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Tibet Train Facts & FAQs

Here below are some questions that we are frequently asked by our tourists about Tibet train travel. Whereas, if you don’t find the answers you are looking for, please just feel free to let us know, and our trip advisors will get back to you as soon as possible.

Is it difficult to arrange/get train tickets to Lhasa?

The popularity of train travel to Tibet has resulted in the huge demand for train tickets among visitors. It’s very difficult for individual travelers to get a ticket on their own. Reliable travel agencies cannot guarantee successful booking during the high season. If your schedule allows you, it is a little easier to fly to Lhasa and then take the train leaving Lhasa. Train tickets departing Lhasa are still difficult to get, but not as difficult as going to Lhasa.

Where can I take a train to Lhasa?

Trains to Lhasa originate in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou and Xining. Xi’an is one popular choice for tourists; however, there are actually no trains to Lhasa that originate in Xi’an. The trains from Xi’an to Lhasa actually originate in the mega cities of Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou. They just pass through Xi’an. The railway station does keep a select number of tickets to Lhasa for travelers in Xi’an, but the number of tickets is relatively small. By the time the train to Lhasa reaches Xi’an or any other smaller Chinese city, the train has passed through hundreds of millions of people and there are few tickets remaining. It is best to take the train to Lhasa from a city in which the train originates.

Which city do you recommend taking the train from?

We recommend taking the train from Xining for 2 main reasons. Xining, capital of Qinghai province and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau, is the actual starting point of the Tibetan Railway. It lies at an elevation of 2275m and is a good place to spend a couple of nights at in order to acclimatize to the higher elevation of Lhasa. Spending a couple of nights in Xining will reduce (but NOT eliminate) the chances of getting serious altitude sickness. Another reason why we recommend taking the train to Lhasa from Xining is that it is generally easier to get train tickets in Xining. Unlike the other cities that have trains originating to Lhasa, Xining is a small city by Chinese standards. The smaller population means that fewer people are trying to get tickets on the coveted Lhasa Train. It can still be difficult to get train tickets to Lhasa from Xining during the peak high season, but not as difficult as Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai or any other larger city.

What documents are required for riding the train to Lhasa?

Tibet travel permit issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau is a must for foreigners entering Tibet. The permit copy is fine for you to board on the train nowadays. You are suggested to take at least 3 copies, just in case, they will keep the copy at the check points. (The requirements can be changed frequently at a certain time, so do ask the agency the latest one when you are coming.) Besides, passport is also a must document for your Tibet train tour. You are required to present them when boarding the train to Lhasa. So do forget to have a good preparation of the documents. Any carelessness will spoil your train trip to Lhasa.

Do the trains to Lhasa depart daily?

At present, there are daily trains to Lhasa from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Xining. The trains from Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou depart every other day.

How long it takes for the train ride to Lhasa?

It takes more than 44 hours from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou to Lhasa by train, and you’ll have 2 overnights on the train. If you take the train from Xining, it takes only around 24 hours with 1 overnight on the train, which makes Xining one of the most popular starting points to Lhasa. For details of the train schedule, please check more on our train info.

Is there private bath room on the train to Lhasa?

There is no private bath room no matter which cabin you take (soft sleeper or hard sleeper), that means dozens of passengers will share them. And there is no toilet paper provided there, no place to shower. The only thing might comfort you is the 24-hour hot water (for drinking) supply on the train.

Is there internet access on the Train?

There is no internet access on the train.