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Tibet Train

Written by FabioUpdated Jan. 30, 2024

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, also known as the Qingzang Railway, stands as the highest railway globally, connecting Xining to Lhasa. It reaches its pinnacle at the Tanggula Pass, situated at an astonishing altitude of 5,072 meters (16,640 feet) above sea level. Not only does it hold the record for the highest railway, but it also claims the title of the longest plateau railway, spanning an impressive distance of 1,956 kilometers (1,215 miles). Remarkably, over 80% of the journey takes place at altitudes exceeding 4,000 meters (13,123 feet).

This engineering marvel links major cities across China with Lhasa, offering train services to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining, and Lanzhou. The stretch between Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, and Lhasa boasts breathtaking scenery. Passengers are treated to panoramic views as the train traverses Qinghai Lake, Mount Tanggula, the Gobi Desert, Mount Kunlun, and other spectacular landscapes, creating an unforgettable and visually stunning journey.

Basic Information About Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Angkor Wat

What's Qinghai – Tibet Train Like

Seat Type

  • 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.

Restaurant Car

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

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

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 15 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.

Search for train schedules and book a ticket now!

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.

Lhasa Railway stationLhasa Railway station

Scenery along the Qinggai – Tibet Railway

Absolutely, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a marvel that runs along the "spine of the world," presenting a breathtaking engineering achievement. The journey is not only a feat in railway technology but also a visual spectacle, particularly the segment between Golmud and Lhasa.

Passengers are treated to an extraordinary display of nature's wonders as they peer through the train windows. Snow-capped mountains, the vast Gobi Desert, the expansive Northern Grassland, high mountain lakes, and marshlands create an ever-changing and awe-inspiring landscape. The train traverses iconic locations, including Qinghai Lake, Mount Tanggula, and Mount Kunlun, adding an extra layer of allure to the journey.

Given the remarkable scenery, most passengers prefer to travel through the Golmud-Lhasa section during the daytime. This allows them to fully immerse themselves in the stunning vistas and experience the beauty of the Tibetan plateau in all its glory. The combination of remarkable engineering and breathtaking landscapes makes the Qinghai-Tibet Railway an unforgettable and unique travel experience.

Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet RailwayScenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Other Trains to Lhasa

(Updated on January 30th, 2024)

Train Route Train Number Departure Arrival Duration
Beijing - Lhasa Z21 19:53 11:36 (next two days) 39h 43m
Shanghai - Lhasa Z164 18:33 15:05 (next two days) 44h 32m
Guangzhou - Lhasa Z264 09:15 14:17 (next two days) 53h 2m
Chengdu - Lhasa Z322 21:11 07:14 (next two days) 34h 30m
Lanzhou - Lhasa Z223, Z21, Z265, Z165 08:40-16:36 07:41-15:05 (next day) 22h 29m-23h 1m
Xi'an - Lhasa Z265, Z165, Z917 07:53-23:35 10:20-14:17(next day, next two days) 29h 38m-34h 45m
Xining - Lhasa Z323, Z917, Z21, Z265, Z165, Z8991 11:41-21:50 10:15-19:56 (next day) 21h 9m–22h 6m
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