Qinghai Province

Qinghai Travel Guide

Qinghai Map

Qinghai Facts

Chinese Name: 青海 (qīng hǎi)
Abbreviation: Qing
Population: 6,078,200
Area: 722,300 square kilometers (278,882 square miles)
Location: in the northwest of China
Administrative Division: 2 cities (Xining, Haidong); 5 autonomous prefectures (Haibei Tibetan, Huangnan Tibetan, Hainan Tibetan, Golog Tibetan, Yushu Tibetan, Haixi Mongolian Tibetan)
GDP (2019): CNY 296.595 billion (USD 42.991 billion)
Nationalities: Han, Tibetan, Hui, Tu, Salar, Mongolian

China’s Fourth-Largest Province with Qinghai Lake & Ethnic Minorities Customs

Qinghai is an inland province located in northwestern China and adjacent to Gansu to the north and east, Xinjiang to the northwest, Tibet to the south and southwest and Sichuan to the southeast. By the virtue of high altitude, Qinghai is endowed with beautiful plateau landscapes various from towering mountains to canyons and basins. Its waterscape is also worth visiting. Qinghai Lake, the largest inland salt lake in China, has been attracting tourists all around the world. Besides, the Yangtze River and Yellow River are both originated 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.
 See also: Xining Railway Station, Xining Train Schedule

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 Jul. 04, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Qinghai Travel
Asked by Aldo from USA | Jul. 01, 2021 17:42Reply
Are there any special requirements upon landing in Xining airport regarding Covid-19?
I have been in China for over 2 years and I received both vaccinations for Covid-19 (coronavirus). Do I need to present any document at the airport once I arrive there?
Answers (1)
Answered by Adrian | Jul. 04, 2021 20:47

As I know, you need to prepare the following things:
1. Foreigners who live/work in China and has proof of residence/work.
2. Local health QR green code.
3. need to have Nucleic Acid Test made in past 48 hours.
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.
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