Giant Panda in a breeding center, Chengdu,China

Chengdu offers a lot of great options to travel to Lhasa. This is the most convenient city to fly from, with 2 international airports and many non-stop direct flights to Lhasa about 2 hours and 20 min long. You can also travel from Chengdu to Lhasa by train (36 hours) or overland (7-10 days itinerary depending on the route).

ABOUT CHENGDU

Hot Pot Sichuan famous food in Chengdu
Famous Sichuan Hot Pot

Although Chengdu is a large and ancient city well-known because of the Giant Pandas. Pandas live in the forests of the mountain areas of Sichuan province. There is a large breeding center, where you can see pandas, take photos with them, and even volunteer to help the center for a day. More details on that are below.

CHENGDU LOCATION

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province situated in south-west China. The Sichuan province stretches over a large part of the Sichuan Basin and the Eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. Historically, Sichuan was home to the ancient states of Ba and Shu.

UNESCO named Chengdu the City of Gastronomy. Chengdu cuisine is famous throughout China for its intense flavor and hot Sichuan pepper.

The population of Chengdu is around 16 million people making it the most populated and largest city of Sichuan. Chengdu has its metro line system, and it is the fastest way to get around the city.

TRAVEL TO AND FROM CHENGDU

Being a center of Sichuan province, Chengdu offers many great transportation options, including an International airport with nonstop flights to many countries, cities in Tibet, and most of the major cities in China; three train stations with connections to Chinese cities and Tibet; bus stations to travel to nearby areas.

CHENGDU TO LHASA FLIGHTS

Tibetan airlines plane in Lhasa Gonggar airport in Tibet
Tibetan Airlines plane in Lhasa airport

Distance: 770 miles/ 1290 km
Flight duration: 2 h 25 min
Airports in Chengdu: Chengdu Shuangliu Airport (CTU) and Tianfu International Airport (TFU)
Airport in Lhasa: Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA)

The easiest way to fly to Lhasa is from Chengdu.
First, many international flights arrive in Chengdu every day, and it is easy to find a flight from many international destinations.
Second, there are usually between 12 to 17 nonstop flights from Chengdu to Lhasa daily, depending on the season. The high season is from May to October. You can choose between flights from very early in the morning until late in the evening. Flights take about 2 hours and 25 minutes. When the weather is clear, you will enjoy a great view of the Himalayan mountains.

The best time to travel from Chengdu to Lhasa by plane is early in the morning. These flights are rarely delayed because of the weather conditions. Although there are always many daily flights between cities, we recommend booking your flight in advance. During Chinese official holidays, and at the beginning or end of students’ vacation time, tickets can sell out fast.

Several airlines offer Chengdu to Lhasa flights: Tibetan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Air China, and Chinese Eastern.

IMPORTANT! There are 2 international airports in Chengdu. If you make a connecting flight in Chengdu, make sure that both your flights are in the same airport or that you have enough time to transfer.
The 2 airports are about 65 km apart. Transferring between airports by taxi takes about 1 hour and costs around CNY 190-200.

CHENGDU TO LHASA FLIGHT SCHEDULE AND PRICES

 


Another alternative is to fly from Chengdu to Shigatse or from Chengdu to Nyingchi. There are daily nonstop flights to both cities. Flying to Nyingchi is a great option if you want to acclimatize before traveling to high altitude. Nyingchi is lying at around 3,000 meters. It is easier to acclimatize to that altitude before traveling to Lhasa (3,650 meters).

Chengdu Tianfu International Airport (code TFU)

Name in Chinese: 成都天府国际机场

This newer airport opened in 2021. It is an international airport located in Lujia Town, about 50 km (32 mi) southeast of Chengdu and 60 km from Chengdu City Center.

There are currently 2 terminals, with a total of 4 terminals planned for this airport. Terminal 1 mainly serves international flights, while Terminal 2 handles domestic flights. The airport is the main hub of AirChina in the region.

If you are staying in Chengdu, here are the options for transferring to the city:

  • By taxi: around CNY 160-200 to the city center around Tianfu Square. It takes about 1 hour, or even more, depending on traffic conditions.
  • By airport bus: express buses to Chengdu City Center. Bus N1 to Chunxi Road (春熙路). Bus N2 to Chengdu East Railway Station (成都东站). Bus tickets are CNY 40. Pay at the self-service ticket machine with a bank card, WeChat, or Alipay or by cash at the ticket window.
  • By subway: subway line 18  – Tianfu Airport Express going to South Railway Station in Chengdu. Depending on your destination, the cost could be up to CNY 10 and it takes around 40 minutes to 1 hour to reach the city center. You can transfer to line 1 to reach Tianfu Square.
    A detailed subway line map is available on the official airport website.

