of the best, most reasonably priced food in town. It's also fun to watch the ladies pull lagman noodles and grill up chicken, or the men expertly craft a bowl of noodle soup. The street is lined with vendors selling nuts, fruit and bread. Keep walking and there's a courtyard with more food choices than you could possibly consume in a month. There are boiled goat heads for the adventurous, rotisserie chicken for the non-adventurous, green onion or Swiss-chard dumplings for the vegetarians, and everything else in between. I highly recommend trying the raisins and nuts grilled into a spring-roll-looking dough log and rolled in sugar, they're delicious. Even if you're not interested in eating, the night market provides some great photo opportunities. Plus, there's the ability to see some of the most local dishes served the way they're meant to be served. Pick a stall, pull up a stool and dig in!
DIRECTIONS Take bus 28 from the animal market back to the end of the line at the Grand Bazaar. Once off the bus, walk toward the Grand Bazaar. Then, turn left up the street that runs along the west side of the bazaar until you reach the bus stop for bus #7. Take bus 7 and get off at the square in front of the Id Kah Mosque. The night market starts at 8 p.m. Beijing time (more like 6 p.m. local time). You'll see the stalls along the street and know you're in the right place. If you have any doubt, just ask one of the policemen and they'll point you in the right direction.
TIP There are a number of tables along the back side of the night market, so it's best to focus your food choices around there. Pick from a number of different vendors and bring your food to one table, then return the dishes when you're finished.