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Qinghai Tourism: Exploring the Gems of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

If you’re an adventurer at heart, seeking China’s most breathtaking landscapes, look no further than Qinghai. Nestled on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, this region boasts a unique combination of nature’s wonders, including the most beautiful lakes, the most enchanting grasslands, the most stunning salt lakes, and the most vibrant sea of flowers.

Qinghai Lake, Qilian Grassland, Chaka Salt Lake, and Menyuan Flower Sea are just a few of the remarkable destinations that beckon travellers to set foot on this enchanting land. The sheer beauty and extreme natural landscapes of Qinghai are bound to leave you awestruck and coming back for more.

1. What Travel Method to Choose?

When planning a trip to Qinghai, you have several travel options at your disposal. The most common choices include chartered car tours, car rental for self-driving, or pure group tours. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.

Chartered Car Tours: If you’re travelling with three or more people, a chartered car tour is highly recommended. It comes with the convenience of local drivers who double as knowledgeable guides. These tours often include route design services, making your journey hassle-free and enjoyable.

Self-Driving Tours: If you love to drive, renting a car might be an appealing option. However, some of Qinghai’s scenic spots are quite remote, which could increase travel fatigue. Getting lost is a real possibility, and safety concerns may arise, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Plus, you may fall victim to scams while shopping or dining without local knowledge.

Pure Group Tours: These tours are ideal if you prefer travelling in a larger group, but they come with time constraints. You won’t have the flexibility to stop and explore as you wish, potentially impacting your overall experience.

Considering these factors, we recommend a chartered tour. It offers the best of both worlds: the freedom to choose your destinations and the assurance of a safe and guided journey. At Aike Chunwan, we’ve been specializing in Qinghai tourism for years, and we’re here to make your adventure unforgettable.

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Img 1569

2. When is the Best Time to Visit?

Qinghai boasts different landscapes throughout the year, but the best time to visit is June to September. During May and June, spring arrives late in the plateau areas, and the temperature remains cool. This period is particularly notable for the return of migratory birds to Qinghai Lake. The sight of hundreds of thousands of birds flocking to the lake is simply spectacular, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

From July to September, midsummer in Qinghai ushers in sunny days and minimal rainfall. This period is ideal for travelers, as scenic spots reach their peak beauty. Menyuan rapeseed flowers bloom, the Qilian grassland becomes a lush emerald, and Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake glisten under clear blue skies.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds and high prices, consider visiting in September. However, we discourage winter travel to Qinghai due to extreme cold, heavy snow, road closures, and strong winds.

3 How to Plan Your Route?

Qinghai offers four main tourist routes: the Qinghai Small Ring Road, the Qinghai-Gansu Great Ring Road, the Qinghai-Tibet Line, and the Sichuan-Qinghai-Exit Route. Each route showcases unique features and covers the main attractions of Qinghai.

  • Qinghai Small Ring Road and Qinghai-Tibet Line: These routes can be explored in 3-5 days, making them perfect for shorter trips.
  • Qinghai-Gansu Great Ring Road and Sichuan-Qinghai-Exit Route: If you have more time, these routes offer diverse and breathtaking scenery.

Whichever route you choose, Qinghai promises an unforgettable adventure. So, embark on this journey and experience the marvels of this unique region for yourself.

Qinghai Small Ring Line

  • Day 1: Xining → Kumbum Monastery → Riyue Mountain → Daotang River → Qinghai Lake
  • Day 2: Chaka Salt Lake → Huanhu West Road → Dadongshu Mountain Pass → Binggou Forest → Qilian
  • Day 3: Zhuoer Mountain → Qilian Prairie → Arou Temple → Menyuan Flower Sea → Black Spring Reservoir → Xining

Qinghai-Tibet Line

  • Day 1: Xining → Qinghai Lake → Chaka Salt Lake → Golmud
  • Day 2: Golmud → Xidatan → Kunlun Pass → Wudaoliang → Tuotuo River
  • Day 3: Tuotuo River → Tanggula Pass → Amdo → Nakchu
  • Day 4: Nakchu → Namtso → Yangpachen → Lhasa

The average altitude of the entire Qinghai-Tibet Line is over 4,500 meters, and you need to climb several mountain passes over 5,000 meters along the way. It is quite demanding on your body, so you must be prepared to prevent altitude sickness.

