Bird Island


This island (a peninsula, in fact) on China’s largest lake is the breeding ground for thousands of wild geese, gulls, cormorants, sandpipers, extremely rare black-necked cranes and other bird species. Perhaps the most interesting are the bar-headed geese that migrate over the Himalaya to spend winter on the Indian plains, and have been spotted flying at altitudes of 10,000m. In 2019 Bird Island was closed indefinitely to allow ecological regeneration, so check with your hotel to see if it has reopened.

The island is located on the western side of the lake, about 300km from Xining. The best time to visit is from March to late May, when migratory birds have stopped over to nest.

A daily bus (¥66, five hours, 7.45am) leaves from Xining's main bus station; three or four morning buses also depart daily from May to June from Bayi Lu bus station in Xining. Hiring a car for the day from Xining will cost around ¥500. From Heimahe, you can flag down a bus to Bird Island (roughly 11.45am) or hire a private car (¥350 return).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Qinghai attractions

1. Heimahe

17.96 MILES

Heimahe ('Black Horse River') is a necessary evil: an ugly one-street town in between the Erlangjian Scenic Area and Bird Island that caters as a pit-stop…