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Top 12 Attractions in Qinghai | Things to Do in Qinghai 2021/2022

Located in Qinghai Tibet Plateau in northwestern China, Qinghai is a vast destination offering numerous scenery and experience to discover. What can you expect for your trip in Qinghai? It might be outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, cycling or off-road driving; it might be wild nature sightseeing like snow-capped mountains, color-changing high-plateau lakes, unique geoparks, deep gorges, or boundless grasslands; it might be sacred monasteries with religious significance, mysterious legendary or secluded environment; and it might be amazing cultural art like Regong Thangka, imaginative Barbola, Buddhist stone carving or butter lanterns. Here we list the top 12 Qinghai attractions with different features for your reference and all these attractions can be added to your Qinghai tour. Feel free to tell us your preference or other attractions you are interested in to customize a unique Qinghai tour in your own style.

Top 12 Qinghai Attractions

1

Qinghai Lake - China's Largest Inland Lake with Natural Beauty

Qinghai Lake

Erlangjian View in Summer

Top Qinghai Attraction - Qinghai Lake

Great Scenery in the Biking Trip

Type: Lakes, Islands, Nature & Parks

Best Travel Time: May ~ October especially in July ~ August when rape flower is in full blossom

Recommended Visiting Time: 1~2 days

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Special Experience: Cycling and Photography

Address: Gonghe County, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China (共和县海南藏族自治州青海省), about 150 km (about 2.5 hours' drive) away from Xining City

Qinghai Lake is China's largest inland lake stretching 105 km at length and 63 km at width. The crystal plateau lake surrounded by grasslands, snowy mountains and spectacular dessert is recognized as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by Chinese National Geographic. In every summer (especially July and August), the lakeside golden sea of rape flowers gives visitors a great visual feast. Besides, it is also available to see many kinds of birds in Qinghai Lake.

Erlangjian Scenic Area is the essence of Qinghai Lake where a wonderful sight of Qinghai Lake and surrounding scenery can be admired, including beautiful lake view, vast stretches of grassland as well as snow mountains faraway. In Erlangjian, it is also available to take a boat to savor the moving painting-like scenery from another perspective. Both exciting high speed cruises and featured catamaran are accessible to offer two different journey. In addition to Erlangjian, Fairy Bay Area, a wetland with many flowers is also interesting to visit.

Qinghai Lake Cycling Experience: For travelers with desire to take a challenging trip along Qinghai Lake, cycling is strongly recommended. It is available to take a physically demanding trip from Jiayi Temple to Shinaihai Town, needing about 1.5 days and covering about 140 km totally. If you just want a short cycling experience, you can bike from Jiayi Temple to Erlangjian Scenic Area, taking about 2 hours totally.

Helpful Links: Qinghai Lake Weather | How to Get to Qinghai Lake | Qinghai Lake Maps | Where to Stay in Qinghai Lake

2

Kumbum Monastery - One of the Six Greatest Tibetan Gelug Monasteries with Three Arts

Top Qinghai Attraction - Kumbum Monastery

Eight Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni

Top Qinghai Attraction - Kumbum Monastery

Colorful Lifelike Yak Butter Scuptures

Type: Religious Sites, Historical & Cultural Sites, Landmarks

Best Travel Time: April ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 2 ~ 4 hours

Opening Hours: 07:30 ~ 18:30

Address: No.56, Jinta Road, Lushaer Town, Huangzhong District, Xining, Qinghai (青海省西宁市湟中区金塔路56号)

Kumbum Monastery, also known as Taer Monastery, is the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master - Tsongkhapa - the founder of Gelug (a sect of Buddhism). It is also famous as one of Six Monasteries of Gelug together with Sera Monastery (Lhasa), Drepung Monastery (Lhasa), Ganden Monastery (Lhasa), Tashilhunpo Monastery (Shigatse) and Labrang Lamasery (Xiahe), as well as the Buddhist center of northwestern Tibetan Region. It was originated from a pagoda group, then became a grand monastery of thousands buildings. As you enter the monastery, your eyes will be attracted by the noticeable eight pagodas named Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni. Many small Buddhist statues and sorts of Sutras and Buddhist objects are collected in the pagodas.

Visiting Kumbum Monastery, you cannot miss the three bests of it - murals, barbola and butter sculptures which show fantastic craftsmanship and the devout faith of workers. It is also interesting to watch Buddhist scriptures debating which is a typical way for monks to discuss and learn Buddhist knowledge. Besides, there are many Buddhist ceremonies and fairs organized in Kumbum Monastery to learn Buddhism, astronomy and medicine each year.