Qinghai Gansu Grand Ring Line

  • Day 1: All over the country → Xining
  • Day 2: Xining → View Riyue Mountain → Qinghai Lake → Chaka Salt Lake → Qaidam Basin → Ulan/Delingha
  • Day 3: Wulan/Delingha → Dongtai Jinai Lake → Water Yadan Devil City → South Eight Immortals Devil City → Emerald Lake → Dachaidan
  • Day 4: Dachaidan → Dangjin Mountain → Aksei → Oil Town → Dunhuang
  • Day 5: Dunhuang → Mogao Grottoes → Mingsha Mountain, Crescent Moon Spring → Dunhuang Night Market
  • Day 6: Dunhuang → Guazhou → Great Gobi → Jiayuguan Pass →Colorful Danxia → Zhangye
  • Day 7: Zhangye → Biandukou → Qilian Grassland → Menyuan Rapeseed Field → Gangshika Snow Mountain → Xining

The Qinggan-Gansu Ring Road is a classic route for visiting the northwest If you are travelling by charter, the route can be customized and the most comfortable route will be designed based on the scenic spots you want to visit. Feel free to contact us for details.

lady on Desert Road Ngari
Lady on Desert Road Ngari

4. What Preparations Need to Be Made Before Departure?

Before embarking on your Qinghai adventure, it’s crucial to make the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here’s a checklist of essential items and considerations:

  • 1. Documents: Bring IDs for adults and original household books for children. Also, remember a valid driver’s license for renting a car.
  • 2. Medications: Prepare for altitude sickness with Rhodiola rosea supplements. Also, pack cold remedies, gastrointestinal drugs, heatstroke preventives, mosquito repellent, and motion sickness elixirs if needed.
  • 3. Clothing: Pack suitable clothing for temperature changes. Bring a down jacket and consider a lightweight one. Wear long sleeves, pants, and sun-protective clothing. Choose breathable clothes and light shoes. Pack cash, umbrella, raincoat, sunglasses, scarf, sunscreen, masks, lip balm, camera, tripod, and basic vehicle repair tools for emergencies.

Preparing for your trip is crucial to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience in Qinghai. Now that you’re well-equipped, get ready to explore the wonders of this magnificent region.

Exploring the Hidden Gem of China: Qinghai – The Enchanting Land Between Tibet and Xinjiang

In a world full of natural wonders, there’s a place that often goes unnoticed, nestled between the enchanting regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. This hidden gem, often referred to as “the closest place to heaven,” is none other than Qinghai. With its awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse scenery, Qinghai is a paradise waiting to be discovered.

1. Qinghai Lake – Nature’s Masterpiece

Qinghai Lake is like a gigantic mirror bestowed by nature upon the Qinghai Plateau. The months of July and August transform it into a breathtaking canvas. Thousands of acres of rapeseed flowers bloom, and the azure waters are adorned with bright yellow dots. Alpine pastures come alive with colourful wildflowers, and robust cattle and sheep graze freely.

2. Qarhan Salt Lake – A Glistening Wonder

Qarhan Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China and a famous inland salt lake globally, is a natural marvel. The pristine salt crystals, transparent green waters, and the reflection of the surrounding landscape on clear days make it a photographer’s dream.

3. Dulan Flower Sea – A Floral Symphony

The Dulan Flower Sea, also known as the “Haisi Flower Sea,” is an alpine meadow adorned with a spectacular display of flowers. In July and August, the landscape is transformed into a sea of purple, white, and yellow blooms, creating a mesmerizing sight. It’s an immersive experience, with the fragrance of flowers in the air and larks singing in the background.

