Like many aspects of life in Kashgar, the famous Yekshenbe Bazaar (Sunday Market) is evolving. While it’s still one of Kashgar’s top sights, and a fascinating place to people-watch, it has lost some of its former chaotic charm. The first change was the departure of the livestock market or Ulagh Bazaar (牛羊市场, niúyáng shìchǎng) in 2007, which, due to the chaos it caused in the city centre each Sunday, was relocated 10km northwest to Pamir Dadao, a ¥30 cab ride from downtown. Happily, should you make it out here, you’ll still find a colourful bunch of traders haggling over cattle and the occasional camel, while sheep turn a blind eye to the food stalls on the periphery.
The second wave of change saw the rest of the market rehoused in a permanent structure just northeast of Dong Hu Park, now simply called the “big bazaar” (大巴扎, dà bāzhā or also 中西亚巴扎, zhōngxīyà bāzhā). Some stalls open every day, but it really gets going on a Sunday, when side markets spring up in the surrounding streets. Knives, hats, pots, carpets, pans, fresh fruit and vegetables, clothes and boots and every kind of domestic and agricultural appliance – often handmade in wood and tin – are available, and some produce, such as Iranian saffron, has come a very long way to be sold here. The market goes on all day and into the early evening, and food and drink are widely available around the site.
To get to the main bazaar take bus #20 from Renmin Square; or from the Id Kah Mosque you can take a fascinating thirty-minute walk through the old city with its lanes full of traders, coppersmiths and blacksmiths. A taxi from the centre of town costs around ¥8.
While they may not be as impressive as Kashgar’s, it might be worth heading out to one of the smaller markets in the region – the small town of Shufu (疏附, shūfù), 17km southwest of Kashgar, is a good candidate. Today, these have a more authentic feel about them, and you’re almost guaranteed to be the only one with a camera.