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Hard Seats on Tibet Trains

Last Update: March 27, 2020

All Tibet Trains have three kinds of seats – soft sleeper, hard sleeper, and hard seat. Hard seat is the most economical choice for Tibet train tour, but not recommend for long-distance travelers. According to the newest railway timetable, even the shortest journey to Tibet will be over 24 hours. Therefore, it is best for visitors to opt for the soft sleeper or hard sleeper, instead of the head seat. If you have to take a hard seat, it is advisable to go to Lhasa from Xining or Golmud, so that you will experience a shorter train journey.

Hard Seats on Tibet Trains

There are four hard seat carriages on every train to Tibet. Each carriage has 98 seats, which are installed on the two sides of the aisle, with two seats on one side and three on the other side. The adjacent rows of seats are face to face with a small table between them. The seat is only 40cm wide and is the smallest among all China train seats. The seatback is almost vertical and cannot be adjusted. Compared to other usual trains in China, the hard seats on the Tibet train are softer and more comfortable.

Tibet train hard seatThe look of hard seat carriage on Tibet train.

So, how to find the seat? Firstly, you need to show your hard seat ticket to the trainman, to get in the carriage. And you can find your seat according to the train ticket. The hard seat ticket will indicate corresponding information about departure time, carriage number, seat number, etc. On the hard seat ticket, “XX车” means the carriage number. “XX号” indicates the seat number. If you have difficulty in finding your seat by yourself, you could directly ask the conductor for help.

Facilities in Hard Seat Carriage

The facilities in hard seat carriages are rather basic. They are not as good as sleeper cabins but are better than other ordinary trains in china.

Oxygen Outlet

Tibet trains are all equipped with two kinds of oxygen supply systems, which can keep the required oxygen level in the carriages when the train passes through the high-altitude area.

Oxygen outlet on Tibet TrainsOxygen outlet is provided to deal with high altitude issue onboard Tibet Trains.

One is a 'dispersion-mode' oxygen supply system, which can convey oxygen to carriage through the air-conditioning system. But it does not run on the whole train trip to Tibet. When the train passes the station at Golmud, at 2,809 meters above sea level, the oxygen supply system will be switched on, delivering fresh oxygen into the carriage. And during oxygen supply systems are working, smoking is forbidden in all carriages.

The other is an independent system, which can be directly used by passengers through individual oxygen outlet when they feel a lack of oxygen. In hard seat carriage, passengers can easily find them beneath the seats.

Luggage Space in Hard Seat Carriage

The hard seat carriage is furnished with luggage racks above the windows. The luggage holder is about 50 cm wide, which is just enough to keep one suitcase or a backpack. You can also put luggage under your seat. It is suggested to put your valuable personal belongs in your carry-on bag. Each adult passenger can bring luggage which weighs less than 20kg.

Public Facilities on Tibet Trains


There are two squat toilets, separately at the left and right of the hard seat carriages, which are open for both genders. A red sign on the door means it is occupied and a green sign means it is available. Toilet paper is not supplied, so you have to bring toilet tissue on your own. If you travel alone and need to go to the toilet, you’d better not leave your belongings on the seat.

Washing Area

At one end of every carriage, there is a small washing area with mirrors and taps. Only cold water is provided there. No toiletries are provided on the train so be sure to bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc. Since each carriage is shared by 98 travelers, the washing area is normally crowded in the morning or evening.


There is a hot water dispenser on one end of the carriages, where you can get hot water for free. Don’t drink the water from the washing area, it is not suitable for drinking.

Smoking Area

Smoking is not allowed inside the carriage, even in the toilet. There are designated smoking areas on the train which are in the connecting space between two carriages.

Dining Car

Each Tibet train is supplied with a dining car, which is normally in the middle of the train and next to the soft-berth sleeper. The menu offers limited types of Chinese and Tibetan dishes. Meals provided on Tibet train are usually about twice the price of the equivalent in China.

Tibet train is supplied with a dining carEach Tibet train is supplied with a dining car.

Get Hard Seat Ticket on Tibet Trains

For travelers, there are two ways to get a Tibet train ticket of hard seat. You can go directly to the railway station or book Tibet train tickets online. It should be noted that traveling to Tibet by train is one of the most popular ways. It is better to book at least 1 month in advance, especially during peak tourism months, from August to October.

Generally, many travelers prefer the window seat as they can enjoy the scenery conveniently. Besides, the table between the two rows of seats is limited length, so it cannot be used by the passenger whose seat is close to the aisle. If you book the train ticket through the ticket window in the railway station, you can ask specifically for a window seat. However, if you book the Tibet train ticket online, you can not specify your seat. As a better choice, we can help to get your Tibet train ticket and the required Tibet Travel Permit.

Comparison between Hard Seats and Sleeper Berths

The sleeper berth is more comfortable than the hard seat. Because it offers a much larger space and more facilities. It takes a long time to travel to Tibet by train and sometimes takes as long as 2 to 3 days. So, it is advisable to buy a sleeper ticket, to enjoy a more comfortable and pleasant train trip.

Comparison of Hard Seats and Sleeper Berths on Tibet Trains

Hard SeatHard SleeperSoft Sleeper
Number of Seats/Sleepers 98 6 4
Size of Seat/Sleeper 40cm 60cm * 180cm 70cm * 19cm
Door No No Yes
TV No No Yes
Ticket Price Low Medium High

How can I change from hard seat to sleeper berth?

It is feasible to change your train ticket from the hard seat to the sleeper berth. When you haven’t got on the train, you can straightly change the hard seat ticket to sleeper ticket online, as long as you haven't collected the paper train ticket and there are surplus sleeper tickets for booking. After you board the train, if there are unreserved sleeper berths still available on the train, you can ask the train conductor for ticket change. Of course, you need to make up the difference in price between hard seat tickets and sleeper tickets.

Tibet train hard sleeper berthThe hard sleeper berth is more recommended for long-time travel by Tibet train.

How to Kill Time in Hard Seat Carriage on Tibet Trains?

The Tibet train journey usually takes more than 35 hours according to the present train schedules. You will spend a long time on the train, especially if you are departing from Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. Spending that much time on the train, you may feel a little boring, so what you could do to kill time on board?

You could enjoy the scenery along the railway. One of the important reasons for many tourists to go to Lhasa by train is watching the beautiful natural landscapes outside the window. There are a lot of beautiful scenic views along the railway, including rolling mountains, vast grasslands, clear rivers and lakes, and unique plateau flora and fauna, etc.

Scenery through Tibet train windowWatching the beautiful natural landscapes outside the window by Tibet train.

Sometimes you can make a little entertainment. You could download a few movies and books in your smart-phones or tablets, that can help to pass the time. But you should be attention to the volume, and earphones can help you enjoy movies without making a noise.

When you choose the hard seat, you are also much closer to the locals. It is a rare chance to communicate with the locals. You can chat with the locals, and know more about their culture. That must be a good choice for you to spend time.


Hard seat is an economical way to go to the Tibet, but is not friendly to tourist who will take a long journey. We do not advise visitors to take the hard seat to get to Lhasa. If conditions allowed, you are suggested to choose the sleeper berths. Although there are about 6 trains to go to Tibet one day, you still need to reserve a ticket as early as possible, especially during the peak tourism months. Booking your Tibet train ticket through us is a better choice. We can help you to get your train ticket and the required Tibet Travel Permit. Our years of Tibet tourism experience can let you enjoy a worry-free Tibet train journey. If you have any questions about the hard seat on Tibet trains or want to know the details about the Tibet train tour, you can just feel free to contact us.

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