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Qinghai Lake

In Qinghai community, the sky is portrayed over the crystal-clear water of Chaka Lake, where tourists enjoy the views by taking a train ride. Not far away, Qinghai Lake is surrounded by cyclists who enjoy the warm sun on their faces and see the island that appears in the distance. Meanwhile, others prefer to immerse themselves in the Tibetan Buddhist culture of Kumbum Monastery, where you can see the unique suyouhua (酥油花), murals and silk embroideries.

Things to do +

Explore Qinghai Lake

Description: it is the largest salt lake in China that, despite its salinity, has many marine species. Located more than 3000 meters above sea level, it is a depression on the Tibetan plateau. It is the meeting point for many birds that stop here on their seasonal migrations. Between April and June, it is the best time to observe these species flying around.

Apart from visiting the lake, you can buy a ticket for Erlangjian scenic area (二郎剑景区), so called in Chinese due to its sword shape. Here, you will be able to enter the lake, accessing a kind of small island where you would see natural resources and Chinese cultural activities come together as one, becoming a treasure of Qinghai Lake.

In Erlangjian you can go up to the observation decks to see the landscape from its different perspectives and take photos. In fact, a Bird Watching Platform (观鸟台), Deer Watching Garden (观鹿园), Sea Watching Bridge  (观海桥) and Sea Watching Pavilion (观海亭) were built here.

Ticket to Erlangjian: it is ¥100 (in high seasons, April 16th to October 19th) or ¥50 (October 20th to April 15th) per person.


Among the activities both locals and tourists like the most, they love riding a bike around the lake and enjoying the landscape. In addition, for racing enthusiasts, in July and August there’s even cycling competitions.

Address: China, Qinghai, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gonghe County, nº109.


Go to Chaka Salt Lake

Description: Chaka Salt Lake is a major tourist destination and key salt mine in Qinghai, hence its name Chaka, which means salt lake in Tibetan. The lake is famous for its crystal blue water and reflective surface and is popularly known as “Mirror of the sky”. The place has a continental plateau climate, cool, arid, and dry.

The lake perfectly reflects the sky, as its name suggests, and here it is highly recommended to see the sunrise or sunset. At those times, the sky and the water are perfectly united with each other and cast shadows.

To the east of Chaka Salt Lake, there is a tourist attraction called Tiankongyihao (天空壹号), where you can get on a train to take a tour around the lake. There’s even an opportunity get off at interesting points such as the “Port of the starry sky” (星空码头) and Gesanhua Square (格桑花广场).

Ticket to Chaka Salt Lake: 70¥ per person.


Train Tour ticket: ¥100 a round trip.

Estimated visit time: 2-3 hours.

Address: Ulan County, Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, China.


Visit Kumbum Monastery

Description:  It is a Tibetan gompa in Lusar, Qinghai. Taer Temple is the center of Tibetan Buddhism activities in northwest China. It enjoys a great reputation in China and Southeast Asia. Suyouhua (酥油花), murals, and silk embroideries are known as the “Three Wonders of Taer Temple Art”, so you definitely should explore them. In addition, there are many Buddhist classics and academic monographs on history, literature, philosophy, medicine, and law in this temple.

The technique of three-dimensional silk embroidery has already been lost, so the works that you will see here are the only ones that remain. In the case of suyouhua, they consist of statues of Buddha, figures, landscapes, animals, etc. made with dietary fat. To be created, the author has to immerse his hands in cold water before starting, so the difficulty of the technique is clearly noticeable. In the end, the method of making the murals is based on the use of animal bile and mineral powder, which is also quite traditional and unique to this temple.

Price per ticket: ¥40 per ticket from November to March and ¥70 from April to October. We recommend you hire a guide, which costs ¥80 for every 4 people (you can ask other tourists) to understand everything that is seen here, both sculpture and architecture.

Address: China, Qinghai, Xining, Huangzhong District, Jingtang nº2.


Try the typical dishes at Mojia Street (莫家街)

Description: Mojia Street is a famous food street in Xining, with over 600 years of history. It is known for its restaurants and local food booths and is usually crowded in the evenings. Here you can try the most delicious dishes along with some beers with your friends and loved ones.

Address: Mojia Street.

How to get +

By train: Xining has its own train station, where you can get to quite quickly and is also an essential point for travel to other destinations in Northwest China.

