Qinghai Province is a province located in the northeastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Northwest China, and the height above sea level of most parts in the province are between 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. The province got its name from the reason that there is an inland salt water lake: Qinghai Lake, which is the largest lake in China. The capital city of Qinghai Province is Xi'ning, and the province has another short name Qing. Due to Qinghai Province is the fountainhead of three greatest livers in China (the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lantsang River), the province is honored as the ‘water tower of China’.
Qinghai Province is a varied land with towering mountains, numerous rivers and lakes. The spectacular Kunlun Mountains are situated in the central Qinghai; Tanggula Mountains stand in the south of Qinghai and Qilian Mountains in the north of the province; Chaidamu Basin, covering as area of 257,768 square kilometers (99,525 square miles), is lying in the northwest Qinghai Province; and the vast grassland plays an important role in transition, making Qinghai Province a unity. As what tourists having been to Qinghai described: Viewed from afar, Qinghai is high mountainous area; but after you get close, you will find Qinghai is more like a plain.
Qinghai is a multi-ethnic province. The number of the main nationalities in the province is up to 54, including Han, Tibet, Hui, Mongol, Tu and Salar, taking up to about 43% of the total population in Qinghai Province. Hence the province is a nice destination to have a close encounter with those unique ethnic customs especially Tibet, Hui, Mongol, Tu and Salar.
Located in the fountainhead of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River (both rivers are mother rivers of China), Qinghai features a long history. Early in the period of Paleolithic age, tens if thousands years ago, there had been ancestors living in the area of Chaidamu Basin and Kunlun Mountains in Qinghai. They leaded a life of hunting and nomadism, and migrated to wherever water and grass were available. Since ancient times, Qinghai Province is a place for ethnic minority tribes in Northwest China. There were a lot of wars because Qinghai is a place if strategic importance. However, it was the wars which bring many different cultures into Qinghai, including Han culture, Tibetan culture, Hui culture and cultures of other minorities. Generally speaking, Tibetan culture plays the most significant role in Qinghai Province.
Qinghai is a large province is Northwest China and is belong to a typical plateau continental climate. The weather there has 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 togethers in Qinghai 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.
The natural landscapes in Qinghai Province are pretty magnificent and beautiful. While the splendid long history gives Qinghai plenty of relic sites, such as ancient temples, ancient cliff paintings and ancient castles. Besides, those ethnic minorities all have unique customs, habits and civilizations, which adds more tourist resources to the province.
Qinghai Lake is the largest inland salt water lake in China, covering an area of 4,573 square kilometers (1,766 square miles). The lake is about 3,260 meters (10,696 ft) above the sea level. The deepest area of the lake can up to 32 meters (105 ft). There are islands in the lake, like Bird Island, Haixin Mountain, Haixi Mountain and Sand Island, which are all available to tourists. Qinghai is the fountainhead of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River. The Yangtze River is originated from Tanggula Mountains, about 6,620 meters (21,719 ft) above sea level. There, woods formed by icy ‘towers’ which are dozens of meters high make up a wonderful crystal world. The fountainhead of the Yellow River in Qinghai Plateau is covered with numerous streams, lakes and exuberant grassland.
There are plenty of relic sites reflecting the cultures in Qinghai. Such as Dongguan Giant Mosque, one of the largest mosques in northwest China first built in 1379; Lonwu Temple in Tongren and Kumbum Monastery in Xi'ning.