Qinghai Province, Qing for short, is named after China’s largest inland saltwater lake – Qinghai Lake – in its territory. Qinghai Province, located in northwestern China and on northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is one of the largest provinces in China, and its provincial capital is Xining.
Towering mountains, diverse terrain, numerous rivers and lakes are all over Qinghai. It boasts the lofty Kunlun Mountains across the middle, Tanggula Mountains stand south. Qilian Mountains in the north, with undulating prairie and Qaidam Basin stretching out of the horizon. Qingpai Province, the birthplace of the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lancang River, has long been credited as the “water tower of China”. The plateau boasts of rich biological resources, such as the rare Tibetan antelope known as the “Plateau Elf’.
The climate in Qinghai is plateau continental climate, cold in winter and cool in summer with less rainfall, long hours of sunshine, large temperature difference between day and night. The period from May to September is the best season for traveling in Qinghai every year.
There are many historical sites in Qinghai, including the world-famous Tangfan Trackway and Silk Road. The collision of Eastern and Western civilizations forms the unique plateau culture, multi-ethnic culture, and broad religious culture. Over forty ethnic groups inhabit here, each with a long and rich history, culturally distinct from the others.
Welcome to experience the mysterious Qinghai culture and meet these hospitable, industrious and honest Qinghai people, taking an enjoyable trip in the real nature.
There are 2 prefecture-level cities, Xining and Haidong, 6 autonomous prefectures of Yushu, Haixi, Haibei, Hainan, Huangnan and Guoluo and a total of 48 county-level administrative units under the administration of Qinghai Province.
Dulan - Qarhan Salt Lake
As China’s largest salt lake, Qarhan Salt Lake is located in the boundless Gobi desert. During sunny days, the lake is like a giant glistening magic mirror. A “Lofty Salt Bridge” spans over the Salt Lake creating a 32-kilometer road and railway.
Jinca - Kanbula National Forest Park and Lijiaxia Dam
Kanbula National Forest Park is known for its unique Danxia landform, long history of religious culture, colorful plants landscape and green waves of Lijiaxia Dam. The rippling green waves of Lijiaxia Dam and the surrounding mountains and trees comprise a perfect landscape. Kanbula Danxia landform is featured with lofty peaks, Mesa, Table Mountains, caves, and steep cliffs.
Xuehua - Mengda Tianchi Lake
Mengda Tianchi Lake is a clear mystical high altitude barrier lake, known as “Xishuangbanna on the Tibetan Plateau”. With steep ingenious cliffs and murmuring streams, you will relax and be happy. Besides , there are lot of attractions scattered around the Lake, such as Tiger Crouching Peak, Echo Cliff, Thin Strip of Sky, Five Children and Buddha Rock and Toad Stone and so on.
Qinghai Lake, China’s largest inland lake and the largest saltwater lake, is surrounded by mountains on three sides with magnificent sceneries. Plateau lakes and grasslands, snow-capped mountains and desert made up the main landscape of this area. Main attractions of Qinghai Lake include the Bird Island, the Center Island, Sand Island, Erlangjian, and Fairy Bay.
Erlangjian, formerly known as 151 Base, is the test base for the first emission of torpedo. The scenic spot meandering its way to the Qinghai Lake abounds for ecological and natural resources, such as grassland, sandy beaches, animals and folklore activities. Attractions are Bird Viewing Platform, Deer Viewing Garden, Lake Viewing Bridge, Lake Viewing Pavilion, and sculpture “Four Auspicious Animals”.
Heimahe is the starting point of the road around Qinghai Lake. 78 km from here is the Bird Island and this section, also called West Lake Road, is the most beautiful section of the Qinghai Lake. Besides, it is also one of the· best spots to watch the sunrise in the Qinghai Lake.