By plane: Qinghai has an airport in the capital city of Xining, called Xining Caojiabao International Airport (西宁曹家堡机场). There are direct flights to Xining from many communities, but sometimes you have to make a stopover, most often at Lanzhou airport. Once in Lanzhou you can choose whether to take another flight or the train. This last option is better in case you want to see the landscapes along the way or visit other destinations on Xibei route, since it is a key point in the northwest of China.

By car:  for those who want to take the Xibei Route Tour, it is better to rent a car or bring your own car, so you can save money and visit more destinations.

Travel tips +


Public transport is pretty convenient and effective.

To get to Chaka Salt Lake, you can choose to go to Xinning Road bus stop and take the line that goes to Chaka Salt Lake (5 hours away) or the one that goes to Wulan (乌兰县) and passes through Chaka’s town (6 hours travel). This last option is less recommended, because to go from the town to the lake you have to walk about 5 kilometers. The price of the tickets is ¥60-70 and can be purchased directly at the stop.

In addition, you can also choose to go by train and take the tourist line Y961 / 2Ci (次) that goes from Xining to Chaka, which takes 4 hours and has a price of approximately ¥65. Tickets can be purchased at the station ticket office.

Also, Line 81 buses depart from Xining to the Erlangjian Scenic Area.

To go to Taer temple from the city center, you can take the bus line 909.

On the other hand, if you prefer to have more time for yourself and personal space, you can rent a car with a driver (who can guide you and give you recommendations) to take a tour in Qinghai. The estimated price per person is between ¥300-500 per day.



It is important to carry pills for dizziness, colds, etc. Because the altitude of destinations like Qinghai Lake is quite high, over 3000 meters.



It is highly recommended to use sunscreen because, as Qinghai is on a plateau, ultraviolet rays are very strong and hurtful.


Remember these points when visiting Taer Temple:

You cannot enter with pants or short skirts.

No photos of Buddhist figures can be taken in the temple.

Enter from the left and exit from the right.

Gastronomy +

Niangpi (青海酿皮):  Niangpi is a traditional Qinghai dish that you can find in the streets and alleys of Xining. To make niangpi, a series of complements are added, and warm water is used to knead it and, once it is fine, it is steamed. When it is ready, it is cut into strips and vinegar, oil, garlic puree, etc. are added (according to taste) and it would be ready to be served.

“Shouzhua” lamb (手抓羊肉): “Shouzhua” in Chinese means to grab with the hand, and this dish is so named because when it is eaten, while its cut with a knife with one hand, with the other it is put directly into the mouth and eaten, hence its specialty. From mid-summer to early winter, it is the best season to eat the most tender and delicious lamb. “Shouzhua” style is a special way of eating lamb on Qinghai plateau, and the taste is unique and traditional.

Kang lamb chops (炕锅羊排):  Kang pots are thick-walled utensils used in agricultural and pastoral areas of Qinghai for cooking. It was originally used to make steamed buns, until they discovered the incredible flavor lamb had when they cooked it with Kang. The main ingredient in this dish is lamb chops that come from the grasslands of northwest China. In a pot, this dish is prepared with ingredients such as corn, potatoes, grated peppers, among others. Honestly, it is delicious no matter in what restaurant you try it.

Qinghai Yogurt (青海酸奶): We have all tried yogurts, but Qinghai yogurt is different from what we usually buy in supermarkets. In this case, it is very thick, has a golden layer on the surface and its sweetness and flavor is incomparable to the yogurt we normally eat.

Accommodation +

The Sebel Xining: well known cause of its good service of the establishment, this hotel is in the center of the capital of Qinghai.

Available to book on intermediaries such as Booking.

Price per night: ¥400-450.

Contact: 0971-766-0888.

Address:  63 Wu Si Xi Road, Xining, China, 810008.

Lete Hostel: youth accommodation with a more affordable price and social atmosphere, located near the center of Xining.

Available on Booking.

Price per night: 50-60¥.

Contact: 0971-820-2080.

Address: 15-18 International Village Apartment, Jiancai Alley, Chenguan District, Chengdong District, 810000 Xining, China.

Useful contacts +

Chaka Salt Lake contact: 0977-824-0129.

Taer Temple contact: 0971-221-0188.

Qinghai Lake contact: 0974-755-3999.

Qinghai Central Hospital: 0971-845-6222.