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How to Get to Xining & Get around Xining

Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, serves as a vital transport hub in Qinghai Province and a necessary gateway to Tibet for train travelers. The city itself has two splendid attractions - Kumbum Monastery (Ta’er Monastery) and Dongguan Mosque where tourists can explore the ethnic cultural diversity in northwest China. Whether you are planning a special visit to Xining, or a trip to the beautiful Qinghai Lake, the famous “Mirror of Sky” - Chaka Salt Lake and other destinations in Qinghai Province from Xining, or a Tibet tour by Xining-Lhasa train, or a Silk Road journey from Xining, you will find the most useful Xining Transportation Guide here. Detailed means of transportation, travel time, the best options are given to help you travel to Xining and around areas in the most convenient way.

Where is Xining located in China?

Xining (coordinates: 36.6171°N, 101.7782°E) is located in the northeast region of Qinghai Province, northwest China. It lies about 150 km east of Qinghai Lake, for about 2.5 hours’ drive and 300 km east of Chaka Salt Lake with almost 4.5 hours’ drive. And, Xining is about 110 km (1.5 hours’ drive) north of Kanbula National Forest Park and about 160 km (2.5 hours’ drive) from Tongren (Rongwu Monastery) in the south. Besides, the distance from Beijing to Xining is 1,660 km and over 2,210 km from Shanghai to Xining, 1,050 km from Chengdu and 1,972 km from Lhasa of Tibet.

Three Ways to Get to Xining:
So far, travelers can get to Xining by air, train and land driving. Taking a flight and a train is more popular for most tourists while the land driving is suitable for an extended trip from southern Gansu. We list major flight and train schedules of Xining below for your reference.

Xining-location-Maps

Get to Xining by Flight

Xining Domestic Flight Map

Taking a flight is the fastest and most comfortable way to get to Xining, which usually takes several hours only. Xining Caojiabao International Airport, about 28 km (40 minutes’ drive) east of the downtown Xining is an airport serving tourists to and leaving Xining. It still works as an important air hub in Qinghai and Qinghai Tibet Plateau. It has opened over 60 air lines with 48 cities at home and abroad, which means you can fly to Xining from lots of major tourist cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Lhasa, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen, Qingdao, Tianjin, Changsha, Dunhuang, Harbin, Hohhot, Kunming, Urumqi, Wuhan, Zhangjiajie, Yinchuan, etc. Besides, there are irregular flights to Xining from Kuala Lumpur and Nha Trang in Southeast Asia. The airport also operates regional flights from Xining to Golmud, Golog, Huatugou, Yushu and Qilian within Qinghai Province.

Xian Caojiabao International Airport 西宁曹家堡国际机场
IATA: XMN ICAO: ZLXN
Address: Huzhu Tu Autonomous County, Haidong, Qinghai 青海省海东市互助土族自治县
Transportation: about 55 km, 1 hour’s drive from Kumbum Monastery; about 27 km, 40 minutes’ drive from Dongguan Mosque; about 37 km, 50 minutes’ drive from Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum; about 175 km, 2 hours 40 minutes’ drive from Qinghai Lake and nearly 320 km, 4.5 hours’ drive from Chaka Salt Lake

Xining Flight Schedules:

Flight Route (Non-stop) Flight Time Flight Route (Non-stop) Flight Time
Beijing - Xining about 2.5 hours Shanghai - Xining about 3.5 hours
Xian - Xining about 1.5 hours Chengdu - Xining about 2 hours
Guangzhou - Xining about 3.5 hours Lhasa - Xining about 2.5 hours

Get to Xining by Train

Xining High Speed Railway Map

Xining is the rail transportation hub in Qinghai and a must railway pass to Tibet. Currently, Xining has three railway stations in service: Xining Railway Station, Datong West Railway Station and Huangyuan Railway Station. Xining Railway Station, the largest railway station in Qinghai and Tibet regions is the main train station used by train travelers while the latter two are seldom used.

There are three railways starting or passing by Xining Railway Station, and they are the world-renowned Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Lanzhou-Urumqi High Speed Railway and Lanzhou-Qinghai Railway. So you can take a high speed bullet train to Xining from many cities in Northern China like Xian, Lanzhou, Zhangye, Jiayuguan, Turpan, Urumqi, and other connected cities, such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Taiyuan, etc. Meanwhile, you can experience an impressive train journey to Tibet, viewing breathtaking snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands and plateau landscape along the rail.

