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Qinghai Travel Guide

Qinghai
Qinghai Province
(qīng hǎi shěng 青海省) is located in the northwest China, the northeast corner of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, which is part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (qīng zàng gāo yuán 青藏高原). Qinghai Province, at 721,200 square kilometer, is the fourth largest province in China, following the provinces of Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Qinghai has a population greater than 5.5 million, composed primarily of the Han group. However, 46% of the populations including minority ethnic groups are Tibetans, Hui, Tu, Sala and Mongolians.
   
Qinghai Province is a diverse and unique part of China. This magnificent Chinese province is part of what is often referred to as the “Roof of the World”. Its natural beauty and imposing vistas, as well as its diverse cultures and customs, all come together to extend an invitation for visitors from near and far to see for themselves what is available here.


Overview

QinghaiQinghai Province lies on the Northeast of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and borders upon Gansu and Xinjiang. A branch of the Silk Road goes off westward from Lanzhou (lán zhōu 兰州). Capital of Gansu Province, to Xining and Golmud in Qinghai Province, and then turns Northward to Dunhuang (dūn huáng 敦煌) to join the main Silk Road. The scenic spots and historical sites along this part of the Silk Road in Qinghai include Qinghai Lake, the Birds Island, the Salt Lake and Ta’er Monastery, etc. It's the originating station of the Qingzang Railway, or Qinghai-Tibet Railway. All the train to Lhasa would stop in Xining to change for another sky train except the train from Beijing.


History

Since ancient times, there have been traces of human activities. Di and Qiang are the first that lived in this land. The remains of ancient culture indicate that the development of Qinghai can be dated back to 6,000 years ago. In Xia and Shang dynasties, some of the Di people came and settled down in the east part of today’s Qinghai and started farming. With the introduction of advanced production techniques from the Central Plains, farming was Emperor Wudideveloped considerably, and the population also increased. The Di people were related by marriage with other ethnic groups. Their decedents became the Han nationality later.

In the second year of Yuanshou of Emperor Wudi (wǔ dì 武帝) in West Han Dynasty (121B.C), the royal government established a fortress here and built the Xiping Pavilion overseeing the areas of Yellow River and Huangshui River (huáng shuǐ 湟水), thus began its control over the eastern part of Qinghai. Later, it established seven counties including Linqiang, Anyi, Poqiang, Yunwu, Yujie and Heguan, formally incorporation this area into the systems of prefectures and counties of the Central Plains feudal dynasties.

At the beginning of the 4th century, the Tuyuhun (tǔ yù hún 吐谷浑) people moved into Qinghai and set up a kingdom of their own. Later it was controlled by the Sui Dynasty (581 – 618) which established Xihai and Heyuan prefectures here.

Songtsen GampoIn the 7th century, King Songtsen Gampo (sōng zàn gàn bù 松赞干布) united the Tibetan Plateau and set up the Tubo (tǔ bō 吐蕃) Dynasty. He took control of the tribes in Qinghai. The rein of the Tubo Dynasty lasted for 200 years and made considerable contributions to the development of Qinghai and the relationship between the Han and Tibetan people. The famous Tang – Bo Ancient Road existed for 210 years and had for reaching influence on the fostering of friendly ties between the Han and Tibetan people and the promotion of harmonious coexistence of all the different tribes.

In the first year of Baoyuan of Emperor Renzong (rén zōng 仁宗) in Song Dynasty, the Shanzhou Prefecture was changed to Qingtang City. Four other cities, I.e. Lingu, Xuanwei, Zongge and Miaochuan, were set up. It was the beginnings of the exchange of tea and horses with the Central Plains. Economy and culture in the areas of Yellow and Huangshui rivers saw new progress. In the third year of Chongning (1103) of Emperor Huizong (huī zōng 徽宗) in Song Dynasty, Shanzhou Prefecture was changed to Xining Prefecture. The name of Xining first appeared in History.

