Print | Recommend This Site


Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province, People's Republic of China. Xining is located on the eastern edge ...

Historical Monuments > China

Xining > Qinghai > China


Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province, People's Republic of China. Xining is located on the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of Huangshui river. It is the political, economic, scientific and technological, cultural and traffic center of Qinghai Province with an average altitude of over 2,200 meters (about 7,217 feet). The activities of human beings in this region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, Xining was paid more attention due to its economic and martial significance. As well as being the important hinge between the central plains and the western part of China in ancient time, Xining was the most common passing channel of the famous silk road. Until now, it is still the only road by which to enter the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

At present, five districts, three counties and a national economic and technological development zone are under the administration of the local government. With a population of more than two million, Xining is the first city on the upper reaches of the Yellow River to achieve a population into the millions. There are about 37 nationalities living here, including Han, Hui, Tu and Tibetan. The local traditions and customs are influenced by these distinctive nationalities, in particular the Tibetan group.

Xining has a history of over 2100 years and was a chief commercial hub on the hexi corridor caravan route to Tibet, handling especially timber, wool and salt in ancient times. The trade along the Hexi Corridor was part of a larger trade corridor along the Northern Silk Road, whose use was intensified in the first century BC after efforts by the Han Dynasty to control this route.

Under the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) a county there called Linqiang controlled the local Qiang tribesmen. It was again a frontier county under the Sui (581–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties; during the 7th and early 8th centuries it was a center of constant warfare with the Tuyuhun and (later) the Tibetan peoples. In 763 it was overrun by the Tibetans and while under Tibetan control was known to the Chinese as Qingtangcheng. Recovered by the song dynasty in 1104, it received the name Xining (meaning "peace in the west") and has been the seat of a prefecture or superior prefecture under that name since that time. With the rise of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism), which began in the 7th century AD, Xining became an important religious center; Qinghai's largest lamasery, a holy place to the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhists, was located at Kunbum, some 19 km to the southeast.

A major earthquake occurred May 22, 1927 and measured 8.6 on Richter scale. It was one of the deadliest earthquakes with a total count of 200,000 deaths. It also caused large land fractures.

Xining was the extraterritorial capital of the Koko Nor territory and remained in Gansu until 1928, when it became the provincial capital of the newly established independent province of Qinghai. Xining was given municipal status in 1945.

As the capital of Qinghai Province, Xining almost boasts all varieties of local flavors. Xining's cuisine is distinct from other varieties of chinese cities using mainly food products native to the area. Food here is substantial, but quite inexpensive.

A unique feature of snacks in Xining is that they are given names after the surname of their initiator. Some of the famous ones will be introduced in next context. Liangfen (bean jelly) is made from pea powder and cut into short strips. Liangfen is served with vinegar, chili and mashed garlic, mustard and salt to enhance the taste the dish. Niangpi is a popular snack made of flour and baking soda. It can be found anywhere in Xining for four-yuan. The most famous version of this snack is called Mazhong Niangpi and can be found in the Mojia Jie. Zasui Tang is a soup cooked with lamb and oxen entrails. Locals often eat this snack for breakfast. The hot soup helps warm people during the winter. Muslim Yoghurt is a must while in Xining – this breakfast is a kind of yoghurt made by local Muslim families and is served in small bowls for one-yuan.

Located in the southwest part of Xining City, the Ta'er Monastery is one of six famous monasteries in the Gelug (also called Yellow Hat Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism. Having a history of over 600 years, the Dongguan Mosque, located in the Xining City Zone, is one of the most famous mosques in the northwest region of China. It has splendid and diversiform towers, walls and halls in the mosque. Another unique religious structure is the Beishan Si (North Mountain Temple), a Taoist facility.

Dongguan MosqueThe Xining region is also replete with natural scenic attractions. One is the Sun and Moon Mountain which divides Qinghai Province into two parts - the stock-raising area and the farming area. Another not-to-be-missed destination is the Qinghai Lake and Bird Island. This alluring body of water is home to hundreds of thousands of birds. About 35 kilometers west of Xining City in Datong County, you can experience the magical power of Laoye Mountain. Every year on the 6th day of the 6th lunar month, the traditional singing festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Xining Climate
Located in the northwestern China, Xining is considered to be a summer resort with its continental highland semiarid climate. The annual average temperature of Xining is about 6.5C (43.7F) while in January the temperature drops to only -8.9C (16F) and in July it reaches the high of 17.2C (63F) on average. Attributed to the high altitude, the region is encircled in low air pressure weather systems and as such receives high-levels of ultra-violet radiation, so it is very important for visitors to be prepared with a high factor sun block to defend against sun burn. Another typical climate feature of this region is that the temperature fluctuates widely between day and night. Therefore, several warm garments are also a necessity in your trip.

Best Time to Visit Xining:

May to September

Xining Travel Attractions:

Kumbum Monastery, Qinghai Lake, Dongguan Mosque, Mengda Nature Reserve, North Mountain Temple, Bird Island

Xining Travel Attractions:

Kumbum Monastery: Kumbum Monastery is about 27 southwest of Xining. It is one of the two most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside Tibet itself. Set among flowing wheat fields and fertile hills, the Ta’er Monastery evokes an ambience of relaxation and meditation.

