China Fortune Wheel

Top choice in Qinghai

This enormous, gold-plated Tibetan prayer wheel is turned with the aid of rushing water from the Yellow River. The prayer wheel is 27m tall, 10m in diameter and weighs 200 tonnes, earning it a spot in the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest prayer wheel. On a clear day it is quite a beautiful sight, positioned above a recently built rectangular pool of shimmering, sapphire water, with the line of sublime mountains behind and the Yellow River sandwiched between.

Inside the wheel are 200 copies of the Kangyur text, and the base contains a large prayer hall where you can see one of the prayer-wheel-shaped gear wheels turning. There is also an exhibition devoted to prayer wheels, while on the 2nd floor of the wheel is a stupendous collection of modern thangka.

The glittering exterior of the wheel is decorated with resplendent bodhisattvas and jewelled Buddhist motifs. From the far side of the pool, the entire apparatus makes for an extraordinary photographic image.

The wheel is located in a dedicated park along the Yellow River, which can be reached on foot by following Huanghe Nanlu behind Yuhuang Pavilion and turning left at the large suspension bridge (itself a great spot for catching sunset over the river). You can rent bikes in the old town or at the start of Nanbinhe Lu (from ¥15 per hour) to cycle alongside the Yellow River.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Qinghai attractions

1. Yuhuang Pavilion

0.61 MILES

The focal point of Guide’s old town, this small temple complex was built in 1592, and is named after the Yellow Emperor. The complex includes a three…

2. Guide City Wall

0.74 MILES

Although you cannot climb up upon the earthen wall that encapsulates the old town, you can walk around its perimeter, which makes for a very enjoyable…

3. Shuǐ Chē Guǎng Chǎng

0.97 MILES

Ignore the rather naff waterwheel at this park and get right to the bank of the Yellow River where you can dip your toes in. During summer, some stalls…

4. Guide National Geological Park

11.25 MILES

In the stunning multicoloured clay scenery of Danxia Canyon (丹霞峡谷, Dānxiá Xiágǔ), this geopark offers walking trails in among red and orange hills that…

5. Kanbula National Forest Park

24.32 MILES

The desert scenery outside of Tongren comes to a pinnacle in this national park where flaming-red mountains meet the turquoise waters of a reservoir…