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How to Travel from Chengdu to Lhasa: by Train, Flight or Road?

Last Update: September 22, 2023

Chengdu is one of the most popular gateways to Tibet due to its close proximity to the plateau. It offers a greater number of flights to Lhasa than any other airport in China, making it the most popular departure location for those traveling to Tibet by air. Additionally, the train journey from Chengdu to Lhasa is relatively shorter. And if you are traveling by road, Chengdu is the start of the new major highway into the plateau region. So whichever style of travel suits you, Chengdu can oblige.

Chengdu to Lhasa by Train: the Best Way to Adjust to High Altitude

Of the seven train routes from the mainland of China, Chengdu is one of the most popular gateways to Tibet and the third shortest too.

Chengdu to Lhasa Train Schedule

Air-conditioned with pressurized cabins, an oxygen supply system, and UV filters on the windows, the train from Chengdu to Lhasa runs every other day. In this year, it departs on even days in February, March, June, July, September, and October, and on odd days in January, April, May, August, November, and December.

Chengdu to Lhasa trainChengdu to Lhasa train departs every other day.

Covering a distance of about 3,000 kilometers, the train journey to Lhasa takes around 35 hours. It transports you from an elevation of 485 meters above sea level (ASL) in Chengdu to 3,650 meters ASL in Lhasa. Fortunately, after passing Golmud (2780m), the train will offer the oxygen supply throughout the cabin for added comfort.

During the peak season, it can be hard to get a Tibet train ticket owing to the huge demand. So if you are having any trouble, we can help secure your tickets for you, making your planning of the trip even easier.

Chengdu Lhasa Train Timetable

Train No.Train RouteDep./Arr.Duration
Z322 Chengdu/Lhasa 21:37/7:42 34:29hrs
Z324 Lhasa/Chengdu 19:00/7:03 36:03hrs

Benefits of Taking the Chengdu to Lhasa Train

One of the main advantages of taking the train from Chengdu to Lhasa is the breathtaking landscape you will encounter during your journey. Traveling across the plateau to Lhasa by train allows you to appreciate the remarkable natural wonders along the renowned Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Furthermore, the train offers excellent onboard amenities, making it a comfortable way to travel. Each train has a separate dining car where plenty of food and drinks are available. Soft and cozy sleeper berths ensure a restful night on board. The Western and Asian style toilets are clean and well-maintained. Additionally, trained doctors and nurses are present in the train to handle any medical emergencies that may arise.

Toilets on Tibet TrainToilets on the Tibet train from Chengdu to Lhasa

Moreover, traveling by train provides a better acclimatization experience compared to flying, as the altitude change is gradual and allows your body to adjust more effectively. Oxygen tanks are available on the train for those in need. Once you pass through Golmud and ascend to the plateau level, the oxygen supply kicks in, assisting in acclimatizing you to the thinner air of Tibet.

Top Attractions along the Chengdu to Lhasa Train Route

After the train passes Xining, you will see some of the prettiest and most eye-pleasing scenery in the world. Here are some of the attractions you will see along the way.

Qinghai Lake: At an elevation of 3, 200m, Qinghai is the largest island saltwater lake in China. The beauty is even more amplified during the seasons of summer and autumn. This lake is also one of the favorites among photographers to capture the sunrise along the horizon.

Cha’erhan Salt Lake: The distinctive smell of salt in the area of the Cha’erhan Salt Lake gave it the name ‘a world of salt.’ It is also popular for its mirror like reflective water surface. In this region you can see a lot of nomads and local tents.

Cha’erhan Salt LakeCha’erhan Salt Lake along Tibet train journey

Kunlun Mountains: Kunlun Mountains are the snow-capped beauties of China, at an altitude of 5000- 6000m. They are covered in snow all around the year and cold even during months of summer. You will see a sudden shift in scenery and temperature when you go through this area.

Hoh Xil: Being the largest depopulated area in China and the third largest in the world, Hoh Xil (or Kekexilli) has an average elevation of 4, 000m. The harsh climate changes and thin air made it inhabitable to man but a haven to the animals. Some of the wildlife that inhabits there are Tibetan antelopes, wild donkeys, snow pheasants, wild yaks, snow leopards, black-necked cranes, and white-lip deer.

Tibetan antelopes in Hoh XilTibetan antelopes in Hoh Xil

Chengdu to Lhasa by Flight: The Fastest Way to Minimize Travel Time

Chengdu to Lhasa Flight Schedule

There are more than ten direct flights from Chengdu to Lhasa every day. The flight leaves from early morning to late night from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport or Chengdu Tianfu International Airport and will take only about 2 hours to get to Lhasa.

In spite of the number of flights, during the peak season, the flights are almost always booked. So, it is better to make your reservation in advance.

