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Golmud is a translation of Mongolian, also spelled Geermu, Ko-erh-mu or Golmot, which means “A place with abundant rivers". Located in the hinterland of the Tibetan Plateau, Golmud is located in the middle of the southern edge of the Qaidam Basin, bordering the Kunlun Mountains in the south and Qarhan Salt Lake in the north, with an altitude of 2,780 meters. Goldmud is known as the pearl of the plateau and Salt Lake City of China.


Golmud city
  • Name: Golmud
  • Chinese:  格尔木
  • Location:  Haixi Prefecture, Qinghai, China
  • Area:  119263 km²
  • Climate: Continental Plateau Climate
  • Attractions: Yuxu Peak, Mt.Kunlun Geo Park Qarhan Salt Lake
  • Airport: Golmud Airport
  • Railway Station: Golmud Railway Station

Location and Geography

Golmud City is located in the west of Qinghai Province, on the south-central edge of Qaidam Basin, and belongs to Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province. The entire jurisdiction is composed of two unconnected regions, the Qaidam Basin and the Tanggula Mountains. It is 450 kilometers long from east to west, 225 kilometers wide from north to south, and covers an area of ​​71414.10 square kilometers.

The terrain of Golmud is complex and can be roughly divided into two parts: the plateau basin and the northern foot of Tanggula Mountain. The plateau basin is 2625 ~ 3350 meters above sea level, and its topographic structure and landform characteristics are generally distributed in concentric circles. From the southern edge of the basin to the center, there are mountains, Gobi, wind-eroded hills, plains, and salt lakes. According to the landform type, it can be divided into mountains and plains. It's a new plateau city.

Best Time to Travel

Qarhan Salt Lake

July to September is the best time to travel to Golmud. Golmud belongs to a continental plateau climate, with no extreme heat in summer and a large temperature difference between day and night. The annual average temperature is 4.3°C, the extremely high temperature is 35°C, and the extremely low temperature is -33.6°C. The reason why Golmud has become a tourist city is entirely due to the fact that it is a transit point to Tibet and Dunhuang, Gansu. Therefore, when tourists flock to Tibet in summer, Golmud has the most tourists. At this time, Golmud is very cool and is an ideal summer resort. At other times, the climate in Golmud is relatively dry and cold.

Key Hub of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Golmud is a transportation hub connecting Qinghai to Tibet, Xinjiang and Gansu. It's also where Qinghai-Tibet, Qinghai-Xingjiang and Dunhuang-Golmud highways intersect. As the real starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the section from Golmud to Lhasa is the essence of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and the most wonderful plateau scenery is concentrated in the 14-hour journey. You can see the changes of the four seasons on the train from the Gobi to the mountains to plateau pastures, the scenery makes your eyes fully occupied.

How to Get to Golmud?

You can choose to fly directly from Xining or Lhasa to Golmud. Both routes take 1.5 hours and the fare is about USD265p.p.

Qinghai Tibet Railway

If you are taking a train, you can take a train to Golmud at Xining or Lhasa Railway Station. The journey takes about 10-15 hours. Train fares range from 100 to 600 yuan depending on the seat type.

If you are taking a car, it is recommended that you start from Xining and drive along the G6 Beijing-Tibet Expressway. The total distance is about 780 kilometers and takes about 8-10 hours by car. The scenery along this route is beautiful, and you can enjoy the natural scenery such as Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake. If you are departing from Lhasa to Golmud, the journey is about 1,200 kilometers and takes around 20 hours by car. Due to the scarcity of oxygen and poor road conditions in some sections, night driving is generally not recommended.

Best Places to Visit and Things to Do

Golmud has breathtaking natural landscapes such as the source of the Yangtze River, vast salt lakes, snow-capped mountains, endless deserts, and beautiful populus euphratica forests.

Qarhan Salt Lake

Qarhan Salt Lake is located in the south of Qaidam Basin, 60km away from Golmud city. There're several peculiar lakes that contain a number of smaller salt lakes inside, which is rare in the world. The wonder of Qarhan Salt Lake is the Ten Thousand Zhang Salt Bridge. It is not an actual bridge because it has neither piers nor railings, but a flat and wide road built on the salt lake. It's a recommended scenic spot upon arrival.

Golmud Populus Euphratica Forest

Golmud Populus Euphratica Forest

Golmud Populus euphratica forest is 55 kilometers away from Golmud City, with an altitude of 2730-2813 meters. The total area of ​​the protected area is 4200 hectares. Every October, Populus euphratica will change from dark green to golden, like a burning flame in the vastness.

Jade Pond of the Queen Mother of the West

As a nature plateau lake, Jade Pond of the Queen Mother of the West (also known as Xiwangmu Yaochi from an old legendary location in the Kunlun Mountains) is a sacred lake worshipped by Taoist believers. It is 250 kilometers away from the urban area of Golmud, with an altitude of more than 4,300 meters. The lake has a length of about 12,000 meters from east to west and a width of about 5,000 meters from north to south, covering an area of about 60 square kilometers. The deepest point of the lake is 107 meters, and the lake is in the shape of a Ruyi.

Kunlun Mountain Pass

Kunlun Pass is 160 kilometers south of Golmud. It's the only way from Qinghai, Gansu to Tibet. Kunlun Pass is 4,767 meters above sea level. For most travelers to Tibet, the Kunlun Pass is the first stop to challenge altitude sickness. Yuxu Peak and Yuxian Peak are covered with snow all year round and shrouded in clouds and mist, standing on the east and west sides of Kunlun Mountain Pass.

Tanggula Pass

Tanggula Pass

Tanggula Pass is 604 kilometers away from Golmud. It's usually visited when passing by train or car to Lhasa.

Tanggula Pass is the natural boundary between Tibet and Qinghai, with an altitude of about 5231 meters for roads and 5,072 meters for railways, which is the world's highest railway station. Tanggula Pass is the best place to overlook Tanggula Mountain.

The main peak of Tanggula Mountains - Geladandong, is more than 6,000 meters above sea level and is the source of the Yangtze River. Hoh Xil - an unpopulated area at its foot is a nice pasture for endangered wild animals such as Tibetan antelope.

Grabbing Mutton

Godmud Food to Try

Golmud is a pastoral area, and its cuisine is mainly beef and mutton. The food is full of local ethnic characteristics, including Golmud specialties and snacks such as Grabbing Mutton, Kebabs, Kang Pot Mutton, Yogurt, Beef Offal Soup, Steamed Cold Noodles, Sheep Intestine Noodles, etc. You can't miss those delicacies when you travel to Tibet.

Attractions nearby Golmud

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