Xining (Xīníng, 西宁), the capital of Qinghai province, sits at an altitude of 2,200 m (7,218 ft) and is a city you'll likely come through if traveling overland to Xinjiang or the TIbetan Autonomous Region. An ancient highland city bordering the Yellow River, it was once an important stop along the Silk Road. Xining's look and feel have been influenced by its significant population of Hui. Add to this a dash of Tibetan culture as well as Salar and Uyghur and you get a city with a rich stew of ethnicities.
Though many simply pass through on their way to Kashgar, Lhasa and other well-known western Chinese destinations, Xining features a few good attractions of its own including the large Dongguan Mosque, one of the largest mosques in China, the Qinghai Provincial Museum (Qīnghǎishěng Bówùguǎn, 青海省博物馆), the highlight of which is the Tibetan carpet exhibition, and Beichan Temple (Běichán Sì, 北禅寺) from where you can get fabulous views of the city.
Xining is also within day-trip range of several significant Buddhist sites including the Kumbum Monastery, one of the most important monasteries in the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Youning Si (Yòunìng Sì, 佑宁寺), a 17th-century hillside monastery, and the inland-sea-sized Qinghai Lake.
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Xining on the China Travel Blog