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Qinghai Lake


Gonghe County, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China.

Reasons to visit

The largest interior lake and salt water lake in China.

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Opening Hours

  • All day.
As the largest saline lake and inland lake in China, Qinghai Lake, historically known as Koko Nor or Kuku Nor, is situated in the Gangcha County, Xining City, Qinghai Province. The names Qinghai and Kokonor both mean "Blue/Teal Sea" in Standard Mandarin and Mongolian. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them are seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of total influx.

Qinghai Lake

Basic Information of Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is 105 kilometers long, 63 kilometers wide and 3196 meters above sea level. The lakeshore line is 360 kilometers long and covers an area of 4583 square kilometers. It is the largest inland lake and saltwater lake in China. The lake is surrounded by four high mountains: Datong Mountain to the north, Riyue Mountain to the east, Qinghai Nanshan Mountain to the south, and Rubber Mountain to the west. The four mountains are at an altitude of 3,600 to 5,000 meters above sea level. The average temperature in the summer season is only 15 °C, making it a natural summer resort.

People considered Qinghai Lake as "green lake" or "fairyland" because of the marvelous and natural beautiful reflected on it. Qinghai Lake is an important place in history which has been the traditional meeting place between Mongolian and Tibetan societies. Despite its salinity, Qinghai Lake has an abundance of fish. Sadly the lake is shrinking at a rate of 10 cm a year. Most of the rivers and lakes that used to feed into the lake are drying up due to a combination of over grazing, farming downstream and damming.

Highlights of Qinghai Lake

There are many famous scenic spots in Qinghai Lake, and Haixin Shan (Hill of the Sea Heart) is one of them. Haixin Shan is an isle shaped like a spiral shell located in the middle south of the lake, covering an area of 1 square kilometre. The body of the isle is made up of ivory white granite and gneiss. With the coverage of green vegetation over 50%, the isle is a good place for horse-raising. What’s more, temples and other subsidiary buildings well suit the lake and the hill, and on the peak of the hill the panorama of the Qinghai Lake can be overlooked.
The lake has a number of attractions that draw travellers in this region in. Ornithologists, campers, hikers, botanists, swimmers, sailors, fishermen, loners and nomads all find areas of interest around the lake. The beauty here lies in its salty vastness and the remote peace that it instills. The colours that can be found around the lake are of purity and contrasts, from the deep yellows of oil seed rape against the cold blues of the lake to the dark greens of distant mountains against the fluffy white of bilious clouds.


Main Attractions in Qinghai Lake

【Erlangjian Scenic Area:二郎剑景区】

Erlangjian Scenic Area is located on the south bank of Qinghai Lake, previously known as the 151 base. It is the first torpedo launch test base in China, the tourist reception base and ethnic customs experience base around Qinghai Lake. Erlangjian is a jewel in the tourist area of Qinghai Lake with its special geographical location and ecological natural resources based on grasslands, beaches and animals. The water entertainment area is characterized by cruises, jet skis, water bikes and self-driving yachts.

【Bird Island:鸟岛】 

Bird Island Scenic Area, also known as Xiaoxi Mountain or Egg Island, is located on the west bank of Qinghai Lake, with a total length of 1,500 meters. Bird Island is named after hundreds of thousands of migratory birds on the island. It is a place with aura and vitality on the shores of Qinghai Lake. Between April and June each year, nearly 100,000 migratory birds migrated here and thrived here, which is a wonder of Qinghai Lake.

【Sand Island:沙岛】

The Sand island Scenic Area is located on the northeastern shore of Qinghai Lake.In the scenic area, Jinsha Bay and Yinsha Bay are accompanied by each other. Sun Lake, Crescent Lake and Lusong Lake are dotted among them. The sands and silver sands are in harmony with each other. Water yachts, sand boarding, beach bikes, beach cross-country, horseback riding and camel riding are the special tourist experiences of Sand Island.

【Fairy Bay: 仙女湾】
Located on the north bank of Qinghai Lake, Fairy Bay Scenic Spot is an important wetland of Qinghai Lake and a traditional sanctuary for the Tibetan people. There are many varieties of animals and plants here, and the wetland landscape is unique, especially the land of dozens of birds that love to migrate. It is the home of the swan.


How to get to Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake Scenic Area is located in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in the northwest of Xining City, 136 kilometers from Xining City. Tourists who travel to Qinghai Lake generally choose to go to Xining first, then go to Qinghai Lake in Xining. Xining to Qinghai Lake is 130 kilometers away. Visitors can take air, train, bus or private car to get to Qinghai Lake.
There are no airports in the towns near Qinghai Lake. Xining Caojiabao Airport is the nearest airport around Qinghai Lake. Therefore, if you want to fly by plane, you usually go to Caojiabao Airport and then go to Qinghai Lake from the airport.
The train pass by surrounding of Qinghai Lake is only one train 7581 from Xining to Golmud in the morning. This train will pass by many small stations near Qinghai Lake, like Haiyan County, Haergai County and Gangcha County from east to west, these three stations all located in the north of Qinghai Lake.
From Xining to Delingha it needs 8 hours for 55 Yuan.
In Haiyan, you can visit to Gold and Silver Grassland, Chaka Salt Lake in Wulan, and can visit to Bird Island taking bus from Gangcha.
Qinghai province centers on Xining, the buses heading to Qinghai Lake and its surrounded towns is starting in Xining Bayi Road Bus Terminal(西宁八一路客运站), and there are quite a lot of buses to Qinghai Lake. The bus can take you directly to the Qinghai Lake Erlangjian scenic area.
If you are self-driving, then going to Qinghai Lake is a good choice. The road here is flat and smooth, and you will not disturb by altitude stress. The scenery around Qinghai Lake is beautiful, and you can take picture all the way. Moreover, there is quite a lot of Filling Station so do not need to worry about your car run out of gas.

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