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Travel Guide: Qinghai Lake

Qinghai is a beautiful region that requires more time to explore because of the many places you can visit. During my trip to the region, I decided to go to the famous Qinghai Lake.

Around Qinghai Lake

We made a short stop to an old town, there was nothing much to do here but take pictures,.

The journey to the lake was one of the things I liked about our trip. We cut through roads with almost nothing around them, just rolling hills, grasslands and the blue sky in front of us. It was a scenic drive through the countryside.

I didn't realize that we were already at one part of the famous lake. As we got closer, we started to see the famous rape flowers; there was a sea of yellow as far as the eyes could see.

The mix of yellow, and deep and light blue are picture perfect.

I was fortunate to be at the right time and place during this trip to China. There was now more and more people coming and going. A lot of Chinese drive to this part of the country. I don't find it surprising because getting here was very scenic.

We went to one part of the lake that was quite touristy and wasn't what I expected. The lake is the largest of its kind in China. It's altitude of around 3,195m keeps the area cool throughout the year.

We dropped by sand island during our trip. The area surrounding Qinghai Lake is truly unique; there's an area which is desert-like, rolling, verdant hills in another part and fields of rape flowers not too far from the two I mentioned. The landscape changes within just a short drive from each other.

I climbed up the sand dunes to get another overlooking view of the lake.

How to Get  to Qinghai Lake

Your point of entry to the lake is via Xining; you can get to the latter by train or plane from either Beijing or Shanghai. Alternatively, you can take an overnight train from Beijing, a hard seat costs CNY206 to CNY236, a hard sleeper berth at around CNY377 to CNY428, and a soft sleeper berth at around CNY582 to CNY656. The trip can take up to more than 30 hours one way. From Shanghai, a hard seat costs around CNY254.5, a hard sleeper CNY464.5 and a soft one at CNY717.5.

Once in Xining, you can opt to join a tour group (which I did). I paid CNY150 and includes: Mt. Riyue,  Qinghai Lake and Sand Island. I only did a day tour, which I think isn't enough, you're better off spending the night there or so. The hostel (Hehung) I stayed in offered multi-day tours. You can reach the hostel here: hehuangjiyi@qq.com, their QQ#3022793756, mobile #18935510296 and telephone #0971-8131250.

You can also get to the lake by public transport; there's a bus from Bayilu Bus Station to Erlangjian Scenic Area. The trip takes about 2.5 to 3 hours one way; the fare is around CNY40 per way. Take the earliest possible bus to the lake, if you don't plan to spend the night there. You may have to hitchhike to get to different parts of the lake, if you don't have your own transportation. You can bike around the lake, if you have the time and experience.

Fees you have to pay:

  • 151 Scenic Spot: CNY 100 (Apr. 16 - Oct. 15); CNY 50 (Oct. 16 - Apr. 15)
  • Sand Island: CNY 70 (Apr. 20 - Aug. 20); CNY 35 (Aug. 21 - Apr. 19)
  • Bird Island: CNY 100 (Apr. 20 to Aug. 20); CNY 60 (Aug. 19 to Apr. 19)
Other Places You Might be Interested while in Qinghai

Rainbow Mountains

One of the most colorful destinations in China, the Rainbow Mountains are a must-visit. You can do it as a day trip from Zhangye.

Read my post here: Guide to Rainbow Mountains


Found this place en route to Zhuo'er Shan from Zhangye. Beautiful yellow fields and verdant rolling hills as far as my eyes could see.

Read my post here: Guide to Biandukou

Zhuo'er Shan

This destination is relatively unknown to foreign tourists. It took a bit of luck for me to find it, but it was worth the time and effort to see, especially during the right season when the yellow flowers are in bloom.

Read my post here: Guide to Zhuo'er Shan

Mati Si

Mati Si has ancient temples and stunning views of the surroundings. There are hiking trails that allow you to relax and unwind.

Read my post here: Guide to Mati Si

*You can easily reach Zhangye in Gansu by bullet train from Xining in Qinghai.


  1. hi po. question.. what month did you visit here? :D Thanks!

    1. around July, perfect timing for the rape flowers :D, but this place is far from the coast, it may take around 20 hours by train to get here, but there are flights to Xining from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (especially if you're coming from the PH, you can message me through my FB page if you have questions :D