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The sights in this remote industrial town—Golmud, are few and far between. The majority of tourists entering Golmud are normally here as a stopover point on their way to either Dunhuang to the north, Xining to the east, or Lhasa to the south.
Within Golmud there is something of architectural, cultural and scenic interest. But the best of the sights are those of the desolate scenery that can be found outside of the metropolis. Because most of the region in Golmud is fairly unexplored by travelers, and as such has little of the tourist pollution that other areas in China seem a little too prone to. Many of the sights will, unfortunately, need a permit to travel to (ask at a local travel agent or, if pressed, at ChinaExpeditionTours).
The Golmud City was founded on the edge of the Gobi Desert, in the mid-west of Qinghai province. Much of this area is dominated by either pasture lands or dry, weather-worn plateaus, that are all highly rich in minerals and possibly huge quantities of oil. It is these extractable resources upon which the town has thrived, but for the travelers, it is also these that are most worthy of visiting. At a push, the Qinghai Potash Plant or the Salt Bridge almost merit a day trip, although the first is most interesting to those of a purely mineralogical or geological frame of mind, and the second is best for those on their way to Dunhuang (the road passes over it).
The sights to the south, with the Kunlun Mountains (Kunlun shan), the massive glaciers and the Tangula Mountain Pass (Tangula shankou), that lead on into Tibet, are of towering beauty. If you can afford the hefty CET (China Expedition Tours) levies on foreigner ticket prices, and the grueling road journey, this trip is worthwhile.