Riyue Mountain and Daotang River
Riyue Mountain is the must pass to the Tibetan Plateau. Standing on the top and overlooking to the east, you can see the pastoral style scene; looking to the west, rippling green waves in the Qinghai Lake, you find yourself in a place beyond the Great Wall. Originated west of Riyue Mountain, the Daotang River runs into the Qinghai Lake, looking like a bright ribbons fluttered in the grasslands. You may indulge yourself by just watching the quietly flowing water or galloping on the grassland on horseback or trying out archery.
Gold and Silver Grassland
Gold and Silver Grassland is a piece of huge grassland stretching 1100 square km and includes Gold Grassland and Silver Grassland, the former got its name for the golden fragrant flowers in full bloom in the north and the latter for the dasiphora glabra which is as white as silver.
Haibei Atomic City
Located in the Gold Grassland, Haibei Atomic City was built in 1958, is the birthplace of China’s first atomic bomb and first hydrogen bomb. Since its retirement in 1995, the place has become the unique tourist wonder. The Base Exhibition Hall was built by the former detonation test.
Center Island, commonly known as Mid-lake Island, takes the shape of a snail shell. The island constitutes of granite and gneiss, showing slightly milky white. Standing high in a sunny day and looking the island in distance, it is like snow drifting, very spectacular. The island is featured by quiet environment, lavish grass, light thin cloud s, freshwater and clear springs, very attractive.
Bird Island is the most attractive area of the Qinghai Lake. Every April to June, migratory birds amounting to 100,000 are seen perched on the islands, very spectacular. Bird Island mainly consists of two small islands of different sizes, with the one in the west called Haixishan, also Egg Isla nd. The big island in the east is called Haixipi, with bar-headed goose, fish birds gulls, brown headed gulls as the main types of birds. With complete tourist facilities, Bird Island is the most popular attraction of the Qinghai Lake.
Sand Island is formed by the lake sand dune protruding out of the water and is accumulated by wind and sand. It is like a crescent shaped sand dune floating on the water. With the rolling sand hills on the eastern shore of the lake, they together constitute a unique desert landscape in the lake area. The northeastern end of the Sand Island has been connected with the shore of the lake where you can see scattered lakes, flocks of birds, green grass, the water and the sky merge in one color. The scenic area is facilitated with a large variety of sports entertainment.
Fairy Bay features a wetland where it is the home to the rich biodiversity on the earth, referred to as the Earth’s “kidneys” . This place has a long Tibetan culture deposits with Aromatic Plant Burning Platform, Lake Offering Altar and Pulpit construction along with their stories. It is the home of whooper swan in winter and the ocean of flowers in summer.
Tour of Qinghai Lake
The race is held every July to August around the Qinghai Lake since 2002. The International Cycling Union has approved the race around the lake as level 2. HC level and is the top event in Asia as well as the world’s highest international road cycling race. It is only secondary to the Tour of France, Tour of Italy, and Tour of Spain and other Pro Tour races. The yearly event attracts more than 100 athletes from more than 20 teams all over the five continents of the world. The racing track is centered on the Qinghai Lake full of green waves and flocks of birds, and extends to the surrounding areas. The natural sceneries along the track are beautiful, imposing, charming and gentle. The 2013 Cycling Race covered a total of more than 2000 kilometers and the prize money totaled USO 600,000.
Xining City and Its Outskirts
The highland ancient city Xining is the excellent tourist city in China. Located in the eastern part of Qinghai Province, and the upper reaches of the Huangshui River, tributary the Yell w River, Xining is surrounded by mountains from all directions and is seen with the converge of three rivers. As the East Portal of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Xining has strategic geographical location. Xining has rich in tourism resources and is known as the Summer Capital of China.
Ma Bufang Official Residence
Ma Bufang Official Residence, known as “Sweet Cottage”, formerly was the private residence of Ma Bufang and later was kept as a museum. The Residence is comprised of the front yard, the mid yard, south yard, west yard, No. 1 west yard, No. 2 west yard, No. 3 west yard and the back garden. Blind passes connect all the yards and major halls and houses. The design of the compound is exquisite and delicate and the building simple and elegant.
