Qinghai Province is located in the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, far away from the sea, and belongs to the plateau continental climate. The features of its climate are long sunshine time, strong UV radiation, long winter, and cool summer; The diurnal temperature range is large; There is less precipitation and great regional difference. There is more rain in the east, dry and windy in the west, lack of oxygen and cold. The annual average temperature is affected by topography, and its general distribution is higher in the north and lower in the south. The annual average temperature in Qinghai Province ranges from - 5.1 ℃ to 9.0 ℃. The average temperature in January (the coldest month) ranges from - 17.4 ℃ to - 4.7 ℃, and Qilian (祁连) is the coldest area; The average temperature in July (the hottest month) is between 5.8 ℃ and 20.2 ℃, and Minhe (民和) is the hottest area. The area of Qilian mountain area and Qingnan plateau with an annual average temperature below 0 ℃ accounts for more than 2/3 of the whole province, and the warm Eastern Huangshui Valley and Yellow River Valley with an annual average temperature of about 6-9 ℃. The distribution trend of annual precipitation in the whole province is gradually decreasing from southeast to northwest. The annual precipitation in most areas of the province is less than 400mm. The annual precipitation in the Qilian mountains ranges from 410 mm to 520mm. The area of Jiuzhi(久治) and Banma (班玛) in the southeast is more than 600mm. The annual precipitation in Qaidam Basin ranges from 17 mm to 182 mm, and Lenghu is the area with the least precipitation. The frost-free period is 3-5 months in the eastern agricultural area and only 1-2 months in other areas. There is no absolute frost-free period in some areas of Sanjiangyuan. The annual total solar radiation of the whole province is second only to that of Tibet Plateau. The average annual total solar radiation can reach 5860-7400 MJ/m2.
As the top attraction in Qinghai, Qinghai lake attracts many tourists every year. It is available to visit Qinghai Lake all year round, but May to October is the best time because the weather is neither cold nor hot. If you want to see the sea of rapeseed flowers, July and August are most recommended. For bird-lovers, visiting Qinghai Lake from May to July allows you to see more birds around Qinghai Lake.
Qinghai Travel Tips on Weather: For the UV is strong and sunshine hours are long, and the temperature difference is great, you may need to bring enough sunblock items like sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, etc. Some extra layers are needed to keep warm at night. Also please bring your own medicines, pills for carsickness, and acute mountain sickness. When you are in Qinghai, you should not work out too much in the plateau and have a good rest on your arrival day in Qinghai.
What to Wear in Qinghai in Spring: You are recommended to wear a beanie, sweater, gloves, fleece jacket, jeans, mittens, scarf, socks, trench coat, jacket, long coat, long-sleeve top, boots, earmuffs, cardigan, etc. After April, you can take off some thick clothes and wear long-sleeve shirts, and sweaters during the daytime.
Summer is from June to August when most regions of Qinghai are comfortable and warm, and it is the best season to visit Qinghai. It is windy and dry and about 70% of precipitation occurs in summer. It is the best time to see the blooming rapeseed flowers around Qinghai Lake and the "mirror of sky" - Chaka Salt Lake. It is also the best time to travel around other regions of Qinghai like Yushu, Tongren, Golmud, etc.
What to Wear in Qinghai in Summer: You are recommended to wear windbreakers, jackets, sweaters, trousers, long sleeves, sunglasses, sneakers, headscarf, sunhat, etc.
Qinghai has a short autumn. The early autumn from September to mid October is still comfortable season to visit Qinghai. It is cool in the day time, but cold in the night time. Autumn is the most recommended season for you to see the beautiful autumn leaves and colorful fall foliage decorated mountains. Besides the unmissable Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake, the attractions like Mt Laoye, Mt Laji, Kanbula National Forest Park are very beautiful in Autumn. From mid October, the temperature goes down rapidly, and you may already start to feel the coldness of the winter.
What to Wear in Qinghai in Autumn: you are recommended to wear sweaters, windbreakers, long sleeves, sunglasses, sneakers in the early autumn, and wear down jackets, heavy coats, fleece layers, scarves, and beanies later.
Winter is long and very cold in most regions of Qinghai. The average low temperature in winter is only -20°C, and the average high temperature is only -7°C. It is not very recommended to spend long time outdoor in Qinghai during winter. If you visit Qinghai in winter, you'd better stay indoor and regions like Xining and Golmud has indoor heating system provided.
What to Wear in Qinghai in Winter: you are recommended to wear heavy coats, down jackets, sweaters, flannels, fleece Layers, fleece-lined Leggings, thick pants, beanies, scarves, wool socks, winter boots, etc.
How to Get to Qinghai: Xining is the transfer hub of Qinghai, and you can get there by flight from Beijing (2.5h), Shanghai (3h), Guangzhou (3h15min), Lhasa (2-3.5h), Xian (1.5h), etc. or by train to Xining from Xian (4-5h), Lanzhou (70min-2.5hrs), Zhangye (2h), Jiayuguan (3.3.5h), Dunhuang (6h), etc.
Best Time to Visit Qinghai: May to October is available to travel most area in Qinghai, especially July and August when the weather is most comfortable.
Almost all travelers start a Qinghai tour from Xining and then explore its surroundings. Generally, it takes about 3 ~ 6 days to have a classic Qinghai tour. For travelers with limited time and just want to take a short glimpse of the essence of Qinghai, it is recommended to spend 3 days discovering Qinghai Lake – China’s largest lake with incredible beauty and Xining highlights such as Kumbum Monastery – a Tibetan monastery holding great importance and Tibetan Medicine and Tibet Culture Museum – an informative museum fully displaying all aspects of Tibetan culture and medicine.
For more natural sightseeing experience, you spend 1 more day visiting Chaka Salt Lake to get amazed by the Mirror of Sky or turning to Kanbula National Forest Park to savor shimmering Danxia Landform. If you have interest in Amdo Tibetan culture or Regong art, Tongren deserves your another day. For an in-depth adventure, visiting Amne Machin – one of the four sacred mountains in Tibetan Buddhism in 1 more day.
It is strongly recommended to extend your Qinghai trip to its attractive neighbors, including Tibet, Gansu and Sichuan. The high-altitude scenery and the Buddhist atmosphere of Tibet is second to none. Take a 4 ~ 8 days trip and you will enjoy most Tibet highlights. If you want to unveil the mystery of the Silk Road, 5 ~ 11 days are needed to visit Gansu and Xinjiang. For traveler who prefers an in-depth discovery of Amdo, Gannan and Aba in Sichuan are recommended.
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