In the 13th century, the Mongolians entered Qinghai, and Kublai Khan ascended the throne of the Yuan dynasty. He established administration to govern the Tubo tribes in Qinghai and Gansu. In the 18th year of Zhiyuan (1281), a provincial government was formed to control prefectures like Xining. In the 5th year of Hongwu (1372) of Emperor Taizu (tài zǔ 太祖) of Ming Dynasty, the Xining Prefecture was changed to Xining Wei. It controlled 6,000 households. In the first year of Hongzhi of Emperor Xiazong (xiào zōng 孝宗) in Ming Dynasty, a military post was established in Xining taking direct control of the Mongolian and Tibetan people in the area around near Xining. The system of mixing Han and local officials at the beginning of Ming Dynasty later evolved into the so-called Tusi system (a system of appointing tribal hereditary headmen since Yuan Dynasty). Under the new system, a series of administrative divisions and government departments were set up.Emperor Yongzheng

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Heshuote (hé shuò tè 和硕特) tribe, one of the four tribes of Elute Mongolia, moved to Qinghai. In the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng (雍正) in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the rebellion of Lubuzangdanjin (lú bù zàng dān jīn 卢布藏丹津) was suppressed. Since then, the Qing Dynasty enhanced its control and the development of Gansu, Ningxia and Qinghai provinces. It appointed a special minister to oversee the 29 Mongolian tribes and the affairs in southern Qinghai and the Yushu area. In northeast Qinghai, Xining Fu (a feudal administrative division) was founded which inherited the Tusi system (tǔ sī zhì dù 土司制度) of the Ming Dynasty and was under the jurisdiction of the Gansu Province.

In 1912, the Northern Warlords government appointed Ma Qi as the highest military commander of Xining. In 1915, Ma was entrusted military and minority affairs concerning Mongolian tribes and the Gansu, Ningxia and Qinghai provinces. Since then, Ma’s warlords controlled Qinghai for almost 40 years with the support of the Kuomintang government. In 1929, Qinghai Province was formally founded.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the backward, cruel feudal warlord’s rule was overthrown, and a new democratic government was set up in Qinghai.


Climate

Qinghai, which is located more than 1, 500 km from the East China coast, has little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. Qinghai has a typical plateau continental climate. The weather there has the following features: big temperature difference between day and night, strong solar radiation, rare rainfall and long day.

The best time to visit Qinghai Province is during the period from May to October. In the meddle of May every year, the grass becomes green, plenty of migratory birds get together in Climate of QinghaiQinghai Lake, the province come to a period full of vigor. July is the hottest month in Qinghai, with the highest temperature can reach up to 36 ° C (97° F). However, if one intends to visit the south part of Qinghai, he/she still need to bring some warm clothes, because the temperature there will not be higher than 18° C (64° F).

Summer is the best season to travel in Qinghai, because the grassland and lakes are all in their most beautiful period in this season, and many ethnic minorities will celebrate their festivals in summer. But sine the rainfall centers in summer, tourists need to pay more attentions on the weather conditions to dress and bring equipments accordingly.


Geography

Qinghai is located on the northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Yellow River originates in southern part of the province, while the Yangtze and Mekong have their sources in the southwestern part. Qinghai is separated by the Riyue Mountain (rì yuè shān 日月山) into Geography of Qinghaipastoral and agricultural zones in the west and east.

The average elevation of Qinghai is over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) above sea level. Mountain ranges include the Tanggula Mountains (táng gǔ lā shān 唐古拉山) and Kunlun Mountains (kūn lún shān 昆仑山). Due to the high altitude, Qinghai has quite cold winters (harsh in the highest elevations), mild summers, and a large diurnal temperature variation. It is also prone to heavy winds as well as sandstorms from February to April. Significant rainfall occurs mainly in summer, while precipitation is very low in winter and spring, and is generally low enough to keep much of the province semi-arid or arid.

By area, Qinghai is the largest province in China - excluding the autonomous regions, which are technically not provinces; but if they were, Xinjiang would be the largest. Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest salt water lake in China, and the second largest in the world. Qaidam basin (chái dá mù pén dì 柴达木盆地) lies in northwestern Qinghai. About a third of this resource rich Geography of Qinghaibasin is desert. The basin has an altitude between 3000 to 3500 meters.

The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (sān jiāng yuán zì rán bǎo hù qū 三江源自然保护区), also referred to as the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, is the area of Qinghai province, PRC which contains the headwaters of the Yellow River (huáng hé 黄河), the Yangtze River (cháng jiāng 长江), and the Mekong River (lán cāng jiāng 澜沧江). The SNNR was established to protect the headwaters of these three rivers. The reserve consists of 18 subareas, each containing three zones which are managed with differing degrees of strictness.