Chengdu Shuangliu Airport (code CTU)

Name in Chinese: 成都双流国际机场

There is an international airport about 16 kilometers southwest of Chengdu. It is a hub airport for Western China and a domestic airport for Sichuan Airlines and Chengdu Airlines.

There are 2 terminals, where Terminal 1 serves all international flights as well as Sichuan Airlines flights. All other domestic flights arrive and depart from Terminal 2.

If you are staying in Chengdu, here are the options for transferring to the city:

  • By taxi: around CNY 50-80 to the city center around Tianfu Square. It takes about 30-40 minutes, but can be more depending on traffic conditions.
  • By shuttle bus: bus N1 to the city center, bus N2 to the North Railway Station, and bus N3 to East Railway Station. By taxi: around CNY 50-80 to the city center around Tianfu Square. Bus tickets are CNY 10-20 and it takes about 40 minutes to reach the city center.
  • By subway: metro line 10 connects Chengdu with both terminals of the airport. Take the subway at Taipingyuan Station if you are going to the airport. The cost is between CNY 4 and 11 depending on your final destination.
  • By speed train: connections to the South or East railway stations. You will find the railway station in Terminal 2. There are also high-speed trains connecting the airport with nearby cities in Sichuan province, such as Leshan and Emeishan.

If you are transferring from Chengdu airport to your flight to Tibet, you will need to pick up your Tibet travel permit. We will send you detailed information about the permit and its delivery to Chengdu airport.  

CHENGDU TO LHASA TRAIN

Chengdu to Lhasa train route

The train from Chengdu to Lhasa departs every other day. On an alternate day, the train departs from Chongqing, the city nearby. Trains run all year round. In rare cases, train service can be stopped for construction work to maintain the train tracks. That’s why it is always best to check the train schedule at least 1 month in advance and book your tickets as soon as they become available.

The train ride from Chengdu to Lhasa takes 36 hours and covers over 3,000 km. Most of the distance train goes through the plains at low elevations. Only after Golmud, trains start climbing higher reaching passes at over 5,000 meters.

The train from Chengdu takes a long time to reach Lhasa, and the most interesting part of the train ride starts after Xining. If you are short on time and still want to take a train to Lhasa, you can first fly to Xining and take a train from there. There are many daily trains from Xining to Lhasa and it takes around 21 hours to reach Lhasa.

TRAIN CLASSES AND TICKETS

There are 2 classes on the train:

  • Soft Sleeper: 4 beds in a berth with a door.
  • Hard Sleeper: 6 beds in a berth without a door.

Train tickets go on sale 30 days before the train departure date. Due to very high demand, it is recommended to book tickets as soon as they become available. During official Chinese holidays, it might be difficult to reserve soft sleeper tickets.

CHENGDU TO LHASA TRAIN SCHEDULE

Chengdu to Lhasa Train number Z322 departs Chengdu at 21:11 from Chengdu West Railway Station. The train arrives in Lhasa 2 days later at 07:41 am.

The return train number Z324 from Lhasa to Chengdu departs Lhasa at 19:00 and arrives in Chengdu 2 days later at 07:03 am.

West Railway Station

Name in Chinese: 成都西站

Qinghai Tibet Railway Passenger Train

There are 4 train stations in Chengdu: North Railway Station, East Railway Station, South Railway Station, and West Railway Station. North Station is the largest, connecting Chengdu with major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou, Chongqing, and others.
The West station serves the Sichuan-Tibet Railroad. When you travel from Chengdu to Lhasa, trains depart from the North Railway station.

The station is located at West Station 1st Road, Qingyang District.

You can reach North Station on Metro line 4 and line 9. Get off at the Chengdu West Railway Station stop (all stops on the subway are marked in English, and there are English announcements for each station).

If you are traveling from Chengdu Tianfu airport, take the subway line 18 and then transfer to line 9 which takes you directly to the train station.

If you are traveling from Chengdu Shuangliu airport, take the subway line 3 and then transfer to line 9 which takes you directly to the train station.

CHENGDU TO LHASA OVERLAND

Chengdu to Lhasa Overland Tour Map

You can travel from Chengdu to Lhasa overland via highways G318 or G317.

