Welcome to Xining (altitude: 2,261 m), the capital city of Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Upon arriving at Xining Caojiabao Airport (or Xining Railway Station), your tour guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel in the downtown by a private vehicle. After checking in, the rest of today is on your own to acclimate to the elevation and explore this historical city of China.
Arrival Ideas: You can take a flight to Xining from Beijing (about 2hrs), Shanghai (about 3hrs), Xian (about 1.5hrs), Chengdu (about 2hrs), Guangzhou (about 3.5hrs), Dunhuang (about 1.5hrs), etc., or get to Xining by high speed bullet train from Xian (about 4hrs), Lanzhou (about 1.5hrs), Zhangye (about 2hrs), Jiayuguan (about 3~3.5hrs) and other connected cities in China.
Nightlife idea: go to enjoy a great dinner and stunning night view of Xining city on Pearl of Puning which is a 188 meters tall TV & Sightseeing tower alike Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
After breakfast, drive around 150 km (2.5 hours) to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake from Xining via Huangyuan, Riyue Mountain, etc. You won't feel bored along the driving since the fascinating scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds and clustered herds unfold like a photo gallery. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake (3200 m) stretches 105 km in length, 63 km in width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. It was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic, attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year.
You will spend a wonderful time appreciating the beauty of Qinghai Lake in Erlangjian Scenic Area - the essence of the whole scenic area of Qinghai Lake. It shapes like a long and narrow sword inserting into the lake. Walking on the plank road, you will be delivered a far-reaching panorama of the sea-like lake. Due to the different salt content of different parts of the lake, the water presents different colors in the refraction of sunlight. More than the lake view, the scenic surrounding - endless grassland and rapeseed flower lands, soft sand beaches as well as flocks of grazing sheep, horses and yaks also make you enjoy yourself to the fullest. On a clear day, you will feast your eyes on a charming vista of the snow-capped mountains in the distance as well as the huge sand dunes of Sand Island on the far shore. At the same time, Qinghai Lake is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site. There are many devoted Buddhist coming from afar to worship to Qinghai Lake each year.
Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: Taking a cruise allows you to admire Qinghai Lake from a different perspective. There are two kinds of cruises available in Erlangjian Scenic Area: High Speed Cruise and catamaran. The former offers a 25 minutes’ single trip from Erlangjian Wharf to Erlangjian Peninsula at the cost of CNY140. The latter offers a 50 minutes’ round trip at the cost of CNY180. This price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This cruise is only available during the period from May to October.
Lastly, drive about 150km (3 hours) to Chaka Town (3,100m) for accommodation. The first half of the driving takes the beautiful lakeside roads while the second half takes you to go through and over high mountains and grasslands.
Warm Tips: 1. It is available to visit Qinghai Lake all the year around, but May to October is the best time because of the most comfortable weather. If you want to savor the sea of rape flowers, remember to visit in July and August. 2. The sunlight is very strong in Qinghai Lake, and it is necessary to bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. to protect your skin from sun burn especially in summer. 3. Few people get serious high altitude sickness in Qinghai Lake, but it is important to be wary of high altitude sickness if it's your first time to enter the high plateau. Avoiding strenuous exercise and drinking more water will be helpful.
If weather permits, and you don't mind walking about 3km (1 hour) to the sunrise location, you can get up early to watch the breathtaking sunrise (around 6am) at Chaka Salt Lake.
With an altitude around 3100m, Chaka Lake is a rare geographic wonder as well as an important salt production center on the ancient Silk Road. The salt products here were transported alone the Silk Road to Tibet, Xinjiang even middle Asia. For tourists, Chaka Lake is the perfect place for photography, romantic escapades and refreshing experiences. On the clear days, it is silhouetted by the azure sky, floating clouds and lofty mountains in the distance, which looks like a natural mirror beyond your imagination. Looking to the distance, you are unable to find the boundary between sky and lake, and you cannot tell whether the sky is a part of the lake or the lake is the supplement of the sky. It’s so marvelous and serene.