Xining Railway Station 西宁火车站
Address: No. 128 Huzhu Road, Chengdong District, Xining, Qinghai 青海省西宁市城东区互助路128号
Transportation: about 5 km (20 minutes by car, 40 minutes by bus) from downtown; 33 km (1 hour’s drive) from Kumbum Monastery; about 2 km, 10 minutes’ drive from Dongguan Mosque; over 150 km, 2.5 hours’ drive from Qinghai Lake and 300 km, 4 hours’ drive from Chaka Salt Lake


Beijing to Xining

Beijing to Xining by Flight (More Recommended)
Flight Time: about 2.5 hours
Frequency: about 15 flights per day
It takes less than 2.5 hours flying from Beijing to Xining. Every day, there are around 15 direct flights taking off from Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) to Xining Caojiabao International Airport (XMN). The flights are scheduled between 6:40am and 10:00pm each day. We suggest that you take a morning flight or a afternoon flight depending on your itinerary, because you need to transfer to the downtown and leave some time for acclimatization to the altitude of Xining.

Tips: 1.) Beijing Daxing International Airport operates most flights to Xining, but it is located 50 km far away from the city center for at least 1 hour and 10 minutes’ drive (transfers through subways needs about 1 hour 10 minutes as well)
2.) Beijing Capital International Airport lies about 35 km, 1 hours’ drive from the city center.

Beijing to Xining by Train
Train Time: about 19 hours ~ 22.5 hours
Frequency: 3 trains per day

There are no high speed bullet trains running from Beijing to Xining except a few overnight trains (T and Z trains). They are normal speed trains and all start from Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing to Xining Railway Station. Two trains leaves in the afternoon and one depart in the evening. They will get to Xining on the second day. Soft Sleeper, Hard Sleeper and Hard Seat are offered onboard. If you catch a Beijing to Lhasa (Tibet) Train, you will make a stopover in Xining.


Shanghai to Xining

Shanghai to Xining by Flight (More Recommended)
Flight Time: about 3.5 hours
Frequency: more than 15 flights per day
There are frequent non-stop flights flying from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) to Xining daily. And they leave Shanghai between 6:30am and about 19:30pm every day.

Tips: 1.) Shanghai Pudong International Airport is about 45 km, 1.5 hours’ drive from downtown; can be reached by Shanghai Maglev Train, Shanghai Metro Line 2, taxi, airport bus and city bus.
2.) Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is nearly 20 km, 1 hour 15 minutes’ drive from the city center. You can get to the airport by Shanghai Metro Line 2, Line 10 and city bus.

Shanghai to Xining by Train
Train Time: about 25 hours ~ 34 hours
Frequency: 2 trains per day

Every day, Shanghai sends two trains (both are overnight trains) from Shanghai Railway Station to Xining Railway Station. One train departs in the morning and another one begins in the evening hour.

Chengdu to Xining

Chengdu to Xining by Flight (More Recommended)
Distance: about 1,050 km
Flight Time: less than 2 hours
Frequency: more than 15 flights per day
Chengdu, most known as the “Home of the Giant Panda”, also operates many flights to Xining each day. The flights take off from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) from about 6:30 am to 10:00 pm and land in Xining at around 8:00 am to midnight. Most flights fly in the morning which is good for you to rest and adapt to the altitude.

Chengdu to Xining by Train
By High Speed Train:

Chengdu dispatches one high speed train from Chengdu East Railway Station to Xining Railway Station every day. It departs at about 12:00 and gets to Xining at about 22:00, after 10 hours’ ride. There are two types of tickets are offered: First Class Seat and Second Class Seat.
By Normal Train:
There are 2 to 3 normal trains running from Chengdu Railway Station to Xining Railway Station as well. The trains are overnight trains spending about 14.5 ~ 15 hours.


Guangzhou to Xining

Guangzhou to Xining by Flight (More Recommended)
Distance: about 2,460 km Flight Time: over 3 hours 15 minutes Frequency: more than 5 flights per day There are more than 5 flights taking off from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to Xining Caojiabao International Airport each day. Among them all, there are two non-stop flights (within 3.5 hours) and several flights with stopovers in Zhangjiajie or Guiyang (about 5 hours). The stopover is about 1 hour.

Guangzhou to Xining by Train
Train Time: about 32 hours
Frequency: 1 train per day
At present, there is only one train running from Guangzhou to Xining on a daily basis. It is the Guangzhou-Lhasa train, an overnight normal train that departs from Guangzhou Railway Station and passes Xining Railway Station the following day and terminates at Lhasa Railway Station on the third day.

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