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How to Take a High-Speed Train to Tibet: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Update: March 27, 2024

High-speed trains have transformed transportation in China. With trains traveling over 300km/h in some places, visiting neighboring cities has become something that can be done as an intraday trip.

High-speed rail also makes traveling to remote locations more accessible. Travelers are looking forward to the day when they can travel to Tibet faster, in greater comfort, and with low environmental impact. That day isn't here yet, but check out this comprehensive guide to find out how to take a high-speed train to Tibet right now.

Can I Take a High-speed Train to Tibet? No Direct Route

Unfortunately, there is no way to take a high-speed train all the way to Lhasa from cities in Mainland China. A line that will run from Chengdu to Lhasa is currently under construction, with two segments already completed. The final segment is expected to be done by 2030.

In the meantime, enjoying the high-speed train part of the way to Tibet is already possible. The mainland gateway cities to Tibet are all connected to the rest of the country by high-speed rail. No matter where you arrive in China, you can take the fast train to somewhere with a direct rail link to Lhasa. Cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, and Xining are convenient for setting out for Tibet and offer distinct tour features for travelers.

High-Speed Train to Tibet via Xi'an: Most Train Choices Available

Xi'an, in Shaanxi Province of central China, is one of the most amazing cities in China and was once the ancient Imperial Capital of the Qin Empire. Massively convenient for both flights and train routes to Tibet, this ancient city is just a short high-speed train ride from many of this vast nation's major inbound flight hubs. Not only can you take a shorter trip from Beijing, Shanghai, or Chengdu to this ancient capital, but this amazing city is well worth visiting, with a wealth of unimaginably fascinating tourist attractions to keep you busy.

Step 1: High-speed train to Xi'an from Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu

High-speed trains, traveling at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, are the fastest way to travel overland in China. To get to Xi'an, the best options are traveling from Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.

Beijing to Xi’an High Speed TrainTaking the high speed train from Beijing to Xian is highly recommended.

The high-speed trains from Beijing to Xi'an can cover a distance of around 1,216 kilometers in as little as 4 to 6 hours, with five major stops along the route. There are currently more than a dozen high-speed trains every day along this route. The trains start running at 6:39 am, and the last train leaves at around 7:00 pm daily. Prices range from as little as 72 dollars for the second-class seats to as much as 228 dollars for the business class.

The high-speed trains from Shanghai to Xi'an cover an amazing distance of 1,509 kilometers in as little as 6 to 9 hours, depending on the train. Around 20 high-speed trains run the route to Xi'an from Shanghai, with the first trains departing at 6:10 am and the last at around 5:11 pm daily. Fares can cost as little as 94 dollars for 2nd-class seats, with business-class seats costing 303 dollars each.

There are currently around 26 high-speed trains running the route from Chengdu to Xi'an daily, and many of these trains can cross the 658km distance in just over three hours. Starting as early as 6:55 am, the last train departs at around 7:35 pm daily, with times ranging from 3 hours 11 minutes to 4 hours 34 minutes. The trains are relatively cheap, too, with second-class tickets costing around 37 dollars per person and business class costing around 111 dollars each.

Step 2: Xi'an to Lhasa by Train or Flight

From Xi'an, you have the option of flying to Lhasa on one of ten daily direct flights to the plateau capital or by train on the superb Tibet Trains. Flights run from the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport and take around 3 hours to reach the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport. For an economic class seat, flights from Xi'an to Lhasa cost as low as 170 US dollars per person.

Get to Lhasa from Xi’an by FlightFrom Xi'an, you can take a flight to Lhasa.

The trains to Lhasa from Xi'an depart two to three times per day. There are two daily trains that actually originate from Shanghai or Guangzhou and make a stop at Xi’an Railway Station. Another train, Z917, runs directly from Xi’an to Lhasa but departs every other day. Tickets for the trains to Lhasa from Xi'an cost around 40 dollars to as much as 135 dollars per person for the 31-hour train journey.