Chengdu to Lhasa via G318 Highway – Southern Route

The Southern route (along the highway G318) will take you through Eastern Tibet. The highlights of the journey are  Kangding, Litang, Mount Gongga, Ranwu Tso Lake, Medui Glaciers, Bomi, and Nuingchi. Although the road is very scenic all year round, the best time to travel is in early spring during the peach blossom festival.

The Northern route (along highway G317) takes you towards Northern areas in Tibet. The highlights of this road are Garze, Dege, Qamdo, and Nagqu. You can also make a short detour to visit Namtso Lake near Damxung before you reach Lhasa.

Chengdu to Lhasa via G317 – Norther Route

The journey along the Sichuan Tibet Highway goes for over 2000km and takes you through magnificent landscapes of Eastern Tibet. 

The starting point is Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. From there, you will travel to the Eastern border of the Tibetan plateau. It is the Tibetan area known as Kham. Tibetans here speak a dialect so different from the dialect in Lhasa, that Tibetans have a hard time understanding each other. 

The scenery of Kham is very impressive, with magnificent mountain ranges and glaciers. You will also see remote areas with very few tourists. You can witness the traditional way of life of local Tibetans.

Once you reach Lhasa, you can continue your overland journey to Nepal following the G318 highway route.

CHENGDU TO LHASA BY BUS

At this moment foreign travelers have to travel with a guide in a tourist car when visiting Tibet Autonomous Region. If you want to travel by bus, you can do it part of the way. For example, you can travel from Chengdu to Litang and start your guided tour further from there.

WHERE TO STAY IN CHENGDU

Tianfu Square in Chengdu
Tianfu Square in Chengdu

The central part of Chengdu is around Tianfu Square (Chinese: 天府广场). This area is the most popular among tourists. You will be close to many attraction sites, various transportation options, restaurants, and shopping centers.

You can find good accommodation options, from hostels to 5-star hotels. If you walk towards the shopping center at Chunxi Road. This pedestrian street offers a fabulous shopping and dining experience.

If you are making a short transfer on the way from Chengdu to Lhasa, we can deliver your Tibet Travel permit directly to the airport. For an overnight stay, we can recommend a hotel near the airport with pick-up and drop-off transportation service.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN CHENGDU

Giant Panda Breeding Center

GIANT PANDA RESEARCH AND BREEDING CENTER

There are 2 breeding centers near Chengdu. One is located in the city, another one is in Dujiyangyan, about 40 minutes away by the speed train. While the first one is more convenient to reach if you are short on time, the second one is larger and offers more attractions.

If you are visiting the center in Dujiyangyan, we recommend contacting them in advance. They have daily volunteer opportunities where you can learn more about Pandas and feed them. You can also take a photo with a baby panda.

The facility provides a natural breeding environment for Pandas to preserve them. The environment of the center: plants, bushes, and bamboo trees are imitating pandas’ natural habitat.

Temple in Wenshu Monastery in Chengdu

WENSHU MONASTERY

Name in Chinese: 文殊院
Address: No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu

Wenshu Monastery is the best-preserved and most important Buddhist monastery in Chengdu. It is famous due to the legend of Cidu, a Buddhist monk who built a hut and lived in the temple as an ascet. The legend says that when Cidu was cremated Bodhisattva of Manjushri (Wenshu in Chinese) appeared in the smoke of a fire. That’s why the temple was built in that place. 

Wenshu has a great collection of calligraphic work. You can visit temples inside the complex and enjoy a peaceful stroll in the park.

There is a lovely tea house in a park inside the complex and a vegetarian restaurant where you can take a break.

Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan

LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA

Name in Chinese: 乐山大佛

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a giant (73 meters tall) Buddha statue carved from a rock. It is the largest Buddha stone sculpture. Leshan Buddha is about 1,300 years old. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. On the mountain, you can visit several temples. One of the best views is from the river below the statue. multiple boats can take you on a short cruise to enjoy the sights. If you have an extra day, combine a visit to Leshan with traveling to Emeishan. The spectacular view of the Buddha statue on top of Emei Mountain is well worth the visit. 

To visit Leshan you can take a bus or a bullet train from Chengdu.  

Buddha statue on Emeishan peak

EMEISHAN

Name in Chinese: 峨眉山

Mount Emei is one of the four sacred mountains for Buddhists in China. There is a magnificent Buddha statue at the peak of the mountain. Several beautiful temples are on the mountain slope, from the bottom to the top. Mount Emei is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

You will need at least 2 days to visit Mount Emei from Chengdu, and three days if you want to trek to the top. The best time to visit is during winter when the weather is clear. You can see the Buddha statue at the top and the sea of clouds below the mountain peak. 

