The Silk Road Sights

Bird Island (Niǎo dǎo)

  • 350 km (215 miles) northwest of Xining Map It
  • Xining
  • Body Of Water/Waterfall
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 02/08/2016

Fodor's Review

Bird Island is the main draw at Qinghai Hu, China's largest inland saltwater lake. The name Bird Island is a misnomer: it was an island until the lake receded, connecting it to the shore. The electric-blue lake is surrounded by rolling hills covered with yellow rapeseed flowers. Tibetan shepherds graze their flocks here as wild yaks roam nearby. Beyond the hills are snowcapped mountains. An estimated nearly 100,000 birds breed at Bird Island, including egrets, speckle-headed geese, and black-neck cranes; sadly, the numbers have been much depleted because of the country's efforts to suppress the spread of avian flu. There are two viewing sites: spend as little time as possible at Egg Island in favor of the much better Common Cormorant Island, where you can see birds flying at eye-level from the top of a cliff. The best months to see birds are May and June.

To get to Bird Island, either contact a tour agency or catch a tourist bus from Xining Railway Station for Y35 each way. If you opt for a tour, make sure that you're not headed to the much closer tourist trap known as Qinghai Hu 151.

Sight Information

Address:

350 km (215 miles) northwest of Xining, Xining, Qinghai Sheng, 810150, China

Map It

Sight Details:

  • mid-Apr.–mid-Aug.: Y100; mid-Aug.–mid-Apr.: Y60; Y15 for eco-sightseeing bus
  • 7:10 am– 6 pm

Published 02/08/2016

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