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7 Days In-depth Discovery Tour of Qinghai Culture & Nature

Tremendous Qinghai Plateau


“Beautiful Qinghai,eco-upland and a haven for all”, this is the popular slogan of Qinghai Tourism. As the slogan saying, Qinghai is one of the most beautiful provinces in China. Its vast territory (larger than any European countries) has all the adventure you may need. However, most of the travelers are now flocking to Qinghai Lake, the most famous attraction of the province, while ignoring the other less famous but off-the-beaten-track regions which are only explored by backpackers currently. For most foreign travelers, they are unknown secret lands. To prove the tourism slogan of Qinghai, you need an in-depth discovery adventure which is a Kora starting from Xining, encircling via Tongren, southern Qinghai, Qinghai Lake, and ending in Xining. It is full of hidden gems – authentic Tibetan towns, majestic Yellow River, Danxia landform, holy snow mountains, plateau salt lakes, etc. As an expert in Qinghai tourism, China Discovery knows all the best places and experiences of Qinghai, and is ready to accompany to explore them.

Highlights of this tour

  • Having one full day to explore the magnificent scenery of the No. 1 attraction of Qinghai Province - Qinghai Lake;
  • Spending a day in Tongren region to visit ancient Buddhist temples, learn about unique Regong Art and experience authentic Tibetan culture;
  • Taking a spectacular trip to Amne Machin Mountain which combines stunning plateau landscape with Tibetan culture in a harmony way;
  • Encounter with the majestic Yellow River and many natural wonders in Kanbula National Forest Park;
  • Witness one of the most beautiful typical Danxia landforms in Shizang Danxia Geopark.

Basic Trip Information

from Request
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according to your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Xining / Kanbula National Forest Park / Tongren / Dawu / Amne Machin / Qinghai Lake / Xining
Travel Length:
Tour Code:
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Any day you want
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Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Xining Arrival

Welcome to Xining (altitude: 2,261 m), the capital city of Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Upon arriving at Xining Caojiabao Airport (or Xining Railway Station), your tour guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel in the downtown by a private vehicle. After checking in, the rest of today is on your own to acclimate to the elevation and explore this historical city of China.

Arrival Ideas: You can take a flight to Xining from Beijing (about 2hrs), Shanghai (about 3hrs), Xian (about 1.5hrs), Chengdu (about 2hrs), Guangzhou (about 3.5hrs), Dunhuang (about 1.5hrs), etc., or get to Xining by high speed bullet train from Xian (about 4hrs), Lanzhou (about 1.5hrs), Zhangye (about 2hrs), Jiayuguan (about 3~3.5hrs) and other connected cities in China.

Nightlife idea: go to enjoy a great dinner and stunning night view of Xining city on Pearl of Puning which is a 188 meters tall TV & Sightseeing tower alike Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.

Xining Railway Station
Day 2 Xining - Kanbula National Forest Park - Tongren (B, L )

After breakfast, set out for today's geography adventure to Guide Geopark and Kanbula National Forest Park in southern Qinghai Province.

Guide Geopark is about 70 km (1.5 hrs' drive) from Xining. You will visit its most highlighting Ashigong Scenic Area which is a beautiful valley of colorful Danxia Landform. The Danxia mountains here are not only colorful, but also rich in shapes. Some of them stands like towers, houses, pillars, etc. A tranquil river flows through the valley, which makes the scenery more charming.

After Guide Geopark Danxia landscape exploration, keep drive about 60km to visit Kanbula National Forest Park which is located at the intersection of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau. The scenic area covers an area of 152 square kilometers, with an average elevation of 2500 meters, and an average annual temperature of 7.8°C. The park highlights many natural wonders including Danxia landform landscape, grotesque peaks, squared mountains, deep caves , lofty cliffs, dozens of wild animals and rich plant resources, recording the evolution of the geological and ecological environment over the past 38 million years. The majestic Yellow River flows slowly through the deep gorges of Kanbula, and get tackled by Lijiaxia Dam which is one of the most important irrigation system on Yellow River Basin, providing electricity to millions of people each year. For tourists, it is a rare opportunity to get a closer touch with this China’s “mother river”.

Since the Kanbula National Forest Park is so big and there are so many things to see and experience, you will explore the park with the help of park bus and dam cruise ship. After entering the park, you will hop on a park bus which will bring you to the sightseeing spots one after another. You are also provided many opportunities to walk, take photos and relax. After the park bus trip, an exciting cruise (currently unavailable) is waiting for you. Board one of the sightseeing ships or speed-boat to cruise leisurely on the Yellow River and marvel at the stunning landscape of the surrounding. The entire sightseeing trip takes about 4~5 hours.