There are many ways to explore Chaka Salt Lake. To maximize your best experience, you will take a sightseeing train directly to the hinterland of the lake to escape the possible crowds, then explore from the hinterland to the entrance leisurely by walking (The walking costs about 40mins. If you don't want to walk, you can take the sightseeing back, which needs extra payment). Visitors are allowed to walk on the salt crystalline lake. It is like stepping into a picture. It is recommended to wear shoe covers to protect your feet from the aggressive salt water. Some other optional activities (with extra costs): a. take a relaxing boat trip along the water canal which is used to transport salt; b. enjoy a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding from the Sightseeing Tower. If you want to experience these optional activities, feel free to let your tour guide arrange for you.
Some useful tips:
1. Best time for photography at Chaka Lake - 8am~10am and 4pm to 8pm.
2. In order to take the best reflection photos on the lake, you can wear something bright colors, such as red, yellow, blue, etc.
3. The ultra-violet radiation is very strong. Try to get your face, arms, necks and legs covered when you are not taking portrait photos. Sunglasses are necessary.
Leaving Chaka Lake, you will be transferred back to Xining (about 300km/3.5~4 hours). Feel free to ask for stops along the way for resting and take photos. Accommodate in Xining.
Available Plan B Itinerary:
You may not get the best experience if you happen to visit Chaka Salt Lake during holidays and peak season when the lake is usually crowded with tourists. You can go to the nearby Sky No.1 Scenic Area which has similar lake scenery and experience to Chaka Salt Lake but not many tourists as many as in Chaka Lake. Feel free to discuss adjusting itinerary with your tour guide.
After breakfast, drive about 28 km (40 minutes) to visit the famous Ta'er Monastery. The monastery is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist temple most known as “one of the six greatest Gelug monasteries”. It is said to be the birthplace of Tsongkhapa - the founder of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Yellow Hat Sect) and constructed based on a memorial pagoda about him.
Inside this large temple complex, you can appreciate mixed Tibetan and traditional Chinese style architectures that are harmoniously laid, and feature in bright colors and complicated decorations. There are rich collections of Buddhist sculptures, precious Sutras and cultural relics treasured inside. The highlights are the Eight Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni, grandiose Grand Golden Tiled Hall, artistic Dhammapala Hall enshrining Buddhist masters’ statues. Yak Butter Sculpture of Buddha, Mural and Barbola are the noted “Three Arts” you can admire remarkable arts, aesthetics and religious culture. (You may watch a Buddhist scripture debating or witness a grand Buddhist festival by luck.)
Next, drive 37 km (about 50 minutes) to visit the Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum. It is a theme museum highlighting the profound Tibetan medicine and folk culture. Through visits of different exhibition halls, you can look many ancient surgical instruments, medical books, specially processed specimens and calculation methods of astronomical calendar. It’s an interesting and rewarding journey to catch a glimpse of the mysterious traditional medical system and diverse Tibetan culture. Don’t miss the Guinness World recorded 618-meter-long gallery displaying over 700 exquisite Thangka paintings.
After lunch, transfer to Dongguan Mosque, the largest mosque in Qinghai. The mosque is a sacred sanctuary for Muslims, one of the four greatest mosques in Northwest China and the highest-level institute of Islamic study. Originally built in the early Ming Dynasty, it is a large building group occupying 13,602 square meters which combines traditional Chinese architectural art and Islamic features. The Worship Hall can accommodate 3,000 Muslims at one time. The pale mint-green exterior is very pretty and chic. You may see lots of Muslim disciples worshiping and attending Muslim event here.
Lastly, your tour guide will escort you to catch your flight or train to next destinations. Tour ends.
The quotation for this trip is from Request P/P
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
Professional licensed English-speaking guide;
Admission tickets for all attractions listed in the itinerary;
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary (4-star standard);
Necessary vehicle transfers as listed in the itinerary;
Domestic flights (economy class) and high-speed trains (second class) as listed in the itinerary;
Airport (and train station) pick up and drop off;
Luggage Transfers: between airports (railway station) and hotels;
All meals as listed( “B” for Chinese and Western breakfast buffet in your hotel; “L” for Chinese Lunch in local restaurant; “D” for Chinese dinner in local restaurant.);
Our service charge, including tour planning, handling, operational and communication charges.
Accommodation not listed in the itinerary;
Single Room Supplement;
Tourist sites which are not listed in the itinerary;
Recommended optional activities;
Flights or trains not listed in the itinerary;
Excess Baggage Charges;
Optional tips to guides, drivers, etc.
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