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Home Travel in Qinghai Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Travel in Qinghai

Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (haǐ běi zàng zú zì zhì zhōu 海北藏族自治州) is an autonomous prefecture of northeastern Qinghai province (qīng hǎi shěng 青海省) in Western China. The prefecture has an area of 39,354 square kilometers (15,195 sq mi) and its seat is Xihai Town (xī hǎi zhèn 西海镇), Haiyan County (hǎi yàn xiàn 海晏县). Its name literally means “north of Qinghai Lake”. The prefecture is subdivided into 4 county-level divisions: Haiyan County, Qilian County (qí lián xiàn 祁连县), Gangca County (gāng chá xiàn 刚察县) and Menyuan Hui Autonomous County (mén yuán huí zúzì zhì xiàn 门源回族自治县).


Haibei Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is located on the northeastern part of Qinghai Province. The average altitude of this region is 3100 meters above the sea level. The altitude of the river valley on the eastern region is about 3000 meters above the sea level and the altitude of the western part is over 3500 meters. Haibei Prefecture is vast in territory with quite a small population. It is a gathering place of many different nationalities. Until the end of 2005, there are totally 272,000 people in Haibei Prefecture and 63.37% of them are the minorities. In Haibei Prefecture, there are about 27nationalities, such as Han Nationality, Tibetan, Hui Nationality, Mongol and Tu Nationality (tǔ zú 土族) and so on.

In Haibei Prefecture, the abundant tourist resources here are full of local features and have many different types. There are distinctive highland sceneries like lakes, deserts, grassland, Snow Mountains, forests and valleys. There are not only natural sceneries, but also many historical and cultural relics. Qinghai Province marks out 82 excellent scenic areas in the province and 22 of them are located in Haibei Prefecture. The most well known scenic spots in Haibei Prefecture are Qinghai Lake (qīng hǎi hú 青海湖), Birds' Island (niǎo dǎo 鸟岛), Sand Island (shā dǎo 沙岛), Jintan and Yintan Grassland (jīn yín tān cǎo yuán 金银滩草原) and Yuanzi City (yuán zǐ chéng 原子城). They earn great glory at home and abroad.


Haibei was the home area of the Qiang, an ancient group who were the forebears of the later Tibetans. In 120BC, the Han (206BC-220AD Troop entered this area and the Qiang people moved to the foot of Qilian Mountains. Administrative bodies began to be established here in the year 4AD. The Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Region was founded in 1953 and renamed as the Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in 1995.


The prefecture enjoys a continental plateau climate with the annual average temperature of -0.3℃ to 0.7℃ (31.5℉ to 33.3℉), and most of the region has its annual average temperature below 0℃ (32℉). It has rich sunshine, but rainfall only drops densely in July and August. 


Bird Island of Qinghai Lake

Bird IslandBird Island (niǎo dǎo 鸟岛), which lies northwest of Qinghai Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in China, is connected to the bank on one side whilst the others are surrounded by water. It encompasses two islands, one is Haixi Pi (hǎi xī pí 海西皮) in the east, and in the west is the Haixi Shan (hǎi xīshān 海西山), which is four times smaller than the former island but is where most of the birds of the lake congregate. When the spring and summer come, many birds fly from faraway mountains and deserts to breed here. In the noisiest months of April and May, their numbers can amount to ten thousand, 80% to 90% of which stop on the Haixi Shan and lay eggs there. With eggs interspersed all over the island, Haixi Shan is also called “Egg Island”.

The Bird Island in Qinghai Lake ranks the top among the eight birds natural resorts. It is consisted of two parts. As a result of the mild climate in spring, summer and fall, most of the migratory birds such as bareheaded goose, brown-headed gull, cormorant, sea gull flock from Southeast Asia, India, Burma or South China to Qinghai Lake and breed here in late May.    
Every May and June, the best time of bird watching, migratory birds fly from faraway mountains and deserts to breed here. It is quite a spectacle of thousands of birds flying over the sky, with their nests thickly dotted and colorful eggs interspersed all over the island. Besides, Haixi Shan, Shadao (shā dǎo 沙岛), Sankuaishi (sān kuài shí 三块石), Erlang Sword Peninsula (èr láng jiàn 二郎剑), and Qinghai Lake Fishery are scenic spots in Qinghai Lake that are worth visiting.
At that time, all coming into your eyesight is herds of birds in different colors and manners. Some are white, some yellow, and some other diversiform. Some are flying in the sky, some running on the land, others swimming in the water. Birds’ eggs are seen everywhere on the land. You seem like coming into a realm of birds. The twitters of the birds sound like a melodious song, which makes sightseers intoxicated. When winter falls, those birds fly back to the south to stay away from the coldness successively. The summer scene in Qinghai Lake is repeatedly extraordinary year after year.