Dongguan Mosque is the perfect combination of the ancient Chinese architectural features and Islamic style. It is comprised of the Mosque Gate, Ceremonial Gate, Enlightenment Tower, and Prayer’s Hall. The building is decorated with carved beams and painted roof. It is resplendent, magnificent, very bright and spacious. It can accommodate more than 3,000 Muslim prayers.
Beishan and Tulou Taoist Temple
Beishan Tulou Taoist Temple, also the garden fully displays the history, known as “Northern Buddhist Temple”, is the earliest religious building in Qinghai Province. The temple has diverse landscape blended with Buddhism and Taoism. The old buildings are hidden among green pines and cypresses and flowers neatly and orderly. The existing buildings are the Palace of the Queen Mother of the West, Lingguan Palace, Xuannu Palace, Cheng Huang Palace, Sanqing Palace and so on.
Huzhu Tu Nationality Garden
Huzhu Tu Nationality Garden IS specially characterized with Tu Nationality culture. With original pristine natural environment, unique ecological environment and ancient and mysterious cultural relics, the garden fully displays the history,wedding, funeral, costumes, songs and dances, traditional embroidery, flavors and diet and other ethnic customs of the Tu nationality.
Menyuan Rapeseed Flowers
Menyuan Rapeseed Flowers starts from Qingshizui in the west to Yulongtan in the east, Lenglong Mountain at the border of Gansu in the north and Daban Mountain in the south, stretching for dozens of miles. July of each year is the blooming season. Standing on the river bank and looking both ways, the earth is covered in golden yellow, like a natural painting.
Huangzhong - Ta'er Monastery
As the biggest monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Qinghai Province, Ta’er Monastery comprises of the Han and Tibetan art styles with more than 1,000 yards and 4,500 halls and temples such as the Great Golden Roof , the Small Golden Roof, the Longevity Ha ll, the Great Hall and Ruyi Tower. Ta’er Monastery is rich in fascinating arts. The famous murals, the barbolas, and the butter sculptures are considered to be the three most unique arts of superb craftsmanship.
Huzhu - Youning Monastery
First built in the 32nd year of Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (1604), Youning Monastery once was more influential in the history than Ta’er Monastery for breeding many of the famous monks and is praised as “Mother of Monasteries at the North of the Huangshui River”. The made-in- India Shakyamuni Buddha Statue, the Trinity Bronze Buddha Statue and the Dharma Protector if Youning Monastery housed in the monastery are all rare treasures.
Ledu - Qutan Temple
Built near the mountains and water, Qutan Temple covers an area of 1.5 hectares with more than 600 years of history. It is the best preserved Ming dynasty building complex in Northwest China. The temple has the simple and elegant Longguo Hall, Baoguang Hall as well as delicate and beautiful murals, known as “The Small Palace of Museum in Ledu “.
Jigzhi - Nianbaoyueze Peak
As the highest peak of the Bayan Har Mountains, Nianbaoyuze Peak is 5.369 meters above sea level and famous for its unique, magnificent and precipitous views. Here, peaks rising one after another with the main peak covered in snow all year round. The spectacular ice and the steep cliff as well as the 180 lakes convey a mysterious veil. Now this place has been designated as a national geological park.
Golmud - Yuzhu Peak
6,178 meters above sea level, Yuzhu Peak is the highest peak in the eastern section of the Kunlun Mountains. It is developed with the contemporary glacier at both of its southern and northern slopes. Among which, the southern slope is gentle with the end of glacier about 5,100 meters above sea level; the northern slope is steeper, with large gradient and glaciers extend to 4,400 meters. The southern slope of Yuzhu Peak is the top choice of snow-capped mountains climbers in their first attempts.
