Xining, also known as “Ziling City” in Tibetan, is an ancient city with a history of more than 2,100 years. It is capital of Qinghai Province, the largest city in Qinghai, as well as the largest city on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; It is center of politics, economy, culture, education, science, transportation and communication of Qinghai Province
Xining City was called Shanzhou, Xiping County, and Qingtang City in ancient times. It is located in eastern of Qinghai Province. Its urban area is 2,261 meters above sea level, with Haidong City in east, Haibei Prefecture in northwest, and Hainan Prefecture in southwest. It is gateway to Central Plains from Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the birthplaces of He-huang culture, and an important town that connects Central Plains with western borders.
Xining City used to be the place where army of Western Han Dynasty carried out “Tun Tian“, the capital of Nanliang, the place where ancient “Silk Road” and “Tangbo Road” must pass, and it is a cultural component of Yellow River Basin in China.
“Tun Tian is an agricultural collective farming system operated by the governments of Han Dynasty and subsequent dynasties in order to obtain military supplies or taxes and grains. The government directly organizes “utilization of soldiers or peasants or merchants to reclaim wasteland”.“
Since it was designated by the State Council of China as an inland open city in 1992, the domestic and international routes of Xining Airport have continued to increase; Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Lanzhou-Xinjiang High-speed Railway pass through Xining and have stations. Construction of Xining-Chengdu Railway has been activated; Several national highways and expressways intersect in Xining;
Its transportation network connecting east and west, north and south has made Xining an important transportation hub connecting “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “Yangtze River Economic Belt” in western region of China
Today, Xining is the terminus of Lanzhou-Qinghai Railway, the starting point of Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway, and is still a major transportation hub to Tibet Autonomous Region
Best time to travel From May to November
Local climate Continental plateau semi-arid climate
Most popular sites
Ta’er Monastery (Kumbum monastery) is located in Rushar Town of Huangzhong district, about 25 kilometers southwest of Xining City. It is activity center of Tibetan Buddhism in northwestern China, and one of the six major monasteries of Gelug Pa of Tibetan Buddhism. Butter flowers, murals and pile embroidery are known as “Three Wonders of Ta’er Monastery Art”. In addition, there are many Buddhist classics and academic monographs on history, literature, philosophy, medicine, and legislation.
Ma Bufang Mansion is located in Chengdong District, Xining City, Qinghai Province. It was built in June 1942 and completed in June of the following year as the private residence of the warlord Ma Bufang of the Republic of China. Walls of many buildings in the Magong Mansion are inlaid with jade, so they are also called “Jade Mansion.” The retained courtyard of Ma Bufang Mansion covers an area of nearly 30,000 square meters, with a construction area of more than 6,800 square meters. There are a total of 298 houses, and all courtyards and important houses are connected by secret passages. It is the most fully preserved building of Republic of China in Qinghai Province,
Dongguan Mosque is located on south side of Dongguan Avenue Road in Xining. It covers an area of 11,940 square meters, the main hall covers an area of 1,102 square meters, and north and south buildings occupy 363 square meters each. Dongguan Mosque has been destroyed many times in history and has been continuously built. The existing building was rebuilt in 1913, and rebuilt & expanded in 1946, and again rebuilt in 1979.
Qinghai Provincial Museum, located at No. 58, Xiguan Street, Chengxi District, Xining City. It covers an area of 22,800 square meters, with 9 main and side exhibition halls, and an exhibition area of 9,146 square meters. The core exhibits are included in three exhibition areas: “Qinghai Province Prehistoric Civilization Exhibition”, “Qinghai Ethnic Cultural Relics Exhibition”, and “Tibetan Buddhism Art Exhibition”.
Fazhuang Temple is located next to Nanchan Temple in Nanshan Park. It is the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Qinghai Province. It was built in 1943 and was originally located in Yuanshuzhuang, Chengxi District. In order to make way for construction of Xining-Ta Expressway, Fazhuang temple was moved here from Yuanshuzhuang in 2003, which was originally the “Nanshan Wenyuan”
Tibetan Medicine Museum is a comprehensive museum that collects, protects, researches, and displays historical and cultural heritage of Tibetan medicine, evidence of development process of Tibetan medicine, precious cultural relics, and Tibetan culture & art.
