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HomeBiking/SkiingQinghai Lake Cycling Tour

Qinghai Lake Cycling Tour

Qinghai Lake Cycling Tour

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Tour Code: BK-W-001
Duration: 7days
Biking Distance: Approx.80km/day
Biking Time: 6h-7h/day
Good time to visit: from May to Oct
Departure date: on request 2016
Effort Nature Culture

Quick inquiryTailor - madeJoin the tourPhotos 

This specially-designed CnAdventure trip includes several portions of the famous “Qinghai Lake International Cycling Race”, held every summer. This is the top professional road race in Asia, with approx 250 cyclists representing 15-20 countries, attended by thousands of cheering spectators! Although our 7-day trip won’t cover the grueling 1300 km that the professional racers cover, it will still be at the same altitude, as high as 3300 meters in some places! Even though we will cycle at quite a high elevation, the route chosen is gently-undulating, so it is still a “moderate-level” tour. Along the way, there are several highlights, but two of them will be seeing “Bird Island” and visiting a Tibetan Lamasery, both midway through the trip! For photographers, the alpine meadows may be in full-bloom, with snow-capped mountains serving as a backdrop to their carpets of colour.

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Qinghai Province is a desolate mountainous area located on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. Three of Asia’s best-known rivers originate in these mountains – the Yellow River (Huang He) originates in the middle of the province, while the timeless Yangtze and the mighty Mekong have their sources in the southwestern part. Although it serves mainly as the domain of nomadic Tibetan herdsmen, there are over 33 ethnic groups represented in the province.

Qinghai Lake is the largest salt-water lake in China, with an area of 4,635 square kilometers! Its name means “teal-green sea”. It is located about 100 km west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m (10,515 feet) above sea level, in a depression of the Tibetan Plateau. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, which teams with fish in the summer!

This Qinghai Lake cycling tour will circumnavigate the lake. The high altitude, the area’s stark beauty, the mixture of culture and natural history, and limitless photographic opportunities, will make this a trip to remember!  
Elevation range: 3100meters to 3300 meters
Terrain: Flat, rolling
Cycling tour level: Moderate; high-altitude biking; vehicle-supported
Total cycling distance: Approximately 360 km
Average distance cycling per day: Up to 85 km
Traffic: Heavy traffic is expected in some sections.


Day 1: Xining Airport/Xihai (D)
Pick up from airport of Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province (China’s largest province, excluding the 3 Autonomous Regions which are technically not provinces), we will be met and greeted at the airport. Upon arrival, we will board our safe and comfortable bus and will drive directly to Xihai, about 100 km to the northeast. As we gently ascend to a higher elevation, we will see the landscape change from urban blemish to rural grasslands and we will soon come to the vast Jinyintan Pasture (over 1000 sq km), a typical high-altitude grazing land. It was this very spot, with its variety of beautiful summer flowers, which inspired the late Wang Luobin, renowned composer of Chinese folk songs, to write his award-winning classic, “In a Place Far Away”.

When we arrive at Xihai, we will first check into our 3-star hotel. Then we will pick up our bicycles to do a small tour around this cozy and tranquil town (its name means “western sea”). A brief visit will not only serve to orient ourselves but will allow us to adjust to the high altitude.

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During our sightseeing, we will pass by some deserted factories which are worth stopping at, for pictures. This site, situated innocently in these remote grasslands, was once the secret facility where China worked on developing its first atomic bomb. Back at our hotel, and after a delicious supper of local delicacies, we will be ready for a sound sleep in the clean mountain air.

overnight in local 3-star hotel in Xihai    

Day2: Xihai / Qinghai Lake fishing base (B/L/D)
Road condition:paved, light traffic, a dozen hills, each with a gentle gradient
Distance: 76 kilometers

After an early breakfast, we will verify our equipment, then strike off westward towards Qinghai Lake, accompanied by our support vehicle. The morning’s scenery will be that of endless grasslands, punctuated here and there by evidence of an ever-encroaching desert – areas of dry, scruffy terrain dotted with occasional sand dunes. We will choose a scenic place to eat our packed lunches, carried by the support vehicle. Later, in the afternoon, and after several uphill and downhill sections, we will suddenly see the Lake, shining on the western horizon like a ribbon of shimmering silk! On our descent, the landscape will be totally different. As we start to cycle towards the lush sea of grass, with its interwoven patches of summer flowers, we can imagine ourselves cycling out onto a living, vibrant painting, created by Nature herself. Still, distances are deceiving at this altitude, and only after another 20km of riding will we actually arrive at the end-point of our long day – the Qinghai Lake fishing base. Our 3-star hotel is close to the lake and our much-anticipated dinner of delicious local fish, taken fresh from the cold salt water, will be second to none!
Overnight in Qinghai Lake hotel.