Location: It lies northwest of Qinghai Lake.
Transportation: Tourists can travel by a sight seeing bus from Xining Railway Station, Qinghai Province at the cost of CNY35, or by a coach from the Xining Coach Station, 250 m. (0.16 miles) south of the railway station, at the cost of CNY25. As to the accommodation, the island is equipped with a hotel and restaurant as well as tent hostels and other entertainment facilities in the south.
Opening Hours: 07:00-18:00
Admission Fee: CNY 78
Recommended Visit Time: May, June, and July

Menyuan County

Menyuan CountyWith summer on the way and temperatures climbing, it is the time to get out and see flowers. Southern China has several areas famous for golden rape flowers. There is one place that cannot to be mentioned, that is Menyuan County (mén yuán xiàn 门源县), where golden rape flowers are flourishing most in July.Menyuan County, located in Qinghai Province, has an altitude of 3,200 meters which delays the cycle of its flowers. About 400 million square meters of rape flowers blossom around Qinghai Lake. Menyuan County is a main production of oil plants. Mid-June is the season of rape flowering. The rape fields stretch far to the horizon, like golden wave rolling in a golden sea.

Menyuan CountyIn early July, golden rape flowers are in full bloom from the Qingshizui (qīng shí zuǐ 青石嘴) to the Xianmi (xiān mǐ 仙米) gorges. The rape land in Qingshizui is flat and open, running southward directly to the foot of Qilian Mountain. Except for a few houses and the snow-capped Qilian Mountain, thousands of hectares of rape land reveal the same color, like a great piece of nugget. The golden world of Menyuan County is famous for its vast green fields and yellow rapeseed flowers. The Menyuan rape flower fields are famous for their bright yellow rape flower fields that come into bloom in late spring. In that time, the annual Rape Flower Festival will be held in Menyuan. It looks like the heaven of peace in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

Location: In the east of Qinghai Province
Tel: 0970-8612300
Transportation: 5, July-25, July
Admission Fee: CNY20

Xianmi National Forest Park

Xianmi National Forest ParkXianmi National Forest Park (xiān mǐguó jiā jísēn lín gōng yuán 仙米国家级森林公园) is the largest virgin forest zone of Qinghai Province, being the source of many inland rivers. Xian mi National Forest Park is situated in the eastern end of Menyuan Hui Autonomous County of Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, which is 30 kilometers from Haomen Town (浩门镇) of Menyuan County. It is 108 kilometers from Xining City. There are wide varieties of species and unique resources, combining biological landscape, hydrological landscape, geographic landscape and abundant Chinese culture together. The park is also a great summer resort. In late autumn, Xianmi National Forest Park is just like a mysterious and lovely girl, making it an ideal place for photography and tourism. In Xianmi Valley, the water in the Datong River winds down sharply and the sound of the wave is deafening. Beside the river, there are steep cliffs rising straight up and the pine, cypresses and birches shadowing the sun. There are birds singing and deer emerging in the forest. In summer, it is a green world. With brooks purling in the mountains and wild flowers blooming with a refreshing fragrance. In fall, the forest is painted mingled with red, yellow and green. In winter, everywhere is covered with silver adornment, making it fascinating.

Location: In the east of Menyuan Country, Qinghai Province, 108 kilometers away from Sining
Tel: 0970-8610333
Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00
Transportation: Take the bus in Xining Bus Station to Menyuan Country.
Admission Fee: CNY40
Hotel: Haoyun Hotel, CNY168 per person

Jintan and Yintan Grasslands

Jintan and Yintan Grasslands (jīn yín tān cǎo yuán 金银滩草原) are located in Haiyan County of Qinghai Province. It is adjacent to Baoshan and Qinghai Lake. There is mountainous area in the north and in the east around the grasslands. To the south, it connects with Sanjiao city of Haiyan County (sān jiǎo chéng 三角城, Sanjiao city is the relics of Xihai Prefecture, which was built in the reign of Wang Mang of Western Han Dynasty). There are Mapi River (má pí hé 麻皮河) and Halijin River (hā lì jīn hé 哈利津河) crossing the great grasslands, which covers an area of 1,100 square kilometers.

