Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province in western China, and the largest city on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. With a history of over 2,100 years, Xining has been known as the gateway to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau since ancient times due to its ideal geographical location. As a vital passageway on the Silk Road and the Tang-Tubo Road, two main arteries of trade and cultural exchange in ancient China, Xining connected the Central Plains with major towns in the northwest frontier. Xining, where the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway start and the Lanzhou-Qinghai Railway ends, has grown into a modern hub on the plateau with a network of airways, railways and highways.
East Avenue and West Avenue run through urban area of Xining on the southern bank of the Huangshui River and extend the way to join the Xining-Lanzhou Section and the Xining-Golmud Section of National Highway 109. This east-west street and a south-north street meet at the urban center of Xining to make up the downtown area of the city, which is called by locals the “big crossing”.
Domestic air routes link Xining with major cities across China, including Lhasa, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Urumqi, Dunhuang and Golmud.
The Xining Caojiabao Airport, 28 kilometers east of downtown Xining, is only 20 minutes’ drive from the downtown area along the Ping’an Section of the Lanzhou-Xining Highway. You can take the shuttle bus at the air tickets booking office of civil aviation (No.32 West Bayi Road, eastern Xining) to go to the airport, and it costs 21 yuan per person. A taxi from the city center to the airport will cost about 50 yuan.
The Xining Railway Station, located north of the Huangshui River and at the junction of Jianguo Road and Qilian Road, serves as an important railway hub. The world famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway traverses Xining, taking on part of the transportations links between Tibet, Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, and is a major fact for Xining’s significant role for China’s railway transportation. Luxurious trains starting from Xining run along the highland track and take you to the mystical Tibet highland, which was only accessible by plane for centuries. The Lanzhou-Qinghai and the Qinghai-Tibet railways meet here, transporting passengers onward to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Qingdao, Zhengzhou and Golmud, etc. In addition, there are trains to cities within Qinghai Province including Datong, Qaidam and Chaka.
The Xining Railway Station is about 25 kilometers from the downtown area, and it can be reached by non-stop bus No. 1, 5, 9, 11 and 32.
The Xining Long-distance Bus Station is located at the northern end of Jianguo Road, opposite to the Xining Railway Station across the river. Most of the buses link Xining with places in Gansu Province. There are also buses daily running to Golmud.
Most buses bound for Kumbum Monastery (Ta’er Temple) in Huangzhong County set out from the bus station by the Sichuan Stadium. You can also take taxis to go to the temple and it is advisable that you make a bargain and pay fares upon arrival at the temple.
With dozens of bus routes covering downtown and suburban areas, Xining offers convenient and easy public transport services. The flag-down rate for taxis is 6 yuan for the first 3 kilometers and distance surcharge is 1.3 yuan for each additional kilometer.