It covers an area of 12,000 square meters and has 3 floors. It exhibits more than 2,000 species of animals, plants and minerals, more than 30 famous Tibetan medicine scientists in the past, 80 unique medical wall charts of Tibetan medicine, and more than 180 surgical instruments used by traditional Tibetan medicine 1300 years ago. There are more than 1,000 representative classics of Tibetan medicine. In particular, the long scroll “China Tibetan Culture and Art Colored Paintings” is permanently displayed in this museum. The scroll is 618 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. It was painted with gold powder, jade, coral and other precious pigments using traditional Tibetan painting techniques.
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Wildlife Park, also known as “Xining Wildlife Park”, is the only large-scale comprehensive wildlife park on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
It covers an area of more than 5,000 acres, and the animal exhibition area is 1,500 acres. There are more than 180 species of animals on display. Including snow leopards, black-necked cranes, Przewalski’s gazelle, desert cats, vultures, white-lipped deer, wild yaks, wild camels and other plateau animals, as well as hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, sea lions, Siberian tigers, African lions, zebras and other exotic species.
Among them, there are the largest artificial breeding population of snow leopards in China, the largest artificial breeding population of black-necked cranes and the only artificial breeding population of Przewalski’s gazelle in the world.
Nanshan Park is located on Phoenix Mountain in south of Xining city, with an altitude of 2419 meters. The artificial forest landscape is mainly formed by Qinghai spruce, Qilian juniper, Chinese pine, Qingyang, and elm. The garden in center of Nanshan park is full of dozens of famous plateau flowers, mainly peonies, forming another world that is completely different from forest landscape. The newly built colorful waterfall is a unique waterfall waterscape in Xining City
Nanchan Temple covers an area of about 6000 square meters and is located at the foot of Phoenix Mountain in Xining City.
In Northern Song Dynasty (997 – 1065 AD), there were temples built on Phoenix Mountain, and a certain scale was formed in 8th year of Yongle Emperor of Ming Dynasty (1410 AD). This building group centered on Kwang Tee Temple is one of the relatively intact ancient building groups in Xining City.
It is an important place for Chinese Buddhist believers (Jingtu sect) in local and surrounding areas to conduct religious activities, and it is also the oldest Chinese Buddhist temple in Qinghai Province.
Geography and climat
Xining City is located in northeastern part of Qinghai Province and northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Huangshui River and its tributaries Nanchuan River and Beichuan River converge in urban area from west, south and north, and flow through the city to east;
Xining has an east-west strip shape, with a terrain high in southwest and low in northeast. Surrounded by mountains, there are Nanshan in south and Beishan in north. The total area of city is 7,660 square kilometers, its urban area is 380 square kilometers, and the built-up area is 129 square kilometers.
Annual average sunshine in Xining is 1940 hours, annual average precipitation is 380 mm, evaporation is 1,363 mm, annual average temperature is 7.6℃, the highest temperature is 34.6℃, the lowest temperature is minus -18.9℃, and average summer temperature is 17 – 19℃, the climate is pleasant in summer
Population and ethnicity
Xining is a typical immigrant city, where many ethnic groups and religions coexist. It is the only central city on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with a population of over million, with an immigrant population of 1 million.
As of end of 2019, the city’s permanent population was 2,387,100. Among them, the Han nationality accounted for 74% of total population, and ethnic minority population accounted for 26% of the permanent population. Hui population was 385,700, accounting for 16.2%; Tibetan population was 130,700, accounting for 5.5%; Tu nationality was 61,100, accounting for 2.6%; Other ethnic groups include Mongolian, Salar, Manchu, Dongxiang, Zhuang and other ethnic minorities
Religion in Xining
Five religions of Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Christianity, and Catholicism coexist. Tibetan Buddhism and Islam have a particularly far-reaching influence. Ta’er Monastery is one of the 6 greatest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in China, and Dongguan Mosque is one of the four largest mosques in Northwest China.
