Beautiful Xining is known as “The Summer Resort Capital of China” as the cool mountain air offers respite for Chinese citizens and expatriates who are struggling with the humid heat of other Chinese inland cities. Xining sits in the central north of China, on the edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, around 2,000 meters above sea level. Expats living in Xining can get a first insight into the city’s diverse population and long history by visiting local religious sites such as the Ta'er Monastery, which is home to hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist monks, the famous Dongguan Mosque, and the Taoist Beishan Si temple. Outside the city center, expats in Xining should not miss a visit to the “Bird Islands” on the nearby Qinghai Lake. Thousands upon thousands of birds nest here and the area has become a popular tourist spot.
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Xining has a cool climate and winters can be very cold, with temperatures dropping to around 10°F on a regular basis. Expatriates moving to Xining should be prepared for these climate conditions and pack a good selection of cold weather clothes. Some expats may take a while to adjust to the high altitude – if you are worried about experiencing altitude sickness, make your journey to Xining slowly and arrive by flight or by car from a nearby city such as Lanzhou, which is at about 1,600 meters above sea level. Xining’s location on the edge of a major plateau means that there is also a risk of earthquakes. Make sure you know what to do in case of severe tremors, and take earthquake warnings seriously. For more information on living in a mountainous region, speak to other experienced expats on the InterNations discussion boards and forums.
Xining has been a popular trade point for more than 2,000 years, and its population is a diverse mix of Chinese and Tibetan nationals, as well as international expats. It is a busy but friendly city which fuses traditional Chinese culture with a modern twist. However, any expatriate working in Xining will have to be able to speak, read and understand Mandarin Chinese in order to get ahead. All street signs and official documents are in Mandarin, although Tibetan and Mongolian translations are sometimes available. Before you set off to start working in Xining as an expat, make sure you are confident in your ability to handle the language, and continue taking language classes in the city if required. For advice on picking up a new language, sign up on InterNations and use the platform to speak directly to seasoned Chinese-speaking expatriates.