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Tibet Transport

Tibet used to be an inhospitable region, but lots of the people want to travel there. With the transportation network build up, it is easier to get to Tibet with different access. Rail, road, air all are very convenient. The most popular way to enter Tibet now is taking the train-the sky train. On the way, you can enjoy the unique high land scenery that you will miss by taking the flights, and at the same time, adjust yourself to the altitude gradually; the flight is faster and convenient, but see less; hitchhiking the road, it will take a longer time to get to Tibet and pretty tough. The biggest benefit is that you can spend more time at the wonderful scenery and enjoy them all the way to Tibet.


  • It is forbidden for non-passengers to meet tourists inside the airport or railway station in Lhasa. When the train arrives at Lhasa Railway Station or the flight arrives at Lhasa Airport, tourists need to walk out of the station or airport, where their tour guides wait for and meet them.
Flight to Lhasa


Tibet also opens both international and domestic airlines. You can take the regular direct domestic flights from Chengdu (2hours' flying time),Beijing (6hrs),Shanghai (8hrs),Chongqing (2hrs), Xi’an (3hrs),Guangzhou (5hrs) and Kunming (4hrs)to Tibet. The international route is from Kathmandu 2hours flying (capital of Nepal). Gongga Airport Tibet is at the Gongga County in the south of Lhasa 100 kilometers away. It takes around 2 hours’ driving from Lhasa. The airport bus costs 20yuan per person; taxi rental is about 200yuan per car.


Taking a train to Tibet is one of the cheapest way to go to Tibet. Currently, there are trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou and Xining (Read more on Tibet train from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu). The journey all the way from Beijing takes less than 48 hours, costing around 389 yuan in the cheapest hard seat class and 1262 yuan for a soft sleeper. That is very cheap compared to a flight, which costs around 300 yuan. Note: It is hard to purchase train tickets to tibet in peak season from May to October as the demand is huge. China Highlights takes care of booking of tibet train tibet for travelers who travel with us.

Although trains to Tibet are relatively new and luxurious compared to those running on other routes in China, they are not for the faint-hearted. They do not have western-style toilets and bunks are relatively cramped. In addition, the train journey passes the Tanggula Mountain Pass, which is around 5000 meters above sea level. Most travelers feel altitude sickness at that point.

The main advantage of train travel is the fantastic scenery on the way. After passing Golmud (the starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway), the landscape gradually becomes picture-postcard-perfect, with snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance rising against blue sky, vast grassland sometimes filled with flocks of sheep and yaks. Sights seen from the train on the way include: Qinghai Lake, Chaerhan Salt Lake, Kunlun Mountain Pass, Holxil Depopulated Area, home to Tibetan antelope, Tanggula Mountain Pass, source of the Yangtze River, Changtang Grassland. You may not see all of these attractions as some trains pass them at night.

Trains to Lhasa, Tibet in 2016

Trains to Lhasa, Tibet in 2016
Train From Departs Arrives Duration   Departure Dates (even dates: 2, 4, 6, … 26, 28, 30; odd dates: 1, 3, 5, … 27, 29, 31)
Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Z21 Beijing Xi 20:00 12:30+2d 40h 30m Every day
Z164 Shanghai 20:10 19:44+2d 47h 34m Every day
Z264 Guangzhou 11:45 17:30+2d 53h 45m Every day
Z265 Xian 09:45 17:30+1d 31h 45m Every day
Z322 Chengdu 14:48 09:55+2d 43h 7m Even Odd Even Odd Odd Even Even Odd Even Even Odd Odd
Z223 Chongqing Bei 15:42 09:55+2d 42h 13m Odd Even Odd Even Even Odd Odd Even Odd Odd Even Even
Z917 Lanzhou 11:16 12:00+1d 24h 44m Odd Even Odd Even Even Odd Odd Even Odd Odd Even Even
Z6801 Xining 14:05 12:00+1d 21h 55m Even Odd Even Odd Odd Even Even Odd Even Even Odd Odd

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing to Lhasa trains all stop at Lanzhou and Xining. See our train timetables for the times.

