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How to Get to Lhasa from Shanghai

April 28, 2017 / By Tashi Namgyal

Shanghai, the name alone evokes so many feelings, senses, and thoughts. It is one of the few cities that has and can offer everything. There is something to see, explore, and enjoy for all kinds of people irrespective of age. There is glitz, glamour, culture, spirituality, rich cuisine, adventure, mind blowing architecture, lovely backstreets, and so much more. Lhasa on the other hand located on the other side of the country is a stark contrast from Shanghai. If Shanghai made your necks crane at high rises and sky scrapers, Lhasa makes your necks crane at snow-capped mountains and valleys. Travelling to Lhasa has been often dubbed as soul cleansing, spiritual, rejuvenating and such. And travelling by train is a very popular mode of transport among the tourists as the Qinghai- Tibet railway is the highest railway and journey to the ‘land of snows’ has never been more magical.

BY TRAIN:

Shanghai Lhasa Train has pressurized cabins, oxygen supply for shortness of breath that may occur due to shift in altitude, and UV filters in the windows. The whole train is air conditioned.

Basic information about Shanghai Lhasa Train

Total distanceDurationFrequency
4373km 47hrs 35min Everyday

Shanghai Lhasa Train Ticket Fare

Hard seaterHard sleeperSoft sleeper
CNY 402.5 CNY 793.5 CNY 1,262.5

*Market prices of Tibet train tickets are subject to change according to the travel date and season. Due to limited supply of tickets it is better to book 3- 6 months in advance, especially during peak season. It is better and easier to book through a legit travel agency.

Shanghai Lhasa Train Schedule

Train no.FromToDep./ Arr.DistanceStopsDuration
Z164 Shanghai Lhasa 20: 10/ 19:44 (third day) 4, 373km 13 47hrs 35mins

Altitude Change in Different Stops

StationAltitudeStop time
Shanghai 16m ---
Suzhou 5m 3min
Wuxi 16m ---
Nanjing 13m 9min
Bengbu 25m 3min
Xuzhou 36m 11min
Zhengzhou 108m 7min
Xian 385m 10min
Lanzhou 1520m 15min
Xining 2200m 20min
Golmud 2780m 25min
Nagchu 4500m 18min
Lhasa 3650m ---

Attractions along Qinghai Tibet Railway:

Till Xian the train goes amidst the central China, along the flat scrubby plains if Shaanxi, the grass is withered, trees lifeless and just lines and lines of buildings. Once it reaches Xian the landscape changes. From here be ready for a whirlwind of a ride and sceneries, going through tunnels, mountains, lakes, ice mass, streams, and vast fields. Here are some of the amazing sceneries you will see on the second and third day of the travel by Shanghai Tibet train.

Shanghai Tibet trainShanghai Tibet train

1) Jinyintan Prairie:

The elevation starts increasing steadily at around this point. Jinyintan Prairie runs west if Xining and covers a zone of 110 square kilometres. This is one of the first areas in the journey where you will notice that there is scarce population and abundant vegetation. The land is covered with lavish green grasses with little blossomed heads peeking out; this is what you can see as far as your eye can go.

Jinyintan PrairieJinyintan Prairie

2) Qinghai Lake:

Qinghai Lake, the biggest inland saltwater lake in China lies to the west of Jinyintan Prairie. The Cole blossoms, the reflective waters, the bluest of the blue clouds, and the inaccessible majestic snow mountains all add charm and beauty to the lake. The rail goes across the northern banks of the lake. In winter the view is of the sorts that would inspire writers and painters.

Qinghai LakeQinghai Lake

3) Qarhan Salt Lake:

The view following Qinghai Lake is as breath-taking as Qinghai Lake. The ‘Long salt bridge’ is the highlight of this lake. It is a 32km long bridge formed entirely out of salt over the lake. Interestingly, the rail bed in this area is made of many different salt gems.

Qarhan Salt LakeQarhan Salt Lake

4) Kunlun Mountains:

After a brief stop at Golmud where they load food, the train will start its journey to go to the belly of the Kunlun Mountains. You will be able to see Mt. Yuzhu, from your windows, which is 6,178m above sea level. This part of the journey also takes you through much acclaimed Kunlun mountains tunnel which is known as the world’s longest permafrost tunnel. As speed right through the tunnel you will get a peak of local Tibetan life. You will spot stone structures, shrines, prayer flags etc.

