Earth : Asia : East Asia : China : Northwest China : Qinghai : Guide
Guide is a city in Qinghai.
Guide (Gui de, 贵德） is a small Tibetan city located south of Xining. Because of its name, you will find it hard to search for information about it in English. It is near the origin of the 3 rivers (Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong). It has an historic Old Town dating to the Qing Dynasty, which is still partially surrounded by rammed earth city walls. Unfortunately, as of 2014, in a classic case of Chinese tourism "development", virtually all of the old town has been razed, and the local government has erected billboards depicting ambitious plans to reconstruct an ersatz fake "old" town in its place.
Nevertheless, there are still sites and attractions of interest in Guide. The drive from Xining passes through stunning eroded sandstone topography and is worth the trip in itself. For now, it is still remote enough and low-profile enough to be mercifully free of the Chinese tour group herds, though several sprawling "international" Chinese hotels currently under construction near the highway indicate that it may not stay that way forever.
Busses for Guide leave from the Xining long distance bus station every 40 mins or so between about 7am and 6pm cost about 24 Yuan and take about 3 hours. Returning to Xining is the same. It is also possible to hire a Xining taxi for the day to take you there and back for a daytrip, which allows flexibility in travel and the ability to stop and take photos of the spectacular rock formations along the way. It shouldn't cost more than 700 yuan or so, plus meals for the driver (but not gas or tolls, which they cover).
Taxis start at 5 Yuan within the city, you can also get around in 3 wheel cars or on the back of a trailer for slightly less. It is also possible to rent 1, 2, and 3-seater bicycles in the Guide Old Town area.
Most of the city is the typical sprawl of ugly low-rise apartment blocks found in every city everywhere in China. Most attractions are concentrated in the Old Town area or along the Yellow River.
Hire a cab to the Zha Chang hot springs (扎仓温泉) about 20km outside of town in a small Tibetan Village. Entry was free in August 2011。 The water is very very hot in the summer and locals indicate it's better in the winter. At the time of writing the village had suffered a flood and much of the associated infrastructure had been damaged however you could still have a wash in the water. Be prepared for naked old Tibetan men and women.
Lots of cheesy Tibetan stuff
Hand made square noodles are a popular local dish. Restaurants seem to be located close to the bus station.
Turn left out of the Bus Station and there is a hotel with decent doubles for about 100 Yuan (after bargaining) about 50m up the road. This hotel can take foreigners.
Wen Quan Binguan (hot spring hotel, 温泉宾馆) is a more upmarket option with a hot spring heated swimming pool and spa. This is the default location for foreign tourists. Doubles start at about 200 Yuan. Outside of summer you should be able to bargain hard.