Qilian - Qilian Mountains
Qilian Mountain grassland is rated “one of the six most beautiful grasslands in China”. It connects with the grassland that is covered with snow and ice all year long. The mountains are clad with silvery white and the grassland is bloomed with rapeseeds flowers. The fascinating sight seems to bring people back to nature or as if in a fairy land. Niuxin Mountain with 4,664 meters above sea level is regarded as the essence of Qilian Mountains.
Qinghai - Tibet Highway
Qinghai-Tibet Highway is the highest, longest paved road in the world. It is also by far the shortest, best and the most secure road leading to Tibet. There are rich and majestic views along the way including grassland, salt lakes, gobi, towering mountains, desert and so on. Qinghai-Tibet railway parallels Qinghai-Tibet Highway in the south section of Golmud.
Golmud - Kunlun Mountains
The Kunlun Mountains have a rich cultural heritage, known as “The Progenitor of the Mountains” . Many tourism resources can be found in this area such as Chaka Salt Lake, Naij Spring, Pass of Kunlun Mountains, Yuzhu Peak, Yuxu Peak, Golmud Populus Euphratica forest.
As the highest populus euphratica forest in the world, the Golmud Populus Euphratica Forest is south to the towering Kunlun Mountain and north to the vast Gobi saltmarsh. A seasonal river winds its ways in the forest. Populus euphratica forest is an important habitat of wildlife, which forms an exceptional ecosystem together with the flora and fauna in the forest.
Golmud - Kunlun Spring
Kunlun Spring, also known as Naij Spring, is located on a hillside deep in the Kunlun Mountains. The spring appears on the hillside and above the mouth of the spring is octagonal pavilion built by rocks. The water springs from the mouth runs down to the mountain through the well and forms a small lake. Kunlun Spring contains a variety of trace elements useful to the human body.
Zhidoi - Kekexili
Kekexili is one of the best persevered original ecological environment zones in the world. The average altitude of this place is around 5,000 meters with dry and cold climate, severe shortage of hypoxia and fresh water and perilous environment. But it is a home for Tibetan antelopes, Tibetan wild donkeys, wild yaks and Tibetan snow cocks and other highland wildlife.
Tang-Tibet Road refers to the passage from ancient capital of Chang’an of the Tang Dynasty to the Tibetan Empire. The ancient road is seen with spectacular mountains and rivers and rich cultural landscape. As the must pass of the ancient road, Yushu is the place enriched with Tibetan amorous feelings.
Yushu - Three River Sources
Located in the source areas of the Yangtze Rive r, the Yellow River and the Lancang River, Three River Sources National Nature Reserve covers a high and steep expanse of land. It is not only distributed with numerous lakes , snow-capped mountains and glaciers, known as the “Water Tower of China”, it also abounds with flora and fauna resources, known s Species Gene Pool.
Near Yuegu Zonglie, the source of the Yellow River, is seen with vast swamps and is the Ocean of Constellation formed by tall mountains and melted snow.
Tongtian River gained its fame through the classics Journey to the West. Near the Tongtian River Bridge along the Tang-Tibet Road, there is the famous Scripture Drying Rock.
Yushu - Jiana Mani Stone City
As the largest Mani stone city in Tibet and even in the world, Jiana Mani Stone City was created by the Living Buddha Jiana in 1715. The stone city shaped in rectangle with up to 2 billion pieces of carved six-syllable mantra and various scriptures of Mani stones. It is a rare cultural site.
Yushu - Princess Wencheng Temple
Princess Wencheng Temple is an ancient Tibetan architecture, built on the rock cliff. The temple is surrounded by cliffs and rocks inscribed with countless Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. The Buddhist temple is delicate and exquisite with the Parinirvana statue about 8 meters in the middle. The statue looks dignified and modest, demure and amiable . Utthita padmasana sits in the lotus throne.