3

Qinghai Tibet Railway - Sky Train Made 9 World Records

Top Qinghai Attractions - Qinghai Tibet Railway

Snow-covered Mountains in Northern Tibet

Top Qinghai Attractions - Qinghai Tibet Railway

A Train to Lhasa Passing through Qinghai Lake

Starting & Terminal Station: Xining Railway Station - Lhasa Railway Station

Line Length:

1,956 km (1,215 mi): Xining-Golmud (814 km)+Golmud-Lhasa (1,142 km)

Type: National Class I Railroad

Sections: Xining - Delingha - Golmud - Amdo - Nagqu - Damxung - Lhasa

Train Stations: 85 (main stations: Xining-Delingha-Golmud-Amdo-Nagqu-Damxung-Lhasa)

Operation Date: 1984 (Xining-Golmud); 2006 (Golmud-Lhasa)

Operating Speed: 140 km/h (Xining-Golmud), 100 km/h (Golmud-Lhasa)

Qinghai Tibet Railway connecting Xining (capital of Qinghai) and Lhasa (capital of Tibet) is a world-famous high plateau railway. The construction of this railway takes about 6 years and the engineers have overcome three engineering technical problems including permafrost, extreme environment (cold and oxygen deficit) and fragile ecosystem to finish it. Amazingly, Qinghai Tibet Railway sets 9 remarkable world records, like the highest plateau railway, the longest plateau railway, the highest permafrost tunnel, etc.

But for travelers, it offers not only a convenient transfer way to Tibet, but also an enjoyable train journey with breathtaking sightseeing. Taking a train along Qinghai Tibet Railway, you will view Qinghai Lake at a distance, go by the desert mountains in Delingha, passes through the depopulated zone of Hoh Xil Nature Reserve, appreciate everlasting snow on Kunlun Mountains, meet rare animals like Tibetan antelopes…

All trains to Tibet from cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou) in mainland China pass Qinghai Tibet Railway and offer a memorable train trip. Besides, all trains to Tibet are equipped with great facilities, like soft sleeper, oxygen supply, restaurants, etc. to offer a better experience. If you plan to travel to Tibet from Xining or other gateway cities, taking a train is strongly recommended.

Helpful Links: Xining Lhasa Train | Beijing to Lhasa Train | Chengdu Lhasa Train

4

Chaka Salt Lake - "Mirror of The Sky"

Top Qinghai Attraction - Chaka Salt Lake

Sightseeing Train in Chaka Salt Lake

Top Qinghai Attraction - Sky No.1 Scenic Spot

Lake Scenery at Sky No.1 Scenic Spot

Type: Lakes, Nature & Parks

Best Seasons: May ~ October especially in July ~ August

Recommended Visiting Time: 1 day

Opening Hours: 6:00 - 20:00 (Peak Season) 7:30 - 19:00 (Off Season)

Address: Yanhu Road, Chaka Town, Ulan County, Qinghai Province, China (青海省乌兰县茶卡镇盐湖路)

Chaka Salt Lake, only about 150 km to Qinghai Lake, is a beautiful lake famous as the mirror of the sky for its reflective salt lake bed. In fact, it once was a part of the ocean and then the ground rose to form the highest plateau after crustal movement. The seawater was left and became Chaka Salt Lake. Many travelers and photographers are attracted here to enjoy the poetic beauty as the blue sky and floating clouds are reflected in the lake. There are several delicately designed platforms in the scenic area to offer travelers a wonderful site to admire this splendid scenery, including Sightseeing Tower from which you are able to overlook the core area of Chaka Salt Lake. There are three most recommended ways to enjoy Chaka Salt Lake, namely sightseeing car, sightseeing train and sightseeing yacht.

The best time to visit Chaka Salt Lake is June to August because of the comfortable weather. However, lots of domestic travelers will flood into the scenic area during summer vocation (July and August). It is available to take Sky No.1 Scenic Area which enjoys similar scenery of Chaka Salt Lake as a substitution. It is about 10 km away from Chaka Lake. Lots of activities are available, like sightseeing train, boats, salt spas, etc.

