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Qinghaihu National Park (青海湖 国家公园, Mongolian: Kokonor, Tibetan: Tso Ngonbo) is in Qinghai province.


Qinghai Lake, in the northeast part of the province, is the largest inland saltwater lake in China. Both the Mongolian name and the Tibetan name mean 'Blue Lake'. The 0.8-km2 Bird Island, on the western edge of the lake, is a paradise for more than 100,000 migratory birds, including bar-headed geese, brown-headed gulls, swans, and wild ducks. May through October is the best time for bird-watching.



Flora and fauna[edit]

May to June is peak season for bird watching at Bird Island.

See our article on travel photography, especially the section on telephoto lenses, for advice on photographing birds.


Get in[edit]

In Qinghai's capital, Xining, it's hard not to wind up at the lake. Touts shout "Qinghai Hu! Qinghai Hu!" at both the bus and train stations, while it seems that every taxi driver in town will try to turn a three-kilometer journey into an overnight excursion to the lake. Be careful, and bargain hard.

There are three main ways to get to the lake:

By car[edit]

These can be hired from a travel agent for ¥400. Or try approaching any taxi driver, as they or someone they know can take you to the lake for cheaper.

By bus[edit]

Most westbound buses from Xining pass by the lake. Just buy a ticket and tell the driver you want to get off at the lake. You will be dropped off at either Heimahe (黑马河) on the southern shore or Gangcha (刚察) on the northern shore. A ferry service operates between the piers of both locations.

As of October 2016 the government runs direct buses which stop at Qinghai lake as well as Kumbum Monastery and Kubula Forest Park. ¥100 per ticket. See the Xining page for more information.

By tour[edit]

A number of companies in town offer trips to the lake. The standard run stops at Bird Island, the lake, a former nuclear testing site and several jade stores in a long day trip from Xining. Prices start at around ¥100, which doesn't include entrance fees that more than double the price. Once there, note that the designated Qinghai Lake scenic spots (青海湖风景区) require an entrance ticket. As of October 2016 this was ¥100 for entrance onto the pier and surrounds. The ferry service between the stops - Gancha (刚察) and Heimahe (黑马河) starts at ¥110 return.

Fees and permits[edit]

  • Bird Island is developed as a park, and can only be entered on a bus tour. Tours take 1-2 hours and cost ¥100.
  • Most of the lakeshore is owned by individual families, who will charge visitors ¥2-10 to visit.

Get around[edit]

There are a few buses a day from Heimahe to Qinghaihu Binguan where you would get off for Bird Island and then it is a 2-hour walk from there to the site. Might be able to arrange ride at Binguan.


  • Bird Island (Niaodao) - breeding ground for migratory birds on western shore of lake.
  • Shaobei Hu - lake northeast of Qinghai Hu that might be more beautiful, tent camping is offered


Biking around Qinghai Lake is one of the more popular rides in China. The 360-km loop can be done in 3 days if you're adventurous, or 4 days at a more comfortable pace. Mountain bikes are available to rent at most towns around the lake, with xihai on the east side being the typical starting point for visitors from Xining. The road is generally quite good, but there are sections where wider tires are necessary.





Accommodations are available at Heimahe and Hudong Muchang (Pastures)


  • Qinghaihu Binguan, located east of Fuaicheng Shinaihai village on the road to Bird Island

Kokonor Lake International Youth Hostel (青海湖牧民之家国际青年旅舍) , south of lake; the only youth hostel around the lake. tel:0974-8519511 address:2103 km,109 state-way, Qinghai Province



Stay safe[edit]

Wild birds may carry bird flu; avoid contact with the birds themselves and their excrement.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Qinghaihu National Park
Xining  N  S  GolmudLhasa

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