Xinjiang is China's largest administrative region. Bustling bazaars, the highest paved international highway in the world (the Karakoram) and the mainland's only wild camel reserve make this desert land prime wanderlust territory.

And yet so few people do visit China's "north-western restive region". Just 30 pages of the Lonely Planet's China volume are dedicated to it, while the Odyssey guide focuses on the region's (fascinating) ancient Silk Road history.

Enter Josh Summers. The Texan, who has called Xinjiang home since 2006, has released the first guide dedicated to travelling the region.

"Xinjiang is unknown to many, so it still has an air of intrigue," says Summers, who lives in the capital of Urumqi and runs the blog

"For scenery, driving along the Karakoram Highway is one of the most memorable experiences a traveller can have. You pass majestic mountains and gorgeous bodies of water, and can stay the night in a yurt."

Other highlights include Turpan, which, at 154 metres below sea level, is dubbed China's Death Valley; the Uygur city of Kashgar, home to the largest mosque in China; and the Taklamakan Desert, where a series of Uygur towns were once a vibrant corridor of the ancient Silk Road.

The book features travel itineraries, hotel recommendations and maps; addresses are written in English, Putonghua and pinyin.

See also: dry prose mars valuable summary of Xinjiang's plight

But is travelling to this region safe?

"Xinjiang is no more dangerous than anywhere else in China," says Summers. "The majority of incidents that scare travellers happen in small townships far from any tourism. To my knowledge, no traveller has been injured as a result of the ethnic conflict that has made headlines worldwide."

Xinjiang: A Traveler's Guide to Far West China is available for download on Amazon for £7.99 (HK$97). For details, visit

Jenni Marsh