Introduction to Qinghai
Known for its unforgiving environment and disproportionate number of prison camps, the vast and remote province of Qinghai not high on most travelers’ radar screens. Thankfully, this leaves more than enough of this amazingly beautiful province for the rest of us.
I am still ambivalent about giving away travel information about some of my favorite spots, thus removing the feeling of random discovery and potentially increasing tourism (though let’s be real: who is actually reading all this?). But I also want to send business to places that deserve it: establishments and outfits run by good friends, hardworking families, and others who are simply good at what they do and should, in my opinion, be better known.
The information below will be most helpful to those who are planning to travel independently in the region – which, if you don’t speak at least adequate putonghua or Tibetan (Amdo in most of Qinghai and Gannan, Kham in southern Qinghai [Yushu] and western Sichuan), you should think twice about before embarking on your own. People are exceedingly friendly throughout the province, but nobody speaks English and the dialects of Chinese and Tibetan (as well as those sub-dialects) can be tricky. If you want to go on a guided trip, check in with Tibetan Connections (located immediately above the Lete Hostel in Xining), an extremely experienced agency who will be more than happy to help you work out a trip.
If you have specific questions – or if any information needs to be updated – please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.