The Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Qingzang Railway from Xining to Lhasa) is the highest railway in the world. The highest point is in the Tanggula Pass at 5,072 meters (16,640 feet) above sea level. It is also the longest railway in plateau, covers a distance of 1,956 kilometers (1,215 miles). Over 80% of the journey is at altitudes above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet).
There are trains linking Lhasa and main cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Lanzhou. The section of Xining (capital of Qinghai Province) - Lhasa has the most impressive scenery, with the trains pass Qinghai Lake, Mt. Tanggula, Gobi and Mt. Kunlun, etc.
Basic Information About Qinghai - Tibet Railway
- Distance: 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles)
- Number of trains: 6 pairs of overnight trains
- Terminals: Lhasa Railway Station, Xining Railway Station
- Shortest duration: 20 hours 48 minutes
What's Qinghai – Tibet Train Like
- Soft sleeper – 4 berths in a private compartment, the door of the compartment can be closed. It is recommended on a Tibetan train.
- Hard sleeper – there are 6 berths in an open compartment. It is acceptable only if there is no soft sleeper class available.
- Hard seat – it is not recommended since it would be very tired to take a hard seat on such a long train journey.
Like other trains in China, Tibetan train has a restaurant car offering freshly-cooked meals. But foods on the train are expensive and with limited types. So it is a good idea you buy your own food before taking the train.
Boiling water is provided at the end of each carriage. It is a good idea to take a cup to collect hot water.
Luggage rack is available above the seats, for suitcases smaller than 38cm×60cm×28cm. Larger suitcases can be put under the lower berth/seat or table between two lower berths.
Only squat toilets are available on Tibetan trains. Always bring your own toilet paper since it is always run out.
Other Facilities On a Qinghai – Tibet Train
1. Because of the high evaluation, the trains from Xining are specially built and supplied with oxygen for each cabin. Trains Xining to Lhasa/Lhasa to Xining are equipped with oxygen supply system. You can use the oxygen outlets located on the corridors and soft sleeper cabins to help you with the altitude sickness.
2. Electronic screens at the end of each carriage showing current altitude and temperature.
3. Each toilet is equipped with a button for emergency call for help.
4. There is a doctor and a nurse on each train from Xining to Lhasa.
How to Book Ticket?
There are only a few trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Xi’an to Lhasa. Tickets for those routes are always sold out. However, there are more choices if you book tickets from Lanzhou or Xining to Lhasa.
Trains to Lhasa are very popular and always fully booked during peak season from June to October. But trains from Lhasa are easier to book. It is advised that you take a flight to Lhasa then take a train out of Tibet.
We recommend that you book tickets to/from Lhasa with China Highlights more than 30 days ahead. We will hold your booking and purchase ticket as soon as reservation is open. Tickets on Tibetan trains are hardest to get during peak season. Our travel advisors will do the best andtry over and over again to get tickets.
Things you need to know before taking the Tibet Train
1. Tibet Permit is required before entering Tibet. You need to take a copy if your Tibet Permit if enter Tibet by train (except from Chongqing, Xi’an or Lanzhou). The original Tibet Permit is required if you enter Tibet by train from Chongqing, Xi’an or Lanzhou. We will help you get the Tibet Permit if you book tours with us. See the Tibet group tours here.
2. Since there is oxygen released on the Tibetan trains Xining – Lhasa and Lhasa – Xining, so smoking is not allowed on the train.
3. Passengers who take a Tibetan train need to get off at Xining Station. The train will be changed to an oxygen supplied train to and from Xining.
4. According to the China rail’s policy, passengers need to cancel or change the Tibetan train tickets themselves in person. Tibetan tickets cannot be changed or cancelled online. So please double check travel date, departure time and passengers’ name, and passport numbers before make the booking.
Scenery along the Qinggai – Tibet Railway
As a train runs on the “spine of the world”, the railway itself is a great wonder. And the extraordinary scenery gives additional attraction to the train journey, especially the section between Golmud and Lhasa. Along the way, enjoy the spectacular scenery through the window, such as snow-capped mountains, Gobi desert, Northern Grassland, high mountain lakes and marsh, etc. The famous tourist attractions the train passes include Qinghai Lake, Mt. Tanggula and Mt. Kunlun.
Other Trains to Lhasa
|Train Route||Train Number||Departure||Arrival||Duration|
|Beijing - Lhasa||Z21||08:00||12:10 (2 days later)||40 h 10 min|
|Shanghai - Lhasa||Z164||20:10||19:20 (2 days later)||47 h 10 min|
|Guangzhou - Lhasa||Z264||11:45||17:05 (2 days later)||53 h 20 min|
|Chengdu - Lhasa||Z322||14:48||09:55 (2 days later)||43 h 07 min|
|Chongqing - Lhasa||Z223||15:42||09:55 (2 days later)||42 h 13 min|
|Lanzhou - Lhasa||Z323, Z917, Z21, Z265, Z165||09:27-18:34||09:55-19:20||23 h 37 m – 24 h 46 m|
|Xi'an - Lhasa||Z265, Z165||09:45-11:24||17:05-19:20||31 h 20 m – 31 h 56 m|
|Xining - Lhasa||Z323, Z917, Z21, Z265, Z6811, Z165, Z9815||12:27-22:25||09:55-20:20||20 h 49 m – 21 h 55 m|