Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel

Old Town Youth Hostel entrance

Kashgar Old Town Youth Hostel, Wusitangboyi Road, Kashgar (300 meters from Id Kah Mosque)
Website: http://www.pamirinn.com
Dorm: 35 RMB per person, Private double room: 80-90 RMB per room. All rooms are without bathroom. Common bathrooms are shared but reliable (clean, hot shower, separate toilet).
Facilities: Free WIFI, PC in public area in case you dont bring laptop/tablet – free for 1st hour usage. Free hot water for drinking. Washing machine 10 Yuan per use, iPad rental 15 Yuan per hour. They also provide air and train tickets booking service. Tours to Karakul Lake and other places can be arranged.

The hostel entrance doesn’t look very impressive when we arrive. From outside it looks almost like an abandoned old building, needless to say with a small sand hill right in front of the door makes it even uglier. They’re apparently doing some renovation inside, so yeah.

old Uyghur mansion corridor

I read that this building was once a traditional Uyghur mansion before being turned into a hostel. It has plenty of rooms and bathrooms, renovated in such a way to become some large dorm rooms (with bunk beds) and a few private room with twin beds. None of them are really fancy, but for a price of a hostel, you just get what you pay. At this point of time, there are some travelers staying, but not crowded.

dorm room

Our first night in the hostel was in the dorm room as all private rooms are occupied. But luckily they have been nice enough to arrange us to stay in an empty room so we practically have the whole room by ourselves at that night without sharing with others. Not planning yet for other nights as tomorrow we’ll be heading to Karakul Lake and Tashkurgan for a night or two. We are given clean bed sheet and blanket cover (yes, you have to make the bed on your own!).

deco of wooden door colorful painted glass

Some distinctive feature of an old Uyghur house in Kashgar – nice door deco! The old mirrors were painted in colorful to give a new life to their look.

The hostel also offers tour to Karakul Lake with permit with a little cheaper price than quoted by agent in Eden. Feeling this might has to be our last option, we ask the hostel manager if we can share the tour with other travelers. We passed by a European couple and I promptly asked if they have visited Karakul Lake, and when they said they havent, I asked if they wanted to go with us and share the tour. I was surprised when the girl says “We want to go buy bus”.. and I ask “Do you have permit?”.. “No, we dont need permit”.. “Are you sure?”.. “Yes, there was another traveler who’s been there recently and he didnt need permit”.

They however are planning to go there later next week. So nevermind, we can go by our own by bus too. Now I just have to jump in excitement. WE’RE GOING TO KARAKUL LAKE BY BUS WITHOUT PERMIT!! XD

How could that be? All this time, we have come to believe that we need that bloody permit and were having hard time finding a (cheap) way to get a hand of it, thanks to a number of sources on internet claiming so! Still in a slight doubt, we decide to go to police station nearby to ask for confirmation when we go out walking later.

Common area

Dowstairs, they have this common area with tables for travelers having breakfast, tea, etc together while exchanging chats and travel stories. When entering the main entrance, you probably will see this open area first, most probably with a sight of a few foreign travelers hanging out having a drink or checking their laptops, and probably it’s the first place you’ll greet anyone there and introduce yourselves :)

stairway hot water supply

One of few staircase to upstairs, but this one is connecting from the yard. They’re having renovation in the hostel yard, so it was a little messy at this time with sands and unfixed holes. You’ll be required to walk up the stair as quietly as you can. They also provide hot water which is again useful for us to prepare our Nescafe and Milo. Some canned and bottled drinks are available for sale from a fridge next to it.

management office  private room

When we’re away to Karakul Lake, we’re sllowed to check out the room first, get our big luggage packed and they will keep them safe in the management office which we will collect them later upon returning. After coming back from Karakul Lake, we manage to get the private room for 80 yuan, although it’s even less attractive than dorm room, it’s just good enough for us to sleep in our own room without sharing with others.

Managers of Youth Hostel Kashgar

The Hostel is run by a nice Chinese couple, they’re very helpful when you need anything in Kashgar. When we want to change our train ticket, we just write down a note and ask them to write the Chinese translation for us to show at the railway counter. The self-drawn Kashgar city map given by them has been very helpful (combined with a full Kashgar map we collect in Eden). Everything you need to know will be informed right at the moment you check-in: which bus to go which place, places to see, which roads to follow. Thinking about it again, it’s actually our first experience staying in a hostel and all I can say it’s not that bad! Recommended for budget travelers and if you dont want to get stuck by your own in this non-English speaking city.

