Qinghai Travel Guide
Qinghai is a province located in the northwest region of China, sharing borders with Gansu, Sichuan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. It’s named after the largest lake in China, Qinghai Lake, and covers a vast area of mountains and high plateaus, with an average elevation of around 3,000 meters. Home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, including Tibetans, Hui, Mongols, Tu, and Salar, Qinghai is a cultural melting pot.
With its natural beauty and cultural richness, Qinghai is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking unique experiences. The province features many scenic attractions, such as Qinghai Lake, Qaidam Basin, Kunlun Mountains, and the source regions of the Yellow River and Yangtze River. Additionally, Qinghai boasts a rich history of Buddhism and Tibetan culture, which visitors can explore through iconic sites such as Ta’er Monastery, Kumbum Stupa, and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Chinese: 青海 qīng hǎi
Location: Northwest China
Population (urban area): 5,950,000
Why Visit Qinghai
- Stunning natural scenery – Qinghai boasts vast grasslands, soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and unique geological formations.
- Unique cultural heritage – Visitors can experience the rich Tibetan culture and witness the influence of ancient Silk Road trade routes.
- Outdoor activities – Hiking, camping, wildlife watching, and other outdoor adventures abound in Qinghai’s stunning natural landscapes.
- Delicious local cuisine – Qinghai’s cuisine features a variety of unique flavors and ingredients, including yak meat and Tibetan butter tea.
- Authentic travel experience – Visitors can escape the crowds and enjoy a more authentic side of China, with fewer tourists and a slower pace of life.
Top Things to Do in Qinghai
1. Explore Qinghai Lake
As the largest saltwater lake in China, Qinghai Lake offers breathtaking scenery and is home to diverse wildlife, making it a perfect spot for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and camping.
2. Visit Ta’er Monastery
One of the most important Tibetan monasteries in China, Ta’er Monastery is famous for its intricate architecture, beautiful murals, and valuable collections of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.
3. Relax at Chaka Salt Lake
Known for its stunning salt flats and crystal-clear water, Chaka Salt Lake is an ideal destination for those looking to relax and take in the natural beauty of Qinghai.
4. Experience Tibetan culture
Qinghai is home to many Tibetan communities, which offer visitors a chance to experience traditional Tibetan culture through food, music, and dance.
5. Watch wildlife
Qinghai’s diverse landscapes are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including Tibetan antelopes, wild yaks, and birds of prey, making it a perfect destination for wildlife watching.
Qinghai is situated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which gives it a highland continental climate characterized by strong sunshine radiation, a significant difference in day and night temperatures, cool summers, and long freezing winters. The region experiences low annual precipitation, with most of the rainfall occurring during summer months.
The best time to visit Qinghai is from May to October when visitors can enjoy pleasant weather and stunning scenery. Spring brings vibrant greenery and blooming flowers, while autumn showcases colorful foliage.
Getting to Qinghai is easy, with direct flights from major cities in China to Xining Caojiabao Airport.
Visitors can also take trains or buses to Xining, the capital of Qinghai.
To get around Qinghai, visitors can use buses, taxis, or private cars.
It’s recommended to hire a local guide or driver to explore the remote areas and ethnic villages.
Tips for Traveling in Qinghai
Protect yourself from sunburn:
Qinghai’s high altitude and long sunshine duration make it important for tourists to bring protective gear such as hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas, and apply sun cream to prevent sunburn from strong ultraviolet rays.
Watch out for altitude sickness:
With an average altitude above 3,000 meters (9,843 feet), visitors to Qinghai may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. To reduce the risk, tourists should drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, and smoking, and consider taking medication if necessary.
Respect local customs and beliefs:
Qinghai is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, including Tibetans, Hui, Mongols, Tu, and Salar, with their own unique cultures and religions, such as Tibetan Buddhism and Islam. It’s important for tourists to respect their traditions and taboos, such as refraining from touching their heads, stepping on thresholds, or harming animals or plants in sacred places.
Be prepared for remote travel and limited facilities:
Visitors to Qinghai’s remote areas should be prepared for long travel times and limited facilities, including food, accommodation, and medical services. Proper planning and preparation are essential for a safe and enjoyable trip.