Boasting over 2,100 years of history, Xining is an ancient plateau city in northwest China. Situated along the ancient Silk Road, Xining was an important transportation hub connecting central China with the western frontiers. Today, Xining remains a vital gateway to the Tibetan Plateau, serving as the starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Highway.

Surrounded by mountains, Xining enjoys a mild climate free of extreme cold in winter and heat in summer. Refreshing summer breezes make it an ideal natural summer resort. As a historic cultural city and tourist destination, Xining has numerous attractions including Beishan Temple, Dongguan Mosque, and former residence of Ma Bufang. Ta'er Monastery in Huangzhong County is a holy site of Tibetan Buddhism, while the famous Qinghai Lake lies 151 km from downtown Xining.

With rich history intertwining with ethnic minorities and diverse landscapes, Xining offers visitors a window into the vibrant culture, breathtaking scenery and transportation significance of the northwest frontier. The moderate climate, fresh mountain air, and laidback lifestyle make Xining an inviting place to unwind and explore the beauty of the highlands. Whether wandering the bustling market streets, gazing over the sapphire waters of Qinghai Lake, or finding tranquility in a quiet monastery, Xining rewards travelers with a blend of natural wonder, cultural delights and comfortable living.

Best Travel Time

Xining, known as the "Summer Capital of China", has a cool and pleasant July, making it the best travel time. In early October, if you are lucky, you can catch a first snowfall, even enjoy the beautiful scenery of golden mountains covered with white feather covers, and taste various sweet fruits and melons in Qinghai.

Dressing Guidelines

Two unique Tibetan traditions persisting in Gannan are pilgrimage circuits and sky burials. Circumambulation, or walking clockwise around temples or mountains while chanting and spinning prayer wheels, is believed to accumulate merit. Each rotation equals reciting the six-syllable mantra venerating Buddha. More repetitions demonstrate piety and progress one’s reincarnation. 

Sky burials also reflect Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. After death, the body is dismembered and fed to vultures that are considered sacred embodiments. Consuming corpses enables spirits to ascend while completing the cycle of rebirth. Though confronting to outsiders, these rituals retain deep meaning for Tibetans. Visitors should observe respectfully, not photograph ceremonies without permission or interfere with centuries-old customs. While fascinating to experience authentic regional heritage, cultural sensitivity remains paramount when encountering Gannan's spiritual traditions.

Religion and Culture

Two unique Tibetan traditions persisting in Gannan are pilgrimage circuits and sky burials. Circumambulation, or walking clockwise around temples or mountains while chanting and spinning prayer wheels, is believed to accumulate merit. Each rotation equals reciting the six-syllable mantra venerating Buddha. More repetitions demonstrate piety and progress one’s reincarnation. 

Sky burials also reflect Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. After death, the body is dismembered and fed to vultures that are considered sacred embodiments. Consuming corpses enables spirits to ascend while completing the cycle of rebirth. Though confronting to outsiders, these rituals retain deep meaning for Tibetans. Visitors should observe respectfully, not photograph ceremonies without permission or interfere with centuries-old customs. While fascinating to experience authentic regional heritage, cultural sensitivity remains paramount when encountering Gannan's spiritual traditions.

Customs taboos

When exploring Xining's large Hui Muslim enclaves, cultural sensitivity is key. Pork, dog, horse, donkey and mule meat are forbidden, along with any meat from animals not slaughtered by Muslims. Blood consumption is also prohibited.

Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol or making food jokes inside Hui homes. Don't liken spicy peppers to blood either. Dress and speak modestly, particularly around mosques. 

If dining at halal restaurants, wait to be seated and don't touch food with the left hand. Request no pork or alcohol. Tip: say "bú yào zhū ròu" to refuse pork.

While experiencing enriching Islamic traditions, it's important to respect customs. With courtesy towards local taboos on diet, faith and etiquette, visitors can sincerely engage with Xining's diverse cultures. Mindful travel fosters meaningful exchange between tourists and residents eager to share the heritage of their hometown.

Medical treatment

Here are some key emergency numbers and contacts for Zhangye for an English travel website:Emergency Information for ZhangyeZhangye Tourism Hotline: 0936-8211684Zhangye Tourism Complaint Number: 0936-8229595Linze County Tourism Bureau: 0936-5520699Police Emergency: 110Fire Emergency: 119  Medical Emergency: 120Traffic Accident: 122Police SMS Reporting: 12110Weather Forecast: 12121Red Cross First Aid: 999Save these important numbers in your phone in case of any emergencies during your trip. The tourism hotlines can also provide assistance and information.For medical issues, you can directly contact the hospitals:- Zhangye People's Hospital: 0936-8213411- Ganzhou District Hospital: 0936-8213411Stay safe and enjoy your time in Zhangye! Let us know if you need any other travel information.

Safety considerations

Xining sits at 2,295 meters, so altitude sickness is uncommon. However, those continuing to Qinghai Lake or Tibet should prevent and treat symptoms with medication like rhodiola.

Overall, Xining is safe though solo travelers should secure belongings in crowded areas. As a multi-ethnic city, friendliness and cultural sensitivity will be reciprocated. Avoid conflicts stemming from racial misunderstandings. 

When out and about:

- Conceal cash, phones and valuables in zipped bags/pockets.

- Research neighborhoods before wandering at night. Stick to well-lit main roads.

- Keep important documents like passports secured at accommodation.

- Arrange travel with licensed tour groups when possible.

Violent crime is rare in Xining. With situational awareness and respect for its diverse peoples, Xining offers a pleasant gateway to Qinghai's breathtaking lakes and mountains.