Uyghur Children

After breakfast, we were walking towards Old Town Youth Hostel in the morning when we passed by the school doing assembly. The children are singing possibly school or patriotic songs, in Chinese. All of them are looking good in tracksuit, and we are wondering if all of them are having PE lesson or today is their sports day.


So it’s our first fresh morning in Kashgar, being delighted by encountering some happy Uyghur children ready to pose for our camera.  We stopped by the Old Town Youth Hostel to check if we could move to there, and good news is they have empty dorm room so we can have it all for ourselves. Perfect. So we head to Eden back to check out and get our luggage.

It was almost afternoon when we walked out Eden so we’re passing by hundreds of school children walking home from the school. The kids are just a friendly bunch who would wave to stranger tourists. In fact, they’re queuing for photos! I just have to show all them here, for now wanting to let anyone down ;)

Okay, and this boy is getting way too excited when seeing himself being filmed :D I am too very excited knowing my old DVD camcorder manages to attract them quite a lot.


As we’re heading to the town, and they walk the opposite direction, so it was a continuous happy encounter and photo taking sessions. Within a short while we have come to learn that their tracksuit is the school uniform itself. Which looks sporty and convenient that they might only need to change T-shirts inside. While we adore the idea of having tracksuit as school uniforms, it might not be suitable to practice in hot Malaysia.


And we pass by the school again when we saw some little ones climbing the fence. And they seem to be playing there by their own without any adult’s monitor!

I mean, I just love to see the kids playing freely on the street by their own without a slight fear of danger. And their parents may not have problems letting them. This place seems a lot safer than other places we have lived and been. I can’t help being amazed in disbelief.


Az keeps on eyeing little faces around to take a snap. As we arrived in Old Town Youth Hostel, there are a little girl and her little brother playing sand hill in front of it. It reminds me a lot to the time I was a little kid too, going dirty in sand and nobody needs to care about hygienic. It was almost 3 decades ago and nowadays you hardly see children playing sand anymore. In fact, they hardly go playing outdoor anymore!

Kashgar isn’t really a remote village (it’s rather a big city with old town part being preserved, with modern facilities which some KL doesnt even have – many subways for example) yet this place remains traditional, cultural and safe. I just really can’t describe how wonderful the feelings in this place, I’m not saying KL and places in Malaysia are all bad and full of crime kidnapping children, but I believe such views of children playing outdoor, on the street without parental guide, you can no longer see back home. Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyways. I bet you see the boy’s bum ;P this recalls us to the Lhasa boy we met in the train last time, who was also wearing pant with full zipper opening. But this boy here is wearing pant with full opening without zipper! It’s common here, as the parents dont want to have a fuss over children peeing so they just let them ready to do so all time, with this kind of pants. Az recommends me to buy some pair for future. Oh well.

Eden Hotel, Kashgar

Eden Hotel
No.148 Seman Rd, Kashgar. 15 minutes walk to Id Kah mosque (if you dont stop looking at shops etc)
Website: http://www.xjeden.com/index.php
Double room (Apr 2012): 190 RMB
Comments: Okay and good, only the staff cannot speak English and arent too friendly. No warm/drinking water available during breakfast (only hot water).

We forgot to take photo of the building, but here’s the hotel pamphlet with one.

The hotel at first seems a little expensive for travelers on budget, but however, when you happen to have been traveling by trains for 3 days and havent had shower since, this hotel is the best you could ask for. We are in need of shower SO DAMN SERISOULY! And comfy large bed. Although, no offense to Qini Bagh (which was our option earlier), but Eden Hotel happens to be better if you want to taste a mid-range hotel, Uyghur style. It’s also a relatively new compared to other hotels in the guidebook, at least it looks so. In the ground floor, there’s an Uyghur-Turkish restaurant which we planned to dine once later, only it turns out we didnt have time to come back after checking-out Eden after a night stay (to move to cheaper Old Town Youth Hostel).


