If you don't have time to explore further into the province, this exhilarating forest park in the foothills of the Qilian Mountains – at an elevation between 2200m to 4000m – will give you a taste of the range of landscapes that dwell within Qinghai. This is superb hiking territory, with forest panoramas, chilly waterfalls, shimmering lakes, sublime valleys, mountain panoramas, mountain goats and all the fecundity of nature. Your ticket includes a tourist car that you can hop on and off.
If you're game, you can hike 7km up to the tiny Heavenly Lake (Tīanchí, 天池) at 3000m elevation.
The forest park is 100km northeast of Xining. From Xining, there's a daily 9am bus (¥36, four hours) from the main bus station by the train station. Be aware that it may stop in the town of Huzhu (互助) for 45 minutes. Coming back, there's a 4pm bus that returns to Xining.