5

Rongwo Monastery - Spiritual Center of Regong

Top Qinghai Attraction - Rongwo Monastery

Entrance of Rongwo Monastery

Top Qinghai Attraction - Rongwo Monastery

Buddhism Debate in Rongwo Monastery

Type: Religious Sites, Historical & Cultural Sites, Landmarks

Best Seasons: April ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time:  1-2 hours

Opening Hours: 8:00~18:00

Address: Rongwo Town, Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai(青海省黄南藏族自治州同仁县同仁镇), about 170 km (2.5 hours' drive) from Xining

Rongwo Monastery (Longwu Monastery) is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist monastery with a history of over 700 years. Rongwo Monastery play a very important role during the history of Tibetan Buddhism in northwestern China. Many famous Buddhist masters, scholars lived and studied Buddhism here. Till now, it is one of the three influential Buddhist monasteries in Amdo Tibetan Region together with Labrang Temple in Gansu and Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai.

The architecture of Rongwo Monastery combines the Tibetan and traditional Chinese style. The 11 meters tall statue of Tsongkhapa is a big highlight of this monastery. Many pilgrims prostrate and pray in front of him. Famous Regong art, the traditional folk art including Thangka, murals, embroidery, religious sculpture and many other kinds of painting arts, is originated in Rongwo Monastery. In the Main Assembly Hall, you can enjoy a glorious mural of all the mountain gods that Regong people believe. It is also available to watch scripture-debating in the monastery in the afternoon. If you visit in some special festivals or big days, many grand religious activities can be enjoyed as well, like the New Year Prayer Fair.

6

Kanbula National Forest Park - Featured Park with Amazing Danxia Landform

Top Qinghai Attraction - Kanbula National Forest Park

Amzing Danxia Landform in Kanbula

Top Qinghai Attraction - Kanbula National Forest Park

Blue Water of The Yellow River in Lijiaxia

Type: Parks, Forests, Lakes, Religious Sites

Best Seasons: May ~ October, especially July and August

Recommended Visiting Time: 0.5 ~ 1 Day

Opening Hours: 8:00 ~ 18:00

Address: Kanbula Town, Jianzha County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province (青海黄南藏族自治州尖扎县坎布拉镇)

Kanbula National Forest Park is a huge scenic area attractive with stunning natural scenery, including virgin forests, deep canyons, emerald rivers as well as Danxia landform with colorful earth landscape. The park has 18 named peaks with various postures, looking like castles, pagodas, pillars, as well as figures of human and animals. In addition to Danxia landform, the river is also a highlight of Kanbula National Forest Park. Visiting Lijiaxia Reservoir, you will amazingly find that the Yellow River is not yellow but green and yellow. Park bus is available to take you to various small attractions in the park and you will get some free time for sightseeing and photography. No matter you stand in the viewing-deck or walk along the zigzagging trails, you will get an incredible view of the mountains and waters. Besides, cruising on the peaceful river is also recommended if you want an enjoyable experience.

Important News: Kanbula National Forest Park now is under reconstruction to offer visitors a better travel experience. Feel free to contact us for the latest information or browse Qinghai Tour Packages for other wonderful experiences in Qinghai.

7

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum

Top Qinghai Attraction - Tibet Culture Museum

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum

Top Qinghai Attraction - Tibet Culture Museum

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum

Type: Parks, Forests, Lakes, Religious Sites

Best Seasons: April ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 2 hours

Opening Hours: 09:00-18:00 (Monday ~ Thursday & Saturday ~ Sunday); 09:00-17:00

Address: No.36, Jinger Road, Shengwu Keji Chanyeyuan District, Xining, Qinghai (青海省西宁市城北区生物科技产业园区经二路36号)

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum is the world's only museum themed in Tibetan medicine and the only national first-class museum collecting, protecting, displaying, researching and inheriting Tibetan culture. The whole museum is divided into Southern Hall and Norther Hall.

In the Southern Hall (Tibetan Culture Museum), you can explore rich Tibet culture including colored paintings of Chinese Tibetan culture and art, the Silk Road and Qinghai Tibetan High Plateau civilization, Tibetan architecture, Tibetan calligraphy, etc. What you can't miss is a 618-meter-long and 2.5-meter-wide huge Thangka that is recorded in Guinness World and painted with precious pigments such as gold powder, jade, coral, etc.

In the Northern Hall (Tibetan Medicine Museum), there are exhibitions about Tibet medicine, such as the history of Tibetan medicine, old medical books, Tibetan medicine specimen as well as palace of Medicine Buddhas. In the various exhibitions, there are numerous collections showing great metal technology, textile technology and craft of the wood carver.