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Day3:Qinghai Lake fishing base/Qinghai Lake Tent Hostel (B/L/D)
Road condition:paved; heavy traffic, but flat for the first 25km; several small uphill sections for the remainder
Distance: 85 kilometers
Time: 6-7hrs

Early risers will be able to see the sun start to illuminate one of the most beautiful landscapes in western China. Qinghai Lake is set on a high plateau, with the Tibetan mountains in the distance. On their first morning, visitors like to wander along the shore before breakfast, enthralled by the high-altitude tranquility of the lake itself, which stretches endlessly to the horizon. After a nourishing breakfast, we will start our clockwise ride around Qinghai Lake. Our morning’s ride will first follow the fairly-busy national road, but even so, in June and July, the wild rapeseed flowers are in bloom, blanketing the landscape with shades of yellow and gold. There is little civilization around most of the lake, so we will stop in a quiet spot along the way to enjoy our picnic lunch and to allow us to recharge our energy with toast, ham,fruits and chocolate. In the afternoon, our path will lead us away from the traffic, onto a quiet road alongside the lake. We will cycle in an area of peaceful tranquility until we reach our stay for the night, a rustic, but comfortable, Tent Hostel, situated just by the lake.
Overnight Tent Hostel (public toilet) or similar

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 Day4:Qinghai Lake Tent Hostel/Bird Island(B/L/D)
Road condition:paved, light traffic, flat or downhill for the most of the time.
Time: 6hrs

This is the day for photographers! And at the end of the day, when we reach the western end of the lake, we will be tempted to simply stay and take pictures! We will leave our tented camp in the morning, and as we cycle along in the soft morning light, the pastoral scene will include un-tethered cows, sheep, horses, and even yaks, nonchalantly munching on clumps of ripe, lush grass. White yurts, similar to those seen in Inner Mongolia, typically dot the landscape. Our morning will be punctuated by several “photo stops”, each one registering an unforgettable scene in our own memory, as well as in the camera’s. (Astute photographers may catch an occasional anachronism – shaggy black yaks surrounding a white yurt with a satellite dish perched on the roof.) We will make a small detour away from the water to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the small village of Shinaigai, after which we’ll head back to the lakeshore to see one of the highlights of the trip – Bird Island! It’s been said that if Qinghai Lake were the crown of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, then Bird Island is the jewel in the crown! Although the name is singular, there are actually 2 islands, and even these two can barely hold the birds that return to nest, year after year. Qinghai Lake is located at the crossroads of several bird migration routes across Asia. In April of each year, as the ice melts across the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, thousands of birds from southern China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Indian subcontinent arrive to lay and hatch their eggs. Over 20 species have been noted, including Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelducks, Brown-headed Gulls, cormorants, egrets, and sandpipers. Stately Griffon Vultures glide overhead, minivets frequent the scrubby bushes, and Mongolian Larks sing from the grasses. Even the rare Black-necked Crane and an occasional swan have been seen! The flat ground, mild temperature, proximity to abundant fish, and safety from predators support thousands of nests (and eggs), right on the ground! In June and July, as the young begin to fly, the sky is black with flying birds. Bird Island is one of the wonders of the Tibetan plateau, a photographer’s challenge, but an ornithologist’s delight. This special site, with so many birds, so close, and normally only associated with remote mountain cliffs, attracts many visitors during the summer months.
Overnight in Bird Island Hotel or similar   

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Day5:Bird Island/Quanji /Gangcha (B/L/D)
Road condition:paved; heavy traffic for the most of the day; first section is 10km, varying between flat and uphill; the rest of the road is flat and/or downhill
Distance:65 km
Time: 5-6hrs

After breakfast, we will make an unhurried walk from our hotel to visit the Shatuo lamasery, home to the Red Hat branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Its first building was constructed in 1665, but there have been several additions. The buildings now include a 300-square-meter prayer hall,18 rooms and dorms for monks, and a mansion for the living Buddha. After our visit (about 1 hours), we will start our cycling tour again along the west bank of the lake for another 25km, then we will ride on the National road again and bike to Quanji, where we will have lunch and also visit the local market to buy fruit. In the afternoon, ride to Gangcha, where we will relax a bit and take a shower before wandering around this little Tibetan town with its various ethnic groups. After supper, we will be able to relax and enjoy an amazing sunset over the seemingly-endless lake.