Xining has become an important hub for traveling onto central Tibet since opening of Qinghai-Tibet Railway. A large number of tourists, business men…etc, pouring into this city that brings a lot of chance to develop. Hence, it tremendously increase and improve local supply in aspects of accommodation, restaurant, transportation…etc;
The change of this city is huge and quick, in following content we have selected some hotels at different category including, luxury, middle class, and economy,
5 star hotels
4 star hotels
How to get there
Cao-Jia-Pu Airport is located in Huzhu County, Haidong, about 30 kilometers east of the city
IATA Code: XNN
Contact: +86 971 8133333
Xining Train Station has been rebuilt, which now can host high-speed train and standard train service
Address: Jian Guo Road, Cheng Dong Distrcit
Contact: +86 971 12306
Long Distance Bus Stations of Xining
Xining Bus Station is a 1st Class passenger transport station of National Level of Qinghai Province. It is administrated by Qinghai Automobile Transport Group Co., Ltd. It is the largest passenger and travel distribution service enterprise in Qinghai province, and also with the most extensive business area. There are three sub-stations and one small cargo express Center under its Administration, of which are: Xining Bus Central Terminal, Xinning Road Terminal, Nanchuan West Road Terminal, and Silver Deer Small Cargo Express Center.
Xining Bus Central Terminal | 西宁汽车站客运中心（旅游集散中心）
Mainly engaged in transporting line from Xining to Haidong, Haixi, Hainan, Haibei, Yushu and provincial lines.
Add: East of Xining Train Station Plaza | 西宁火车站广场东侧 ; It can be reached by bus line: 17, 22, 33, 35, 105 and 106
Contact: +86 971 633-3006 / 633-3022 (service line)
Operating Destinations to:
Provincial Line (1st class)
|Lanzhou (兰州)||Jingtai (景泰)||Baiying (白银)||Luoyang (洛阳)||Yingchuan (银川)|
|Cang Nan (苍南)||Sichuan Nanbu (四川南部)||Fu Gu (府谷)||Gu Yuan (固原)||Wuhan (武汉)|
|Chang Yuan (长垣)||Xu Chang (许昌)||Ping Liang (平凉)||Han Zhong (汉中)||Chongqing (重庆)|
Provincial Line (Regular class)
|Lanzhou (兰州)||Lin Xia (临夏)||He Zuo (合作)||Xia he (夏河)||Ji Shi Shan (积石山)|
|Liu Jia Xia (刘家峡)||Yao Jie (窑街)||Wu Wei (武威)||Min Qing (民勤)||Tai An (秦安)|
|Xi An (西安)||Xi Feng (西峰)||Nan Yang (南阳)||Zhen Ping (镇平)||Dunhuang (敦煌）|
|Chaka (茶卡)||Dulan (都兰)||Xiang Ri De (香日德)||Xiang Nong (香农)|
|Nuo Nong (诺农)||Golmud (格尔木)||Wulan (乌兰)||Keke (柯柯)|
|De Ling Ha (德令哈)||Da Cai Dan (大柴旦)||Hua Tu Gou (花土沟)||Tian Jun (天峻)|
|Qie Lian (祁连)||Xi Hai (西海)||Gan Zi He (甘子河)||Gang Cha (刚察)|
|Re Shui (热水)||Niao Dao (鸟岛)||Mo Le (默勒)||Men Yuan (门源)|
|Gong He (共和)||Long Yang Xia (龙羊峡)||Xinghai (兴海)||Shi Nai Gai (石乃亥)|
|Wa Yu (哇玉)||Ban Duo (班多)||Sai Shi Tang (赛什塘)|
|Min He (民和)||Le Du (乐都)||Hua Long (化隆)||Xun Hua (循化)|
|Gan De (甘德)||Bei Shan Lin Chang (北山林场)|
|Yushu City (玉树市)||Qumarleb (曲麻莱)||Nangqian (囊谦)||Chindu County(称多)|
|Zadoi (杂多)||Zhidoi (治多)|
|Da Wu (大武)|
|Kanbula (坎布拉)||Tongren (同仁)|
|Datong (大通)||Ping An (平安)|
Xinning Road Terminal | 新宁路客运站（旅游集散中心）
Add: No. 19, Xinning Road， Xining | 西宁市 新宁路19号 ; It can be reached by bus line: 6, 9, 12, 13, 16, 18, 24, 25, 31, 40, 58, 82, 106, 108
Contact: +86 971 615-5795 / 615-5800 (service line)
Operating Destinations to:
Province Line (1st class)
|Datong (大通)||Huang Yuan (湟源)||Huang Zhong (湟中)||Hu Zhu (互助)|
Nanchuan West Road Terminal | 南川西路客运站（旅游集散中心）
Mainly engaged in transporting line from Xining to Guolo, Nan Xiang directions within Qinghai province scheduled lines.
