Xining at night

Xining (西宁; Xīníng; Tibetan: Sulang) is the capital of Qinghai Province and the capital of Xining City District, a prefecture of Qinghai.


The large city of Xining acts as one of the major gateways to the Tibetan Plateau. It is an ancient highland city on the Yellow River which offers many scenic spots and historical sites. Although the city itself has a strong Islamic flavor, as it is home to many Hui people, you will start getting a more Tibetan feel as you move away from the city.

Get in

By plane

Xining Airport (IATA: XNN), located 15km south, southeast of the city, has flights to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Golmud, Guangzhou, Lhasa, Shanghai, Shenyang, Urumqi, and Xi'an. Shenzhen Airlines fly into Xining from Hong Kong.

The airport bus makes a run from somewhere in town 2 hours before the flight departs and heads back to the city centre whenever a flight lands. The bus stand is directly in front of the exit door. The 30min ride to/from the airport ¥21.

By train

Xining's main station is newly renovated and now fully operational with excellent connections to many destinations throughout Northwest China and the entire country. It is large, clean, and well connected via the city's public bus system and is just a couple 100 meters away from one of the city's main long-distance bus stations (also brand new). Be sure to arrive well in advance when buying or picking up tickets because the lines are often very long. During peak travel seasons tickets get sold out very quickly so plan ahead!

Public bus routes: 1路; 5路; 7路; 9路; 11路; 16路; 20路; 27路; 28路; 31路; 40路; 103路; 104路; 107路

By bus

LongDistance Bus Station is on Jianguo Road, on the other side of the river in view of the train station.

There are also buses for Golmud, Lhasa and Yinchuan at the western end of the square in front of the train station.

Get around

By bus

There are plenty of buses that get you around town. The most useful is bus #1 that runs through the centre of town along Dajie to the train/bus station. All fares are ¥1 regardless of distance.

By taxi

Taxis run on the meter (¥6 flagfall) but some drivers are open to negotiation, especially late at night.


North Mountain Temple Cliff.


Handmade Tibetan Handicrafts can be bought at the AmdoCafe (see Eat section under Cafes).


Xining's main minority groups provide a large portion of the food on offer. The Hui, a broad term for Chinese Muslims, serve up spicy noodles, lamb kababs and flatbread (bing). Tibetan food choices are concentrated around the train station, mostly small places the serve momos and noodles and seat guests on small coaches.

Local Food

There is a restaurant area right next to the Shuijing Xiang Bazaar, in the center of the city, and throughout the evening and into the night there are many street stalls serving good food around Ximen and on the western side of Jianguo Road.

Western Food

Western food options are very slim, but not bad for a city so remote.



The city is littered with small coffee shops, especially around the newer apartment complexes that are being developed. See below for some of the better ones.


A number of bars are located at the end of the city's main snack street. These tiny places each have only a dozen tables, and all offer extensive drink specials. Beer starts at ¥6 for a Tsingtao, but expensive imported liquor is also available. There is usually no cover charge.

Night Clubs



There are dozens of small guesthouses near the train and long distance bus station. Look for the characters "招待所," which in this part of town are on every other building. Most places seem aimable to taking foreigners, and prices range from ¥10 in a grimy four-room bunk (expect the other occupants to smoke in the room all night long) to ¥100 for a deluxe double. More guesthouses can be found around the town's West Gate, or Ximen.



Go next

Many train tickets are completely bought up by the Xining mafia days before travel - buy well in advance, or find black market connections and be prepared for a premium that may be in excess of the ticket price.

The new West train station is in use now. Be aware that pickpockets operate outside the station near the buses where the police do not go.

Trips from Xining travel agencies offer apparently cheap 60 yuan day trips to Qinghaihu National Park. This price does not include entry to 丹噶尔 old town (50 yuan), 赞普林卡 (40 yuan), 日月山(40 yuan) or the wharf at Qinghaihu (100 yuan) [the 'park' itself]. The last of these seems the most overpriced for what it is - but you are expected to pay. There may be a couple of forced shopping stops, including a minimum 30-minute wait at a jade/crystal sales outlet.

Routes through Xining

END  N  S  Qinghaihu Lake Lhasa

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