Biking Around Qinghai Lake, The Most Beautiful Lake in China

There's no other place in the world as beautiful and tranquil to bike around.


Over the years, Qinghai Lake has become one of the most popular cycling destinations in the world. Everything around the place is just fitting for bikers and travelers alike ―from the surrounding landscape to its extensive area. It’s not just your ordinary cycling route, it’s worthwhile and certainly one for the books. We’ve shown you the most bike-friendly places in Europe and now we’ll show you one of the most popular in Asia!

With the Qinghai Lake as your backdrop, there’s nothing more stirring than to paddle your way up to the peak. The Qinghai Province is considered as one of the biggest in the country with an interestingly small population. The lake, in particular, is also the largest lake in China, positioned at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Scenic Location

This image shows the breathtaking view from Qinghai Lake, an unforgettable mix of mountains, water and vegetation.
The breathtaking view from Qinghai Lake is unforgettable. Flickr photo by lei shuqi, (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Featuring a breathtaking altitude of more than 3,200 m (10498.6 ft) above sea level, biking around the area is a demanding journey. Its surface area of 4,317 square kilometers (1,667 sq mi) and a maximum depth of 25.5 m (84 ft) make it the largest lake in China. This makes the route much more difficult because cyclists have to deal with the high altitude and vast section. Because of that and its breathtaking landscape alongside, the place has become popular among professional cyclists. An international bicycle race is held every July, where bikers from different corners of the world meet.

Qinghai Lake Bike Tour

There are different cycling tours that offer full day or 4-day bicycle trip, depending on your itinerary. If you have enough time, opt for the longer route and breathe in the extensive beauty of Qinghai Lake. Whether you go on your own with your rental bike or join an amateur biking event, you’ll certainly enjoy every moment. Normally, bikers would go for the 4-day bicycle trip and complete the epic and unforgettable journey. And if you’re up for the challenge, here’s a sample lake bike route for 4 days.

Day 1: Qinghaihu Erlangjian Scenic Area

Start your bike tour adventure at Xihaizhen (Xihai Town) and head on to the Qinghaihu Erlangjian Scenic Area. The trip would take around 93.3 km (57.9 miles) ―quite long but the spectacular landscapes in between your route make it rewarding. The mesmerizing views of the lake, the desert, and the prairie are all waiting for your entrance. After your first bike route, find rest nearby for another lengthy yet meaningful trip the next day.

Day 2: Heimahexiang

From Qinghaihu Erlangjian Scenic Area, complete a 67.5 km (41.9 miles) ride to reach Heimahexiang. There you can make a stop-over for lunch and rest for what’s left of the day. Don’t ever miss the breathtaking countryside views and take time to enjoy the beauty around you. You’ve reached the first half of this tour, so make sure you get some sleep and nourishment.

Day 3: Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve

This day would be filled with wonder as you bike 64.6 km (40.1 miles) to the Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve. This bird sanctuary is packed with all sorts of bird species and there you’ll find the Bird Island. For your next stop, ride approximately 40 km (24.8 miles) to reach the G315 road and follow it for another 42.1 km (26.1 miles). There’s Gangca county, a community that shelters different ethnic minorities, including Mongols, Tibetans, and Hans. This will be your last stop before you head back to where it all started, so don’t forget to rest.

Day 4: Back to Xihaizhen

Make the most out of your last cycling day and enjoy the scenic route from Gangca county back to Xihaizhen. All you have to do is follow the G315 road for another 86.7 km (53.8 miles). Along your drive, you’ll witness some sweeping views of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as well as some hilly terrains. This ride will now be much easier compared to the other routes because you’ll be heading back home. You’ll probably be very exhausted by the end of the tour, but the wonderful sights you’ll experience along the road will remain.

Qinghai Lake Tour Essentials

This image shows a person Biking around Qinghai Lake, a surprisingly famous activity among tourists. The landscape is rural and beautiful.
Biking around Qinghai Lake is a surprisingly famous activity among tourists. Flickr photo by Sergio Tittarini, (CC BY 2.0)

Nothing beats preparation and dedication, especially if you’re talking about lake cycling around the beautiful Qinghai Lake. So you need to pack all travel essentials and condition yourself before you explore the unknown. Depending on the tour, you should still be ready with all the biking necessities, including first aid kit. Also, bring some cycling gears, helmet, sunglasses, saddle, sunscreen and map to make your trip more comfortable. You may want to pack a sleeping bag or a small tent as some hotels may be full or nonexistent. Finally, don’t ever go alone on a tour like this, it’s important to go accompanied.

Final points to remember

The best season to go biking around Qinghai Lake is during summer, where the temperature is very much tolerable. But even during summer, the temperature in the evenings could plummet dramatically so you need to be prepared. July could be pretty jam-packed with many tourists because of the annual Qinghai Lake International Cycling Racing. So, if you want a more relaxing ambiance with a lesser crowd, then visit during April, May, June, August or September.

only those with extensive outdoor experience can complete the tour.

If you’re not an experienced cyclist, you can still enjoy the area even though your journey might be limited. It’s advisable not to take the entire route because only those with extensive outdoor experience can complete the tour. Travelers with less to none biking experience may opt to stroll around the Qinghai province by train or by bus. Also, do take note that the stunning alkaline lake is a sacred site to the Tibetan locals. Make sure to pay respect to the natives and take nothing but beautiful memories during your trip.

Have you visited the Qinghai Lake? Would you venture to take the Qinghai Lake bike tour? We’d love you to tell us everything in the comments section below!


  1. Hi Denise,

    We are being told at the bus station in Xining, Qinghai that foreigners are forbidden entrance to Xihai Zhen, the town you suggest renting bikes.

    It’s only a short while ago you were here, so I wonder if you experienced any of this?

    I can’t find any blogs or anywhere where non-Chinese say they weren’t allowed access so I guess it wasn’t an issue for you?

    • That does sound a little weird to us, but unfortunately we’re not able to provide you with an official answer. We recommend you to contact your country’s embassy in China and they should be able to clarify your doubt. Enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi Denisa,
    We’re looking to cycle around the lake in July 2019 and hope you might have the contact for a bike rental store we can contact in advance.
    Thanks for your assistance.


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