Jintan and Yintan GrasslandsThey are the famous Jintan and Yintan Great Grasslands. The golden seasons of the grasslands are July, August and September, when the flowers are blooming and many birds are flying in the sky. In particular, the voice of the larks is fascinating. In Jintan and Yintan Grasslands, there are fertilized soil, lush grass, expansive blue sky, floating white clouds, herds of cattle and sheep, scattered camps and melodious pastorals. Jintan and Yintan Grasslands got the name, because as the blooming golden parvifolia and silver glabra ornament the beautiful great grasslands in summer. In Chinese, Jintan and Yintan means golden and silvery beach lands.

In the late 1930s, Wang Luobin (wáng luò bīn 王洛宾), the best singer of the west, faced the glorious the great grasslands of Jintan and Yintan, the dark green Qinghai Lake, rustic and kind Tibetan girls, he composed a song titled At the Place so Far with passion.

Location: In Haiyan Country, Qinghai Province
Opening Hours: The whole day
Transportation: The tourist can take a car from Sining or Qinghai Lake to Haiyan County.
Admission Fee: CNY20
Recommended Golden Season: July, August and September
Travel Tips: Jintan and Yintan Grasslands are summer resort. Please bring a sweater with you even in summer.

Qilian Mountain of Qinghai Haibei

Qilian Mountain of Qinghai HaibeiThe Qilian Mountain (qí lián shān 祁连山) is at an altitude between 4000 and 5000 meters above the sea level in average. The long and wide ice glacier terrain feature formed by the accumulated snow of the mountain is spectacular. Places above the altitude of 4000 meters are called the snow line and in general, only ice and snow could be found there and there is nothing of lives. However, above the snow line of Qilian Mountain, there are usually reverse bio-spectacle. In the shallow snow, there is snow-mountain meadow plant named Canzhui (cán zhuì 蚕缀) in the shape of mushroom. Moreover, there are precious herbals: High-mountain Snow Lotus, and one kind of snow grass that grows under wind-erosive rocks. Therefore, snow lotus, Canzhui and snow grass are called 'the three friends of the winter' above the snow line of Qilian Mountain. The four seasons of Qilian Mountain is not distinct. The spring and summer here are not typical at all. The so-called 'it snows in June in Qilian Mountain' is the portrayal of the climates and natural landscapes of Qilian Mountain.

The sights of the virgin forest scenic spot in Qilian Mountain are more charming. In summer, the green sea stretch beyond the horizon in the forest. In the virgin forest area of Qilian Mountain, there are 157,000 hectare (more than 2,000,000 cubic meters) forest resources. It is a large forest area of Qinghai Province. There are trees like spruces, Sabina chinensis, poplars and bushes like hippophae rhamnoides and hawkweeds. Besides, in the thick forest and the snow mountains of Qilian Mountain, there are a lot of loafing crowds of deer running and wandering around. The atmosphere here is wild and the environment is graceful.

Location: In northeast of Qinghai Province
Tel: 0970-8676879 or 0970-8673689
Opening Hours: 9:00-18:00, April 1-October 30
Admission Fee: CNY30
Recommended Golden Season: June-August

Shadao Island & Haixin Hill

ShadaoThe Shadao Island (shā dǎo 沙岛) and Haixin Hill (hǎi xīn shān 海心山) are all well known attractions of Qinghai Lake in southern Haibei Prefecture. Like a crescent floating on eastern Qinghai Lake, Shadao Island is formed by sand blown by wind. It is connected with the dunes on the east bank of the lake. At present, the scenic spot has been equipped with some recreational facilities and sports establishments. Visitors can take a yacht to Haixin Island in south-central Qinghai Lake to admire the green and elegant scenery and ancient temple in the mountain or to overlook the lake from the top of the Haixin Hill. 

Location: In the northeast of Qinghai Lake
Tel: 0970-8644379
Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00
Admission Fee: CNY 70 in busy season, CNY 35 for off-season

Xihai Town

Atomic CityXihai Town (xī hǎi zhèn 西海镇), the seat of prefecture government was the locality where the first A-bomb and H-bomb were born. Therefore the town is spoken of as the 'Atomic City'. Some remains are still there for show.Located at Haiyan County, and constructed in 1958, Xihai Town renamed itself Xihai with the authorization of the State Council on May 15, 1995. Because the first atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb were made here, it is also known as “atom city”. At present, the town has a monument recording the above history.