Leaving Kanbula National Forest Park, you will drive about 85km (1.5 hours) to Tongren City (altitude: 2480m) for accommodation.

Kanbula National Forest Park panoramic view Walking trails in Kanbula National Forest Park Colorful danxia mountains in Guide Geopark
Day 3 Tongren Tibetan Culture Exploration (B, L )

Start authentic Tognren Tibetan culture exploration with a visit to Longwu Monastery (Rongwu Monastery) which is one of the three most influential Tibetan monasteries in Amdo region with a history over 700 years, but barely visited by big tourist groups so that you can enjoy a peaceful Tibetan Buddhism inspiration here. Its current Rinpoche is the 8th generation of Living Buddha who was born in Longwu family which had 8 Buddhist masters to be honored as the “State Preceptor” in Ming and Qing Dynasties. The temple is large in size and rich in styles. Explore the resplendent Buddhist palaces, temples, halls, academies, stupa, and beautiful Thangka paintings to get inspired by the most authentic Tibetan culture in the region.

Move on to Wutong Monastery (Wutun Monastery) which outstands in a Tibetan village. It is in Wutong Monastery that the brilliant Regong Art originated and flourished. What makes the temple even more respectful is that Wutong Monastery has been teaching villagers of the area to create Regong Art for centuries, which helps Tongren become the Buddhist center of Amdo Tibetan region. So what is Regong Art? It is a collective art type which includes Thangka, Duixiu(embroidery), sculpture, architectural paintings, butter flowers and many other local art forms. The artists usually find inspiration from the life story and enlightenment of Buddha, legends and myths in Tibetan Buddhism to create Regong Art. Bright colors are grandiloquently but harmoniously used in Regong Art works. The artists also attach great importance to originality. All the pigments are refined from mineral and plant juice. As the mother of Regong Art, Wutong Monastery collects numerous exquisite Regong art masterpieces. Next, you will go to a local Regong Painting School to observe closely how the teachers and students create Regong Art delicately.

Stay overnight in Tongren city.

A Tibetan monk was painting Mandala in Wutong Monastery Magnificent Wutong Monastery in Tongren A lovely Tibetan kid during Shaman Festival in Tongren
Day 4 Tongren - Dawu (B, L)

This morning, we will drive about 360 kilometers to Dawu Town. The whole journey takes about 6 to 7 hours, but the journey is full of beautiful scenery, such as the majestic Yellow River, grasslands, Danxia landforms, Tibetan villages, etc. In order to make your journey more enjoyable, there will be many opportunities to get off the car for rest and taking pictures during the journey. Feel free to discuss with your tour guide and driver.

You will firstly get to Heri Sutra Stone Wall which is located in the back mountain of Heri Monastery, a less-visited Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the region. With a history of nearly 200 years, the stone sutra wall is 3 meters high, 2.5 meters wide, and has a total length of more than 200 meters. It consists of more than 100,000 stone slabs engraved with scriptures and Buddha statues, as an important site of Tibetan Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Next place to explore is Shizang Danxia Geo-park which takes the plateau Danxia landform as the main landscape, integrating the ancient glacier landform landscape and the Yellow River canyon landscape. The magnificent Danxia cliffs, canyons, snow-capped mountains, Quaternary-period glacier relics and plateau pastures, Tibetan religions constitute a harmony between human and nature. On March 18, 2020, Qinghai Tongde Shizang Danxia National Geopark was awarded as a national geopark officially. You will drive through this wonderland, and make stops at safe areas to take photos. If you would like to take a walking around, discuss with your tour guide.

Stay overnight in Dawu Town (altitude: 3730m). As a remote small town, the accommodation condition in Dawu is basic. Economy-class hotels and guest houses are usually provided.

Shizang Danxia Landform Highway to Dawu Town Heri Sutra Stone Wall
Day 5 Dawu - Amne Machin Mountain - Gonghe (B, L)

Today, we will drive about 400 km (about 5~5 hours) to Gonghe County (altitude: 3200m) for accommodation. En route you will stop at sightseeing spots to appreciate amazing landscape of Amne Machin Mountain which is the most beautiful snow mountain in Qinghai region as well as the holiest Buddhist mountain in the Amdo Tibetan area. It has been a tradition for pilgrims in Amdo Tibetan Region to make “kora” (walking by circles around the mountain) for centuries. The main peak of Amne Machin is majestic with an altitude of 6282 meters above sea level. There are 18 snow peaks above 5000 meters around it. Amne Machin Mountain is also rich in diversity of vegetation and animal. Amne Machin is currently an important international research base of the endangered Snow Leopard for scientists of home and abroad. For local Tibetan, it is a great place to make living because Amne Machin abounds in cordyceps which are as expensive a golds in Chinese medicine and health-preservation.

