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Qinghai (青海) is a very large province in the northwest of China and is one of the most remote and sparsely populated places in the world. In the past, Chinese parents would threaten to send their bad children to live in Qinghai as it is home to many prisons, labor camps and toxic waste sights. This has given Qinghai province an extremely bad reputation it does not deserve. It is a diverse area with many minority groups and a fascinating history. The beauty of Qinghai lake and the stunning mountains surrounding Yushu County just give a glimpse of what Qinghai has to offer.
The geography of Qinghai is high altitude plateau with mountain ranges. One of the major geographical features of Qinghai is large salt water lake called Qinghai lake. Qinghai has domestic borders with Xinjiang, Gansu, Sichuan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.
Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.
The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.
The easiest ways to get to Qinghai is to take an airplane or the train to Xining from anywhere in China. There are also several buses that service the highways from all of the surrounding provinces to smaller towns on the provincial borders. In many more remote areas you will have to flag buses down on the side of the highway.
Buses serve all the cities and towns in Qinghai.
The train only services cities between Xining and Golmud.
Qinghai food is heavily influenced by Chinese and Tibetan cuisine. One of the staples of the diet is a noodle soup known as laomien, which originates from the neighboring province of Gansu.
Tibetans, Tu, Hui, Salar, Mongolians and Han.
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