Kunlun MountainsKunlun Mountains

5) Tanggula Mountains:

Tanggula station is the worlds most elevated train station. It is one of the undeniable beauties in the course of the travel. If not the previous attractions, this view will definitely get your cameras snapping. Looking towards the west of the station you can find these mountains towering at a height of 5,068m.

Tanggula MountainsTanggula Mountains

6) Nakchu:

Next part of the journey is out of the Tanggula Mountains and into the Qiangtang pasture. Moving forward from the station here you will see this pasture which famous among the tourists for the extraordinary horses that are held during the month of August.

Nakque horse racing festivalNakque horse racing festival

7) Cuona Lake:

The next camera snapping moment would be the Cuona Lake. The still motionless lake shore will be just 50 feet from the rail track. This lake covers an area of 400 square kilometres and is known as the highest freshwater lake in the world. This lake attracts cranes, mandarin ducks, swans, and other wild animals. With the fishes jumping freely, the grasslands, the mountains for the background, this place looks like a scene right out of an animated film.

Cuona LakeCuona Lake

8) Nyainqentanglha Mountains:

The last and final mountain ranges in this journey. You will spot a giant prayer flag for worshipping the Mountain God. When and if it is sunny during your journey, you will be able to see past the misty atmosphere and witness Nyainqentanglha Mountains in all its glory, where it towers even beyond the clouds.

Nyainqentanglha MountainsNyainqentanglha Mountains

9) Dagze County:

Next is the Dagze County, where the train will go through a valley. The altitude gets steeper and civilisations starts creeping back in slowly. As the valley widen further you will find yourself entering Lhasa on the third day of your travel.

Dagze CountyDagze County

BY FLIGHT+TRAIN:

If 3 days is too long for you handle train, you can travel from Shanghai to Xining by flight and then take the train to Lhasa from Xining. After all, from Xining is where the real scenic beauty starts.

SHANGHAI TO XINING FLIGHT:

AirlineDepartureStopoverArrivalTimingsDuration
China Eastern
Airlines
Shanghai
PVG
------ Xining
XNN
19:30 to 22: 55 3h 25m(approx.)
Juneyao
Airlines
Shanghai
PVG
Zhengzhou (1h 10m) Xining
XNN
7:20 to 12:30 5h 10m(approx.)

XINING TO LHASA TRAIN:

Total distanceDurationFrequency
1972km 22hr approx. Everyday

Xining Lhasa Train Ticket Fare

Hard seaterHard sleeperSoft sleeper
CNY CNY 224 CNY 495 CNY 781

Xining Lhasa Train Schedule

Train no.FromToDep./ Arr.DistanceStopsDuration
Z6801 Xining Lhasa 14: 05/ 12:00 (next day) 1, 972km 7 22hrs (approx.)

BY FLIGHT:

You can go only by flight to Lhasa without any train journey involved, but that is not recommended due to sudden altitude changes. In train, the altitude change is slower and there is at least a little time of acclimatization. There are not many direct flights. Most of the flights go through a layover at Chengdu. There are more than 130 flights with 1 stop and 2 stops. Here are some of the 1 stop flight schedules.

AirlineDepartureStopoverArrivalTimingsDuration
Shenzen Airlines and Air China Shanghai
PVG
Chengdu(6hrs) Lhasa
LXA
21:00 to 8:50 (next day) 13h 50m(approx.)
China Eastern Air Shanghai
PVG
----- Lhasa
LXA
6:45 to 14:40 10h(approx.)
Air China Shanghai
PVG
Chengdu(1hr 45mins) Lhasa
LXA
7:40 to 15:05 9h 25m(approx.)
Sichuan Airlines Shanghai
PVG
Chengdu(7hrs) Lhasa
LXA
19:40 to 8:30 14h 50m(approx.)

Whatever your itinerary will be, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time in Tibet, and your tour guide will ensure you get the best trip of your life.

Tashi Namgyal

Tashi Namgyal

Born in Lhasa, I am working at Tibettour.org as a travel expert now. With many years’ experience of travel guide in Tibet, I could be your local travel expert to help you arrange your trip to Tibet.

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