Qinghai Lake head

Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is a beautiful saltwater lake in the northeastern part of Qinghai Province, China. It’s located in an endorheic basin in the Gangcha County, between the Hainan Tibetan and the Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures. The lake is the largest of its kind in China, covering an area of over 4,500 square kilometers. Its stunning surroundings include snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, and rolling hills, making it a popular tourist destination.

Not only the beautiful scenic spots, Qinghai Lake is also a culturally significant area as it is home to many ethnic Tibetans who have preserved their culture and traditions for centuries. Visitors can explore the local villages, taste delicious Tibetan food, and learn about their customs and beliefs.

The lake is also a popular destination for bird watchers, with over 100 species of birds calling it home, including the endangered black-necked crane. With its unique natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Qinghai Lake is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to China.

 

Fast facts of Qinghai Lake

  • Travel essentials: Hat, sunglasses, and sun cream to prevent sunburn, warm clothes for chilly weather, and altitude sickness medication if needed.
  • Area: Over 4,500 square kilometers.
  • Time needed: Two to three days.
  • Highlights: Bird watching, hiking, cycling, camping, and exploring Tibetan culture.
  • Suited to: Nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone interested in Tibetan culture.

 

What to See and Do in Qinghai Lake

There are many exciting activities and attractions to enjoy at Qinghai Lake. Here are some of the best things to see and do:

Take a boat tour

One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Qinghai Lake is by taking a boat tour. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands while learning about the lake’s history and ecology.

Qinghai Lake Boat Trip
Qinghai Lake Boat Trip

Go bird watching

Qinghai Lake is a popular destination for bird watchers, with over 100 species of birds calling it home, including the endangered black-necked crane.

Hike around the lake

Visitors can hike around the lake and enjoy the stunning scenery, fresh air, and unique wildlife that can be found in the area.

Visit the Tibetan villages

Qinghai Lake is home to many ethnic Tibetans, who have preserved their culture and traditions for centuries. Visitors can explore the local villages, taste the delicious Tibetan food, and learn about their customs and beliefs.

 

Best time to visit

To experience the best of Qinghai Lake’s stunning scenery, the ideal time to visit is from May to October when the weather is mild, and the surroundings are at their most beautiful. Spring brings lush greenery and blooming flowers, while autumn showcases vibrant colors of the changing foliage. For those interested in witnessing the sea of rape flowers around the lake, the months of July and August are the most recommended.

For bird enthusiasts, visiting Qinghai Lake from May to July provides the best opportunities for bird watching, as this is the time when more bird species can be spotted around the lake. Whether you’re a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or a culture seeker, Qinghai Lake offers something for everyone. With its unique natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, it’s a must-visit destination in China.

 

Attractions nearby Qinghai Lake

There are many other attractions to visit near Qinghai Lake, including:

  • Bird Island: A famous bird sanctuary located on the northwest shore of the lake, it’s home to over 100,000 migratory birds.
  • Riyue Mountain: Located southeast of Qinghai Lake, it’s a popular hiking destination with stunning views of the surrounding area.
  • Ta’er Monastery: One of the most important Tibetan monasteries in China, it’s located about 30 kilometers from Qinghai Lake and is famous for its beautiful architecture and valuable collections of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.
  • Chaka Salt Lake: This is a salt lake about 25 kilometers west of Qinghai Lake, where you can see a spectacular optical illusion between noon and 4 pm. The lake reflects the sky and clouds, making it hard to tell where the horizon is.

 

Getting to Qinghai Lake

If you plan to travel from Xining to Qinghai Lake, there are several transportation options available to choose from. Let’s explore them below:

Private Car: One of the most convenient and flexible ways to reach Qinghai Lake from Xining is by renting a car with a driver. The journey along the G109 National Highway takes about 3.5 hours, covering a distance of approximately 130 kilometers or 80 miles. With a private car, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the region at your own pace.

Bus: Another option is to take a tourist express bus from Bayi Bus Terminal, located at Yongchang Mansion, 90 Bayi Road, in Xining. The bus departs at 8:00 am and returns at 4:00 pm. The fare for a single trip is CNY 40 per person. The bus stops at the Erlangjian Scenic Area, which is the main attraction of Qinghai Lake.

Bullet Train: You can also take a bullet train from Xining Railway Station to Heimahe Railway Station, which is approximately 30 kilometers away from Qinghai Lake. The train ride takes about an hour and costs CNY 34 for a second-class seat. After reaching Heimahe Railway Station, you can take a taxi or a local bus to reach the lake.

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