Qinghai Province

Qinghai Travel Guide

Qinghai Facts

Qinghai Map• Chinese Name: 青海 (qīng hăi)
• Abbreviation: Qing
• Administration Type: Province
• Capital: Xining
• Average Altitude: Over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet)
• Location:Northwest China, 31°36' to 39°19' N, 89°35' to 103°04' E
• Area: 720,000 km² (277,994 mi²)
• Population (2018): 6,032,300
• Ethnic Groups: Tibetan, Hui, Tu, Salar, Uygur, Mongol
Qinghai is an inland province located in northwestern China. By virtue of a high altitude, Qinghai is endowed with beautiful plateau landscapes. Its waterscape is also worth visiting. Qinghai Lake, the largest inland salt lake in China, has been attracting tourists from all around the world. Besides, the Yangtze River and Yellow River both originate from Qinghai, let alone the numerous creeks and lakes scattered all over the province. As a region many ethnic minorities dwell, Qinghai will show you various folk cultures of Tibetan, Hui, Mongol, Tu and Salar nationalities.
Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake
Sutra Debating, Ta'er Monastery
Sutra Debating, Kumbum Monastery

Cities in Qinghai

Top Attractions

Colorful Culture & Customs of Local Ethnic Minorities

Multiple ethnic groups bring Qinghai unique folk arts and customs. Regong Art of Tibetan people will feast your eyes on colorful Buddhist paintings, sculptures and murals. Thang-ga Art is also well-known for its mysterious scroll paintings, not to mention the lifelike butter sculptures and delicate folk embroideries. Apart from those arts and handicrafts, people in Qinghai are also good at singing and dancing. The resonant folk song Flower has even been listed as the intangible cultural heritage. The passionate Tibetan dance and the graceful dance of Tu people are waiting for you to join in. Also, you can learn more about their religious beliefs by attending Buddhist Butter Lamp Festival or Islamic Mawlid Celebration.

Best Time to Go

Qinghai has a highland continental climate, characterized with strong sunshine radiation, a large difference in its day and night temperature, a cool summer and a long freezing winter. Besides, annual precipitation is low and comes mostly in summer. The best time to visit this place is from May to October when it is not too cold with beautiful natural scenery. In July and August, tourists will be captivated by the thousands of acres of rapeseed flower in Menyuan County.
Tibetans in Qinghai
Tibetans in Qinghai
Cole Field in Menyuan County, Qinghai
Cole Field in Menyuan County


Qinghai borders on Tibet in the south, and tourists can travel between these two regions by Qinghai-Tibet Railway or Qinghai-Tibet Highway. Also, Qinghai adjoins Gansu Province in the north and east, and they are linked through Lan-Qing Railway. Regular trains travel back and forth between Xining and Beijing, Shanghai, Lhasa, etc. Lanzhou-Xinjiang High Speed Railway has a station in Xining, which incorporates Xining into the China’s extensive high speed railway network. Thus, tourists can easily get to Xining from Xi’an, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Dunhuang and other cities by high speed train.

Nevertheless, most tourists choose to fly to Qinghai. Xining Caojiapu International Airport is the largest airport in Qinghai Province. Many flights have been established to/from other major cities in China, including Beijing, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan, etc. Other auxiliary airports in Qinghai are Golmud AirportYushu Batang Airport, Delingha Airport, Huatugou Airport and Golog Maqin Airport.

Travel Tips

 1. Prevent sunburn: Qinghai has strong ultraviolet rays and long sunshine duration, thus tourists need to bring hat, sunglasses, and umbrella and apply sun cream to prevent sunburn. For girls, lip balm and moisturizing facial masks are highly recommended.

 2. Be wary of altitude sickness: With the average altitude above 3,000m (9,843ft), tourists may feel a headache, nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue or even have trouble breathing. Thus, remember to bring some essential drugs like Vitamin C or ibuprofen tablets.

 3. Pay heed to changeable weather: Given the large daily temperature difference in Qinghai, it is recommended to bring a jacket in case of a sudden chill. Even in daytime, the weather can be rather changeable. The scorching sun may be quickly followed by a downpour, thus an umbrella or raincoat is a must.

 4. Respect the custom of local ethnic minorities. When visiting temples, tourists shouldn’t touch scriptures, statues or take photos without permission. Some temples may ask tourists to take off their shoes first. If there are cows or sheep attached with yellow, red or green cloth, keep a distance from them because they are Tibetan sacrificial offerings.


With the altitude high in west and low in east, the overall terrain of Qinghai Province presents a descending shape, which results in a diversified landscape. The west region in Qinghai are mostly plateaus and basins, represented by Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Loess Plateau and inland arid basin. And eastern Qinghai is a mountainous region. Generally, plateau accounts for eighty percent of Qinghai landscape. This province also has four water systems, including Yellow RiverYangtze River, Lancang River and Heihe River.
- Last modified on Jun. 28, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Qinghai Travel
Asked by Elias from ITALY | Jun. 28, 2020 01:10Reply
Qinghai travel limitation

I'm a foreigner living in China. Do you know if there is any travel limitation for foreigner due to the current covid situation? I know that some provinces, such as in Xinjiang it is possible to travel around only after a 15 days quarantine even if you always have been in China and in many attractions they just don't accept foreigners inside. Is it the same with Qinghai?

Best regards

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
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