Location: In the Jintan and Yintan Grasslands, Qinghai Province
Transportation: Take a coach in Sining Coach Station to Haiyan Country at the cost of CNY18 Admission Fee: CNY 90 for the package

Food & Specialty

Tibetan knife

In Tibet, everyone may wear a waist knife . This custom is decided by their lifestyles. Usually, Tibetan people carry knives for cutting beef and mutton which are their major meat. In another way, Tibetan knife is a kind of accessory of Tibetan people, just played the same functions as rings or bracelets. Tibetan knife (zàng dāo 藏刀) enjoys an international fame for a long time. This elaborate Tibetan handcraft carries a high art value. Tibetan knives represent the profound Tibetan ethnic culture to the world. Tibet knifes that design for the use of men are usually rugged. On the other hand, those designs for the use of women are elegant.
Tibetan knife
Generally, Tibetan knives can be divided into three types according to their lengths – long, short and small knives. The long Tibetan knife can be more than one meter; the short one is about 40cm while the small one is 10cm around. Tibetan knife is famous for its sharp blade which is made from delicately processed steel. Another highlight of the Tibetan knife is the handle. The handle is made from more than one material. The main part is made from cow horn or wood, decorated with silver, copper or iron threads. The top of the handle is inlaid with copper or iron sheet, or silver decoration. The sheath is wrapped in copper or silver. Some are carved with flower or animal design, or even inlaid with jewels. This outstanding appearance makes Tibetan knife being not only an essential tool for Tibetan people, but also a collection for people all of the world.


(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 plants 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. Until the late 19th century, natural musk was used extensively in perfumery until economic and ethical motives led to the adoption of synthetic musk, which is now used almost exclusively. The organic compound primarily responsible for the characteristic odor of musk is muscone.

Snow Lotus
sonw 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. 

Apart from breathtaking sceneries, local yogurt is another characteristic of the Jintan and Yintan Grasslands. The local homemade yogurt is made of milk with vegetable oil on the top. The golden layer together with the white delicate of the yogurt is healthier and tastier than the other branded yogurt.

Hippophae Rhamnoides

Hippophae RhamnoidesHippophae rhamnoides (or Seabuckthorn, shā jí 沙棘) is one of the Qinghai Sambo, commonly known as acid thorn, black thorn Hippophae, Elaeagnaceae Hippophae, deciduous shrub or small tree, cold drought resistance, poor soil, root system, with nodules of ability to adapt to the ecological environment. In the less, even in harsh environments can be tough to survive, and survive the process to improve the environment for other plants to create the conditions for survival and development. Seabuckthorn is to increase the soil surface of vegetation in Qinghai , sand-fixing and protecting the environment one of the main native tree species. It is mainly diffuse born in flood, the low, the alluvial fans and foothills, in the shady and semi-sunny area on the formation of large pure community, but also scattered in the shady and semi-shady growth spruce forest edge and forest clearing, but the fruit yield is low, economic efficiency, not people pay attention to.

Ghee Zamba

Ghee ZambaGhee Zamba (酥油糌粑) is one of the staple traditional foods of Tibetan peasants. Zamba is the transliteration of “roasted meals” in Tibetan. It is the staple food that Tibetans eat everyday. Ghee is the butter abstracted from the milk. Zamba is made by roasting the qingko barley and grind the barley into powder with a hand milling. When you eat the ghee zamba, prepare half bowl of milk tea first, then put in ghee, roasted qingko barley, sour cheese and sugar in it. Mix them with your finger, pinch the mixture into small pastes, and eat them. Ghee zamba has the flavor of the ghee, the sourness of cheese and the savory of sugar. It is full of nutrition and high in calories. It is an ideal food for allaying the hunger and keeping out of the cold.

Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Location: Located in northeastern Qinghai Province, Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture borders Xining and Haidong Prefecture in the southeast, Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the west and is separated by the Qinghai Lake from Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the south. It also shares a boundary with Gansu Province in the northeast.       
Tel: 0970-8644379
Transportation: Qinghai-Tibet Railway runs through the lake shore area of Haiyan and Gangcha counties of southern Haibei. Qinghai-Xinjiang Expressway and National Highway No.315 pass across the south region of Haibei Prefecture. There is also National Highway No.227 and two provincial highways in northern Haibei, but the road conditions are not so good. In addition, the road around Qinghai Lake is also open.
Recommended Golden Season: Summer is the best season to visit Haibei Prefecture.
Travel Tips: Xihai Town is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Xining, the capital city of Qinghai. Visitors can first get to Xining by air and head for Haibei by train or bus. Taxi and motorbike are the main means of transportation inside the town.
Tourist Complaints: 0970-8644379