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Xining Travel Guide

taer temple Xining QinghaiPagodas outside Kumbum Monastery

People of the bustling cities will find peace, fresh air and idyllic surroundings on the Qinghai-Tibet highland. The fluffy white clouds, pure blue sky and vast grasslands on which flocks of sheep and herds of yaks are grazing is quite the opposite of how China is depicted. One of the provinces located in China's Northwest is Qinghai province, of which Xining is the capital.

Situated at the northeast of Qinghai province, Xining lies at the junction of the Lanzhou–Qinghai and the Qinghai–Tibet railways with the best transportation connections in the region.


Bordering the Tibetan Highland, Xining is 2,260 meters above sea level, but the climate there is much better than that of Tibet. Enjoying a good location surrounded by high mountains, the city has a relatively comfortable climate with neither bone-chilling winter, nor sweltering summer and the average summer high in Xining is about 17°C (63°F). Summer in Xining is the ideal season for tourists with fresh and crisp weather. More on Xining weather.


Youning Monastery, Xining, Qinghai Top of Youning Monastery

Xining was once an important stop on the century-old Silk Road that ran through Tibet. The boom of the Silk Road in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) was a major factor for the city's rise. But the city's important role gradually declined as the trade route fell into disuse. Xining's importance in the old trade route meant that it has a lot of historical sites, and has been a gateway to the West for a long time. In previous centuries, people passing through Xining were either doing so with commercial purposes, or religious.

Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Monastery): In Xining visitors can find Ta'er Monastery (Kumbum), one of the two most important Tibetan monasteries outside the Tibetan Administrative Region.

Dongguan Great Mosque: The Xining Great Mosque is a large and beautiful mosque with a huge courtyard full of greenery, and was recently restored. The original building was built in the 14th century. It is an important building for the large muslim population of Xining, and you can't visit during prayer time.

Qinghai Lake is the largest inland salt-water lake in China, and Bird Island, on the west shore of Qinghai Lake, is also worth a visit for its astonishing scenery.

Qinghai Provincial Museum: A museum exhibiting Qinghai history through beautiful artefacts, based on a pleasant square in the city. Not all exhibitions have English signs.

Youning Monastery: Although not located as close to Xining city center as Kumbum Monastery, Youning Monastery is also worth the visit. Located on a mountain, there are so few tourists there that there isn't even a ticket office. You are free to wander around (to a certain extent) and climb up to the top. Temples and residential houses are scattered along the paths to the top.

Xining Tours

Qinghai Lake Qinghai Lake

We have a range of different tours in Xining. Click here to check them out. Contact us if you have any questions or special requests, we can always adjust your tour according to your needs.

The Path to Tibet

The recently finished Qinghai–Tibet Railway marks a new era for Xining and its role in tourism. Xining is a vital stop for many travelers to Tibet, as this is where the first luxurious five-star sight-seeing trains start, bound for the Tibet highland. Xining's similarity with Tibet in weather allows Xining to be a sort of 'adjustment stop' for visitors who will then gradually adapt themselves to the harsher weather conditions and altitude in Tibet.