Chengdu Lhasa Flight Schedule

Chengdu Airlines Chengdu/Lhasa 6:25-8:55
2h 20m - 2h 30m
Tibet Airlines Chengdu/Lhasa 6:15-8:25
2h 10m - 2h 25m
Sichuan Airlines Chengdu/Lhasa 7:30-9:45
2h 15m - 2h 30m
Air China Chengdu/Lhasa 6:15-8:30
2h 15m - 2h 30m
China Eastern Chengdu/Lhasa 7:00-9:30
2h 15m - 2h 30m
Lhasa Gongga AirportTourists arrive at Lhasa Gongga Airport.

Advantages of Taking the Chengdu to Lhasa Flight

With more flights to Lhasa than any other airport in mainland China, flying from Chengdu not only makes it easier and quicker to reach your destination, but you also have the advantage of greater availability of direct flights, making ticket booking more convenient. Additionally, with a shorter travel time of around two and a half hours, you can quickly arrive in Lhasa.

Tips for Booking Budget Chengdu to Lhasa Flights

If you are planning to fly from Chengdu to Lhasa, it is advisable to book your flights in advance to have a wider range of options to choose from. It is also recommended to compare prices from different airlines, as some may offer more affordable fares than others. Conducting a thorough comparison search will increase your chances of finding the best and most cost-effective flight to Tibet.

Chengdu to Lhasa by Road: the Most Adventurous Way to Enjoy Breathtaking Scenery

Sichuan-Tibet Highway is one of the six highways to Tibet. This highway is divided into two routes: the northern route and the southern route. Both start in Chengdu and end in Lhasa. This route is known to be one of the hardest and most scenic road trips in the world.

Chengdu to Lhasa Overland via South Route (G318 Highway)

The Sichuan-Tibet highway southern route begins in Chengdu and terminates in Lhasa and is praised as the most beautiful road to Tibet. There are picturesque landscapes along the way, including magnificent canyons, expansive grasslands, etc. It is a golden route for travelers and photographers to enter Tibet.

G318 HighwayBeautiful scenery along G318 Highway from Chengdu to Lhasa

Traversing 2,149 kilometers, the Southern Route takes you through such scenic wonders as Mugecuo Lake, one of the biggest highland lakes in China; Hailuogou, a unique glacier park and one of the core scenic spots in the Gongga Mountain area; Maoya grasslands, a huge grassland surrounded by mountains; the Midui Glaciers on Bomi County; the Lulang forest, with its many kinds of rare plants; not to mention the Nyang River, Mila Mountain Pass, and many other wonders.

Chengdu to Lhasa Overland via North Route

The Northern Route is the longest part of this highway, and is a more roundabout route, taking around two weeks to traverse. It is also the best route for exploring more of the Kham Tibetan culture, and covers a distance of around 2, 293km.

Along the way, you have the Wolong National Natural Reserve in the Qionglai Mountains region with its golden monkeys, white-lipped deer and more than 150 rare pandas. You will pass close by Mt. Siguniang, which literally means “four pretty girls”, and can see the Danba ancient block towers, built by the Qiang people and cast in iron.

You will also pass close by the Huiyuan Monastery in Bamei; Yulong La-tso Lake near Dage; Namtso Lake, renowned for its beauty and sacredness; and many more.

Namtso LakeHoly and scenic Namtso Lake

Tips for a Safe and Smooth Road Trip from Chengdu to Lhasa

It is common to get stuck in case of heavy rainfall on this route. So it is recommended to carefully choose the timing of your road travel.

The best time to take the road trip from Chengdu to Lhasa is in May, June, September, October, and November. These months offer warmer weather before the onset of heavy rains or once the rains have subsided.

To ensure a smooth journey, it is advisable to acclimatize properly by resting and adjusting to the altitude every 1,000 feet or every other day. Do not forget to buy some oxygen tanks; you might need them in places with higher altitudes.

Although you can find enough food and restaurants along the way, it is best to pack some food with you in case they are closed or you don’t find the food you want. Carry warm clothing as it is generally cold and gets even colder at night. Sometimes they are really cold, thermal wear and just jerkins will not do. Add more layers to your clothing to stay warmer.

If you are looking to make the most of your journey to Lhasa, we invite you to explore our classic overland tour from Chengdu to Lhasa, offering a comprehensive and memorable experience.

Required Documents for Travelling from Chengdu to Lhasa

Before you can even get on the train or flight to Lhasa, you will need to make sure you have all the required documents for your trip. The primary document you will need is your Chinese Visa, which can be obtained by applying at any Chinese Embassy or Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC).

The Tibet Travel Permit is the most vital document required for your trip, and it is applied for using your China Visa and passport. Since individual application of the permit is not allowed, we will help you to obtain it on your behalf. The processing time for the permit typically ranges from 15 to 20 days, so it is highly recommended to book your trip with us in advance to allow for sufficient processing time.


With several ways to reach Lhasa from Chengdu, you can be confident that there is an option that best suits your needs and requirements. Flying is the fastest option, while taking the train may be much cheaper. If you have ample time and wish to make stops for photography and scenic views, traveling overland from Chengdu to Tibet would be a great choice. If you have any further questions about traveling from Chengdu to Lhasa, please feel free to contact us.

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