Lhasa to Shigatse by Rail

The Lhasa–Shigatse Railway is now open to the public. The journey between Lhasa and Shigatse is about 3 hours. There are two trains daily: K9821 (from Lhasa to Shigatse) and K9822 (from Shigatse to Lhasa).

Train Departure Arrival Ticket Price
K9821 Lhasa—Shigatse 9:00 11:59 Hard seat ¥41   $7
Hard berth ¥209  $35
Soft berth ¥319  $52
K9822 Shigatse—Lhasa 17:30 20:27 Hard seat ¥41   $7
Hard berth ¥209  $35
Soft berth ¥319  $52

What’s on the Train?

  • Oxygen is available throughout the train to relieve altitude sickness.
  • There are two doctors on the train.
  • There are 15 Chinese-speaking conductors with basic Tibetan and English training.
  • There is beautiful scenery on the way, and the conductors will narrate a simple introduction to the main scenic spots and landmark buildings.

Going to Tibet, by Train or Flight?

tibet train

Travelers get to Tibet either by train or by flight. These two methods of transportation have their own advantages and disadvantages.

By flight

Flights usually arrive at Lhasa airport in the morning or at noon, which enables enough time for travelers to have a good rest and get acclimatized to the altitude. The altitude of Lhasa is about 3500 meters, which is relatively lower than other regions in Tibet, so there are fewer cases of altitude sickness. Usually there might be discounts for the flight tickets to Lhasa. 

By train

Advantage: Train passengers can see the great scenery in the Holxil depopulated Area.


  • The train ride to Lhasa takes 24 hours from Xining, or more than 48 hours from other cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. In addition, much of the train ride is completed during the night.
  • The train will pass Danggula Mountains which has an altitude of 6000 meters, plus the long-time train ride on the high-altitude area, train passengers may not get a good rest on the train.
  • It is difficult to get the train tickets to Lhasa, especially in July and August, and the tickets booking service charge might be even higher than the cost of the tickets during the high season.

Search for train schedules>>

Our suggestion

China Highlights suggests traveling to Lhasa by air and traveling back by train.Most trains depart Lhasa at 8:00 in the morning, and you have a whole day to see the scenery along the way. The return train ride is also more comfortable after you have got acclimatized to the high altitude from the trip. View our Tibet Tour Packages or contact us for a tailor-made tour.


Tibet highwayTibet Highway

Road trips to Tibet are long and rough. For foreign travelers, we don't recommend they travel to Tibet through a long and hard car journey. 

The highways to Tibet:

1. Qinghai-Tibet Highway: it runs the Xining - Golmud - Lhasa, 1,214 kilometers long. The average elevation of the highway is above 4,000 meters, running through the mountains of Kunlun and Tanggula. It takes you the shortest time to Tibet with the best and safest road comparing to others;

2. Xinjiang-Tibet Highway: it starts from Yecheng, Xinjiang Region, total 2841 kilometer. The most parts of the road are in the unpopulated area and does not have regular gas stations on the way, the drivers must prepare several barrels of fuel. It will spend you around half month's driving. Moreover, the transportation and the communication are also very inconvenient;

3. Sichuan -Tibet Highway: it starts from Chengdu and ends in Lhasa, total 2,330 kilometers long. On the way, it passed by the Ya'an and Kangding;

4.Yunnan-Tibet Highway:this road begins in Xia'guan City, Yunnan Province, stopping by the Shangri-La, then reachs the Markam County, Tibet, 800 kilometers long;

5. Sino-Nepal Highway: Lhasa - Golmud - Zhamud Friendship Bridge - Kathmandu, 2415 kilometers. Every day, two buses shuttle between germu and Lhasa. They start from germu at eight in the morning and arrive in Lhasa the next afternoon.

Further Reading