4. Dachaidan Emerald Lake – Nature’s Jewel

Dachaidan Emerald Lake lives up to its name, with crystal-clear waters that shimmer like emeralds under the sun. Despite being a paid attraction, it retains its pristine beauty. Its mirror-like surface reflects the sky, clouds, and distant peaks, creating an enchanting scene.

5. Queen Mother of the West Yaochi – A Sacred Plateau Lake

Known as the Black Sea, Queen Mother of the West Yaochi is a plateau lake sacred to Taoist believers. It’s surrounded by lush vegetation and home to a variety of wildlife, including wild yaks, donkeys, bears, and Tibetan antelopes.

6. Mang Ya Emerald Lake – A Pure Gem

Mang Ya Jadeite Lake, distinct from Dachaidan Jadeite Lake, boasts pristine emerald green waters that appear striking whether viewed from the ground or the air. Its isolation ensures a tranquil experience, allowing visitors to savour the serenity.

7. Devil’s Eye – Aiken Springs

Aiken Springs, located in Moheerbrook Village, is a geothermal fountain famous for its continuous gurgling flow and vibrant colours. The high sulfur content keeps birds and animals away, leading to its unique name, the “Eye of the Devil.”

8. Yadan on the Water – Geological Marvel

In the Qaidam Basin of Haixi, the Yadan Group formed over millions of years, is a unique geological wonder. This 60-square-kilometer area is reflected in Taijinair Lake like a mirage, with blue waters, unusual landforms, and vast sand dunes.

9. Hoh Xil Nature Reserve – Wildlife Haven

Stretching across Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet, Hoh Xil Nature Reserve protects rare wildlife such as Tibetan antelopes, wild yaks, Tibetan wild donkeys, and Tibetan gazelles, as well as their natural habitats.

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Img 1555

Recommended Itinerary

Embarking on a journey to Qinghai, you’ll witness the following highlights:

  1. China’s largest inland lake – Qinghai Lake.
  2. China’s Mirror of the Sky – Chaka Salt Lake.
  3. China’s version of Route 66 – 315 U-shaped highway.
  4. Maldives in Qinghai – Dongtai Jinair Lake.
  5. The only water wonder in the world – Shui Yadan.
  6. Dachaidan Secret Land – Emerald Lake.
  7. The Emerald of the Earth – Mangya Emerald Lake.
  8. Devil’s Eye – Aiken Spring.
  9. The magical two-colour lake – Xitai Jinair Lake.
  10. China’s largest Yadan landform – Daqaidan Yadan Group.
  11. China’s largest salt lake – Chaerhan Salt Lake.
  12. Wildlife paradise – Hoh Xil.
  13. Kunlun Mountain is the ancestor of all mountains and the Taoist fairy mountain.
  14. Taoist holy lake and the source of Kunlun River – Xiwangmu Yaochi.
  15. The highest peak in the eastern section of Kunlun Mountains – Yuzhu Peak.
  16. The highest Taoist temples in China – are Wuji Dragon and Phoenix Palace.
  17. The most beautiful Haisi Grassland in Dulan – Dulan Flower Sea.
  18. The mysterious “nine-story demon tower” – Xuewei No. 1 Tomb.

Qinghai is a land of wonder and beauty that you must experience in 2023. It’s a place that leaves an indelible mark on your heart, where you can connect with nature in its purest form. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore this hidden paradise.


1. When is the best time to visit Qinghai?

  • The best time to visit Qinghai is during July and August when the landscapes are painted with vibrant colors, and the weather is pleasant.

2. How do I get to Qinghai?

  • You can reach Qinghai by air, train, or road. Xining Caojiabao Airport and Xining Railway Station are common entry points.

