I've heard that the Tibetan area is harder for foreigners to visit due to government restrictions, and get the impression that it is increasingly controlled by Han Chinese.

Are there any parts of China, like potentially Inner Mongolia or Xinjiang, that aren't heavily dominated by Han Chinese that are relatively easy for foreigners to visit?

(I'm aware of Hong Kong and Macau, which mainly have people of Han ethnicity but some of whom don't consider themselves Chinese, but those two places are a bit crowded for my preference)

  • 3
    Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Sichuan would be some first guesses. But could you specify what you mean by easy to access? No need for additional paperwork (as for Tibet) or rather good travel infrastructure aimed at non-Chinese tourists?
    – mts
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 11:49
  • @mts government restrictions mainly. I also don't speak Chinese, though that didn't stop me from visiting Taipei.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 12:12
  • 4
    It's very difficult. I'd suggest Kashgar in Xinjiang, but Han are being literally bussed in to shift the demographics and most of the old Uighur streets are being torn down, those that aren't are being Disneyfied as a tourist attraction for Han. If you have your own vehicle or driver you can probably access some smaller towns in Xinjiang that are still authentically Uighur, but expect suspicion... Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:34
  • 3
    ...for example, I met one friendly Uighur guy who was chatty at first, then tensed up mid conversation. Apologising, he told me how a friend had been chatting to a white Israeli traveler, then the next day was quizzed by police quoting controversial opinions he'd shared with the Israeli guy back at him word-for-word. So we changed the subject to uncontroversial matters. Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


You have plenty of options. To get a first idea look at this ethnolinguist map of China (courtesy wikipedia) and that is far too large-scale to map all the minorities that are out there.

A comprehensive answer is out of scope so below I will give you some ideas. In any case you could either get on an organized tour or organize your travel by yourself. For the latter case the only guidebook I can recommend is the Lonely Planet, it's worth its price for this kind of endeavor.

  • Xinjiang is a huge province in the Northwest with a muslim majority population. Kashgar had a great original feel three years ago. From there you could make a trip up the the Karakorum highway to the Pakistani border, where my hostel was able to arrange a stay in a defs not-Han yurt at Kahu lake. Plenty more options but note that cities are changing a lot so do some research on where you go beforehand.
  • Tibet (Xizhang) requires some ever-changing permits but note that large parts of Qinghai province as well as Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan are Tibetan and you can find a very original feel here.
  • Read up on Southern Yunnan in your guidebook and you will find many destinations, e.g. the stunning rice terraces of Yuanyang.
  • Inner Mongolia: haven't been but must be on this list.
  • Guizhou

This list could go on forever. Get the guide book, start reading and you will find more destinations than you can possible travel on your visa. If you are worried about Han-domination, it helps to get off the beaten track, avoid cities and major tourist attractions, wander around places and stay in places that would otherwise only be a day trip. You will still find Han Chinese people there but it does not necessarily mean that you cannot experience the local culture/feel/whatever it is that you are searching there.

  • Inner Mongolia is very much dominated by Han Chinese. That is ethnic Han vastly outnumber ethnic Mongolians in the province. There could well be specific places in Inner Mongolia where this is not true though. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 17:50

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