8

Dongguan Mosque - One of the Four Greatest Mosques in Northwest China

Top Qinghai Attraction - Dongguan Mosque

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum

Top Qinghai Attraction - Dongguan Mosque

Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum

Type: Religious Sites, Historical & Cultural Sites, Landmarks

Best Seasons: April ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time:  1 hour

Opening Hours: 8:00~18:00 (Monday ~ Thursday & Saturday ~ Sunday); closed until 15:00 on every Friday for Juma

Tickets: Free Admission

Address: No.34, Dongguan Avenue, Chengdong District, Xining, Qinghai, China (青海省西宁市城东区东关街34号)

Dongguan Mosque, also called Dongguan Great Mosque or Dongguan Muslim Grand Mosque, is the largest and oldest mosque in Qinghai Province. It was built during Ming Dynasty when the emperor Hongwu was on his throne. As one of the “four great mosques in China”, Dongguan Great Mosque is the holy home to millions of Muslims in China. There are many Muslim disciples worshipping and attending Muslim event here. If you are an architecture lover, this mosque is a great place for you to discover. Dongguan Great Mosque is a combination of traditional Chinese garden building and typical Muslim buildings. At the same time, you will find some spectacular design in some corner of this mosque. Travelers will always be attracted by its architecture at the first sight of the main entrance. As you walk into the mosque, architectural designs will give you a great visual delight.

9

Amne Machin Snow Mountain - Sacred God Mountain

Top Qinghai Attraction - Amne Machin Snow Mountain

Amne Machin Snow Mountain in Summer

Top Qinghai Attraction - Amne Machin Snow Mountain

Amne Machin Snow Mountain with Colorful Flags

Type: Mountains, Nature

Best Seasons: June ~ October

Recommended Visiting Time: 1 day

Average Altitude: 4200 m (Highest Peak: 6282 m)

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Address: Xueshan Touwnship, Dawu County, Maqen County, Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai (青海果洛藏族自治区玛沁县大武镇雪山乡)

Amne Machin Snow Mountain is one of the Four Greatest Mountains in Tibet Buddhism together with Mount Kailash in Ngari (Tibet), Meli Snow Mountian in Shangri-La (Yunnan) and Gaduojuewu Mountain in Yushu (Qinghai). It is the largest mountain at the source of the Yellow River. Machen Kangri, the main peak of the mountain, reaches a height of 6,282 meters, Besides, there are 17 other peaks above 5,000 meters, which are surrounded by clouds and mist all year round. You are able to admire the high grassland, glacial lakes, wide forest and mountains valleys as you get to this mountain. In winter, the whole area is covered by thick snow. When summer comes, green grass, wild flowers as well as flocks of yaks and sheep can be found everywhere. It is also available to see some Tibetan nomads in their traditional clothes.

Except for natural view, several monasteries lie at the foot of Amne Machin, including Guri Gompa and White Stupa. As a god mountain, Amne Machin has attracted numerous Buddhist pilgrims from far away. The worshippers believe that going around Amne Machin means rebirth into this human world again. They always spend several days walking or more days prostrating themselves to circumambulate the mountain. Some travelers also take a physically demanding trek around this mountain in seven to nine days.

10

No.10 Hoh Xil Nature Reserve - World Natural Heritage Site

Top Qinghai Attraction - Hoh Xil Nature Reserve

Hoh Xil Nature Reserve Scenery

Top Qinghai Attraction - Tibet Culture Museum

Wild Animals in Hoh Xil Nature Reserve

Type: Nature, Animals

Best Seasons:June ~ September

Recommended Visiting Time: 1~3 Hours

Address: Zhiduo County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai (青海玉树藏族自治州曲治多县) , about 100 km from Yushu City, about 1,100 km from Xining City

Hoh Xil Nature Reserve is one of China's national nature reserves with the highest elevation, largest area, and the richest wildlife resource. It is also one of the best-preserved regions in the world in its original state. Combining the alpine desert and plateau wetland, Hoh Xil Nature Reserve occupies a pivotal position in the ecological environment of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and even China, Asia and the world. In 2017, UNESCO listed Hoh Xil Nature Reserve in the World Nature Heritage Sites because of the precious natural treasures.

In order to protect the reserve, tourists are not permitted to go deep into the area but it is available to drive along the highway nearby. You will see the highly-soaring snow mountains, feel the boundlessness of grassland and meet Tibetan antelope as well as many other rich wildlife resources such as wild yak, wild donkey, white-lipped deer, brown bear, etc. By the way, trains to Lhasa also pass through Hoh Xil Nature Reserve.

