Xining Travel Guide

Xining Travel Guide

Xining Facts

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Chinese Name: 西宁 (xī níng)
Population: 2,397,000
Area: 7,660 square kilometers (2,958 square miles)
Location: in the northeast of Qinghai Province, northwest China
Administrative Division: 5 districts (Chengzhong, Chengdong, Chengxi, Chengbei, Huangzhong); 2 counties (Huangyuan, Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County)
Area Code: 0971
Zip Code: 810000
GDP (2018): CNY 128.641 billion (USD 19.441 billion)
Nationalities: Han, Tibetan, Hui, Mongolian, Manchu

Qinghai’s Capital City & Start Point of the Qinghai - Tibet Railway

Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, is located on the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of Huangshui River. Xining is an ancient plateau city with a history of more than 2,100 years. For the unique geographical location, Xining played an important role in promoting the trades and cultural exchanges between the Chinses hinterland and western areas after opening the Silk Road in the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 8 AD). Today, as the start point of the Qinghai - Tibet railway, Xining still serves as the traffic hub to the hinterland of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau. Xining keeps many historical sites including the Northern Buddhist Temple, Dongguan Mosque and holy site of the Tibetan Buddhism - Kumbum Monastery. The famous Qinghai Lake is 151 kilometers (94 miles) away from Xining. Surrounded by mountains, Xining enjoys a cool and pleasant climate in summer when the average temperature is as low as 18.3 ℃ (64.9 ℉). But if you visit Xining in October, you may catch the first snow.


Xining is also called the Summer Resort Capital of China for its cool summer. The region also provides a number of attractions making a visit to the area well worth considering. The scenery of the Qinghai Lake, provides an escape from fervent cities and allows you to experience beautiful natural sceneries. The lake itself is quite amazing. The Birds Island, situated on the northwest of Qinghai Lake, is waiting to present you with an extensive array of birds. To the city's southwest, is the birthplace of the founder of the Gelugpa Sect. The gem of the Tibetan culture- Kumbum Monastery was built here. To the north of Xining is the Northern Buddhist Temple. Climbing the temple will reward you with a view of the city from the mountaintop. A site not to be missed is the Dongguan Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in northern China.

Recommended Tours:

Silk Road Safari: 13 days to Xining, Lanzhou and other cities.
Bicycle Route        Qinghai Lake Cycling Race Route

The popularity of the region has been enhanced by convenient transportation and accommodation. Xining Caojiabao Airport, located around 28 kilometers (17 miles) from city center, is one of high-altitude airports in western China.  Xining Railway Station operates trains to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Qingdao, Urumqi and other provinces.
 Airport           Xining Railway Station

Sutra Debating, Ta'er Monastery
Sutra Debating, Kumbum Monastery
Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake

 History: It is the political, economic, scientific and technological, cultural and traffic center of Qinghai Province. The activities of human beings in this region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, the city was paid more attention due to its economic and martial significance. 

 Physical Features: As well as being the important hinge between the central plains and the western part of China in ancient time, Xining was the most common passing channel of the famous Silk Road. Until now, it is still the only road by which to enter the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

 Local Highlights: With a population of more than two million, Xining is the first city on the upper reaches of the Yellow River to achieve a population into the millions. There are about 37 nationalities living here, including Han, Hui, Tu and Tibetan. The local traditions and customs are influenced by these distinctive nationalities, in particular the Tibetan group.

 Local Foods: For most visitors from both home and abroad, Xining provides a variety of delicious food and snacks. You can find some special meat products easily here for this is also a pasturing area. However, at the same time, don't forget that your health should be put on the first position.

Further Reading:

- Last updated on Jul. 20, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Xining Travel
Asked by Shermane from MALAYSIA | Dec. 16, 2019 18:29Reply
Transport service and Visiting Xining
Hi, may i check is there any DiDi service in Xining?
Any recommendation place to visit and stay in Xining during Chinese New Year? ( 11-15 Feb 2020). Is there any chartered car that we can book from any travel agency? For 7adults 1 kid.

Answers (1)
Answered by Jocelyn from AUSTRALIA | Dec. 19, 2019 00:21

Yes, as I know, there is Didi service in the city. It is suggested to find a hotel nearby Dashizi and Mojia Street. About hire a car, you can ask help for the hotel and see whether if they have a reliable driver.
Asked by Chin from MALAYSIA | Sep. 19, 2019 08:28Reply
Hi, I want to travel in the morning by train from Lanzhou to visit Xining
And return to Lanzhou in the evening. Just want to see the city, people and some places in the city. Dont plan to travel far from Xining.

Can you give me some advice on what places to visit other than the famous Dongguan mosque. I am interested in food, markets, and Buddhist temples. Much appreciate any feedback.
Answers (3)
Answered by Astrid from USA | Sep. 22, 2019 20:45

Well, you can visit Kumbum Monastery, Nine Grottos & Eighteen Cavities, etc. And you can go to Mojia street to taste local food.
Answered by Cikguchin from MALAYSIA | Sep. 24, 2019 02:56

Thanks. Will certainly check out the places mentioned.
Answered by ZHENGWEI | Oct. 30, 2021 21:57

You can visit Haihu new area and other new places. You can see different things there!
Asked by Ellie from SINGAPORE | Aug. 26, 2019 07:09Reply
Travel Restrictions in XIning
Hi, I will like to ask if there are any travel restrictions travelling solo in Xining and going to tourist attractions such as Qinghai Lake and the Rainbow Mountains?

I am a little confused because there are websites saying that travelers are not allowed to travel solo but there are vlogs with solo travellers going to the places i mentioned. Please advise. Thank you! :)
Answers (1)
Answered by Ansty from USA | Aug. 28, 2019 21:00

I haven't heard about travel restrictions and related news. Actually, most people choose to hire a car to travel around these places. I guess the place travelers are not allowed to go is nature reservation.
Asked by Kartika from INDONESIA | Jul. 10, 2019 01:43Reply
Hello, I plan to visit Xining in Sept'19 for 2days .
Is it possible if I rent car with driver for 1day tour to Caka Salt Lake, Qinghai Lake, Sun Moon Mountain & Menyuan Rapesseed Flower? and the next day I still rent car and go to Kanbulu National Forest Park & Ta'er Temple. If it possible, am I need to consider hotel at Xining or any other city around attraction that i mentioned. Thank you
Answers (3)
Answered by Sally from USA | Jul. 10, 2019 19:26

Yes, most visitors will rent a car with a driver to travel around these places. It is better to book a hotel near your attractions.
Answered by Robi from SWITZERLAND | Aug. 20, 2019 22:16

If you rent a taxi, make sure it's not a blue one, These are Electric powered and there is only one recharging station on the way. This station is near the Qinghai lake.
Make sure it's a gas or gasoline powered car, there enough station everywhere.
The distance from Xining to the saltlake is 300km you can do lake Qinghai on one way and take the direct highway on the other way.
The moonlake is just outside the Xining 20minutes by taxi. The sunset is amazing! The Camels don't go to the lake but the small 'buses' do- they are on the left on the big place after the entrance - 10RMB on way.
This will be one day - I'm not sure about the other sites you want to go.
Answered by Robi from SWITZERLAND | Aug. 21, 2019 15:58

Sorry Forget the Moonlake, it's outside Dunchung not Xining.
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