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FAQ about Taking Tibet Train to Lhasa

Last Update: December 10, 2020

Taking Tibet train to Lhasa will be a lifetime wonderful experience, especially for international travelers visiting Tibet for the first time. But there will also be many questions and wonders about this unique train ride. Check the following faqs about travelling to Tibet by train to make clear about your planning trip.

1. Why choose to travel to Tibet by train?

Though getting to Tibet by train takes much longer than by plane, you will witness thousands of miles of unforgettable stunning landscapes that you will never see from a plane window. This is why Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been the first choice for most travelers to Tibet. Besides, on the train you can better adapt yourself to the plateau by a gradually ascending. For budget travelers, the train can also save a lot compared to plane.

2. Where can I take a train to Tibet?

There are 7 cities in mainland China which you could take a train to Tibet. They are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Xi’an. And all the trains pass through the world highest railway, Qinghai-Tibet Railway, from Xining to Lhasa. You can check the detailed Tibet train schedule for more information.

Tibet trainPassengers can take Tibet train to Lhasa from seven cities in mainland China.

3. How long will I spend on the train to Lhasa?

For tourists taking the train to Tibet from Xining, the starting point of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, you will spend around 21 hours on board the train. It is the shortest train journey for travelling to Tibet from mainland China. For other departure cities like Beijing and Shanghai, you will spend more than 40 hours. And the longest train ride will be the journey from Guangzhou to Lhasa, lasting for 53 hours.

4. How long in advance should I reserve my train ticket to Lhasa?

For most Chinese trains, the tickets will be released 30 days prior to its departure date. And passengers can make a reservation about 10 days before the date. However, trains to Tibet are always popular and hard to get. According to our experience, you'd better book your train ticket as soon as it is released.

5. What kinds of ticket classes can I choose?

There are three classes of tickets on Tibet trains that are soft-sleeper class (first class), hard-sleeper class (second class) and hard-seat class. However, the hard-seat cars are not recommended to passengers. Since it is a really long journey to reach the roof of the world, it will be more comfortable and enjoyable for you to take sleeper class.

6. What's the difference between the soft-sleeper and hard-sleeper?

The biggest difference is that soft-sleeper cars contains only 4 passengers in one cabin but hard-sleeper cars have 6 in one. With a cabin's door which can be shut for privacy, soft-sleeper cabins offer more private space than the crowded hard-sleeper cabins. But for those who like making friends, hard-sleeper cars can offer them more chances to communicate with other passengers, both Chinese locals and travelers from all over the world.

Tibet train soft sleeperTibet train soft sleeper cabin provides more privacy compared to the hard sleeper.

7. Is there any dining car on a Tibet train? What kinds of food to be offered on board?

Yes, there is one dining car in each train to Tibet, offering three meals a day. For meal time, the dining car may be a little bit crowded. But in other time, it is really a good place for you to have a cup of tea and enjoy the amazing passing-by scenery outside.

For breakfast, the dining car offers both Chinese and Western style food, like steamed buns, porridge, eggs, bread and milk etc. For lunch and dinner, there are just Chinese dishes, like fried fish, vegetables etc.

And there is an attendant with a snack cart who travels from car to car, selling snacks, instant noodle cups, fruit and bottled water etc. The food offered on board are basic but are more expensive than usual.

8. Should I prepare food before getting on the train?

If you are not that keen on Chinese food or Tibetan food, you can bring some of your favorite food to the train. Hot water is provided 24 hours on board and totally for free. So it is convenient to have some instant food or make tea on board. Also, if you think food on the train is expensive and not cost-effective, you can buy some food in local market and bring them on board.

And you could buy food while the train stopped at one of the stations. Tibet trains will stop at some major stations during the journey. And it may be an interesting experience to jump off and quickly shop for food from the vendors on the platforms. But trains usually stop for few minutes, so you need to be quick or you may lose your train. Remember to prepare some small changes.

9. Where can I get boiling water on board the train?

In each carriage of Tibet trains, there is a hot water dispenser opposite to the public water sinks. Boiling water is offered 24 hours every day and totally for free. And in each compartment of soft-sleeper cars, there is a thermos for passengers to store the boiling water. When you are getting hot water from the dispenser, please be careful to avoid being hurt as the train sometimes may shake when moving.

10. Are there electric outlets on the Tibetan Train?

Yes, the Tibet train carriage is provided with electrical outlets. You can find the electrical outlets below the window chairs of the corridors in a hard sleeper carriage. While in soft sleeper carriage, the electric outlets are under the tiny table of each cabin. The voltage of plugs in China is generally 220V, 50 HZ. You may need a voltage converter if your electrical devices do not match.

11. How to treat high altitude sickness when taking the Tibet train?

In fact, it is a good way to gradually get used to the high altitude by taking a train to Tibet. The initial section from Xining to Golmud rises slowly, from 2200 meters to 2780 meters, and most passengers can adapt well. Only when passing Golmud, especially passing through the Tanggula Mountains, will some passengers get light headache or some other high altitude sickness.

Tibet train oxygen supplyTibet train oxygen supply outlets can be found and applied for dealing with the alititude sickness.

In this case, one can make use of the oxygen supply systems provided on the Tibet train. When passing Golmud, oxygen will be piped into the train's cabin. And there are individual oxygen outlets installed in each type of carriages. If you haven’t released from the symptoms after inhaling oxygen, you can turn to the trainman for medical service on board. There are doctors offering service on the train.


There are several cities from mainland China offering Tibet trains to Lhasa, allowing passengers to enjoy a safe and unique journey to the plateau. It is recommended to choose the sleeper berth when booking the train ticket, to make your train journey more comfortable and less tired. If you still have any questions about travelling to Tibet by train, please feel free to contact us for inquiries.

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