Yushu Travel Guide
Full Name: Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Chinese Name: 玉树藏族自治州 (yù shù zàng zú zì zhì zhōu)
Area: 198,000 square kilometers (76,448 square miles)
Administrative Division: 6 counties: Yushu (Gyegu), Zaduo (Zadoi), Chengduo (Chindu), Zhiduo (Zhidoi), Nangqian (Nangqen), Qumalai (Qumarleb)
Seat of the Prefecture Government: 14, Minzhu Lu, Jiegu Town, Yushu County
China Post Yushu Branch: 99, Shengli Lu, Jiegu Town, Yushu County
Location: Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is situated in the southwest region of Qinghai Province, neighboring Sichuan in the southeast, Xinjiang in the northwest corner and Tibet in the south and southeast. Within Qinghai, it is bounded on the north by the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and neighbors the Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the east.
History: Yushu was inhabited by the Qiang, an ancient tribe in northwest China. In its history, it was governed successively by several Tibetan regimes. Yushu Special District was established in 1949 and changed to Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Region two years later, then changed to an autonomous prefecture in 1955.
Physical Features: The prefecture is situated on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with most of the region 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above the sea level. It is the fountainhead of the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lancang River. Ravines and valleys have been cut by the rivers in southeastern Yushu.
Climate: The prefecture enjoys a continental plateau climate with high altitude and cold climate as its most outstanding features. It has distinct warm and cold seasons, respectively lasting four to five and seven to eight months. The annual average temperature of this region is below zero (32℉).
When to Go: June to October is much warmer and more favorable to visit Yushu Prefecture.Special Local Products: Tibetan medical herbs and ornaments
Religion: Tibetans make up ninety-seven percent of the prefecture's total population. Yushu is an area with its entire population believing in Tibetan Buddhism. There are 192 Tibetan Buddhist temples in Yushu, nearly thirty percent of the total in Qinghai.
Festivals: Horse racing festivals are the most popular sport game in the grasslands of Yushu. The grandest one is held annually on 25th, July, lasting one week. The site is in Zhaxigou, which is only three kilometers from Jiegu Town. Apart from the delightful horse racing, colorful tents, beautiful traditional costumes and ornaments of the Kangba Tibetan people as well as the folk songs and dance of Yushu are some of the wonderful sights during the horse racing festival.
Traditional ethnic costumes: The climax of the horse racing festival happens on the last day. Men's robes usually have bands made of tiger or panther skins, while the women's are striped with otter skin. The women's costumes, especially, are made more luxurious by wearing ornaments. They wear ornaments made of turquoise, pearl, coral, carnelian and silver or golden amulets. So, a set of ornamented garments is very expensive.
Three Rivers Source (Sanjiangyuan) National Natural Reserve: The Southern Qinghai Plateau in Yushu is the fountainhead of three great rivers in China: the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lanchang River. A stone column inscribed with the name of the nature reserve and dedicated by the former president, Jiang Zemin, stands beside the Tongtian River Bridge on the highway from Zhiduo County to Qumalai County.
Kekexili (Hoh Xil) National Nature Reserve: In the severe and harsh environment, Kekexili is a paradise of wildlife. There are more than one hundred species of rare wild animal living in the cold, high land of Yushu. This sacred and magical land is perfect for scientific research, travel and exploration.
Temple of Princess Wencheng is a historical and cultural relic left by the Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) on her way to Tibet in the year of 641. In the hall, there is the earliest large scale relief Buddha groups on cliff in Qinghai.
Gyanak (Jiana) Mani Stone Field which is commonly known as Gyanak Mani is a large praying stone pile with more than two billion praying stone engraved with Buddha sculptures and pictures. It can be regarded as the largest in Tibetan areas.
Having Jiegu Town as a center, a transportation network has gradually been created within Yushu Prefecture, with national highways as the main framework, supported by developing country roads. From these roads, visitors can get directly to Xining, Lanzhou or places in Sichuan Province. The bus station in Jiegu Town is situated in Shengli Lu and regular buses to Jiegu Town can be found in Xining's long-distance bus station in Jianguo Lu.
Yushu Prefecture is vast. Renting a vehicle to travel around may be a better choice if visitors travel by themselves. Private jeeps and minibuses are available in the central square of Jiegu Town.