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Overnight in a local hostel in Gangcha

Day6:Gangcha /Xihai (87km, B/L/D)
Road condition:paved, several uphill and downhill sections.
Distance: 87 km
Time: 6-7hrs

This morning we will be up before dawn to see a bit of Gangcha itself, with its traditional yurts, beautiful prayer flags, and mysterious praying stones. Then we will make an early start on our bikes, leaving Qinghai Lake behind us, as we head back toward Xihai.  On the way, we will encounter several small villages where we will see the authentic buildings and day-to-day activities of the local people. After a picnic lunch, we will again pass through the most beautiful natural grazing grounds outside of Xihan before our arrival in the late afternoon. That night we will enjoy a feast in a local restaurant to celebrate our great accomplishment of doing a “race” around Qinghai Lake! 
Overnight in 4-star hotel

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Day7:Xihai town/Xining city (B)
After a relaxing morning, we will drive back to Xining, where we will transfer to the airport to catch our outbound plane.
The end of our amazing highland cycling tour… 

Tour Cost:               Currency Converter
 2-3 person4-5 person6-9 personOver 10 personSingle Supplement
Tour CostCNY16680/P
(The cost for the child of 2-12 year old is based on 15 % discount of the adult's tour cost.Any baby less than 2 year old is free of any charges. If it turns out there is cost involved, we reserved to collect the cost.)

Quick inquiryTailor - madeJoin the tourPhotos 

The tour cost includes: 

  • Meals daily as listed in the itinerary, picnic lunches in remote area if required(B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner);
  • Service of English-speaking guide
  •  Scenic spots admission fee; Nature Reserve Protection fee and/ or camping permit fee (inside nature reserve) if required
  • Accommodation: double-occupancy in 4 star hotel in big city, and the best hotel in small cities or counties, clean guest house/hostel/or home-stay in villages as clarified in the itinerary; camping in non-residential area as mentioned in the itinerary(tent and mattress),
  • One bike for each and supportive vehicles as required(For tours in the mountainous area like Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet, etc. we strongly suggest the participant bring your own mountainous bike with you.)
  •  All domestic flights/trains/local airport taxes if there is in the itinerary; 

 The tour cost does not include:

  • Personal travel accident insurance. 
  •  The fee of rescuing for any accident, including but not limited:
     a. Asking the help from the international SOS;
     b. Transfer service and amending fee, if the bike is seriously damaged.
     c. While repairing the bike, the rental fee must be paid.
     d. Any others.
  • The medicine for the sickness or accident while on the way.
  •  Transfer, guide, entrance tickets, and meals in your free time,
  • Sleeping bag if camping.
  • photography charges at monasteries/palaces/sites.
  • Chinese visa fees; Excess baggage charged by Airlines; Single room supplement; Tips to guides and drivers;
  •  Domestic or/and international flights and related airport taxes not listed,
  • The extra cost due to the unforeseen events or weather; supplementary trips and services not mentioned, and personal expenses and the items don’t listed in the “The tour cost includes” column.


