Tibet, on the lofty Tibetan Plateau on the northern side of the Himalayas, is an autonomous region of China, which shares Mt. Everest with Nepal. It's nicknamed the “Roof of the World” for its towering peaks. Its capital, Lhasa, is the site of hilltop Potala Palace, once the Dalai Lama’s winter home, and Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s spiritual heart, revered for its golden statue of the young Buddha.
Why Take Trains to Tibet
For people going to Tibet for the first time, taking a train is the top choice for three reasons. First, it is relatively cheap and convenient to take a train to Tibet from other cities in China. It only takes a few hundred money while the air fare may be more than one thousand Yuan. Second, it can minimise the altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is a common problem in Tibet. It occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air and feels like a bad hangover. Taking a train to Tibet allows your body time to adapt. Third, also the main reason, tourists can enjoy the stunning scenery along the way. Especially the section of Xining and Lhasa, there are alpine sceneries full of snow caped mountains, lakes, vast plateau plains littered with nomads, yaks, Tibetan antelope and lots of wildlife.
Railways to Tibet
At present, there is only one railway connecting Tibet: Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the longest and highest railway built atop a plateau, which is China’s first railroad to Tibet. Several rails are under construction or planed such as Sichuan-Tibet Rail, Yunnan-Tibet Rail, etc. However, in the peak season from May to October, it is difficult to get train tickets to Tibet due to the great demand. So we recommend you to fly to Tibet and get out by train. More about Railways to Tibet.
Trains to Tibet
Normal speed trains serve in Tibet, which has already been open to traffic since July 1, 2006. Now tourists can take direct trains to Tibet from Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Xining, and Lanzhou. Lhasa Railway Station is about 8 kilometers southwest of Lhasa downtown, for 15–20 minutes’ drive. It will take about 20–40 hours getting into Tibet by train.
At Beijing West Railway Station, there is only one train departing to Lhasa at 20:00, which will take 40 hours and 40 minutes. It’s really a long journey which is not commended.
Tourists can take the normal speed train from Xian to Lhasa, which will take about 30-32 hours. The train Z165 is available everyday, while the other one Z265 departs every other day. Still, we recommend you to take the flight for the time saving.
The train Z164 to Tibet from Shanghai departs at 20:10 from Shanghai Train Station every day, and arrives at Lhasa at 19:30 on the third day. It takes about 47.5 hours and costs around RMB 850 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
The train Z264 from Guangzhou departs every other day at 11:45 from Guangzhou Train Station, and arrives at Lhasa at 16:19 on the third day. It takes about 52.5 hours and costs about RMB 900 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
Nanjing to Tibet Train
From Nanjing, there is one train to Tibet departing at 23:02 every day and arrives at Lhasa at 19:30 on the third day. It takes about 44.5 hours and costs about RMB 809 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
There is only one train Z322 running from Chengdu to Lhasa every other day, which departs at 21:37 and arrives at Lhasa at 09:55 two days later, with the duration of 36 hours and 18 minutes. It costs around RMB 700 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
Zhengzhou to Tibet Train
There are two trains running from Zhengzhou to Tibet. The train Z265 departs every other day at 03:40 and arrives at Lhasa at 16:19 on the next day. Another daily train departs at 05:14 and arrives at 19:30 on the next day. It takes about 36-38 hours and costs about RMB 709 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
The train Z223 to Tibet departs every other day at 22:25 from Chongqing Train Station and arrives at Lhasa at 09:55 on the third day. It costs around RMB 750 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.
There are four or five trains running to Lhasa everyday, while some of them are not available everyday. The genuine Qinghai-Tibet train starts from Xining with 1960 km in total. It takes approximately 21.5 hours from Xining to Lhasa. Each year there are around one quarter of tourists who may take train to Lhasa from Xining.
At present, there are four trains to Tibet from Lanzhou. All of them start from other cities with a stopover in Lanzhou. The journey takes about 24.5 hours and costs about RMB 550 for a second-class sleeper berth and half that for a soft seat.