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The Qinghai Lake (青海湖) or Lake Kokonor is one of the most celebrated natural attractions in Xining. It is a very large lake thatis located in the middle of Haibei and Hainan provinces. The waters are described to be both alkaline and saline. But it’s more known for its deep blue color. The lake itself covers more than 60 miles and the province where it belongs to is said to be the main source of the three great rivers that flow around Asia. The lake itself is connected to more than 20 streams and small rivers.

Although the lake itself is a beautiful attraction and is home to different types of fish, it’s the islands that form part of it that have gained worldwide recognition. It is where you can find Bird Island, which is a perfect area for avid bird watchers; the island has become one of the most important routes for these birds during migration. You can also find Mahadeya, which is a Buddhist island. It is a massive piece of land that takes over 20 days to circumnavigate by foot. Before, it cannot be reached during summer, only on winter when the lake freezes over. Throughout the year, though, the climate remains quite cool because of its very high altitude. Today it has become a pilgrimage site. The lake had been well-known ever since the inception of the Han Dynasty.

Travelers can also delight in the ever-changing backdrops around the lake. During spring and summer, the fields are coated with green and livestock can be found grazing—it’s an excellent picture of the simple lifestyle of the Tibetans. They can also pass through deserts and snow-capped mountains on the way to the lake. They may also visit the old road walked by the Tang-tubo or even ride a yak.

Address: Gangcha County, Xining
Admission Fee: CNY 50 (October 16 to April 15), CNY 100 (April 16 to October 15)
Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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