Khotan (和田; Hétián; also known as Kotan or Hotan), is a town on the southern (Jade) Branch of the Silk Road in Xinjiang Province in China. Khotan was once center of a Buddhist empire. The old capital, Yoktan, is about 10 km west of the current city.
While the main Silk Road route from here goes west to Kashgar and on toward Central Asia, an important branch cuts off here over a pass to Leh in the north of India. That pass is thought to be the route by which Marco Polo reached China.
Khotan Airport is located south of the city and can be accessed by taxi. Flights are available to/from Urumqi only.
Daytime trains at least once a day from Kashgar - did not have night trains as of 10/2011.
The Long Distance Bus Station is north of the city center on the main highway.
- Kashgar - takes 7-10 hours (express buses are faster)
- Yarkand - takes about 6 hours
- Korla - takes about 15 hours
- Kuqa - takes from 9 to 10 hours. Departures at 12.00 and 15.30 Beijing time.
- Turpan - takes about 20 hours
- Urumqi - 6 24 hour buses leave daily (260RMB), 1 18 hour bus (310RMB) and 2 fast luxury buses (unsure of times, no longer than 18 hours, most expensive bus option).
- Yecheng - takes about 8 hours
- Yining - takes about 40 hours (shorter as soon as buses start using the new Hotan - Aksu highway)
- Qiemo - takes 11 hours -- daily morning bus leaves from East Bus Station, not Main Bus Station
CITS (China International Travel Service) phone: 09032516090 --> Organizes trips and transportation to local sights.
Bus 101 passes in front of the Main bus station and goes to the sunday bazaar and the sunday animal bazaar (a couple of stops after "New Hotan..." monument roundabout. 1¥.
- Khotan Market. Almost as large as the Sunday Market in Kashgar but more chaotic and free-spirited. Open every day, busiest in the early afternoon (XJ time), and on Sundays. Not to be confused with the "International Bazaar" which is a tall landmark building near the bus station and more like a mall than a market.
- Jade Factory (At the intersection of GuJiang BeiLu and JiaMai Lu, near the Hotan Market), ☎ +86 9032035281. Free entry to see people carving Jade with modern tools and intricate Jade pieces for sale. No tours, but you can look and ask questions if you speak Mandarin.
- Khotan Museum (Take bus 2 or 6 West from the center of town on BeiJing Lu. On the corner of Beijing Lu and XiHuai Lu.). Free entry to look around, all items have tags in Chinese, Uyghur and English. Tours available in English for 10RMB. Museum has one floor of artifacts including two 2500 year old mummies.
- Khotan Public Square -- TuanJie GuangChang (Pretty much in the center of town and walkable from most places.). There is communal dancing by both the Uyghur and Han communities and a great Uyghur night market on one of the corners (think it was the SW?).
- Khotan Carpet Factory (There are several buses that go this route, including but 5 and 10 - it's just past the river on the edge of town, try to ask the bus driver when to get off because it is not immediately obvious from the road.). An industry over 2000 years old in Khotan, carpets woven by hand in a small workshop, tours and sales of carpets available. Seems to be free, without many services for visitors, especially in the off season.
- White Jade River. Locals search the riverbead for rare white jade but beauty lies in all the other stones left behind.
- Silk Workshop (In nearby Jiya township northeast of the center, you can get there by taxi or by bus. To take the bus, take bus 2 on BeiJing Rd to the end of the line, which is a traffic circle and then take the 110 bus from the traffic circle. The bus driver will most likely be able to tell you when to get off if you say Atlas, but if you keep your eyes open its pretty obvious from the road.). Free tours, only in Chinese, of the local silk workshop, where Atlas Silk is made entirely by hand. Even if you don't speak Chinese it's an interesting place to wander around. Opens at 9AM XJ time, 11AM BJ time, though that may also vary by season.
- Imam Asim Tomb (Last stop on the 110 bus listed above is about .5km from the tomb. If you say 'mazaah' a local will be able to point you in the right direction, you can also try to get a ride from one of the many three wheeled vehicles that carry people going to pray - the locals are more than friendly.). Imam Asim Ancient Tomb is located in Jiya Township of Lop County. It is about 23km from Khotan city. The tomb is just 1km inside of the desert where the farmland and desert merged. Best time to visit the Imam Asim tomb is during April and May on Thursday. Local people will come from different part of Khotan as well as other part of Xinjiang. In this occasion you can enjoy the local wrestling and Legend telling with music. This is not really a tourist destination, but a site of religious worship. Women should bring head scarves.
- Silk Factory (Northwest of the center, take the #1 bus from the bus station to the last stop, walk about 150m). Tours of the local Shatuo Silk Factory can be made, a larger and more mechanized factory.
- Khotan Winery (Supposed to be down the road from the Silk Factory listed above.). Produces specialty pomegranate and rice wines.
- Desert Camp and Camel Trek. camel ride out into the Taklamakan Desert and camp over night there. You can enjoy a camp fire dinner and breakfast in the desert.
Necessary camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and blankets etc can be provided by.Guide on Line
The area has been famous for jade for centuries. Khotan jade is first mentioned in written history about 200BC. There are mines, but much of the stone is found in riverbeds. This is one of the few areas with black jade and white jade. Be prepared to bargain hard.
- Marco's Dream Cafe, YouYiLu, ☎ +86 15292661017. Run by a Malaysian woman and her family, has awesome local travel information and affordable western and Malay food options, coffee and desserts. SE of the Public Square (Tuanjie Guangchang).
There are plenty of cheap places, but foreigners are often not allowed to stay there but are referred to the more expensive foreigner places. The hotels accepting foreigners in the Main Station road seem to take advantage of lack of competition and no regulation and raise prices. With such a few number of places accepting foreigners bargaining hard gets minimum discount from posted tariffs, if any. It would not be a bad idea to go to a midrange hotel and at least get what you pay for.
- Traffic Hotel (Jiaotong Binguan) (At the main bus station). Takes foreigners. Reluctant to place foreigners in cheaper rooms. The staff can be as rude as someone can be. ¥30 for a bed in a three bed dorm with shared toilets down the hall; ¥140-160 for a private double room with attached bathroom. The reduced prices advertised outside in Chinese do not apply for foreigners..
- Happy Hotel (500 m' to the right from the main bus station). Next to the main bus station, musty rooms have small toilets and hot water. No toileteries, no kettle and one towel per room. This kind of room is usually in the 40-60¥ range in other parts of china. Double 120¥.
If you decide to go by car west out of Khotan to Kashgar stop in Yengisar and visit the knife factories. Knives are handmade and you can bargain with the owner for some very nice pieces. (As of 2012/04, it is not possible to ship knives out of China via the China Post, all packages are inspected thoroughly and even boring things like scissors and even some calculators can not be shipped).
If you stop in Yarkand you can find handmade pocket knives as opposed to the sheathed knives of Yengisar.