Qinghai Lake is sandwiched between Hainan and Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in northeastern Qinghai. The lake is located at the crossroads of several bird migration routes across Asia. Many species use Qinghai as an intermediate stop during migration.
In the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), Qinghai Lake was called the West Sea (西海), and substantial numbers of Han Chinese lived in the Xining valley to the east. In the 17th century, Mongolic-speaking Oirat and Khalkha tribals migrated to Qinghai and became known as Qinghai Mongols. In 1724, the Qinghai Mongols led by Lobzang Danjin revolted against China’s Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). The Yongzheng Emperor, after putting down the rebellion, stripped away Qinghai’s autonomy and imposed direct rule. Although some Tibetans lived around the lake, the Qing maintained an administrative division from the time of Güshi Khanbetween the Dalai Lama’s western realm (slightly smaller than the current Tibet Autonomous Region) and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in the east. Yongzheng also sent Manchu and Han settlers to dilute the Mongols.
As the largest saline lake in China, Qinghai Lake, historically known as Koko Nor or Kuku Nor, is situated in the Qinghai Province. The names Qinghai and Kokonor both mean “Blue/Teal Sea” in Standard Mandarin and Mongolian. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of total influx.
People considered Qinghai Lake as “green lake” or “fairyland” because of the marvelous and natural beautiful reflected on it. Qinghai Lake is an important place in history which has been the traditional meeting place between Mongolian and Tibetan societies. Despite its salinity, Qinghai Lake has an abundance of fish. Sadly the lake is shrinking at a rate of 10 cm a year. Most of the rivers and lakes that used to feed into the lake are drying up due to a combination of over grazing, farming downstream and damming. There are many famous scenic spots in Qinghai Lake, and Haixin Shan (Hill of the Sea Heart) is one of them. Haixin Shan is an isle shaped like a spiral shell located in the middle south of the lake, covering an area of 1 square kilometre. The body of the isle is made up of ivory white granite and gneiss. With the coverage of green vegetation over 50%, the isle is a good place for horse-raising. What’s more, temples and other subsidiary buildings well suit the lake and the hill, and on the peak of the hill the panorama of the Qinghai Lake can be overlooked.
The lake has a number of attractions that draw travellers in this region in. Ornithologists, campers, hikers, botanists, swimmers, sailors, fishermen, loners and nomads all find areas of interest around the lake. The beauty here lies in its salty vastness and the remote peace that it instills. The colours that can be found around the lake are of purity and contrasts, from the deep yellows of oil seed rape against the cold blues of the lake to the dark greens of distant mountains against the fluffy white of bilious clouds.
There are no direct flights to here, generally the flights are stop over in Xi’an which is not convenient therefore taking flight is not recommended.
Xining Caojiabao Airport is the nearest airport around Qinghai Lake. If you want to visit to Qinghai Lake from the Xining Airport directly, you can take airport shuttle bus to Passenger Station in Qiyi road.
The train pass by surrounding of Qinghai Lake is only one train 7581 from Xining to Golmud in the morning. This train will pass by many small stations near Qinghai Lake, like Haiyan County, Haergai County and Gangcha County from east to west, these three stations all located in the north of Qinghai Lake.
From Xining to Delingha it needs 8 hours for 55 Yuan.
In Haiyan, you can visit to Gold and Silver Grassland, Chaka Salt Lake in Wulan, and can visit to Bird Island taking bus from Gangcha.
Qinghai province centers on Xining, the buses heading to Qinghai Lake and its surrounded towns is starting in Xining East Bus Station(Jianguo Road Bus Station), and there are quite a lot of buses to Qinghai Lake.
If you are self-driving, then going to Qinghai Lake is a good choice. The road here is flat and smooth, and you will not disturb by altitude stress. The scenery around Qinghai Lake is beautiful, and you can take picture all the way. Moreover, there is quite a lot of Filling Station so do not need to worry about your car run out of gas.