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Lhasa can be accessed by air, train, or by bus, but it is most convenient for tourists to get to Tibet by air.
Lhasa's Gonggar Airport is 97 kilometers from Lhasa City. It takes about one hour to get to downtown Lhasa by bus, and the fare is 20 to 25 yuan. Buses from Shigatse or Tsetang to Lhasa also stop at the airport. At Gonggar Airport there are flights to Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi'an, Xining, Guangzhou, Chamdo, Kunming, and Katmandu.
Flights to/from Chengdu are the most regular and reliable. Tickets in and out of Lhasa are hard to obtain a week before and after the Shoton Festival.
Gonggar Airport flight information: Tel. 0891-6246465.
Lhasa's air ticket booking office: 1 Nangre Road; Tel: 0891-6833446; 0891-6822393 (at night).
The Lhasa Express is the world's highest railway line. It runs from Xining in Qinghai Province, past China's largest lake, Qinghai Lake, to Golmud.
Oxygen is released into the cabins at Golmud to prevent altitude sickness and is on hand in canisters for the Golmud to Lhasa leg. This leg of the journey offers breath-taking scenery, and takes in a couple of railway world records: the highest passenger railway (Tanggula Pass, 5,072m/16,640ft) and the highest railway tunnel (Fenghuoshan, 4,905m/16,093ft).
There are trains to Lhasa from Beijing (48 hours), Xi'an (36 hours), Chongqing (47 hours), Chengdu (48 hours), and Xining (25 hours).
It is extremely hard (to the point of impossibility) to buy a train ticket into Tibet during peak travel time from May to October. The service charge for obtaining a ticket is ridiculously high, as expensive as 1,000 yuan (around 150 USD), higher than the ticket itself. Even you are willing to pay that money, you can’t be guaranteed a ticket.
Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing to Lhasa trains all stop at Lanzhou and Xining. See our train timetables for the times.
Lhasa Long Distance Bus Station is located at the junction of Minzu Road and Jinzhuzhong Road.
Most tourists are picked up from or driven to the airport as part of their tour.
Airport buses greet all incoming flights. The ticket price is 25 yuan (3.8 USD).
Airport buses leaves between 05:30 to 13:00 each day from the courtyard in front of the CAAC building on Niangre Road (娘热路), a few minutes’ walk east of the Potala Palace. Tickets are sold on the bus. Seats are in high demand, so get on early to guarantee a seat.
A taxi to or from the airport costs about 200 yuan.
Taking a minibus is the cheapest way to get around in the city. The fare is 2 yuan no matter how far you go. Both buses 1 and 2 run from Norbulingkha to Lhasa Long Distance Bus Station. Buses 3 and 5 go to Dreprung Monastery and 4 goes to Sera Monastery. There are privately run minibuses or jeeps following certain fixed routes and the fare is also 2 yuan. Most of them stop at Tibet Hospital in Jokhang Square.
Taking a taxi should cost you 10 yuan no matter where you go in the city. You can share a taxi with others in Lhasa. The price is 10 yuan per drive as long as you don’t go outside the city. So don’t hesitate to hail a taxi with passengers on board. Actually, it is very hard to find an empty taxi.
Taxis are hard to hail in Lhasa at night or on rainy days. The demand is very high, and you may need to wait for around 10–20 minutes to get one.
But if you want to go out of town, you'd better negotiate with the driver over the price. For Dreprung Monastery, you ought to pay about 20 yuan.
Tricycle cabs are common on the streets of Lhasa, and are an interesting sight. If you want to ride one, just wave your hands. Riding a tricycle is a good way to enjoy the the city at a slow pace. A tricycle usually takes two people and the price varies from 4 yuan to 7 yuan for short trips. Before getting on don't forget to negotiate the price.