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Qinghai Province Travel Map

Provincial capital: Xining

Population: 6 millions

Geological location: Qinghai Province got its name from its Qinghai Lake, the largest inland saltwater lake in the country. It lies on the northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in west China, bordering Gansu, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Tibet. As the origin of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang rivers, Qinghai has an area of 720,000 sq km. Its territory includes 31.6 million ha of grassland, 589,900 ha of cultivated land and 250,000 ha of forests. The remaining are mountains

Map of Qinghai Province Qinghai Birds Island Xining Travel Guide Yellow River Taer Monastery Lhasa Qinghai Lake

Climate: It has a plateau continental climate thanks to its elevation, topography, latitude and atmospheric circulation. The province has a long and not-cold winter and a short and cool summer. The temperature varies greatly in the province with an average annual temperature of -5.6℃-8.7℃. The precipitation also varies noticeably, the southeast area receiving 450-600 ml of rainfalls annually.

Tourism resources: Many tourist attractions center on Xining, the provincial seat of Qinghai. The city itself has such notable stops, including the Great Mosque of Xining and North Mountain Temple.

Outside Xining lie two notable attractions:
The Kumbum Monastery, one of the most important Yellow Hat Sect monasteries, lies 30 km outside Xining. It also features the Hall of Yak Butter Sculptures.

Qinghai Lake is another tourist attraction, albeit further from Xining than Kumbum. The lake is the largest saltwater lake in China, and is also located on the "Roof of the World," the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The lake itself lies at 3,600m elevation. The surrounding area is made up of rolling grasslands and populated by ethnic Tibetans. Most pre-arranged tours stop at Bird Island. An international bicycle race takes place annually from Xining to Qinghai Lake.

The Province of Qinghai is one of China's least accessible and roughest regions to get about in. Beyond the capital Xining, that has fairly convenient transport, and the rail line from here on to Golmud, following the old southern Silk Road, your transport options may be a little limited to the tourist trails that head either to the massive Qinghai Lake, or on into Tibet.

By air: Although a seriously backward province, Qinghai still boasts two airports, one in Xining, the capital city and another in Golmud, a small city to the west of the capital. Thanks to its growing popularity among Chinese and foreign backpackers and adventurers, it is now possible to access the capital from almost all the major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an. Golmud Airport is far less accessible, and frequently flights here are postponed or cancelled subject to demand. Flights from here have access to Xining and Xi'an.

By Train: In the past, by far the most frequently used way to come to the province was by rail, despite the long hours that these journeys often took. The monotony of the long stretches are somewhat offset by the grand views of the rough plateau scenery en route.

With the recent rise of train speed, it now takes just 33 and 44 hours to Xining from Beijing and Shanghai, respectively. Train also remains the most comfortable way to reach Golmud, in the far west.

By Bus: Although it is not recommendable to take a bus from most provincial destinations, except possibly from nearby cities in Sichuan and Gansu, intra-province transport still remains a popular form of transport, and is usually the cheapest. Bus is the best way to visit the Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er si), Qinghai Lake, and the only way to head on from Golmud into Tibet.