Add: No. 48, Nanchuan West Road, Xining | 西宁市 南川西路48号 ; It can be reached by bus line: 7, 12, 13, 20, 23, 27, 32, 33, 80, 105, 108
Contact: +86 971 624-2241 / 624-5327 (service line)
Operating Destinations to:
|Ledu (乐都)||Zhi Zha (支扎)|
|Guo Ma Ying (过马营)||Guide (贵德)||Tongde (同德)||Guinan (贵南)|
|Da Wu (大武)||Da Ri (达日)||Jigzi (久治)||Banma (班玛)|
|Mado (玛多)||Gande (甘德)|
|Zaku (泽库)||Ri Xiang (日乡)|
Distance from Xining to
- To Lanzhou: 220 kilometers, about 3 hours’ drive
- To Golmud : 765 kilometers, about 8.5 hours’ drive
- To Tongren: 165 kilometers, about 2.5 hours’ drive
- To Yushu: 785 kilometers, about 10.5 hours’ drive
- To Maqin: 420 kilometers, about 10 hours’ drive
- To Labrang Monastery: 240 kilometers, about 4 hours’ drive
As early as 4-5 thousand years ago, humans lived in Xining area
Han Dynasty Period
Before Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty, Xining area was land of Xiqiang and Xirong. It is mainly the place where Qiang people live. Western Han Dynasty established “Xiping Ting” in Xining, which belonged to Jincheng County. Since then, Xining area was officially included in Chinese territory, and it was also the beginning of building Xining City. In the time of Emperor Ping of Han Dynasty, it was also called as “Xihai County”
Wei Dynasty, Jin Dynasty
Xining was now under rule of Wei Dynasty.
In 222 AD, Xiping County Town was built.
In 265 AD, Western Jin Dynasty established Xiping County in current Huangshui River Basin and governed Xidu (now Xining City) and other places.
16 Kingdoms Period
The areas of current Western Gansu and eastern Qinghai were occupied by Tu-Fa tribe of Xianbei ethnic group and established a separatist regime, “Nanliang”, which was once to set up capital in Xining and called it as “Xiping”
Northern Wei Dynasty
In 445 AD, Northern Wei Dynasty changed “Xiping County” to “Shanshan Town”,
In 526 AD, “Shanshan Town” was changed to “Shanzhou”, governed Xiping (now Xining City) and other places.
Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty
In 607 AD (3rd years of Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty), “Shanzhou” was changed to “Xiping County”, governed Huangshui and Hualong counties. After the establishment of Tang Dynasty in 618 AD, two states of “Shan” and “Kuo” were established in eastern part of Qinghai. Shanzhou has jurisdiction over Longzhi and Huangshui counties, and Currently Xining city was the area under jurisdiction of Huangshui County. After Anshi Rebellion, Tubo kingdom seized Xining from Tang’s army and renamed it as “Qingtang City”
Gusiluo (997 AD －1065 AD) period
From end of Tang Dynasty to beginning of Northern Song Dynasty, the various tribes of Tubo kingdom in Hehuang area of Qinghai did not belong to each other, and were in separatist wars. By the beginning of 11th century, that area was split into several larger tribal groups.
Li Li-zun was a leader of one of the tribal groups. He hijacked Gusiluo who was the descendants of Tubo Tsenpo (“Tsenpo ” means king in Tibetan) to Ping’an County, and respected him as Tsenpo. Li Li-zun established himself as prime minister.