3. Are there any trekking opportunities in Qinghai?

  • Yes, Qinghai offers excellent trekking opportunities, especially in the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve and the surrounding areas.

4. What should I pack for a trip to Qinghai?

  • Pack warm clothing, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the stunning scenery.

5. Is Qinghai suitable for families with children?

  • Yes, Qinghai has family-friendly attractions and activities, making it a great destination for families.

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Img 1558

Here’s a brief summary of your nine-day trip, including the places and attractions you’ll visit.

Day 1 – Xining

  • Arrival in Xining, Qinghai Province.
  • Suggested visits to Dongguan Mosque, Qinghai Museum, and Mojia Street for local delicacies.
  • Check-in at Qinghai-Tibet Railway Hotel or Kaiyuan Hotel.

Day 2 – Xining to Chaka Town

  • Journey to Chaka Town via Riyue Mountain, Daotang River, and Qinghai Lake.
  • Explore Qinghai Lake, including the Erlangjian Scenic Area.
  • Visit Chaka Salt Lake, specifically the “Sky No. 1” scenic spot.
  • Enjoy a dreamy little train ride and admire the salt lake’s scenery.
  • Return to Chaka Town and stay at a Four Diamond Boutique Hotel.

Day 3 – Chaka Town to Dachaidan

  • Depart from Chaka Town and head to Delingha.
  • Visit the Haizi Poetry Exhibition Hall in Delingha.
  • Explore Dachaidan’s Emerald Lake.
  • Stay in Dachaidan at a Four Diamond Boutique Hotel.

Day 4 – Dachaidan to Dongtai

  • Drive along the Gobi Highway section of G315 National Highway.
  • Visit the Shuiyadan (Water Yadan) in the Qaidam hinterland.
  • Enjoy the sunset at Shuiyadan.
  • Stay in a nearby boutique hotel.

Day 5 – Dongtai to Mangya

  • Continue your journey, crossing the Qaidam Basin.
  • Explore Mangya’s Emerald Lake.
  • Optional visit to Aiken Spring (Note: The road is bumpy).
  • Stay in Mangya City at night.

Day 6 – Mangya to Golmud

  • Depart from Mangya and take a less-travelled route through the Gobi Desert.
  • Drive through the Altyn No Man’s Land and Qaidam Basin.
  • Arrive at Chaerhan Salt Lake, China’s largest salt lake.
  • Explore Chaerhan Salt Lake, including the Wanzhang Salt Bridge.
  • Stay in Golmud, a city in the Qaidam Basin.

Day 7 – Golmud to Hoh Xil and Back

  • Drive along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway (G109 National Highway).
  • Visit Kunlun Pass and the Kunlun Pass Conservation Station.
  • Enter the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve.
  • Explore the non-freezing spring at the foot of Kunlun Mountain.
  • Visit the Wuji Dragon and Phoenix Palace at Kunlun Mountain’s base.
  • Explore Xiwangmu Yaochi, a sacred lake in the Hoh Xil region.
  • Return to Golmud and stay at the same hotel.

Day 8 – Golmud to Dulan

  • Depart from Golmud and head to Dulan County, an oasis in the Qaidam Basin.
  • Visit Xiangride Town and Xiangride Panchen Monastery.
  • Explore the Dulan Flower Sea.
  • Visit the Shuishui Ancient Tombs, including Xuewei No. 1 Tomb (Nine-Story Demonic Tower).
  • Stay in Dulan City at a boutique hotel.

Day 9 – Dulan to Xining

  • Depart from Dulan and travel back to Xining along the Beijing-Tibet Expressway.
  • Pass through Gonghe County and Huangyuan County.
  • Arrive in Xining, concluding your nine-day journey.

It appears to be an exciting and diverse trip through Qinghai’s natural landscapes, historical sites, and cultural attractions. Be sure to follow the itinerary closely and enjoy your exploration of this beautiful region.

Check Out Qinghai Wiki Voyage


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