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5 Days Qinghai Lake Cycling Tour with Xining Highlights

Enchanting Plateau Lakes


There are quite a lot of ways to discover the beauty of Qinghai Lake, but riding must be the most awe-inspiring one for cycling enthusiasts. Both the natural view of Qinghai Lake and cycling in the high plateau area will give you an unforgettable experience with physical & emotional pleasure.

This 5 days Qinghai Lake Cycling tour is designed for travelers who want to appreciate the natural beauty of Qinghai Lake on riding. You will spend one and a half day riding on the essence of cycling route along Qinghai Lake. Besides amazing exotic view during your cycling trip, it is also discover other highlights of Qinghai, including enchanting Chaka Salt Lake, attractive temples and interesting museums.

Warm Tip: China Discovery offers tailor-made private tour package covering itinerary, accommodation, transfer, tour guide, etc. If you just want a sightseeing tour with short cycling experience, we can customize an itinerary according to your interest and strength. It is also available to use an electromobile to save your time and energy.

Highlights of this tour

  • Challenge yourself to take a cycling trip at an altitude of over 3,000 meters;
  • Enjoy the wonderful sightseeing of Qinghai Lake, with great scene of peaceful lake, flocks of herds, parries, farmlands, rape flowers and many other wild flowers;
  • Take in the striking views of the blue sky, high snow mountains, floating clouds reflecting their shadows in the “mirror” of Chaka Salt Lake;
  • Explore the blending culture which combines Tibetan culture, Muslim culture, Han-Chinese culture in Xining city.

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 / Qinghai Lake / Chaka 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 Qinghai Lake Cycling Experience

Riding Route: Jiayi Temple – Qinghai Lake Fishing Farm – Erlangjian Scenic Area – Jiangxigou Town– Heimahe Town

Riding Distance: 100 km (about 8 hours)

After breakfast, you will drive about 130 km (about 2 hours 10 minutes) from Xining to Jiayi Temple, the start of your cycling route. In Jiayi Temple, there is a 28-meter tall bronze statue of Maitreya which is believed to guard Qinghai Lake and bring happiness and peace to the local people. Starting from Jiayi Temple, you will ride about 100 km for about 8 hours in today. It is really a physical-demanding but eyes-feasting trip. The whole road is well-paved national road and the cycling will be steadily. As your closely get to Erlangjian Scenic Area (the main attraction of Qinghai Lake), beautiful scenery of blue shimmering waters of Qinghai Lake will come into your eyes. In July and August, the fields between the lake and the road blanketed in golden rape flowers make you feel like entering a splendid oil painting.

Passing by Erlangjian, the road becomes less busy and the scene is more attractive. Qinghai Lake is on your left side and it is an enjoyment whenever you look around. In a sunny day, the sky and the lake in the same blue color, and you can hardly figure out the boundary line. There are boundless meadow with grazing herds and numerous unknown wild flowers.

Today's cycling ends in Hemahe Town and you can have a nice time here. With fewer tourists, the scenery of Heimahe is quite primitive. You take a relaxing walk along the peaceful lake, take some nice pictures, and immerse yourself in the peaceful land. Stay overnight in Heimahe Town.

Bronze Statue of Maitreya in Jiayi Temple Cycling from Erlangjian to Heimahe Peaceful Heimahe Town
Day 3 Half Day Cycling and Drive Chaka Salt Lake (B, L )

Get up early in the morning, and you will drive 2 kilometers to admire the breathtaking sunrise in a perfect viewing-deck. As the sun rises from Qinghai lake, the color of the sky, the lake, the mountains, etc. are all painted in an attractive hue of yellow, orange and red. As the sky totally be lit, you can clearly see the colorful prayers flags flying in the wind and the sea gulls flapping their wings.

After the watching the sunrise, continue your cycling along Huanyu West Road from Heimahe Town to Shinaihai Town which is the closest section of road to Qinghai Lake as well as the section with the most alluring natural splendor. It presents different beauty in different seasons. In spring, lots of wild flowers and flying birds can be spotted. In summer, rape blossoms are in full bloom by the lake. Most of the riding road is flat, except for one upward slope before reaching the town. As you finish it, you will find the spectacular view in front of you deserves your efforts.

You cycling experience ends in Shinaihai and you will drive to Chaka Town (3,100m) for accommodation. The first half of the driving takes the beautiful lakeside roads while the second half takes you to go through and over high mountains and grasslands..

Heimahe Sunrise Cycling from Heimahe to Shinaihai
Day 4 Chaka - Xining (B, L )

If weather permits, and you don't mind walking about 3km (1 hour) to the sunrise location, you can get up early to watch the breathtaking sunrise (around 6am) at Chaka Salt Lake.

With an altitude around 3100m, Chaka Lake is a rare geographic wonder as well as an important salt production center on the ancient Silk Road. The salt products here were transported alone the Silk Road to Tibet, Xinjiang even middle Asia. For tourists, Chaka Lake is the perfect place for photography, romantic escapades and refreshing experiences. On the clear days, it is silhouetted by the azure sky, floating clouds and lofty mountains in the distance, which looks like a natural mirror beyond your imagination. Looking to the distance, you are unable to find the boundary between sky and lake, and you cannot tell whether the sky is a part of the lake or the lake is the supplement of the sky. It’s so marvelous and serene.

