Having squeezed around the edges of the Taklamakan Desert, the northern and southern Silk Roads converged on Kashgar, Xinjiang’s westernmost city. Crowds of farmers and nomads still flock in each week for the town’s famous Sunday market, the Yekshenba Bazaar – one of the great sights of the region. Hand-woven carpets, kilims and jade jewellery from Khotan, along with ornately decorated knives from nearby Yengisar, can be bought at bargain prices.

A few conventional sights warrant detours, including the exquisite blue-and-white-glazed-tile tomb of Abakh Khoja - a 17th century Sufi and political leader, and the impressive Id Kah mosque in the centre of town – both masterpieces of Central Asian architecture.

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