Attractions

Qinghai Lake

Located in the northeast of the 4,500-metre-high Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Qinghai Lake (qīng hǎi hú 青海湖) is a blue mirror nestled between snowy mountains and grasslands. Measuring 4,400 square kilometres, it is the largest inland saltwater lake in China. Every summer, cool breezes sweep across the lake, where thousands of birds live in nearby wetlands. Yaks and sheep graze on the lakeside grassland. The scenery is as amazing as one can imagine.

Qinghai LakeThe shape of Qinghai Lake is like an ellipse, with 109km length from west to east and 65km width from north to south. It’s said that the lake seems to be a giant aspen leave floating on the grassland. The scenery of the lake is quite different in different seasons. In summer and autumn, trees grow flourish on mountains and grassland, which seems to be a thick carpet with colorful flowers as decoration. At the side of the lake, hordes of cows and horses drink water and eat grass. Large scale of farm lies beside the lake. The golden corn field likes wave when wind blows. In winter, the leaves begin to fall from trees. In Nov, the lake begins to freeze. At that time, the lake is like a mirror shining in the sunshine.

Location: Qinghai Lake in Xining City, Qinghai Province
Tel: 0971-8177126
Transportation: There are coaches at Xining Coach Station
Opening Hours: 8:30-17:30
Admission Fee: CNY 100 (Apr. 16 - Oct. 15); CNY 50 (Oct. 16 - Apr. 15)


Kumbum Monastery

Kumbum MonasteryKumbum Monastery (also known as Ta'er Monastery,  tǎ ěr sì 塔尔寺) is a Buddhist monastery in Qinghai province, China. Kumbum was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the Tibetan cultural region of Amdo (ān duō 安多). Its superior monastery is Drepung (zhé bàng sì 哲蚌寺), immediately to the west of Lhasa (lā sà 拉萨). It was ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa. Kumbum Monastery is about 27 kilometers southwest of Xining. It is one of the two most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside Tibet itself. Set among flowing wheat fields and fertile hills, Kumbum Monastery evokes an ambience of relaxation and meditation.

Location: Kumbum Monastery is about 27 kilometers southwest of Xining.
Tel: 0971-6122987
Transportation: Kumbum monastery can be easily reached from Xining. On Kunlun Zhong Lu (near Xi Men) there are taxis that will take you the 26km to the monastery for CNY32. This price is per car and not per person. You can also take a bus to the town of Huangzhong (the small town where Kumbum is) for CNY6 per person.
Recommended Golden Time: The best time to go to the monastery is around Losar (Tibetan New Year). Many Tibetans from Amdo come to the monastery during this time. Try and avoid going to the monastery during the summer. Loads of Chinese tourists are there everyday.
Opening Hours: 8:00am-5:00pm
Admission Fee: CNY80 (it was raised from Y35 to Y80 in 2006)
Travel Tips: Photography is prohibited within the monastery.


Hoh Xil

Hoh XilHoh Xil  (kě kě xī lǐ 可可西里) is situated at the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture(yù shù zàng zú zì zhì zhōu 玉树藏族自治州) in southwest Qinghai, and has an average altitude of more than 4600 meters. Low temperature, rare rainfall and strong wind are the major features of Hoh Xil. However, in such a fierce land, there are many animals which can only be seen on highland. According to the present observation, there are 29 kinds of mammals, 53 kinds of birds and 202 kinds of plants, of which 84 are the unique ones on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The importance and charm of this area is becoming more and more famous throughout the world, and the great significance in scientific research is irreplaceable in China and the world.

Location: In the northwest of Yushu Tibetan Prefecture of Qinghai Province
Tel: 0971-6365075
Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00
Admission Fee: CNY 10

Travel Tips:

Hoh Xil is among one of the few unpolluted regions in China. However, the air there is quite thin, and the oxygen content is just 60% of that of the plain.

To protect the environment of Hoh Xil, the amount of visitors is restricted to 1000 in total and 15 in each team although this region has been open to tourists.

The tourist is required to certify a copy of health certificate and pass the medical examination in Golmud. People with hypertension are not accepted to the tour group. And the tourists have to obey the do's and don'ts which are relevant to the environment protection. 


