Geographically, Qinghai is part of the Tibetan plateau and has mountains that source the Yellow, Mekong and Yangzi Rivers. It has very low rainfall and has salt marshes and saline lakes. The northwest is the driest area; while the central basin Qaidam Pendi has a harsh desert terrain with salt marshes and intermittent river courses; together this forms the ancient region of Amdo. The culture is mainly Tibetan except for the provincial capital Xining that is at the Eastern edge which has mainly Han Chinese citizens. It has cold winters and short cool summers.
Historically China has built many of its more isolated prisons and labor camps in the province. Qinghai Lake is the largest lake in China and is a mecca for bird watchers. The lake size has shrunk rapidly in the last fifty years and is quite salty. Recently tourism and development has been greatly aided by the completion of the Lanzhou to Lhasa railway running through the middle of Qinghai.
Popular Cities: Xining, Golmud, Lenghu, Da Qaidam, Yushu, Gonghe, Delingha
Average temperature: -18ºC to -7ºC (-0.4°F to 19.4°F) in January, 5ºC to 21ºC (41°F to 69.8°F) in July.
Places to visit
1. The Qinghai Lake, the largest inland salty lake in China, covers an area of 4,573 sq. km. It stands at 3,200 meters above the sea level. Like most of the highland lakes in the world, the Qinghai Lake is famous for its vast areas, charming views, and the tranquil atmosphere. The fertile pasturelands around the lake with flocks of sheep and cattle grazing leisurely and the herdsman’s yurts dotted here and there together with the reflection in the lake of the distant snow covered mountain offer an inspiring sight. The biggest attraction, however, is the world famous island of birds which lies in the northwest of the lake.
2. The Dongguan Grand Mosque located in the east part of Xining, was built in the reign of Emperor Hong Wu of Ming Dynasty (C.1380 A.D) in a style of the mosque combines both traditional Chinese design and Islamic architectural features, with grand appearance and delicate, dazzlingly inside ornaments interior appointments. When Islam’s important holidays come around, tens of thousands of worshippers come to participate in ceremonies and religious activities.
3. Beichansi Temple Standing along the slop of the Beishan Mountain in Xining, to the north of the Huangshui River, the Temple is regarded as the centre of China’s native religion — the Daoism. With the construction dating back to the Han Dynasty, it is made up of 18 caves and nine grottoes which are linked up by the plank roads, bridges and corridors. In the temple, the sculpture of Lao zi, the founder of Taoism, and that of the eight immortals plus the elegantly painted murals provide the most imposing sight.
4. The Taer Lamasery lies in the southwest suburbs 25 km away from Xining. It was built in the 39th year of the reign of Emperor Jia Jing of the Ming Dynasty (1560 A.D). As the temple is the birthplace of Tsong-kha-ps, the founder of the Yellow sect of Lamaism, it displays splendor of the exquisite design of architecture. It is now one of China’s six biggest Lamaseries and consists of a number of magnificent buildings. The butter sculptures, murals and appliqués are known as its unique “three wonders” of art.
5. Ledu County the Qutan Monastery was built in 1387 and completed six years later. It is referred to by experts as “the imperial palace of the northwest.” Its axis runs directly through its mid-section, dividing the temple into two symmetrical parts. The temple boasts for its magnificent architecture, precious cultural relics and large pieces of frescoes. It has become an important arena venue for religious activities as well as a tourist destination.
6. The Liuwan Graveyard was built 3, 500-4,500 years ago, the Graveyard used to be a public burial ground in the primitive society period. With the opening up of 1,700 individual graves, the Liuwan Graveyard is one of the biggest and best kept graveyards ever excavated so far in China. The excavated tombs represent different types of culture such as the Majiayao culture, The Xindian Culture and so on.
7. Qarhan Salt Lake as a natural resource for a number of important minerals, it is famous for its deposits of more than 50 billion tons of sodium chloride, or table salt, which can enough to supply 6 billion people for 1,000 years.