The "eight sights" around Turpan can easily be visited in 1 day. These are the ancient city of Gaochang, the Astana tombs, the Bezeklik Caves, the Flaming Mountains (made famous by Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Putao Gou (Grape Valley), Sugong Minaret (Sugong Ta), the karez irrigation channels, and the ancient city of Jiaohe. Private minibus drivers charge around ¥50 to ¥60 per person for the tour. The air-conditioned CITS minibus (which runs July-Oct) is worth considering, as it includes an English-speaking guide and costs ¥60 per person in summer or ¥80 in winter. Hiring a taxi allows you to be selective, and prices can be as low as ¥200 for a Santana in the off season, rising to a CITS high of ¥350.
Several of the eight sights are not worthwhile. The ticket seller at Astana tells you to "save your money for the museum." The road to Gaochang passes the Flaming Mountains, and Bezeklik is in them, so don't stop at the designated site unless you want to spend ¥40 to accompany hordes of tour groups having camel rides or their photo taken next to a giant tacky thermometer. There's a no-stopping zone for a kilometer along the road past the site, but if you get your driver to pull up anywhere after this you'll have an empty desert vista before you and not a megaphone in sight. The karez wells are unimpressive, and there are grape vines in Turpan, so there's no need to pay ¥60 for a look around Grape Valley. Organize a half-day tour including Gaochang, Bezeklik, Sugong Minaret, and Jiaohe, or take a 1-day tour with a visit to Tuyoq in the morning. Sugong Minaret and Jiaohe can also be reached by bike.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.