In 1025 AD, Gusiluo broke away from the control of Li Lizun and his allies
Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty
After the death of Gusiluo, the throne of Qingtang passed to three generations
In 1099 AD, Song dynasty’s Army entered Huangshui River basin, occupied Qingtang City, and established “Shanzhou”
In 1104 AD, “Shanzhou” was changed to “Xining Prefecture”, and it belonged to Longxi Duhu Mansion. The name “Xining” has been used to this day.
In 1129 AD, Xining Prefecture” was occupied by Jin regime
In 1136 AD, Xining Prefecture” was occupied by Xixia regime
In 1227 AD, Genghis Khan led Mongolian army to invade Xixia regime, crossed over Yellow River to capture Xining Prefecture, and Xining was ruled by Yuan Dynasty.
In 1373 AD (6th year of Emperor Hongwu of Ming Dynasty), “Xining Prefecture” was changed to “Xining Wei”, which was under jurisdiction of Xingdu Division of Shaanxi Province. It had jurisdiction over 6 Qianhu (thousand households), namely: Xining Qianhusuo (to govern today’s Xining), Zhenhai Qianhusuo (to govern today’s Huangzhong County), Beichuan Qianhusuo (administration in the old city of Datong County), Nanchuan Qianhusuo (administration of Shenzhong area of Huangzhong County), Gushan Qianhusuo (administration of Gushan Town of Minhe County), Nianbo Shouyu Qianhusuo (Administration is in Nianbo Town, Ledu County).
In 1385 AD, Construction of Xining Acropolis was activated. The ancient city wall remaining on south side of Xining Qi-yi Road is the remains of Xining Acropolis
In 1645 AD (2nd year of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty), Qing dynasty’s army occupied Xining.
In 1725 AD (3rd year of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty), “Xining Wei” was changed to “Xining Prefecture”, which was under jurisdiction of Gansu Province. It consists of Xining County, Nianbo County and Datong(wei) County.
In 1724 AD, an imperial commissioner was appointed to handle Qinghai Mongolian affairs ministers (commonly known as Xining ministers), and governed all tribes of Mongolian and Tibetan in Qinghai
Period of Republic of China – present
In 1912 (1st year of Republic of China), Qinghai Minister Office was changed to Qinghai Chief Office, and it was stationed in Xining which was governed by Gansu Province
In 1913 (2nd year of Republic of China), Beiyang regime reformed and abolished Xining Mansion, Haidong Dao was established with Xining as seat of government
In 1914 (3rd year of Republic of China), Haidong Dao was changed to Xining Dao
In 1927 (16th year of Republic of China), Xining Road was abolished, and chief executive of Xining was setup
In 1929, Qinghai Province was established with Xining County as capital
In 1943, Xining County was moved to Wenhua Town (now Rushar County), and a Special Provincial District was set up in Xining City District, which was directly under jurisdiction of Provincial Civil Affairs Department, and government affairs were handled by provincial capital police station
In 1945, Special Provincial District was renamed as Xining Municipal Preparatory Office, with 5 districts, namely the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth districts
In 1946, Xining County was renamed as Huangzhong County
In 1946, Xining City was formally established, with a total area of 30 square kilometers (including an urban area of 3 square kilometers) and a total population of more than 70,000 people (including 55,564 people in urban area)
In 1949, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army occupied Xining, and Municipal People’s Government was established which was under jurisdiction of Qinghai Province
In 1950, Xining City was designated as the seat of Qinghai Provincial People’s Government
In 1960, Huangzhong County, Datong County and Huzhu Tuzu Autonomous County, which were originally directly under provincial government, were placed under leadership of Xining City
In 1962, Huangzhong County, Datong County and Huzhu Tuzu Autonomous County were changed to provincial jurisdiction
In 1966, Datong County was placed again under jurisdiction of Xining City.
In 1985, Datong County was abolished and Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County was established. Original administrative area of Datong County was administrative area of Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County.
In 1999, Huangzhong County and Huangyuan County of Haidong area were placed under jurisdiction of Xining City.
In 2019, Huangzhong County was abolished and Huangzhong District was established