High altitude tips: The sightseeing area of Amne Machin Mountain has altitudes over 3500m. Please avoid strenuous activities, such as running, jumping, trekking high or far, etc. or you may suffer from high altitude sickness.

Amne Machin Mountain Herds on Amne Machin Mountain
Day 6 Gonghe - Qinghai Lake - Xining (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 50km (1.5 hour) to the picturesque Qinghai Lake. You won't feel bored along the driving since the fascinating scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds and clustered herds unfold like a photo gallery. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake (3200 m) stretches 105 km in length, 63 km in width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. It was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic, attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year.

You will spend a wonderful time appreciating the beauty of Qinghai Lake in Erlangjian Scenic Area - the essence of the whole scenic area of Qinghai Lake. It shapes like a long and narrow sword inserting into the lake. Walking on the plank road, you will be delivered a far-reaching panorama of the sea-like lake. Due to the different salt content of different parts of the lake, the water presents different colors in the refraction of sunlight. More than the lake view, the scenic surrounding - endless grassland and rapeseed flower lands, soft sand beaches as well as flocks of grazing sheep, horses and yaks also make you enjoy yourself to the fullest. On a clear day, you will feast your eyes on a charming vista of the snow-capped mountains in the distance as well as the huge sand dunes of Sand Island on the far shore. At the same time, Qinghai Lake is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site. There are many devoted Buddhist coming from afar to worship to Qinghai Lake each year.

Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: Taking a cruise allows you to admire Qinghai Lake from a different perspective. There are two kinds of cruises available in Erlangjian Scenic Area: High Speed Cruise and catamaran. The former offers a 25 minutes’ single trip from Erlangjian Wharf to Erlangjian Peninsula at the cost of CNY140. The latter offers a 50 minutes’ round trip at the cost of CNY180. This price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This cruise is only available during the period from May to October.

After sightseeing, drive back to Xining for accommodation.

Warm Tips: 1) It is available to visit Qinghai Lake all the year around, but May to October is the best time because of the most comfortable weather. If you want to savor the sea of rape flowers, remember to visit in July and August. 2) The sunlight is very strong in Qinghai Lake, and it is necessary to bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. to protect your skin from sun burn especially in summer. 3) Few people get serious high altitude sickness in Qinghai Lake, but it is important to be wary of high altitude sickness if it's your first time to enter the high plateau. Avoiding strenuous exercise and drinking more water will be helpful.

Rape flowers Blooming around Qinghai Lake in July Herd of Tibetan nomads around Qinghai Lake Enjoy a cruise on Qinghai Lake Seagullings in Qinghai Lake (Erlangjian Scenic Area)
Day 7 Xining Departure (B)

After breakfast, you will go to visit the Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum. It is a theme museum highlighting the profound Tibetan medicine and folk culture. Through visits of different exhibition halls, you can view 80 Thangka paintings and many surgical instruments, thousands of ancient medical books, specially processed specimens of plant and animal and intelligent calculation methods of astronomical calendar. It’s an interesting and meaningful knowledge journey where you can catch a glimpse of mysterious traditional medical system and diverse Tibetan culture. Don’t miss the Guinness World recorded pectacular 618-meter-long gallery which displaying over 700 Thangka paintings embroidered with countless Barbola patterns.

Move to Dongguan Great Mosque, the largest mosque in Qinghai. The mosque is a sacred sanctuary for Muslims, one of the four greatest mosques in Northwest China and the highest-level institute of Islamic studies that enjoys high reputation at home and abroad. It was originally built in the early Ming Dynasty and reconstructed and expanded to current scale and layout. Occupying 13,602 square meters, the mosque is a large building group combined traditional Chinese architectural art and Islamic features, whose Worship Hall can accommodate 3,000 Muslims at one time. The pale mint-green exterior is very pretty and chic when you look from outside. As the most important Muslim community in Xining, you may see lots of Muslim disciples worshiping and attending Muslim event here.

After the sightseeing, your tour guide will escort you to catch your flight or train to next destinations. Tour ends. (Xining Caojiabao International Airport is 28 km (40 minutes’ drive) from Dongguan Mosque and Xining Railway Station is only 2 km away, for about 10 minutes’ drive.)

Tibetan Medicine and Culture Museum Dongguan Great Mosque is the Biggest Islamic Sanctum in Qinghai

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7 Days In-depth Discovery Tour of Qinghai Culture & Nature Map

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