If you are short on time, take a bus from the bottom of the mountain and then change to a cable car. From there, it will be about 30 minutes of walking up the stairs to the top. After visiting, return the same way. 

If you wish to visit the entire mountain, you can start at the bottom and follow the stairs. On the way, you can visit beautiful temples and see great landscapes. Beware of the slippery stairs during cold months. 

There are many nice hotels at the bottom of the mountain, along with restaurants and souvenir stalls. If you want to spend a night at the top of the mountain, there is one good hotel that we recommend booking in advance. Spending a night at the peak is well worth it as you will see both sunset and sunrise at the mountain. 

You can reach Emeishan by bus from Chengdu or combine your visit with traveling to Leshan Giant Buddha.

WUHOU TEMPLE

Name in Chinese:  武侯祠
Address: No.231 Wuhou Temple Street, Chengdu 610041, China

Wuhou Temple or another name is the Temple of Marquis,  is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, a famous politician and military person. The complex will be of lesser importance compared to other sites in Chengdu. There are several shrines, a mausoleum, and a small bonsai garden. It is worth visiting only if you combine it with other activities nearby. One of the most interesting places located right next to it is Jinli Street. The pedestrian street offers a wide variety of Sichuan food. 

Another option is to cross the street to visit the Tibetan area. There are many Tibetan restaurants, street sellers with various souvenirs, and Tibetan stores selling religious items.

Zhaojue Buddhist Temple in Chengdu

ZHAOJUE TEMPLE

Name in Chinese: 昭觉寺
Address: No.333 Zhaoqing Road, Chenghua District, Chengdu 610057, China

Zhaojue is a Buddhist Temple located in the Northern part of Chengdu. There is a Chengdu Zoo on the side of the complex. The first building of the Temple was built in the Tang dynasty, although the complex was many times rebuilt afterward. Zhaojue Temple played an important role in the exchange of teachings between Chinese and Tibetan monks. Some structures inside the temple were built specifically for Tibetan monks who came to teach in the temple. You can see traditional Tibetan prayer flags around this area.

The complex is large with many interesting temples. You can spend an entire day visiting the complex and the adjacent zoo. It is very peaceful, not too crowded. Inside you will find a vegetarian restaurant. You can also relax in a park or by a small pond. 

Qingyang Palace or Green Ram Temple in Chengdu

QINGYANG PALACE

Address: Sec.2 Western First Circle Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610072, China

Taoist temple is located in the People’s Park (on the opposite side of the park from the Opera House).  The temple is also called the Green Ram Temple. It is not a very large complex. There are some shrines and a large teahouse in the park at the back of the complex.

It is not very touristy, but an interesting historical and cultural place.

Jinli street in Chengdu

JINLI STREET

Name in Chinese:  锦里古街
Address: No.231 Wuhouci Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu 610041, China

The entrance to Jinli Street is to the East of Wuhou Temple. 

The small area around Jinli Street is densely packed with street sellers and restaurants offering delicious and fresh Sichuan food. The street is lined with buildings in the style of the traditional architecture of Chengdu. You can spend a couple of hours walking down the street, trying some snacks, shopping in small souvenir stalls, or relaxing with a cup of tea or in one of the bars. Jinli Street looks especially beautiful in the evening. There is a small stage in the middle of the street. If you are lucky, you can see various types of performances on the stage, such as traditional music, dance, or drama show. 

Chengdu Opera Performance

SICHUAN OPERA

The most famous opera house is Shu Feng Ya Yun in People’s Park.

Sichuan opera performance is very popular. If you are looking for some evening activities, it is a good choice. The Opera House is located in People’s Park. Depending on the selected ticket, you will get snacks and tea or dinner while watching the show. The opera performance consists of several different parts: comedy show, fire show, performance with changing masks, etc. There is no English translation, and some acts might be less interesting, but you will certainly enjoy the bright show.

It is a good way to experience culture and rest after daily activities.

DUJIYANGYAN IRRIGATION SYSTEM

Dujiyangyan Irrigation System is extremely important for farming and draining floodwater. The system was completed over 2,000 years ago. It makes it the oldest no-dam working irrigation system in the world. The cable bridge over the Minjiang River is the most beautiful place in the area.  There are several nice temples in the area.

To visit Dujiyangyan from Chengdu, take a bus or a bullet train from Chengdu. 

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