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Impression on Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is the largest lake in China which stretches 105 km at length and 63 km at width and occupies a surface area of over 4,500 square kilometers. At 3200 m above the sea level and owning an average depth of 21 m, its waters are profoundly cold and salty.

These crystal plateau lakes, combined with characteristic islands, vast grasslands, snowy mountains and spectacular dessert in and around Qinghai Lake make up an attractive Qinghai Lake Scenic Area. With so much to admire, Qinghai Lake was evaluated as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic. Teeming with fish and populated by nesting seabirds, so it is always referred as Birds’ Paradise.

Top Attractions

Qinghai Lake provides too much scenery to discover. It can be divided into four featured parts including Fairy Bay Area, Bird Island Area, Sand Island Area and Erlangjian Area.

Erlangjian Area

Being 151 km away from Xining City, Erlangjian Scenic Area also called “151 Base”. It is a long and narrow embankment winding into Qinghai Lake, just like a sword. It is famous for grassland, sand beach, a diversity of animals and folk activities. At present, enough sightseeing areas were built, like Bird Observatory, Deer Garden, Lake-viewing Bridge and Lake-viewing Pavilion where you can have a perfect sight for the best view. In addition, you are able to get a delightful experience in the recreational areas which centers on wharf and Four Mascots Carving, and you can enjoy yourself by watching large-scale folk music and dance, Tibetan folk customs. What’s more, an opportunity of playing water games is also provided. If you are interested, water scooters, water bikes and self-driving yacht are waiting for your attempt. In conclusion, Erlangjian Area is the largest reception base and folk customs base, you can appreciate a high-quality relaxing holiday.

Tickets: 100 RMB on season and 50 RMB off season.

Bird Island Area

Bird Island Area, situated in the eastern part of Qinghai Lake, contains a group of islands in Qinghai Lake. It is a Nature Protection Zone for there are more than 160,000 birds – gulls, geese, swans, cormorants and rare black-necked crane in breeding season.

Bird Island is breeding ground for migratory birds which has long been a main attraction for the lake for visitors. It compasses two twin islands, one is Egg Island for eggs of birds can be found everywhere in this island, and the other is haixipi which is hump-shaped like. Most of the birds in Qinghai Lake inhabit in the two islands. In every March and April, the birds migrate to Bird Island from the south and begin to build their nests. In May and June, eggs and little birds appeared all around and you can enjoy the most quantity of birds. In July and August, some birds are flying under the blue sky, extremely amazing. In short, Bird Island is well worth scheduling your journey.

Besides a visit to Bird Island which seems to be a rushed and hectic experience, you can also hike in relatively peaceful places like Haixin Mountain and Sankuaishi Mountain which are good great points to view different birds as well.

Tickets: 115 RMB on season and 50 RMB off season.

Sand Island Area

Sand Island Area is located in the northeast of Qinghai Lake, bordered by Golden and Silver Grassland in north, Qinghai Lake in south, several streams and hills in east. With an altitude of 3,200 m and area nearly 120 square km a, Sand Island Area stretches 36 km from east to west and 3 km from south to north. It is mainly composed of Golden Sandy Bay and Silver Sandy Bay in which Sand Island Lake, Moon Lake, Sun Lake etc. are scattered. Thanks to the beautiful sand dunes with many unique shapes and distinguished color, Sand Island Area became an ideal place for sightseeing, sand-skating, sand-motor and sand-carving. At the same time, it is a best resort for viewing the scenery of Qinghai Lake and wet lands.

Because of the declining lake-level and accumulated sand, Sand Island came into being. The particularly shaped sand dunes make it dazzling among the large amounts of island in and around Qinghai Lake. With the additional glamour of azure sky, blue water and yellow sand, Sand Island turned to be the hottest attraction in Sand Island Area. Luxuriant water weeds surround Sand Island, making a striking contrast with vast lake and sand dunes. Besides desserts, lakes, birds and green lands, tourists can experience an adventurous exploration to search for primitive landscape of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as well as excitement.

Tickets: 70 RMB on season and 35 RMB off season.

Fairy Bay Area

Fairy Bay Area is a wet land located in the northern coast of Qinghai Lake. There are two legends about how Fairy Bay Area got its name. In one old legend, the queen of the west area fell in love with the King of Central Plains. Queen always served a feast for King in Qinghai Lake with pretty fairies singing and dancing for them. Another ancient poem showed that the Queen of west had been waiting for King of Central Plains in Qinghai Lake for thousands of years but he never kept his appointment. Sad Queen left for Heaven, but she ordered the fairies to guard Qinghai Lake. Later, these fairies masqueraded as swans living in Fairy Bay Happily. Might be attracted these beautiful swans, a dozen of other birds also prefer Fairy Bay as a habitat.

Apart from various birds, different kind of flowers blooms here from every June to October. Just like a carpet waved by fairies, Fairy Bay presents on white, yellow, orange, pink, red etc., really deserving its name of Flowers’ Ocean. Because of the magic legends and amazing landscape, local people regard it as sacred ground and several solemn rituals are held here. So, you can feel a strong cultural fragrance.

Tickets: 60 RMB on season and 30 RMB off season.

Featured Activities

Lake-round Biking

Qinghai Lake Scenic Area is equipped with biking tracks with good & safe condition. If you are a cycling enthusiast and want to fully enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake, biking is an activity you can’t miss. In summer, full-blown yellow rape flowers resemble a golden wreath on Qinghai Lake, and you just riding on the golden wreath. After a lake-round visit by biking, you are going to feel an unspeakable exhaustion of the body but incomparable pleasure of mind. You may take part in a lake –round riding competition which was recognized by UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and takes place in every July and August.