Regong Art

June Festival of RegongOriginating in the Longwuhe River (lóng wù hé 隆务河) Valley of Qinghai Province which belongs to Tongren County (tóng rén xiàn 同仁县) of the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (huáng nán zàng zú zì zhì zhōu 黄南藏族自治州), Regong art (rè gòng yì shù 热贡艺术) is a successful mix of religious art by Tibetan and Tu ethnic minorities and local folk arts. To better protect the art, it was included in the second phase of the National Folk Culture Protection Project in April 2004. As an important genre in Tibetan Buddhism, the art has a history of more than 700 years. It is called “the flower on the Tibetan Plateau” and “a magnificent pearl of Chinese art”.


Source of Three Rivers

Source of Three RiversThe Source of Three Rivers (sān jiāng yuán 三江源) is situated in Qinghai Province (qīng hǎi shěng 青海省) which is located in the northeast of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (qīng zàng gāo yuán 青藏高原), with an average altitude of 4,000 meters. It covers the headstreams of China's three most known rivers: Yangtse River (cháng jiāng 长江), Yellow River (huáng hé 黄河) and Lancang River (lán cāng jiāng 澜沧江), hence the name. There are 16 countries and one town in this area, with a gross area of 36.3 square kilometers, which account for 50.4% of the whole province area. Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve (sān jiāng yuán zì rán bǎo hù qū 三江源自然保护区) was established in May, 2000. The State Council of China formally approved it as a national nature reserve in January of 2003.

Location: In the south of Qinghai Province
Tel: 0971-8250294
Opening Hours: The whole day
Admission Fee: CNY80 for Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve


Food

Yogurt

Qinghai YogurtYogurt is a kind of common cold drink in pastoral area. It is specially made with boiled milk in a small bowl. On the surface put a couple drops of rapeseeds oil and the yogurt will have the golden yellow skin, white and smooth, taste cool and light sour. Yogurt is usually eaten with a spoon of white sugar to make it sour and sweet which make it a delicious cool drink.

 


Sanzi

Sanzi
Sanzi
(sǎn zǐ 馓子), a kind of fried pasta, is the main pasta food for treating guests by Hui minority and Sala minority people in Qinghai in annually celebrating traditional “Gu’erbang festival”, “Er’de festival”, “Shengji festival” and marriage or funeral. Its main ingredient is Touluo flour, which is mixed with salt and seasoning, then striped into the oil lap after lap for frying. Sanzi is long thread shaped cookie. This deep-fried food is popular at occasions like Corban, Fast-breaking, memorial service to Prophet Mohammad and wedding or funeral ceremonies.


NiangpiNiangpi

Niangpi (niàng pí 酿皮) is a typical Qinghai snack. Cooking procedures: add soda into flour, boil and steam till it becomes hard. Cut it into long thin pieces, and then add some gluten and spices.


Roast Mutton Pieces

Roast Mutton PiecesWhen cooking roast mutton pieces (kǎo yáng ròu chuan 烤羊肉串), fresh mutton is cut into pieces of the thumbnail size, then strung on a iron stick, roasted over the fire from a rectangular-shaped stove, frequently turned over, lastly spraying spices on the mutton pieces, roast untill the mutton yellow on the surface, meat is cooked, the fragrant is strong and ready to be eaten.


Mutton Eaten with Fingers

                               Mutton Eaten with Fingers

Mutton Eaten with Fingers
(shǒu zhuā yáng ròu 手抓羊肉) is the most famous snack in Qinghai Province. It is made of fresh mutton and served with a little salt. This snack is the favorite food of the herdsmen of Qinghai Province.


Specialty

Thangka Paintings

Thangka PaintingsAs handicraft works specific to Tibetan people, Thangka (táng kǎ 唐卡) paintings refer to scrolled paintings mounted with satin fabric. Tibetan people mount these religious scrolled paintings with satin, then hang them up and worship them. People are used to hanging up the Thangka in the Tibetan palaces, temples or the residential areas. Nowadays, Thangka paintings are no longer as mysterious as before. Instead, they demonstrate to the whole world the exquisite techniques and wisdom of Tibetan people. Every stroke in Thangka paintings embodies the superb techniques of the artists as well as the respectful attitude towards Tibetan Buddhism. As Buddha images easiest to take along and worship, Thangka paintings are very useful in the religious sense. They are well-received both by numerous disciples and now by collectors.