Gui'de and Tongren
Old Gui’de is a well preserved ancient city dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The old town was built in the Yuan Dynasty and was then abolished. It was built into an earthen city in the Ming Dynasty. The old town extends 513 meters from north to south and 506 meters from east to west rammed with earth. The gates are set on the south and north walls with horse designs on the walls. Only part of the north wall is preserved to date and the others were pulled down in the constructions of the town. The Confucius Temple and the Jade Emperor Pavilion are the most representative ancient buildings of the Ming and Qing dynasties in Gui’ de.
Tongren Old City
Tongren City has a long history. The Longwu Town, as the county capital has the Longwu Temple of more than 700 years and the Longwu old town of more than 240 years of history. Longwu temple is built near the mountain, with orderly layouts and resplendent ornamentations.
The Guomari Temple at the outskirt of the town has the famous Hour-Wheel Tower which is the largest stupa in Ando Tibetan area. The Guomari Temple is surrounded by 12 small towers. The entire stupa is featured by unique architecture modeling, magnificent buildings and originality, showing the fantastic Regong Art and ingenious craftsmanship.
Tongren is the hometown of Regong Art, which is an important genre of Tibetan Buddhist art. It mainly consists of Thangka, barbolas , sculptures, architecture colored pain ting , patterns, butter sculptures, and many other art forms.
Recommended Tourist Itineraries
Xining Pilgrimage Tour
Route: Ta’er Monastery — Ma Bufang Official Residence — Dong guan Mosque — Northern Buddhist Temple (Beichan Si)
Sight: As the largest city in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Xining is crowded with many historical sites. Ta’er Monastery is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Northwest China and enjoys high reputation in China and Southeast Asia.
Qinghai Lake Tour
Route: Xining — Daotang River — Erlangjian — The Heimahe River — Bird Island — Fairy Bay — Sand Island — Gold and Silver Grassland
Sight: As China’s largest inland lake, Qinghai Lake is spectacular where you can see birds in spring and enjoy rapeseed flowers in summer. The circumference of Qinghai Lake is more than 360 kilometers and the well-known Tour of Qinghai Lake is also held here.
Qinghai-Tibet Highway Tour
Routc: Xining — Qinghai Lake — Golmud — Pass of Kunlun Mountains — Source of the Yangtze River — Pass of Tanggula Mountains — Lhasa
Sight: In the song Heaven Road, the Qinghai-Tibet highway is praised as a great dragon tramping over hill and valley. From the fascinating Qinghai Lake to the towering Kunlun Mounta ins , from the snow capped pass of Tanggula Mountains to the sacred Lake Namtso in the plateau, you will be amazed with the magnificent heaven and the earth, the blue lake water and the imposing mountains.
Qinghai food is especially featured with the culinary skills of mutton and beef and its by-products. Local snacks include Stewed Mutton, Boiled Mutton, Roast Lamb, Rangpi, Butter Zamba, and Sweet Fennented Grains.
Qinghai has a variety of special products which mainly include Tibetan carpets, Kunlun colored stones, rhubarb, Saussurea, Tibetan knives, etc. Xining is the world capital of Tibetan carpets and the Tibetan Carpet International Exhibition Centre is also an attraction.
At present, Qinghai has Xining Caojiabao Airport, Golmud Airport and Yushu Batang Airport, where can take off and land large or medium sized aircrafts. The Xining Caojiabao Airport opens flight to Beijing, Xi’an, Guang zhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Lhasa, Nanjing, Shenyang, Hohhot, Qingdao, Golmud, Chengdu, Wuhan, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Urumqi and so on.
Lanqing-Qinghai-Tibetan railway is the main railway line in Qinghai which runs through the whole province. There are direct trains accessing to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Qingdao,Yinchuan and Lhasa and other cities.
Qinghai Province has more than 10 highways centered in Xining and stretching in all directions including Gansu-Qinghai, Qinghai-Tibet, Xining-Zhangye, Xining Linru, Xining-Guoluo. Besides, there are more than 100 roads linking to the counties and prefectures within the province and cities outside the province. National highways crossing the province include 109, 214, 215 and 227.