Lake Cruise

Want to see the pretty lake from another viewing angle? A lake cruise is your best choice. In Erlangjian Area, you will have unforgettable memory of Qinghai Lake Cruise experience from the wharf to the end of Erlangjian peninsula at cost of 110 RMB or 150 RMB (for 20 minutes or 50 minutes). When the cruise enters into the cerulean lake, you may feel that you are standing in the water, the idle breeze touching your face gently, the seabirds flying round and round. The vista of the mountains, grasslands and flowers from the cruise is greatly stunning. The boat is considerately equipped with restaurant, cafe and VIP rooms, and you can have a relaxed rest at the same time.

Watching Local Rituals

Paying tribute to Qinghai Lake is a celebrated ritual in Qinghai from which you can feel a sacred atmosphere. Originally, it was a tradition of Mongolians who always believe each thing on earth has its spirit. From ancient times, Tibetan people in the districts around Qinghai Lake began to worship Qinghai Lake. It was not only a religious ritual, but also folk cultural phenomena to express people’s wish to have a harmonious coexistence with nature. In every 15th June of Chinese lunar calendar is Worshipping Lake Festival. In that day, surrounded monks and herdsmen will gather in Erlangjain Area and preach. As the ritual ends, a stage show of Culture of Worshiping Lake will start.

>> 3 Days Qinghai Short Stay Tour

>> 5 Days Amdo Tibetan Culture Experience Tour

Qinghai Lake Attractions Map Qinghai Lake Attractions Map
Qinghai Lake Erlangjian Area
Qinghai Lake Bird Island (in June)
Qinghai Lake Bird Island
Qinghai Lake Sand Island
Qinghai Lake Sand Island
Qinghai Lake Fairy Bay (in July and August)
Qinghai Lake Fairy Bay
Qinghai Lake Lake-round Biking
loom Lake Cruise

Nearby Attraction

Lying in the conjunction of national road 109 and 315 and near Qinghai Lake and 137 km away from Erlangjian Scenic Area, Chaka Salt Lake is one important courier station of ancient Silk Road. It was the only way to Tibet for businessmen and tourists in the history and referred as the Eastern Gate of Qaidam. Also praised as the Mirror of Sky, its fantastic beauty is beyond everyone’s imagination. Looking to the distance, you are unable to find the boundary between sky and lake and you can’t tell whether the sky is one part of lake or the lake is the supplement of sky. Wondering in the lake is like stepping into the world of salt, pure, picturesque and poetic. You could feast your eyes on the spectacular view on a sightseeing train which allows you to admire the moving stroll of sunset, evening glow and salty flowers.

Chaka Salt Lake Chaka Salt Lake

Recommended Visiting Routes

One Day Tour permits you to enjoy yourself in Erlangjian Area to the full. Start from Xining City in the morning and admire the landscape on the way to Erlangjian Area. As you reach to Erlangjian, you have abundant time to cherish every element of this attracting picture, like clear lake water, golden rape flowers, dazzling yellow sand etc. After satisfy your vision, take part in some interesting activities to relax your body and mind.

Two Days Tour covers more rich attractions. Leave Xining City for the Erlangjian Area in the morning and spend half day in this peninsula. After having fun in Erlangjian Area, turn to Bird Island – the Paradise of Birds to enjoy multitudinous birds and listen to the symphony of nature. Then, you will have a valuable chance of watching gorgeous sunset in the evening and magical starry sky. Have accommodation in Bird Island an go on your journey to dream-like Chaka Salt Lake in the second day. With a wonderful experience in Chaka Salt Lake, drive back to Xining City.

Location & Transportation

Qinghai Lake is located in the intersection of Gangca County, Gonghe County and Haiyan County of Qinghai Province and near the northeast of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Erlangjian Scenic Area is

  • About 137 km away from Chaka Salt Lake
  • About 170 km away from Taer Monastery
  • About 146 km away from Xining City
  • About 154 km away from Xining Caojiabao Airport

For Independent Travelers

If you start your journey to Qinghai Lake from Xining city, you can take a coach to Dulan or Wulan which will pass by Qinghai Lake and covers a bit more than 2 hours.

Travel with ChinaDiscovery

Qinghai Lake Location Map Qinghai Lake Location Map

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our knowledgeable local tour guide and skilled driver will escort you to Qinghai Lake with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Warm Tips

  • Best Time: July and August are the best seasons for sightseeing in Qinghai Lake. The average temperature in Qinghai Lake is about 18℃. Baking competition and worshiping ritual are both held at this period. The most exciting thing is that the flowers grow best. If you are a bird-lover, May and June are more advisable for you can admire most birds.
  • Altitude Sickness: Visiting 3200-meter-altitude Qinghai Lake and passing by 4877-meter-altitude Riyue Mountain, it’s necessary to prevent and alleviated altitude sickness. Never be crapulent or do strenuous exercises before your journey and on the way. Carrying some preventative medicines and keeping good mood will be helpful.
  • Dressing Tips: For the large temperature difference between day and night, keeping warm at night is important. Instead of little thick clothes, it is recommended to wear more thin clothes because they are more convenient to put on and off. In spring, autumn and winter, down jackets are good choice. However, you need to void unnecessary sun exposure and use sunscreen, sunglasses and hat in hot summer.
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