Qinghai Travel Guide

Qinghai Map - Qinghai Travel GuideGeographic location

Qinghai lies in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, on the northeastern side of the Qinghai-Tibet High Plateau, bordering Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet and Sichuan Provinces. Most areas of the province are mountainous and about 3,000 meters in elevation. The province is the source of the Yangtze River and the Huanghe River. Qinghai shares its name with its large inland salt lake, Qinghai Lake. The province is naturally divided into two parts by the Riyue Mountain, with pastoral areas in the west and agricultural areas in the east. Its capital is Xining.

Qinghai is known for its beautiful scenery. Huge grassy plains and the great Qinghai Lake enchant visitors from around the world. It has picturesque snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The world's highest highway runs thorough Qinghai to Lhasa.


Qinghai has a continental climate. The greater part of the province is dry and cold, with long winters, short summers, frequent winds, little rainfall, long hours of sunshine and great differences in temperature between day and night. It has a mean annual temperature of 0-8oC. The hottest month is July, averaging 0-20oC and the coldest month is January, below -8oC with a mean annual precipitation generally below 300 mm.

History and culture

Qinghai Province was named after Qinghai Lake. Qinghai is a mixture of cultures, religions, and ethnicity. Qinghai has a unique mixture of cultures and religions unlike the rest of China.

Today, the city has 6,780 baptized Christian believers. With the help of a Xinining born-again-Christian, who now resides in Hong Kong, Christians in Xining were able to build a good-sized church in the center of Xining City. There are more than 300 meeting places in Xining, the largest has a congregation of 800 believers. Even small meeting places in private houses average at least 100 members.


As of 2000, Qinghai had a population of 5.18 million. The province is inhabited by 44 ethnic groups. The major ones are Kazaks, Mongols, Tibetans, Hui, Tu, Salar, and Mongols, and, of course, Han. Minority people account for 44 percent of the province’s total population.

Travel suggestions

Qinghai's widely varying landscape is superb and enticing. One can see everything from high mountains with glacier-capped peaks over 6,000 meters high, to the Gobi Desert's sand dunes at Qaidam, to lush ranch land and sapphire lakes. It is a marvelous land of mystery and diversity. Its main scenic spots include Qinghai Lake, Birds Islet, Mengda Natural Reserves, Ta'er Monastery, snow-capped A’Nyemaqen Mountain, Sun-and-Moon Hill, and Longyang Gorge Reservoir, the largest reservoir in China, and the Dulan International Game Land.

Xining is the only large city in Qinghai, and is the capital of the province. Today, it is also a stopover for foreigners following the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Perched at an elevation of 2275 meters on the Tibetan Plateau, the city itself has nothing exceptional to see, but is a convenient staging post for visiting Ta'er Monastery and Qinghai Lake.


The Ta'er Temple - Qinghai Travel GuideThe Ta'er Temple was built at the birthplace of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the Yellow Hats order of Buddhist monks. It had 4,000 monks at its peak, but now has only about 600 monks. The Qutan Temple was built during the Ming Dynasty. 'Qutan' or 'Gautama' is the family name of an historic Buddha. The temple belongs to the White Hats branch and is located at Ledu near Xining. It is one of few Ming Temples presently preserved. The White Hats dominated Tibetan religion before the rise of the Yellow Hats. There are some beautiful wall paintings. About 400 square meters in extent, most of them were created during the Ming Dynasty (15th century), and are about the past lives of Buddha.

The Dongguan Moslem Mosque was also built during the Ming Dynasty. Islam spread in China during the Tang Dynasty. There are many Muslims in Qinghai.

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