One weekend in Qinghai
Qinghai offers so much to see and do and one could easily spend a month traveling from place to place - but if you only have a weekend at your disposal, here is what I recommend that you do
It's easy to fly from Beijing to the capital Xining. Have a wander around the lively muslim quarter and see the Dongguan Mosque (one of the biggest in China). Head to Nanchan temple or Tulou temple which both offer a nice view over the city and the mountains in the background. The Tibetan Culture and Medicine Museum is also worth a visit! It boasts, among other things. a 617 metre long thangka scroll (hand painted artwork) which tells the story of Tibet. It took 400 artists 4 years to complete it!
Take a one-day trip (we booked a driver through the hotel) to Kumbum Monastery - one of the two most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside Tibet itself. There are around 600 monks living there.
Drive further west to Qinghai lake. We fell right into a tourist trap and paid 90 RMB just to walk down to the lake shore from a big parking lot/hotel. We were not very lucky with the weather but it was easy to imagine how spectacular the lake must be on a clear day with the snow clad mountains in the background. Apparently, we missed the "must-see" on the lake - namely a vast area with sand dunes.
The city of Tongren is also supposed to be worth a visit! We were, however, discouraged by the 4 hr bus ride (each way) from Xining - even though the landscape during those 4 hours is said to be breathtaking!