Qinghai Province

Qinghai Travel Guide

Qinghai MapNamed after Qinghai Lake, the largest inland saltwater lake in China, Qinghai Province is located in the northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in western China. The province covers an area of more than 720,000 square kilometers (about 278,000 square miles), making it the fourth largest in China. Its total population is about 5.5 million, among which Han, Tibetan, Hui, Tu, Salar Uygur, Mongolian and Kazak minority ethnic groups are represented. Xining is the capital and also the largest city of the province.

Cities in Qinghai

When to Go

This province has a typically continental cool climate, with a large difference in its day and night temperature. Warm clothes are thus required at all times. Annual precipitation is low and comes mostly in summer. Characterized by short cool summers and long freezing winters, the best time to visit this place is from May to October. Due to its high altitude, long sunshine duration and a higher level of ultraviolet solar radiation, it is very important for visitors to come prepared.  Essential items to bring along are sunglasses, sunblock cream and sun visor to name a few.

Tibetans in Qinghai
Tibetans in Qinghai
Cole Field in Menyuan County, Qinghai
Cole Field in Menyuan County

What to See

Qinghai is a broad nature reserve, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, icy peaks, the Gobi deserts, and vast pastures. Over 250 wild animals found here are under national protection. They include wild camel, chiru, white-lipped deer, snow leopard, black stork and yak. In July, fields around Qinghai Lake are cover with yellow rape flowers, while flocks of rare birds, Tibetan Sheep and yaks will emerge before your very eyes. Visitors will not only be fascinated by the various traditional festivities and unique cultures of ethnic groups, but also by natural scenery of the plateau under the blue sky.

Whilst the vast Qinghai Lake is like a translucent sapphire sparkling under the sun, Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Monastery) is considered one of the six great monasteries of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. With both considered as the highlights of the province, they attract people from all over the world who have a fascination with Buddhism as well as nature lovers who enjoy camping, hiking and bird-watching. Other places of interest amongst tourists are the 'Small Imperial Palace in Qinghai' called the Qutan Monastery, snow-capped A'Nyemaqen Mountain, beautiful Chaka Salt Lake, the best-preserved Hoh Xil Nature Reserve and the Highland Xishuangbanna Mengda Nature Reserve. 

Others that are worth mentioning here are, firstly, that Qinghai is also the Three-River Source Region where the Yangtze River, Yellow River and Lantsang River originate.  Secondly, the cultural Repkong Art shows the creative talents of local people through painting and sculpture. And finally, the Qinghai Lake International Road Cycling Race (UCI 2.HC) is held annually around July, attracting over 20 teams of about 150 participants from all over the world and plenty of media attention.

Nature has endowed Qinghai with both beauty and mystery. Indeed it is a paradise for adventurers.

It is waiting to welcome you with open arms!
Sutra Debating, Ta'er Monastery
Sutra Debating, Kumbum Monastery
Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake

- Last modified on Dec. 11, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Qinghai Travel
Asked by Mary Barber from UNITED STATES | Jan. 21, 2020 09:43Reply
How would you advise getting from Beijing to Sanjiangyuan?
Hello, I am with a group of 8 high school students who would like to get to the Sanjiangyuan National Park area. How would you recommend we get from Beijing to Sanjiangyuan and if we had three days what would you recommend to see.
Answers (1)
Answered by Craig from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 01, 2020 17:11

It is suggested to take train from Beijing West Railway Station to Golmud Railway Station first. The duration is around 1 day 3 hours. After arriving, hire a private car or van to the scenic area. However, 3 days sightseeing time is not that enough. You are suggested to prepare 5 to 6 days.
Asked by Chris from CHINA | Aug. 22, 2019 11:16Reply
Golden Week Road Trip in Qinghai
Hi there!

We are looking into doing a road trip in Qinghai Province over Golden Week. Planning on renting a car in Xining (I have a Chinese license). We're a family with 2 school age kids interested in natural areas, hiking etc. as well as Tibetan culture. Mostly we want to avoid crowds by visiting the most sparsely populated province :)
I would love to get your advice if you're able:
--What areas would you recommend visiting?
--What would be doable 5-6 day itinerary?
--Do you think a regular car is OK or is 4wd preferable?
Answers (1)
Answered by Banim from CANADA | Aug. 26, 2019 00:30

I think a regular car will be ok. Just for your reference:
Day 1:Xining city—kunbum monastery —Riyue mountain—Qinghai lake
Day 2:Heima lake -Chaka salt lake -Qaidam Basin
Day 3:Yadan Devil city—Yangguan—Dunhuang
Day 4:Mogao Caves—Singing dunes—Jiayuguan city
Day 5:Zhangye colorful Danxia
Asked by Mark from MEXICO | Jul. 15, 2019 00:25Reply
Are foreigners allowed to travel in a free way in qinghai?
I heard that if we want to visit Tibet we need a special permit and we have to travel with an agency. I was wondering if we can visit qinghai in a free way and if we don’t need easy specially permit. Thanks
Answers (2)
Answered by May from USA | Jul. 15, 2019 01:44

Don't worry, you can travel freely without special permit.
Answered by Marta from SPAIN | Aug. 01, 2019 04:42

I disagree..in somme places, near Golmud for exemple you can't travel freely. You onlycan go with a tour guide in daily trips and it's really expensive.
Asked by Phatchon from THAILAND | Jul. 05, 2019 23:18Reply
Are foreigners allow to visit Menyuan and Qilian?
Answers (2)
Answered by Ann from USA | Jul. 07, 2019 23:50

Yes, no problem.
Answered by Phatchon from THAILAND | Jul. 20, 2019 05:14

I went to bus station to buy ticket to Qilian but they denied to sell as I'm foreigner. Maybe traveling by private car is easier to get there
Asked by Jessica Henn from UK | Jun. 06, 2019 03:34Reply
We are planning to have a day at Qinghai lake and the next day travel to Chaka salt lake.
We’re having trouble finding a place to stay, could you recommend anywhere?
Answers (1)
Answered by Amy from USA | Jun. 09, 2019 22:44

There are many kinds of hotel for your choice, such as
1. Cixiang Mama Sunrise Hotel Qinghai Lake: 5, Yuanzhe Village, Jiangxigou County
2. Qinghai Lake Resort Hotel: Heimahe County
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