The receptionists are Uyghur, who hardly speak English (but workable if you only need to know/ask about price, time to check out etc). There should be a tour agent stationed near the hotel lobby, who can speak English. He seems to be regularly called by the receptionists when they’re in need of translation when communicating to foreign customers. The tour agent, whom we asked about tour for Karakul Lake, would charge anywhere around 1000 yuan (which I believe all tour agents in Kashgar would charge, so no issues there). He wouldnt push you either, so we dont have problem even if we want to think longer and find alternative way, say, I still believe we can go by ourselves by bus without permit.

The room is quite spacious and ours facing the road. We get to handwash some of our clothes changed in trains, and it’s convenient to hang them near the window (so can get direct sun heat). That night we had the best sleep ever since few days, and we still couldnt believe we finally arrive in Kashgar :) The hotel check-out time is 1400 Beijing time, so around 12 Xinjiang time.


The next day, we’re given buffet breakfast with food we had never seen before (except boiled eggs). Lots of variety of vegetable and salads (which taste sour like pickles), cakes, chicken etc. The taste is exotic, good if you love to trying strange, new food. Although, they dont serve plain drinking water. The staff would bring you hot water upon request. During breakfast, we notice that there arent any foreign travelers staying in this hotel. Most of them looking like Uyghurs and Chinese coming from other cities for business, and maybe neighboring countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyztan.

We only stayed in Eden for one night, and although at first feeling so excited that we wanted to extend the stay for next few nights (probably because the ultimate excitement of finding shower and large bed after 4 days traveling) but we have to be realistic that one night in Eden would cost almost 3 nights in the Youth Hostel, and since we want to meet other foreign travelers in the hostel, we just need to make a move to there, expecting less convenient than hotel. But we didnt come all the way to Kashgar to stay in hotel anyway. Therefore, on second day in Kashgar, we shift to Old Town Youth Hostel, before going to Karakul Lake the next day.

Kashmir: is it safe?

 “… I saw your blog regarding your trip to Kashmir and its very beautiful. I had a friend from Kashmir but unfortunately he died due to some injury caused in protests this year. I wanted to know from you that is Kashmir peaceful right now because i wanted to visit. Also is there a separate process to apply visa or from Indian embassy. Also if you can tell me what is the problem there? Is Kashmir a part of India or is it Occupied. I never asked my friend about this but after his death i want to go there coz he was a really good person…”

I received this email from a random reader arriving to my Travelogue, and recalling that I had actually wanted to write about this long ago after the Kashmir trip (which remained undone thanks to 2011 blogging hiatus), so I thought of writing this here now. First of all, I feel sorry for the Kashmiri friend’s death. When I bought ticket to India in late 2010 (for trip in April 2011), I had not actually thought of visiting Kashmir. All I wanted to see was Taj Mahal and common cities in India. I am not sure what was the reason Az suggesting it either, as eventually I knew that he didnt actually know much about it =.= and it was me who did the research before our trip, places to visit, transports, etc. And it turned out to be our main destination (we spent one week in Kashmir out of 2 weeks total in India) and our best decision ever to go there.

Like many others, I grew up knowing Kashmir as a “not a safe place”. Back in 1999 in Masjidil Haram in Makkah, the Imam repeatedly included Kashmir (and Chechnya) in the mass du’a every night during prayers, and it promptly made me imagine they were having war. Although not actually following its updates until few years back and I havent really came across any proper news about Kashmir, it still somehow remained as unsafe place to me.

During UIA, I met many students from Kashmir and India. When Ummatic Week comes (the university’s annual inter-cultural feast), one would see Kashmir has its own booth and India has its own booth. When I asked, the Kashmiri students simply said their culture is totally different than India’s, regardless, now we’re talking about foreign students in (Islamic) international university in Malaysia, and everyone is Muslim.

I didnt bother about Kashmir that much until the moment Az suggested to visit there. After a little research, you’ll know that Kashmir is visitable.  While the more conflicting it sounds, the more curious I became about this region! And it became more exciting when I learned that this region offers really beautiful places that you cant wait to see for real.

Okay, back to the email’s questions…..

1) Is Kashmir peaceful right now?