There are many ways to explore Chaka Salt Lake. To maximize your best experience, you will take a sightseeing train directly to the hinterland of the lake to escape the possible crowds, then explore from the hinterland to the entrance leisurely by walking (The walking costs about 40mins. If you don't want to walk, you can take the sightseeing back, which needs extra payment). Visitors are allowed to walk on the salt crystalline lake. It is like stepping into a picture. It is recommended to wear shoe covers to protect your feet from the aggressive salt water. Some other optional activities (with extra costs): a. take a relaxing boat trip along the water canal which is used to transport salt; b. enjoy a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding from the Sightseeing Tower. If you want to experience these optional activities, feel free to let your tour guide arrange for you.

Some useful tips:

1) Best time for photography at Chaka Lake - 8am~10am and 4pm to 8pm.
2) In order to take the best reflection photos on the lake, you can wear something bright colors, such as red, yellow, blue, etc.
3) The ultra-violet radiation is very strong. Try to get your face, arms, necks and legs covered when you are not taking portrait photos. Sunglasses are necessary.

Leaving Chaka Lake, you will be transferred back to Xining (about 300km/3.5~4 hours). Feel free to ask for stops along the way for resting and take photos. Accommodate in Xining.

Available Plan B Itinerary:

You may not get the best experience if you happen to visit Chaka Salt Lake during holidays and peak season when the lake is usually crowded with tourists. You can go to the nearby Sky No.1 Scenic Area which has similar lake scenery and experience to Chaka Salt Lake but not many tourists as many as in Chaka Lake. Feel free to discuss adjusting itinerary with your tour guide.

Wearing cloth of bright color to take fantastic photos Sky No.1 Scenic Area near Chaka Lake Sightseeing train travel at Chaka Lake
Day 5 Xining Departure (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 28 km (40 minutes) to visit the famous Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Monastery). The monastery is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist temple most known as “one of the six greatest Gelug monasteries”. It is said to be the birthplace of Tsongkhapa - the founder of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Yellow Hat Sect) and constructed based on a memorial pagoda about him.

Inside this large temple complex, you can appreciate mixed Tibetan and traditional Chinese style architectures that are harmoniously laid, and feature in bright colors and complicated decorations. There are rich collections of Buddhist sculptures, precious Sutras and cultural relics treasured inside. The highlights are the Eight Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni, grandiose Grand Golden Tiled Hall, artistic Dhammapala Hall enshrining Buddhist masters’ statues. Yak Butter Sculpture of Buddha, Mural and Barbola are the noted “Three Arts” you can admire remarkable arts, aesthetics and religious culture. (You may watch a Buddhist scripture debating or witness a grand Buddhist festival by luck.)

Next, drive 37 km (about 50 minutes) 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 look many ancient surgical instruments, medical books, specially processed specimens and calculation methods of astronomical calendar. It’s an interesting and rewarding journey to catch a glimpse of the mysterious traditional medical system and diverse Tibetan culture. Don’t miss the Guinness World recorded 618-meter-long gallery displaying over 700 exquisite Thangka paintings.

After lunch, transfer to Dongguan 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 study. Originally built in the early Ming Dynasty, it is a large building group occupying 13,602 square meters which combines traditional Chinese architectural art and Islamic features. The Worship Hall can accommodate 3,000 Muslims at one time. The pale mint-green exterior is very pretty and chic. You may see lots of Muslim disciples worshiping and attending Muslim event here.

Lastly, your tour guide will escort you to catch your flight or train to next destinations. Tour ends.

Kumbum Monastery  - A Honored Tibetan Gelug Monastery Tibetan Medicine and Culture Museum Dongguan Great Mosque is the Biggest Islamic Sanctum in Qinghai

Qinghai Lake Cycling Tips

Physical Demands and High Altitude Sickness Advice

This itinerary involves about 12 hours’ riding trip in high plateau (over 3,000 meters) which needs strong physical energy and willpower. Though only a few travelers may suffer high altitude sickness, strenuous exercise like cycling is more likely to cause the sickness. If it’s your first time to high plateau, we suggest you spend 1~2 days getting accustomed to the altitude before your cycling trip. Cycling in high plateau is not recommended for travelers who have hypertension, heart disease, cerebral hemorrhage, coronary heart disease, etc., and who are aged over 60 years old.

Warm Clothes Advice

There is a big temperature difference between day and night. Even in summer, the night temperature here may be close to 0 C°. Warm clothes are helpful to keep warm.

Water and Food

Cycling always consume your energy quickly. There will be some small restaurants in the villages, but bringing some snacks and water is helpful.

Other Packings

The sunlight is very strong in Qinghai Lake, so sunscreen or spray with high SPF, sunhat, sunglasses are necessary to protect your skin. During your cycling trip, remember to cover your exposed skin as much as possible. If you travel in summer (June ~ August) when rain may occurs, umbrella or rain coat is needed.

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