Kumbum Monastery, also called Ta’er Monastery, originated in 1379 from a pagoda, which marked the birthplace of Tsong Kha-pa, founder of the Gelugpa Sect in Tibetan people. The site covers around 400,000 square kilometers and is home to over 75o monks. The most famous items in this monastery are the “Three Treasures”-the yak butter sculpture called”Suyouhua”.

Qinghai Lake: Qinghai Lake, China's largest inland salt-water lake is at 3200 meters above sea level. It is situated at the east of Qinghai province, around 2.30 hours drive from Xining.

The lake occupies an area of 4456 kilometers, having a perimeter of more than 360 kilometers and it is over one time lager than the famous Tai Lake in Wuxi, China's east Jiangsu Province. The ellipse-shaped lake looks like a huge white poplar leave setting among alpine prairie. Scenery in Qinghai lake varies according to seasons. Summer and autumn, with most comfortable weather condition and most beautiful lake scenery is the best time to visit the lake.

Dongguan Mosque: At the south of the Dongguan Street, the Dongguan Mosque is one of the largest mosques in northwest China. First built in 1379, the mosque has a long history of more than 600 years. Architecture of the mosque combines traditional Chinese style and the local features, with grand appearance and delicate, dazzlingly inside ornaments. The mosque has a prayer hall which can hold up to 3,000 people. Now this mosque serves as an educational center and institution of higher learning for Islamism, and also is the leading mosque in Qinghai.

Mengda Nature Reserve: Located around 110km southeast of Xining in the Xunhua Sala Autonomous Prefecture, the Mengda Nature Reserve (Mengda ziran baohuqu) is a flourishing area of natural beauty, contrasting sharply with the great swathes of sterile land that cover Qinghai Province. The reserve, centered around the mountaintop Heavenly Lake (Tianchi) has forests of virgin trees, a large variety of exotic flowers and many wild animals, that make it good for hiking and boating. It is the climate here, both wet and mild, that has caused the nickname of the lake, the “highland Xishuangbanna”, and the area deserves such praise.

North Mountain Temple: The 1,400-year-old North Mountain Temple (Beishan si, or Beichan si), situated on a mountain of the same name to the north of the Huangshui River, is one of the few Taoist temples in the mostly Buddhist Qinghai province. This is a good place to visit to get both a good idea of the size of the city from its high viewpoint, and a little peaceful hiking.

The temple was originally built in the late Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), but it has undergone destruction (mainly through fires, natural wear and wars) and renovation, time and again since that time. Some of the original broken murals can still be seen on the existing walls. Other attractions, beyond an enjoyable climb of the slopes and strolling around the walkways and bridges of the grounds, are the Taoist caves that are nicely decorated and are frequently filled with devout followers. At the top of the hill is the highlight however, the 5-storey Ningshou Pagoda (Ningshou ta), that offers the best of the views.

Bird Island: It is an interesting and charming place on the western shore of Qinghai Lake. The island is a paradise for varieties of birds. The protection policy of the local government makes island even more popular among birds. Each March and April, when ice covering the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau begins to melt, more than 20 kinds of migrating birds fly to the island to breed. During that period, flocks of birds shelter the whole island and bird eggs can be found everywhere. Visitors can hear birds twitters far away.

How to reach Xining:

By Air
Xining Airport is situated at Caojia Bao, 29 kilometers east of the city. Services from and to the major tourism city, like Beijing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shenzhen, Xian and Chengdu, are available. There are also some flights to Chongqing, Dunhuang, Golmud, and Urumqi. For times, Xining is a significant stop for visitors to Tibet. Many first fly there and then proceed to Lhasa. Direct flights to Lhasa are available there.

By Train
As the traffic hub of Qinghai Province, in the important northwest region of China, Xining Railway Station possesses two trunk and three feeder railway lines, radiating out in all directions. The world famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway traverses Xining, taking on partof the transportations links between Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu Provinces. The Lanzhou-Qinghai and the Qinghai-Tibet railways meet here, transporting passengers onward to Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Qingdao, Zhengzhou and Golmud, etc.

By Bus
Visiting Xining by long-distance buses will make your trip more convenient, with a majority of passenger and freight being taken by highway. The Xining Bus Terminal has an advanced administrative systems and service establishments. With the investment of the local governments, five main arteries were constructed here. They connect to major cities and counties both within and outside of Qinghai Province. Every day, before noon, long-distance buses spectacularly depart en rout to Dunhuang and Liujiaxia of Gansu Province, Suide and Xian of Shaanxi Province and Henan Province.

Where to stay in Xining:

Yinlong Hotel, Qinghai Hotel, Xining Hotel, Enraton International Hotel, Huangzhong Hotel, Jinshan Holiday Hotel, Overseas Chinese Hotel, Jin Jiang Inn


Xining, Qinghai, China, Capital of Qinghai, Kumbum Monastery, Taer Monastery, Suyouhua, Gelugpa, Grand Butter Sculpture, Qinghai Lake, Tai Lake, Dongguan Mosque, Largest Mosques in China, Mengda Nature Reserve, Tianchi, Heavenly Lake, Highland Xishuangbanna, North Mountain Temple, Beichan Si, Huangshui River, Taoist Temples, Taoist Caves, Ningshou Pagoda, Bird Island, Silk Road