The closest Qinghai Lake tourist spot to Xining, this site 150km west of town consists of a Chinese-style sightseeing village backing on to the shores of the lake. A long pier allows you to walk out over the calm waters, and on a clear day there are glorious views of the surrounding mountains and the huge sand dunes of Sand Island (沙岛, Shādǎo) on the far shore.
The scenic area is set up around the ruins of the Torpedo Launch Experiment Base, China’s first torpedo testing site set up in the 1960s. Though far from the most scenic spot in the area, for those pressed for time this is the best place to catch a glimpse of Qinghai Lake without shelling out too much money or staying overnight. Skip the trolley bus (¥20) and walk to the lake shore. You can also rent bicycles (¥20 to ¥40 per day), go on paddle boat rides (¥40 to ¥60 for 30 minutes) or do a boat tour past the Torpedo Base (¥150).
If you just want to get to the lake shore without shelling out admission fees, head for one of several village clusters 400m before and after the Erlangjian ticket office from where you can walk past hotels and houses down to the shore. During the quiet season you may just be able to wander down to the shore, but expect ticket collectors during the busy season.
If you're up for a hike, you can go 7km past the petrol station on the left of the main ticket area and up into the mountains, where a trail leads to great panoramic views of the lake.
Buses depart Xining’s main station at 9.30am (single/return ¥50/100, three hours each way); the bus returns at 3.30pm. Buses also leave at the same time for the Erlangjian Scenic Area from Xining's Bayi Lu bus station. You can flag down regular returning buses on the main road as well as buses going on to Heimahe.