Qinghai Province's


Global Mark : 10.22

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


2 2 2 3 3 3 2 2



Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
9 89%  (8) 0% 78%  (7) 8 to 13 10.67

Description :
A growing town with markets and food stalls at every gray corner

Comments : The town lack sights but not atmosphere. It is also the place to come to if you wish to visit Ta'er Monastery or Birds Island.

What to do : Walk the markets / See how the local have fun in a small park next to the river / Check your email / Reserve your train or bus ticket onward / Spend half a day with the local tourists at Ta'er Monastery / Take a long bus tour to Qinghai Lake / Degust Kebab or, if you like hot food, Sha Guo

What you may not like : The lack of sights in town / Seeing more tourists than monks at Ta'er Monastery / Spending 14 hours on a bus to watch birds for only 1h30...

How long ? 1 to 4 days depending if you like the birds or not.

Where to stay ?

Around the train station, old ladies with billboards propose dorm beds starting at 10Y-15Y. Otherwise, you have the choice of the followings :

  • Youzheng Gongyu Hotel (8140 860), on the left when you exit the Train Station, 5mn walk / Dorm 16 (4), 18 (3) or 24 (2) without bath / Dorm 38 (2) with bath / Sgl with bath 46 / Dbl with bath 76 / Correct toilet & bath / HW 21 to 23:30 / Go there for the cheapest dorm in town, the relative cleanliness, the convenient location

  • Kunlun Hotel (8133 890), former "Yongfu Hotel", easy to spot with its Mosque-Casino look, opposite the train station / Dorm 30 (2 or 3) with bath / Sgl or Dbl with bath 60 or 80 according to size and view / HW evening / Go there for the original building, the cleanliness, the best rate for dorm with bath... / What you may not like : if you are claustrophobic, the size of some rooms, to pay for a Sgl the same price as for a bigger Dbl, the bad view of the cheapest rooms, the noise...

  • Xining Tiedao Binguan (8193 994-0), down the street after Kunlun Hotel / Dorm 25 (3) or 35 (2) without bath / Dorm 50 (2) with bath / Sgl without bath 40 / Dbl without bath 60 or 70 / Dbl 100 / Good toilets / Shower with no privacy / HW 24 hrs / Go there for the very cozy rooms. / What you may not like : the prices

  • Xining Mansion (814 9995), a 2 stars hotel with an old wind in the garden, south of Jianguo Lu / Dbl with bath 56, 70 or 84 according to the floor and the view / Dbl new bldg 130 / HW 7 to 24 / Go there for the cheapest Dbl in town, the garden, the nice view from the first floor... / What you may not like : the mouldiness & decrepitude of the rooms, the dirty bathrooms,...

  • Qinghai Minzu Hotel (822 5951) / Dorm in Trpl  30 without bath or 45 to 55 with bath / Sgl 90 / Dbl 100 to 120 / No common bath / OK toilets / HW 19:30 to 2am / Go there if you wish to be in the town center and for the nice rooms.

Youzheng Gongyu Hotel youzheng gongyu binguan

Kunlun Hotel


Xining Tiedao Hotel

xining tiedao

Xining Mansion

xining dasha

Qinghai Minzu Hotel

qinghai minzu binguan

Where to eat ?
At any of the market ! Great atmosphere and excellent food. Hot Pots and Muslims specialties are the best bets. 

Internet ?  China Telecom, 8 Tongren Lu, Bus No 2 or 22, Y10 per hour

What to see / Visit ?

  • Ta'er Monastery : (4), Free or Y11 or Y21, Minibus (Y3, 1 hr)

The foreigner price is supposed to be Y21 but the ticket office is happy enough when foreigners do not enter for free (just walk in) and therefore seem to charge them the Chinese price only.

If you have already seen Xiahe & Langmusi, you might be disappointed by the lack of spirituality there. Nevertheless, the butter sculptures are definitively worth a good look at Temple No7.

Accommodation in Huangzhong : Ta'er Hotel (0972 232 452) / Dorm 25 to 35 (November to April) 35 to 55 (May to October) in correct 3 bed's rooms with bath / Dbl 90 to 120 (LS) or 120 to 180 (HS) / HW 20 to 23

Backpacker's Tips :  Gregg Butenski (May 00)
You can now stay on the monastery grounds at the Kumbum Motel. It's basic but has great character. Y30/dbl.