Apart from Hoh Xil Nature, there are many other worth-seeing attractions, like Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve to see the headstream of the Yangtze River, Yellow River and Lancang River, Princess Wencheng Temple to learn the story of Prince Wenchen, Jiegu Monastery to admire the magnificent architecture…

11

Qarhan Salt Lake - The World's Second-largest Inland Salt Lake

Top Qinghai Attraction - Qarhan Salt Lake

Green Qarhan Salt Lake

Top Qinghai Attraction - Qarhan Salt Lake

Qarhan Sunset

Type: Lakes, Nature, Museums

Best Seasons: June ~ September

Recommended Visiting Time: 3 Hours

Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00

Address: Qarhan Town, Golmud City, Haixi Mongolian Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai (青海省海西蒙古族藏族自治州格尔木市察尔汗镇)

Qarhan Salt Lake collectively refers to four consecutive sections of Bieletan, Buerxun, Qarhan and Hobuxun from west to east. Literally means the king of the salt lake in Mongol, it is one of the richest salt reserves in the world. Besides, it is also the largest salt lake in China and second-largest inland salt lake in the world, covering a whole area of 5,856 square kilometers. Just like Chaka Salt Lake, Qarhan Salt Lake is also formed due to the changes of the crust and rise of the terrain.

The sight of Qarhan Salt Lake is incredibly splendid with transparent and glowing green water and white salt crystals on the bank. On a sunny day, the surrounding scenery, sky and white clouds are reflected in the lake, giving a great opportunity to photograph. Many architectures in Qarhan Salt Lake are made of salt, and the most famous one is the Great Salt Bridge. Don't miss Salt Lake Museum where you can take a glimpse of the development and utilization of salt as well as many salt products with interesting shape.

12

Mount Kunlun Geopark - UNESCO-recognized Geopark

Top Qinghai Attraction - Mount Kunlun Geopark

Yufeng Glacier in the Geopark

Top Qinghai Attraction - Mount Kunlun Geopark

Yeniugou Wetland in the Geopark

Type: Nature, Animals

Best Seasons: June ~ September

Recommended Visiting Time: 3 hours

Opening Hours: 09:00-18:00 (Monday ~ Thursday & Saturday ~ Sunday); 09:00-17:00

Address: Golmud City, Haixi Mongolian Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai (青海省海西蒙古族藏族自治州格尔木市)

Mount Kunlun Geopark is a UNESCO-recognized World Geopark with glacial periglacial landforms, earthquake relics and other landscapes which recorded multiple ocean-land transformations, the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and 5 ice ages. At the same time, Mount Kunlun is known as "the ancestor of ten thousand mountains". It has had a prominent position in the cultural history of the Chinese nation since ancient times. It gave birth to the Kunlun mythology system, one of the Chinese mythological systems. Taoist Kunlun School also originated here, with a long history of culture.

The magnificence and mystery of Mount Kunlun Geopark have attracted numerous travelers and adventures. In the park, there are various kinds of geological relics, historical & cultural sites and natural landscapes. It is an awesome experience for visitors to appreciate the glaciers, snow mountains, wetlands, etc. as well as inscriptions on precipices, religious architectures. What's more, one section of Qinghai-Tibet Railway is just built in the park and you may see the trains passing by.

How to Plan A Qinghai Tour

Almost all travelers start a Qinghai tour from Xining and then explore its surroundings. Generally, it takes about 3 ~ 6 days to have a classic Qinghai tour.

For travelers with limited time and just want to take a short glimpse of the essence of Qinghai, it is recommended to spend 3 days discovering Qinghai Lake – China's largest lake with incredible beauty and Xining highlights such as Kumbum Monastery – a Tibetan monastery holding great importance and Tibetan Medicine and Tibet Culture Museum – an informative museum fully displaying all aspects of Tibetan culture and medicine.

For more natural sightseeing experience, you spend 1 more day visiting Chaka Salt Lake to get amazed by the Mirror of Sky or turning to Kanbula National Forest Park to savor shimmering Danxia Landform. If you have interest in Amdo Tibetan culture or Regong art, Tongren deserves your another day. For an in-depth adventure, visiting Amne Machin – one of the four sacred mountains in Tibetan Buddhism in 1 more day.

It is strongly recommended to extend your Qinghai trip to its attractive neighbors, including Tibet, Gansu and Sichuan. The high-altitude scenery and the Buddhist atmosphere of Tibet is second to none. Take a 4 ~ 8 days trip and you will enjoy most Tibet highlights. If you want to unveil the mystery of the Silk Road, 5 ~ 11 days are needed to visit Gansu and Xinjiang. For travelers who prefer an in-depth discovery of Amdo, Gannan and Aba in Sichuan are recommended.

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once enquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

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