Musk

Musk (shè xiāng 麝香) is a class of aromatic substances commonly used as base notes in perfumery. They include glandular secretions from animals such as the musk deer, numerous Muskplants emitting similar fragrances, and artificial substances with similar odors. Musk was a name originally given to a substance with a penetrating odor obtained from a gland of the male musk deer. The substance has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and is one of the most expensive animal products in the world. The name, originated from Sanskrit muṣká meaning “testicle”, has come to encompass a wide variety of substances with somewhat similar odors although many of them are quite different in their chemical structures. Modern use of natural musk pods occurs in traditional Chinese medicine. Yushu musk is among the most valuable Chinese herbal medicine. Its annual output is less than 150 kilogram.


Tibetan knife

Tibetan knife
Many minority nationality people have a custom to wear a waist knife, so do the Tibetan people. It is an essential staff for all Tibetans. Usually, Tibetan wears a waist knife which is used to cut meat, as protection and also an accessory. It also has high art value as a form of ethnic handcraft with a longstanding good reputation at home and abroad. Tibet knives (zàng dāo 藏刀) that design for the use of men are usually rugged. On the other hand, those designs for the use of women are elegant. Tibetan knives are adorned with handles made of bull horns, antelope horns, wood or metal. Knife sheaths are made of animal hides, bull horns, metal or wood and are adorned with the "eight auspicious patterns" in gold, silver, copper and iron wire, swastikas, the auspicious pattern of dragon and phoenix, or are inlaid with corals, agates, peals and jade.


Snow LotusSnow Lotus

Snow lotus (xuě lián 雪莲) is a perennial herb and grows in crevices in the rocks scattered at  snow level above 3000 meters elevation. Owning to the low temperature, snows will not be melt in spring and autumn. So property of snow lotus is lukewarm and it tastes little bit bitter with functions or relieving shills enhance the Yang. Regulating the men situation and staunching. It is a good selection to present to relatives and friends to be recovered and to strengthen the body.


Qinghai Province

Location: Qinghai Province is situated on the northeastern part of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. The Yellow River originates in the middle of the province, while the Yangtze and Mekong have their headwaters in the southern part.
Tourist Complaints: 0971-6159841
Recommended Golden Season: Summer


Transportation

G315

G315 is a national highway, built from Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, to Kaxqar, a city of Xinjiang, with the distance of 3,063 km. It is the arterial highway to the southern part of Xinjiang from Qinghai. Having been built for 4 years, it cost 12 billion dollars in all, becoming the largest project of Qinghai Province in 2005. The highway crosses 20 cities and counties of two provinces, such as Huangyuan, Haiyan, Gangcha and Ruoqiang and so on.
 
G109

G109 is also a national highway, built from Beijing, the capital of China, to Lhasa, capital city of Tibet in west China, with a distance of 3,901 km. It crosses 8 provinces, like Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, etc. The distance in Qinghai Province is 1,200 km, crossing Minhe, Ledu, Ping’an, Xining, Huangyuan, and some other places.
 
Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world’s longest and highest elevation railway. The highest point of the railway is 5,072 meters, built on Tanggula Mountain. There are about 960 km of the railway built over 4000 meters height above sea-level and 550 km built in permafrost areas. Many foreign media evaluate that it is the most difficult railway project in the history and can be matched with the Great Wall.
 
With the success of this 1,142 km long railway from Golmud to Lhasa, the development history of China has opened a new chapter. The Chinese people have created wonders in “the roof the world”.
 
Qinghai-Tibet Highway

Qinghai-Tibet Highway is one of the highest elevation highways in the world. It starts from Golmud, the second city of Qinghai Province, across four famous mountains, like Mt. Kunlun (4,700 m), Mt. Fenghuo (4,800 m), Mt. Tanggula (5,150) and Mt. Nyainqentanglha, three rivers, Tongtian, Tuotuo, Chumaer rivers. The average elevation is 4,500 m.
 
It is the world’s first highway in the high-cold frozen earth areas to use mineral pitch. Therefore, it is called “The Suez Canal on the roof of the world”. It bears 80% of transportations to Tibet and has significant economic values.
 
Xining Airport

Xining Caojiabao Airport is a very important transport hub in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It was built on December 1991, situated in Huzhu County with an elevation of 2,178 m. Now, it has flights to more than 20 cities over the country, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, etc. It develops well with the rapid development of Qinghai economy and tourism.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 17:03
 

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