I’m afraid I’ll answer from my own perspective only, which could not be fact. When we visited there in April 2011, it was all calm (okay, there was actually an incident in a mosque during Juma prayer when an Imam was killed, which was beyond our sight and didnt affect the trip so let’s keep that aside for now). It was worse when our friend Manu had been there earlier, I think in 2010. He and his friends went at the time when there was curfew for days that they had to remain staying in hotel without going out to places.

I can say it can always be safe for tourists.  I have come to know that tourism is the main economy contributor to this region. There are alot of tourists from other states in India as well as foreign coutries visiting Kashmir every year. You can always refer to forums like IndiaMike – Jammu & Kashmir and I remember there’s a thread somehow giving updates about safety in Srinagar (if there was riot, curfew, etc) before you decide to go. But in case you already have tickets, it wont matter that much :) Only it’s best to remain as tourist when you’re there – avoid discussing about the political situation in Kashmir, and never express your opinion or side regarding that. Another thing, we’re advised to not to go out at night. You will get to see Indian and J&K army on the street in many places but they give no harm. We even feel it safer with their existence, anyhow.

2) Is there a separate process to apply visa or from Indian Embassy?

If India’s region of Kashmir is concerned (Srinagar as capital), of course you’ll need Indian visa. As for April 2011, double entry visa (valid for 6 months) costs RM170 for Malaysian. Although not being mentioned in anywhere as far as I check online, I somehow prefer not mentioning Kashmir as “places to visit” under the application. We just put Delhi, Agra and Punjab instead.

3) What is the problem there? Is Kashmir part of India or is it Occupied?

From my little understanding from random readings and class discussion in uni, I learned that India and Pakistan used to be one nation in the past, and the British came, then later gave them independence. Kashmir being a region in the middle of two, has been in conflict ever since. Politically, the region has been divided partially to India and another to Pakistan. Although, again concerning India’s Kashmir, the people there don’t feel belong to India by culture (and possibly religion) hence the urge to gain its own independent state. But so far, it’s still officially, part of India.

Back to UIA days, once in our Leadership class, there were 2 Kashmiri students, and our lecturer happens to be an Indian from Kerala. I remember we ended up having a thoughtful discussion about this, when one Kashmiri student gave a public speech about his home place. They raised the concern of they prefer to have independent from India, because Kashmiri is a Muslim region. Imagine what our Indian lecturer’s response. Smiling, he said something like, “I’m also Muslim but we dont have to get indepenence from India because of that”. And another Kashmiri argue “Our culture is just different”. Oh well. If you’re talking about culture differences of India from North to South, there’s heaps. Anyway, I learned something, without really having my own opinion.


So, when we were really in Kashmir, we got to see things right before our own eyes. We came across many locals in Kashmir, and at times when he thinks appropriate, Az would repeat the same ice-breaking talk by first cheerfully claiming that this place is far more peaceful than we thought or said from media, and shortly we would somehow, manage to make them express their thoughts, and hope for an independent Kashmir. In streets, there’s sight of their hearts voiced out into verbal expression. Longing for freedom.

Although, NOT all Kashmiri wants independence. From our little “survey”, it can be concluded that majority of Kashmiri people (at least who talked to us) who live in Kashmir and make a living here, they want an independence state. On the other hand, we also met Kashmiri who live in Kashmir but has family actively running business and studying in Delhi, they prefer to be in India.

As our Kashmiri-origin CouchSurfer host in Delhi says, this thing can be a never ending issue.

Read Our Travelogue for Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Finally in Kashgar!!

The bus driver dropped us in front of the Id Kah mosque as we requested earlier. Because the mosque is literally the center of Kashgar city, and in Lonely Planet guide map or any Kashgar map would use the iconic Id Kah mosque as the landmark. It’s almost 7pm when we reach the city but it seems as if around 5pm (NOTE: Xinjiang officially use +8 GMT as Beijing also, but locals would use Xinjiang time which is 2 hours prior) since we actually arrived in Xinjiang only today in Urumqi (it seems a long journey already, huh?) we just start getting used to it when we arrive in Kashgar. We dont need to change our watch time (KL time) as it’s practically the same as Beijing, only when you’re Xinjiang, you need to be careful when asking/being told about time and be specific if it’s refered to Beijing time or Xinjiang time.

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