Every region in China has at least one or two don't miss destinations, Qinghai Lake fit the bill for Xining. While not actually in the city, it can be reached conveniently with local transportation or the help of a travel agent and can be seen in one long day trip.
Qinghai Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China, is truly a spectacular sight. At an elevation of approximately 3,600m, it's surrounded by seemingly endless rolling grasslands that make up the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Ethnic Tibetan nomad living tents can be seen scattered about in the summer when they come down from higher elevations to graze their yaks on the lush green grass surrounding the lake. If you're looking for an authentic Tibetan experience, this is a great place to find it. Heading west from Xining early in the morning, the road immediately begins climbing as you ascend the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The road to the lake winds its way through stark and tranquil valley scenery while surrounded by terraced fields of rapeseed and wheat. About an hour and a half from Xining is the Sun Moon Pass. It offers splendid views of the grasslands and is a great spot to snap a few pictures, continuing from there, the scenery is of classic plateau grasslands and the lake soon appears as a watery, albeit salty, blue oasis. A couple hours and possibly a stop for lunch at the Tibetan tents later you arrive at Bird Island.