High-Speed Train to Tibet via Xining: the Starting Point of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Another great option for those traveling from Beijing or Shanghai to Lhasa is to take the high-speed train to Xining and join the Tibet Trains there. The trains from Xining to Lhasa are the shortest journey times of all the trains to Tibet and make an incredible experience of traveling to the Tibetan plateau.

Step 1: High-speed Train to Xining from Beijing or Shanghai

In 2023, direct high-speed rail links from Shanghai or Beijing to Xining were opened, cutting down travel times to the start of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The high-speed train from Shanghai to Xining leaves every day at 6:32 am for the 12 hours and 20 minutes journey to Xining. Tickets start from 140 dollars for a second-class ticket and range up to 434 dollars for business class.

Spectacular Qinghai-Tibet RailwayThe trains to Tibet traverse mountain passes on the plateau.

The trip is a little faster from Beijing. Traveling to Xining by high-speed rail takes 10 hours and 14 minutes. The train departs every day at 8:13 am. Second-class tickets cost 117 dollars, and business class costs 360 dollars.

Step 2: Enjoy Xining to Lhasa Train

Xining is the true start of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, where you will board the spectacular Tibet Train to Lhasa. The trains from Xining have more carriages than any other train, which means you are more likely to be able to get tickets for this trip in the peak season. There are at least six daily trains from Xining to Lhasa departing between 11:41 am and 9:50 pm. It takes around 20 hours to reach Lhasa. Tickets cost around 70 dollars for the second-class hard sleeper cabins for this 1,972km trip.

High-Speed Train to Tibet via Chengdu: Faster with Flight Connection

There are a number of high-speed trains from across China that arrive in Chengdu, mainly due to this ancient city being a central transport hub in Southwest China. For travelers heading to Tibet from Guangzhou or Shanghai, this is a viable option for fast travel to Tibet. And with Chengdu having more flights to Lhasa than any other Chinese airport, this is a very quick way to get to Lhasa.

Step 1: High-speed train to Chengdu from Guangzhou, Shanghai

The high-speed trains from Guangzhou to Chengdu typically take between 7-8 hours to run the 2,263km trip. More than 6 trains run the route daily, starting at around 5:09 am, with the last train departing Guangzhou at around 6:30 pm daily. Tickets cost around 86 dollars for the second-class seats and 257 dollars for business-class seats.

Shanghai has 7 high-speed trains that run the route west to Chengdu, and it is one of the longest high-speed railway routes in China today. On average, high-speed trains to Chengdu from Shanghai generally take 11-14 hours to cross this vast 1,976km distance. The longer travel time means the first train departs around 7:17 am, with the last leaving Shanghai at around 10:48 am daily. Tickets cost around 130 dollars for the second-class seats and 412 dollars per person for business class.

Step 2: Chengdu to Lhasa by Flight

Flights from Chengdu to Lhasa are the most popular way to get to Tibet from this capital city in Sichuan Province. With more than 20 flights a day from the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport or Chengdu Tianfu International Airport to the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport, Chengdu has the most frequent flights available to Lhasa, making it a very convenient departure location for travel to Tibet. Flights take around two and a half hours to reach Lhasa and generally cost as low as 181 US dollars per person for a one-way economy flight.

What Permits are Required for Taking a High Speed Train to Tibet?

Before boarding a train or flight to Tibet, you must have the correct permits already arranged. All international travelers to Tibet need a Tibet Travel Permit to visit the area around Lhasa. The permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and can only be arranged through a registered tour operator. And as long as you book your Tibet tour with us, we will handle it on your behalf for free.

Additional permits are needed to travel to other parts of Tibet, like Everest Base Camp or Mount Kailash. These permits include the Alien's Travel Permit and Foreign Affairs Permit. These are usually arranged after you have arrived in Tibet, and the process and service are included in our tour packages.


The high-speed trains in China are among the best railway networks for bullet trains around the world, and make for an incredible experience when traveling to Lhasa. Not only can you reach your departure location for Tibet quickly, but you also get to see the stunning landscapes and countryside of China whizz past at super speeds as you race across the country. With convenient departures from major cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, you can streamline your journey to Lhasa by train. Contact us now to plan your journey with ease!

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