  • Qinghai Lake & Bird Island : (2), Y30, 1 or 2 days' tour

Difficult to go there on your own as there are only transportation from Xining to Heimahe, 50km from Bird Island, and no onward public transport (a taxi should cost Y50)

Tours run every day during the watching season (April to early June) for Y100 one day and Y180 two days. Price exclude entrance fees, food or accommodations. Departure is 6:30 in front of Train Station (or your hotel) and return is usually very late at night. It takes 6 to 7 hours to reach Bird Island so the watching time is very short. The two days tours might therefore be a better option, if you are really that crazy seeing birds.... Tours stop at Sun Moon Mountain Pass (Y5 for nice view) and also maybe at Ta'er Monastery during summer.

If you are going to Goldmud, you should pass by the lake in the North.

Accommodations near the lake :

  • Bird Island Hotel, 15km from bird's viewing point / Dorm 30, Dble from 90 / Restaurant

  • Hotel near the lake, 100km from Bird Island, where the 2 days tour will stop / Dorm 20 in 4 bed's rooms / Dble from 120

Backpacker's Tips :  Gregg Butenski (May 00)
 No need to do a tour. There's now a daily bus from Xining to Niadao (Y27). It took us 8 hours and it goes via the north side of lake. There's a new road being built on the south side of the lake. You can reach Heimahe (& possibly Niaodao) this way. Ultimately this road will go to Lhasa. (Golmud to Lhasa rail construction is on-hold due to a lack of funds.)
Heads up. Bird season is May/June (we were told June is  best). We visited during the first half of April and this was too early. Bird Island Hotel wasn't even open. Fortunately we found accomodation at a new hotel (but had to fight to not get fleeced). The park is 17km from the town of Niaodao and admission is Y35.

Bus Schedules :
  Insurance not requested

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Lanzhou 20 ordi 4 to 5 7 to 16:30 ++ 20mn
Tongren 18 ordi 4 to 5 7:40 to 17 ++ hour
Zhangye 31 ordi 10 7:30 1 na
Dunhuang 159 sleep 24 10:15 1 odd days
Heimahe 19 ordi 4 7:15 to 17:30 11 hour
Goldmud 78 sleep 14 16 or 17 1 na
Lhassa 290 sleep 40 16 1 na

Notes :  To Dunhuang via the North Road (cannot see the Lake) / To Lhassa : will you be requested to pay more once in Goldmud ? Probably as the official price from Goldmud to Lhassa is 1380Y for a sleeper or 1180Y for a seat.  From Xining, private operators also operate  at around 18:30 daily for Y800 and the promise that you will not have to pay more (they may ask you to hide under the bed at one point). But can they be trusted ? If you can find a bus crossing Goldmud at night (leaving Xining in the morning), your chances to avoid CITS's scam will obviously be higher...

Backpacker's Tips :  Gregg Butenski (May 00)
 To Dunhuang (Gansu) : The sleeper bus now runs everyday. Unless of course the driver decides to take a day off (which was the case with the very day we wanted to travel - fortunately we knew in advance). Departs 10:15am and is scheduled to take 20 hours (our bus took 23). Y160.


From Xining to Goldmud (updated Nov 01)
No5701 dep. 19:18, arr. 10:55, around 120Y hard sleep
NoK427 dep. 21:10 (Lanzhou) or 00:33 (Xining), arr. 13:28
No8759 dep. 09:25, arr. 07:00. No sleeper ! Seat on the left to see Lake Qinghai.

From Goldmud to Xining (updated Nov 01) :
No5702 dep. 18:40, arr.17:46, around 120Y hard sleep
NoK428 dep. 16:50, arr. 05:11 (Xining) or 08:38 (Lanzhou)
No8760 dep. 22:06, arr 17:46. No sleeper ! Seat on the right to see Lake Qinghai.

The Trip to Zhangye :
Big old bus / SSS / L / Y31 / 12 hrs

This road had been quoted as being beautiful. The first winkling part in the mountain was indeed interesting enough with the snow peaks in the background (don't miss the summit) but otherwise it was nothing to write your mum about. More interesting was the state of the road, currently under improvement and some obstacles along the way which made our tank leak. The reparation took 2 hours, enough time to  become the attraction of the city. The driver tried to catch up with the time on the last 70km by driving crazy but at 18:30 it was obviously difficult to arrive at 17 !

See also trip from Tongren to Xining...