Yushu (玉树; Yùshù; also known as Gyêgu) is a town in Qinghai Province.
Yushu is in the traditional Kham Area. It is a multi-ethnic town. The inhabitants are mostly Tibetan while most merchants are Han Chinese. The metropolitan area had a population of over 350,000 in 2020. Although it is outside the Tibet Autonomous Region, it is clearly Tibetan, albeit increasingly flooded with Chinese incomers.
In the morning of 14 April 2010, the town was struck by 7.1 magnitude Earthquake. Around 2,000 people died.
A few buses depart daily from Xining and Yushu. Fare is ¥207. As of 2016, the bus station for buses to and from Xining is about 2 km south of the T-junction and central square. From the bus station, if you walk west about 300 m you will find the main street, from there head north and you will get to the central square.
Buses going further South in Qinghai, to Zadoi or Nangqen for instance, pass by Yushu Town on their way.
From Ganzi buses are available in summer only, and the station is allegedly at the midpoint between the Xining bus station and town, around 5 km outside the latter, on the G214.
- 1 Yushu Batang Airport (YUS IATA) (18 km south of Yushu). There are few daily flights from Xining, Chengdu and Lhasa; the price will vary depend on the seasons. A bus is available into town as are negotiable taxi services.
Walking is the easiest way around town, you can walk up the hill to the Jiegu Monastery. A taxi to the Mani Stones should cost around ¥50. But it's convenient to take bus no.1 or 2 (¥1). A taxi to the Temple of Princess Wencheng cost around ¥50. Try to negotiate with a driver to see both sites as they are outside of town in different directions.
- Jyekundo Dondrubling Monastery.
- Jorang Monastery.
- Qiulindo Monastery.
- Zomda Monastery.
- Temple of Princess Wencheng (20 km away, ¥50 by taxi; very easy to hitch a ride as there's just nothing between end of Yushu main street and the temple). Worth a visit. If you wander around the monastery at the left of the temple, you may find an English-speaking monk who lives there and will be very happy to welcome you and show you around.
- Mani Temple (Manishicheng) (3 km outside town; around ¥15 by taxi or take bus no.1 or no.2 ¥2). Worth a visit.
- Horse Fair. July. Local townspeople and nomads from far and wide come. Exciting displays of horsemanship, and traditional Tibetan singing and dancing. ¥40-50 in tax.
Do not bother to have a sheepskin jacket made up unless you are prepared to leave it behind;it will start to stink once you bring it back to low altitude. However, leather cowboy hats are fine, also fox fur brocade hat. Apart from malas (tibetan rosary beads), prayer flags and other religious accoutrements, there is not a lot to buy although there are some beautiful rugs to be found on the market. However, it is almost impossible to persuade the merchant to part with one, as for reasons never fathomed, they are sold in pairs. You can also buy Caterpillar fungus in Yak Square during the summer, a famous traditional medicine.
There's an ATM where you can withdraw money on the Construction Bank of China, south of town on the main street, right side.
Decent food can be had at a large number of places on all of the town's three main streets, and also at the market square at night. Sheep's head for the not too squeamish is recommended. Yak milk yoghurt sold by the nomad women on the corner of Yak Square is very strong but very creamy. Steer clear of yak butter; it always tastes rancid even when fresh.
- Ya Restaurant (Ya Fanguan) (turn right at the top of the T-Junction and the restaurant is on the left hand side, a yellow sign with two yak is above the restaurant, but can be hard to see at night). Traditional Muslim noodle cuisine. The ganban, similar to spaghetti and just as delicious, is especially recommended. However, one traveller experienced food poisening from this restaurant.
- Yak Restaurant (walk from Ya Restaurant back to the T-junction, turn left and walk past the Yak statue to find the restaurant). The best restaurant in town. The most expensive restaurant in town.
You can buy many types of lager beer including Budweiser and Corona in a few locations in many shops around town, and also in many restaurants. Also, available is Baijiu, a rice wine which has a very strong taste.
There are a few drinking establishments often referred to as "Tea Houses", but do not expect a pub atmosphere. There are also a couple of night clubs, which are worth going to just to experience young people in a disco all lining up and doing traditional dances which they all seem to know. There is also often traditional Tibetan folk singing in these clubs which is also worth seeing. The tradition is to reward the singer with a silk scarf (called a Khata) for their song. Many people will approach them during their song to place Khata on their neck.
Since the earthquake, most hotels were rebuilt as temporary corrugated-iron boxes, some of them unexpectedly dirty, and extremely cold in winter. Many of them can be found on the G214 to the east of the T junction. Expect to pay around ¥50 for a bed (winter price) in a dirty one without electricity.
About 250 meters east of the T junction, there is an easy to find L-shaped and green-coloured budget hotel that survived the earthquake. The price is ¥35 for a bed in a double room (winter price), it has electric blankets but no heating. Toilets are outside the building. Because of the wide windows in the common area, the hotel is surprisingly warm in winter. Ask the restaurants around to point you the tent where the reception is located.
- Yushu Hotel (Yushu Binguan). By far the nicest hotel in town with the flushing toilets and 24-hour hot showers. The old Yushu Binguan sits in front of this brand new hotel, and there are no longer dorm rooms available. The staff are helpful, although only a few speak some English - a friendly female manager has the best fluency. By Chinese government standards, the hotel is 3-star, but by Western standards it could be a 4-star. Avoid the complimentary breakfast. off-season (winter) expect to pay ¥180 for a room with a (soft!) queen-size bed.
- YHA Yushu Youth Hostel (in a pink cube-shaped building on Hongwei Rd. the outskirts of town as you head in from Ganzi).
- Gesar Hotel (Wangfuuidian) (it's right at the center of the city). Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 13:00. It is one of the best hotels in the city. It's a three-star hotel.
There are four daily buses to Xining, two seated and two sleepers. The trip can take anywhere from 12 to 20 hours (the seated bus is faster than the sleeper). Buses leaving before 15:00 are likely to arrive in the middle of the night in Xining. On the route to Xining there are fantastic views of plains so vast they disappear into the horizon.
There is also a sleeper bus a few times a week to Chengdu in summer, which takes 32-36 hours. On the route to Chengdu the scenery is fantastically dramatic with vast mountains and river gorges. Be prepared for delays due to small avalanches temporarily blocking the roads on the way to Chengdu.
Regular collective minivans to Nanqen leave from Shengli Rd (G214) about 500 m south of the T junction. The trip takes three to four hours for the 170 km and costs ¥50 (2012).
Collective taxis to Ganzi and Dege wait for passengers on the G214 about 250 m east of the T junction. Price per person to Ganzi is Y180 in a minivan or ¥150 in a smaller car (2012). You might have to wait a long time for the taxi to be full, and that may include spending one more night in Yushu.