We visited the lake at the beginning of October, and according to the hired driver it was still during the tourist season (the season was to be over in mid October and the prices were to be lower after 15.10). However, it is not the time to see the Birds Island as all the birds are gone already, and it is too cold to spend a night in Nomand tents because the tents are pulled down at the end of September. If you are to visit the lake at that time, according to the local people one day should be enough unless you want to see the sunrise at the lake. Our time was limited, so we took a one-day trip and hired a driver for 900 RMB at a local tourist agency in Xining. The driver, perfectly familiar with the most interesting spots, took us from one place to another (we started our trip in Xining and we visited Sun and Moon Mountain on the way) leaving us with as much time as we wanted for admiring the views - fields of yellow rape flowers, mountains covered with snow, Tibetan flags at the lakeside, sand dunes...of course each place welcomed us with a toll gate with a fee of 10-15 RMB/person. Unfortunatelly, the lakeside areas belong to the local people and it is impossible to enter there without paying the toll fee. However, although it was Sunday, the Qinghai lake area was almost empty and we could absorb its beauty without standing in a queue of tourists. Although the trip does not belong to the cheapests, the place is deffinitely worth seeing. It is some kind of mixture of Tibetan and Mongolian cultures - you can watch the Mongolian shepards, Tibetan monks, yaks or ships during the drive. The landscape changes rapidly from snow-covered mountains to empty steppes or deserts. Fortunately, the Chinese commercial tourism has not fully reached this place yet. Take water and some snacks with you as it is hard to find the place where you can eat something. It is also impossible to find a toilet there ;).
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