Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake Facts

Location: northwest of the imposing Qinghai Altiplano, 150km (93.21 miles) away from Xining city
Altitude: 3,195m (10,482.28 feet)
Size: 4,282 square kilometers (1,653 square miles)
Qinghai Lake Map
Qinghai Lake Map
 Qinghai Lake Photos
 Qinghai Lake Cycling Race Photos
 Qinghai Lake Int'l Road Cycling Race Video

From ancient times to the present, whenever people mention Qinghai Lake they think of 'green lake', 'blue sea' or 'fairyland', because of the marvelous natural beauty reflected on it. As to the area, it is the largest inland and salt water lake in China. It is no exaggeration to say that Qinghai Lake is a miracle that is endowed by a deity. Outside, he circles the lake with four continuous mountains and extends broad grassland at the foot of them. Inside, like a master baker, he decorated the water with many little islands. All these natural attractions come together perfectly to form a Xanadu on earth to win many tourists' favor.

Shaped like an ellipse, Qinghai Lake reaches 28.71m (77.79 feet) at the deepest point but averages 19m (62.34 feet) overall. Due to the high altitude, the Qinghai Lake weather is very cool. Even in the middle of the summer, the average temperature in the daytime is about 15°C (59°F), which is why it is often selected as a summer resort.

The lake offers year-round pleasure. Many prefer when it is a green and lively world. The mountains and grassland wear a green blanket with herds of cattle and sheep dispersed over the grassland. The bank is connected with stretching farmlands, which is prospering with blooming rape flowers and rolling with wheat waves, sending blasts of fragrance to the lake. The water here is also very limpid, which reflects the pretty green mountains in the deep like a mirror. The color changes with time and varies in different depth of the lake, which produces a sense of mystery, hence the name 'Seven-Colored Lake'.

Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake
As a result of the teeming fish, the mouth of the nearby river has a yellow color to it as the fish float close to the surface. Many birds are also attracted to this beautiful lake and bountiful surroundings, resulting in this place being a kingdom for birds' watchers. Cycling around Qinghai Lake is a great way to fully enjoy the scenery.

When the cold winter comes, the world becomes a bit quieter and duller, but the glamour of Qinghai Lake doesn't diminish much. At this time, the leaf-yellow mountains put on a new suit of clothes as they become blanketed with new-fallen snow. The snow and ice covered surface of the lake shines brightly in the sun, adding another degree of beauty. The famous 'Icy Fish' are very easy to catch at this time because they are confined by the ice. An interesting fact is that when a hole is dug in the ice, it is easy to trick the fish out of the water.

The famous spots here are Erlangjian Scenic Area, Fairy Bay, Haixin Shan (Hill of the Sea Heart), Shadao (Sand Island) and Niaodao (Bird Island), which are all islands in the lake. Each has their own wonders. Haixin Shan, also called 'Immortal Hill', has temples, lucid springs and green grassland on the island. It is said that Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty (581-618) had particularly ordained officials to raise horses here. Shadao is famous for its sand scenery, which is also a good place for swimming. Niaodao is the kingdom of birds, which can amount to more than 10 thousand in the summer.
Bird Island, Qinghai Lake
Bird Island, Qinghai Lake
Grassland around Qinghai Lake
Grassland around the Lake
Qinghai Lake is really a good place for travelers. Apart from embracing the heavenly beauty here, you can either stroll on the grass or ride on a yak, climb the sand hill or visiting the historic remains left on the Tang-Tubo ancient road or the Silk Road. If you are more sociable, the hospitable local people will warmly welcome you as you visit their homes and enjoy a taste of the Tibetan life. In addition, tents and various delicious foods are provided for the tourists in the pastures.

How to get to Qinghai Lake

There are regular buses from Xining Bayilu Bus Station to Qinghaihu (Qinghai Lake) directly; or you can charter a car to the scenic area and the fare is around CNY 600 – 1000.
Entrance Fee Erlangjian Scenic Area:
April - October: CNY 90; November - March: CNY 50
Fairy Bay: CNY 60
Sand Island:
Apr. 20 - Aug. 20: CNY 70; Aug. 21 - Apr. 19: CNY 35
Bird Island:
Apr. 20 - Aug. 20: CNY 100; Aug. 21 - Apr. 19: CNY 60
Free for children under 1.2m (3.9 feet).
Opening Hours Erlangjian Scenic Area: 8:00 - 18:00
Fairy Bay: 8:30 - 19:00
Sand Island & Bird Island: 8:30 - 17:30
 Note: The Sand Island and Bird Island are closed to protect the local environment, and the reopening time is unknown.
Best Time to Visit Summer

Further Reading:

15 Most Beautiful Places in China
8 Interesting Places in China for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Last updated on Nov. 18, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Qinghai Lake
Asked by Jaime from SPAIN | May. 25, 2021 08:58Reply
From Xining to Erlangjian
Hello, do you know the exact hours of the buses from Xining Bayilu Bus Station to Erlangjian? Thank you so much
Answers (2)
Answered by Nolan | May. 30, 2021 20:28

I remember that the bus schedules are the following:
07:30, 08:00, 08:30, 09:00, 09:30, 16:00
Hope helpful!
Answered by Jaime | Jun. 12, 2021 22:46

I'm in Xining now (13/06/2021) and the only bus from Xining Bayilu Bus Station to Qinghai Lake is at 9.30 am.
Asked by nigel from UK | Mar. 24, 2021 19:05Reply
which is the closest rail station to the Qinghai lake?
Answers (1)
Answered by Caroline | Mar. 28, 2021 23:42

The nearest one is Xining Railway Station.
Asked by HAROON WARIS from CHINA | Dec. 15, 2019 08:38Reply
Hello I want to travel to Qinghai lake in mid of January
is it worth to travel in those days or I should select another tourist destination. I had a stay of two days in xining in the mid of January
Answers (1)
Answered by Jessica from UNITED KINGDOM | Dec. 17, 2019 19:40

The best visit time is during June to August though, it is still worth traveling in January.
Asked by Linh Chi Nguyen from VIỆT NAM | Oct. 23, 2019 21:11Reply
How much does it take for a private car from Xining to Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake?
How much does it take for a round trip from Xining to Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake by private car for 4 persons? Thanks,
Answers (1)
Answered by Theo from AUSTRALIA | Oct. 27, 2019 18:32

I can only tell you it costs around CNY600-700/car from Xining to Qinghai Lake. And it takes at least 2 days for this round trip so you can bargain the fare with driver.
Asked by Anisa from MALAYSIA | Oct. 22, 2019 02:45Reply
Qinghai lake in winter
Hi. Is there any rapeseed in winter? Or any flowers ocean available in early nov.
Answers (1)
Answered by Anna from USA | Oct. 24, 2019 21:01

Generally speaking, you can still watch rapeseed in November
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