  • Once you confirm the trip, the quotation in RMB is fixed (subject to the items above). However, as exchange rates may continue to fluctuate, we reserve the right to modify the price quoted in USD to match the original RMB quotation, when you pay.
  • Reservation should be made at least ONE MONTH before departure time.
  • The train and flight schedules are presented according to time-tables available at time of publication; they are subject to change according to any new schedule, and we reserve the right to choose alternate flights. 
  • Prices may be somewhat higher if tour dates fall on public holidays (including, but not limited to,  Chinese National Day Sep. 30th -Oct.8th , Or other Special Festival time).
  • The quotation is based on the present domestic air fare and discounts available; we reserve the right to modify the price according to the airline’s policy. 
  •  If you prefer to have a single room, you are expected to pay the single supplement.
  • This is a tentative itinerary, the really itinerary and hotel/hostel maybe different from the itinerary. For the enjoyment of your trip a "go with the flow" attitude is necessary. Many factors will influence your trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc. Please prepare two days more as "cushion" day in case of delays in travel due to unforeseen events.
  • The part of the area we will visit has not been well developed like Beijing and Shanghai. While it is good to enjoy the well protected nature view and experience unique primitive folk customs, we should prepare for that even the star hotel is not so good and though we will try our best, the food may not be so delicate and various.
  • Very important: When you are planning to do mountain biking, you acknowledge that there are risks involved in this sport and confirm that you are fully aware of and accept these risks. You may or may not be required to sign a separate acknowledgement and acceptance of personal liability by the local supplier before being allowed to do cycling. And if you are not allowed to participate because you refuse to sign, you will have no claim against CSH or the supplier and will not be entitled to any refund or compensation.

Travel Tips:

  • The participants we are looking for: HEALTHY!!! able to cycle for over 6 hours a day; prepared to cross high altitude passes and over difficult terrain in remote areas; experienced in mountainous area riding (with many bends, turns, and possibly switchbacks); excellent physical condition required with a positive attitude and a strong determination; previous hiking experience preferred. Please keep in mind that this is a general guide only. A variety of factors, including weather, may add to the challenge.
  • This is a tentative itinerary, the final itinerary and hotel/hostel may vary considerably from the itinerary. For the enjoyment of your trip, a "go with the flow" attitude is necessary. Many factors will influence the trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc. Please allow one extra days as "cushion" days in case of delays in travel due to unforeseen events.
  • Regardless of your previous high-altitude experience, it is crucial that you be self-confident, superbly fit, committed, and determined at the outset of the expedition and possess the necessary stamina and experience to be a contributing player in the excursion.
  • Biking Gear suggested: Wind/waterproof coat, Hip pad, kneepad, gorro, helmet, Headlight, towel, sun block, glove, shoes for cycling etc
  • While you will most-certainly enjoy the fantastic views offered with this exciting biking adventure, there will also be unexpected encounters with other vehicular traffic, especially big trucks making wide turns, so you should ride very carefully in these places.
  • Many tourists have an uncomfortable feeling in the high-plateau areas, generally headaches and being out-of-breath; don’t be worried about it and you will adapt to the altitude in 2-3 days.
  •  To counter altitude-sickness in the high plateaus, be sure to take extra rest and try to avoid arriving with a cold. Although extra oxygen will be available for those who need to stop and take an extra breath or so, any quantity brought along will be limited, and cyclists cannot be dependent on its availability
  • Please be respectful of local customs and religion while you are in any area of a minority people; pay attention to any instructions given by the local guide and cooperate with him/her.
  •  Please be aware not to expect/order the meat of  dog, horse, mule, pig, or donkey, all of which are forbidden in Tibetan areas; eating the meat of any animal slaughtered without proper religious supervision is also forbidden
  • It’s not allowed to watch the Tibetan sky burial without their permission
  • To be polite, it is expected that you finish any beverage served to you in a cup, upon being greeted by a Tibetan; if you cannot finish the drink, please politely beg their pardon.
  • When greeted by a Tibetan who puts a silk scarf around your neck as a present, leave it on – do not immediately take it off.
  • There are some special taboos in Muslim area, such as exposed skin, head coverings, and proper conduct in mosques – listen to the guide
  • It’s prohibited to drink or to smoke in any Tibetan Monastery
  • Check with the guide regarding taking photographs; it’s forbidden to take any photos in a monastery without permission, although you may be allowed to “buy” permission. Always ask permission before taking a photo of monks or women, regardless of where they are. 

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What Our Clients Say

Two of us enjoyed a truly wonderful tour of Guilin, Yangshuo and surrounding countryside.    Many thanks to CnAdventures for providing very helpful assistance and our guide, David, who was really terrific, both accommodating and informative.  The trip provided a great deal of variety as we hiked, biked and rafted through some of the most gorgeous countryside I have ever seen.  An unplanned side trip to the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terrace was a most worthwhile addition to our itinerary.  Another nice aspect to the trip was the opportunity to sample some excellent local food along the way--stuffed snails and sticky rice cooked in bamboo were a couple of highlights along with rice wine and osmanthus tea. 

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