You are here: Home » Plan Trip to Tibet » How to get to Tibet » Trains to Tibet


Train on a Railway in Tibet
Train on the way to Tibet

The railroad to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet was completed in 2001. It became the highest railroad in the world going over the passes at above 5,000 meters. The section of a railroad connecting China and Lhasa was further extended to Shigatse in 2014.

The train to Tibet starts climbing above 2000 meters after Xining, the capital of Qinghai province. And the highest and most interesting part of the railroad begins shortly after trains are passing Golmud. If you are taking the train to Tibet to see the Northern Tibet, it is better to book a train arriving in Lhasa in the evening. In that way, you can spend most of the daytime enjoying spectacular views of the Tibetan plateau.

All Tibet trains are high-speed trains, however, they are covering such a large distance, that a trip from most cities will take you at least 30 hours. You will be rewarded with splendid views on the Tibetan far Eastern and Northern territories.


Xining train platform train departing to Lhasa
Train station platform, train from Xining to Lhasa

Trains to Tibet go over several high passes, there is a system pumping supplemental oxygen on all trains going to Tibet. When you are traveling at 5000 meters, the oxygen level on a train raised to a level approximately equivalent to 3000 meters. Even with the supplemental oxygen, some might experience mild effects of altitude sickness. To compensate for a lack of oxygen, there are individual oxygen outlets in each berth on a train. Train crew can provide you special tubes to connect to these oxygen outlets.

Traveling through high altitude areas might help to acclimatize to Lhasa altitude (3,650 meters). Although you don’t spend enough time on a train to fully acclimatize, it is certainly better than flying directly to Lhasa.


Beijing40 hours3757Every Day
Shanghai47 hours4373Every Day
Xian31 hours2864Every Day
Chengdu36 hours3070Every Other Day
Chongqing36 hours3030Every Other Day
Guangzhou53 hours4980Every Day
Xining21 hours1972Several Times Every Day
Lanzhou24 hours2188Several Times Every Day

Note: trains from Xian to Lhasa don’t actually originate in Xian. You will be boarding the train coming from either Shanghai (Z165) or Guangzhou (Z265).



Soft sleeper or first class is the most comfortable option on a train to Tibet. It is a compartment with the door that locks with 4 sleeping berths: 2 on the lower level and two on the upper level with small stair leading to it. The beds are narrow, but they are soft and come with bedding. Upper beds might be priced cheaper than lower ones. There are power plugs and you can charge all your devices. 

Inside the train going to Lhasa
Hard sleeper car


The budget option. It is a compartment with 6 berths in each. There is no door. It is generally 30% cheaper than soft sleeper berth. On the contrary to the name, the beds are not really hard,

Since there are no doors, there is very little privacy. And as there are 6 beds per each berth, there and more people using bathrooms. It is a great budget option, but be prepared.


There are cars with hard seat option. The seats are not really hard. Although we advise you to book the hard seat only if you are traveling on a short distance, for example from Golmud to Lhasa or from Lhasa to Shigatse.


Train on Qinghai Tibet Railway views in the Plateau
Train on Qinghai Tibet Railroad

The booking of train tickets begins 30 days before the departure date. During the peak season, trains to Tibet sell out fast and it might be difficult to get a ticket. We highly recommend to plan it in advance and book your tickets as early as possible.

There are usually only two cars with soft sleeper beds, and if you are interested in it, book as soon as you can. The hard sleeper beds are easier to secure.

Hard seat option is the least popular, especially on the longer routes. Sometimes, during the peak season, you can only buy the hard seat ticket. On the positive side, many Tibetans prefer traveling in the hard seat cart, and it could be a great experience.

You can purchase tickets through the travel agency. If you book your tour with us, we can book tickets for you at no additional cost.


Train running on Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway

There is hot water in every car. We recommend bringing your own thermos or stainless steel water bottles because water is too hot for most of the plastic bottles. If you want cold water, you can buy it in advance or cool down the water to the room temperature.

Every train has a dining car. It offers 3 meals a day, but its only Chinese food and Chinese menu. In addition, a person with a cart is walking through all train cars offering hot boxed meals (usually CNY25).

Most of the tourists prefer bringing their own food and snacks. You can also prepare instant cup noodles using the hot water.



Tibet reopening for travelers 2023


TIBET TRAVEL UPDATE FOR FOREIGN VISITORS – MARCH 2023 Tibetan tourism bureau announced that starting from March 15, 2023, we can apply for Tibet Travel Permits and visitors can start planning their tours from April 1st. At this moment only foreign travelers living in China can visit Tibet. We expect tourism to reopen for all…
Meditation Places in Tibet

The Best Meditation Places in Tibet

In this article, we explore the best meditation places in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhist monks have been practicing meditation for centuries. Meditation is an essential part of studying Tibetan Buddhism. At the same time, it is also beneficial for anyone. No wonder meditation is becoming increasingly more popular as people experience it’s positive effects on everyday…
Stupas of The Dira Puk Monastery by the Kailash Mountain in Tibet

Prepare to Visit Mount Kailash – Complete Guide

PREPARE FOR MOUNT KAILASH TOUR In this article we will cover everything you need to know to prepare for Mount Kailash trek, known as kora in Buddhism and yatra/parikrama in Hinduism. You will find information about required documents, when is the best time to visit, how to travel to Mount Kailash from Tibet, Nepal and…
Northern ascent to Mount Everest in Tibet

Mount Everest is Closed for Spring 2020 Climbing Season

UPDATE: Nepal will reopen Himalayan Mountains including Everest for Fall season in 2020. On July 30th Nepal started issuing climbing permits. Tibetan side remains closed for all foreign climbers. In 2021 only domestic tourists were visiting Everest from Tibetan side. We post all updates in travel regulations on Tibet side in the following article: With…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *