Top 11 Things to Know Before Traveling to Lhasa by Train

Last updated: July,09 2024

Traveling by train to Tibet, the Roof of the World, is one of the most exciting and exhilarating adventures on the planet. The train traverses high mountain ranges and vast, open, highland prairies. It’s a chance to ride on highest railway in the world, have a unique experience of the Tibetan Plateau.


    Lhasa Railway Station is the only train station in Lhasa city.

    There is only one train station in Lhasa, the Lhasa Railway Station, which is where all trains from mainland China arrive. The station is located across the Lhasa River from the main part of the city, around one kilometer from the southern banks of the river.

    Getting from the station to Lhasa city means a short trip across the Liuwu Bridge, which connects the station to the city. At an altitude of around 3,641 meters (about 11,946 ft.), the station lies 8 kilometers from Potala Palace, and went into operation in July 2006, with the arrival of the first train from mainland China. Lhasa Railway Station is the largest station along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and receives tens of thousands of visitors through its gates every week in the peak travel season.

    Arrive at Lhasa Railway StationArrive at Lhasa Railway Station

    8 cities in mainland China have direct trains to Lhasa.

    Eight major cities have direct train connections to Lhasa. The train from Guangzhou is the longest, taking around 53 hours and covering a distance of almost 5,000 kilometers. Chengdu is one of the most popular starting points. Trains leave every other day, and take 34.5 hours to cover the 3,070 km to Lhasa. Xining is the closest train station to Tibet. The 1,956 km journey can be done in just under 20 hours.

    Railway Map of Trains to LhasaThe Railway Map of Trains to Lhasa from Mainland China

    Other popular starting points for the train journey include Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, and Chongqing. Trains from the largest cities, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are available every day.

    Trains to Lhasa

    Train NumberDepartureArrivalDurationDistanceFrequency
    Z8981(Xining-Lhasa original) Xining 12:50 Lhasa 10:20 21:30hrs 1,956km Daily
    Z917(Lanzhou-Lhasa) Lanzhou 08:40 Lhasa 07:41 23:1hrs 2,188km Daily
    Z165(Xi’an-Lhasa Xi’an 09:27 Lhasa 15:05 29:38hrs 2,864km Daily
    Z223(Chongqing-Lhasa) Chongqing West 21:56 Lhasa 07:41 33:45hrs 3,030km Every other day
    Z322(Chengdu-Lhasa) Chengdu West 21:11 Lhasa 07:41 34:30hrs 3,070km Every other day
    Z21(Beijing-Lhasa) Beijing West 19:53 Lhasa 11:36 39:43hrs 3,757km Daily
    Z164(Shanghai-Lhasa) Shanghai 18:33 Lhasa 15:05 44:32hrs 4,373km Daily
    Z264(Guangzhou-Lhasa) Guangzhou 09:15 Lhasa 14:17 53:02hrs 4,980km Daily

    The newest high-speed train route to Lhasa is the Lhasa-Nyingchi train.

    High-speed trains are spreading across China connecting cities with a fast and comfortable travel option. The newest high-speed train route to Lhasa is the Lhasa-Nyingchi train route. The railway began operation in July of 2021, after seven years of construction. Trains travel at 160 km/h along the 435 km route and have reduced travel times from 5 hours to 3.5 hours.

    Lhasa to Nyingchi High-Speed trainLhasa to Nyingchi High-Speed Train

    The high-speed train departs from Nyingchi at noon every day. Tickets for a comfortable second class seat cost ¥127. More spacious 1st class tickets are ¥204, and luxurious business class seats are available for ¥449.

    One needs to have a Tibet Travel Permit before boarding the train to Lhasa.

    One of the essentials for taking the trains to Tibet is the Tibet Travel Permit, which is required for all international tourists to Tibet. The permit is a requirement for travel, and allows tourists from outside China to travel to Tibet and travel around in the area of Lhasa. It is also required to enter the platform for the Tibet trains, and board the trains themselves, and is checked several times before you even get on the train to Lhasa.

    Tibet Travel PermitThe Tibet Travel Permit is needed to travel to Tibet.

    The travel permit is only available for those tourists that have booked a pre-arranged tour of the region with a registered Tibet tour operator or travel agency, since individual applications are not accepted. For tourists who booked our Tibet train tours, we provide guaranteed Tibet travel permit application service with well-arranged Tibet tour packages including the trains to Tibet.

    Traveling to Lhasa by train is not always cheaper than traveling by air.

    While it is generally recognized that travel to Tibet by train is a cheaper option from mainland China, this is not always the case. Tibet Train tickets are generally stable in their prices. However, with the increase in discounted fares for flights, there are some occasions where you may be able to find a flight tickets at a lower cost than for trains from the same city.

    This does not mean that you should always take the cheapest option, though. While a flight to Tibet is short and fast, you do not get the stunning views that you can see from the windows of the train as you pass over high snow-covered mountain ranges and cross vast open prairies filled with Tibetan antelopes and wild yaks.

    See the Tibet Antelope from the Qinghai-Tibet RailwayBoth trains to and from Tibet offer you a chance to see the beautiful scenery along the railway.

    Currently, the Lhasa train ticket reservation opens in 15 days in advance.

    Official train ticket reservations for Lhasa open 15 days in advance. Booking early is the best way to secure your tickets and avoid disappointment.

    Tickets can be booked online through the Chinese Ministry of Railways website, The website requires real-name verification and is not always convenient for international travelers. Tickets are most often booked through travel agencies.

    If you can’t get the train ticket to Lhasa, try the return train from Lhasa.

    Train tickets to Lhasa are in high-demand, and it can be difficult to buy tickets, particularly in peak seasons. If you are traveling in a period when you are unable to obtain tickets to Lhasa, then you always have the option of taking a train from Lhasa after your Tibet tour is over.

    The trains to mainland China from Lhasa take exactly the same route going back, so you will still get to see all the same amazing views and spectacular landscapes and wild animals as you would going the other way through the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Tickets from Lhasa are usually easier to get than tickets to Lhasa, especially during summer holidays and the Golden Week holiday at the beginning of October.

    Qinghai-Tibet railway viewView of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

    You can get oxygen supply onboard when traveling to Lhasa by train.

    Altitude sickness is a risk for anyone traveling to Lhasa from lower-elevation regions. Trains to the Tibetan Plateau are equipped with in-built oxygen supply system to lower the risks and which make it more comfortable for passengers.

    After passing through the Golmud railway station, the oxygen supply system on Tibet trains will start working, diffusing oxygen into the car. If you still find it difficult to breathe and have symptoms of altitude sickness, you can also use the separate oxygen outlet on the carriage wall to administer oxygen. There are stewards and medical staff on Tibet trains to provide you with basic medical assistance. Also, it is suggested to spend a day or two in Xining (at 2,275 meters above the sea level) before your train to Lhasa to acclimatize to the altitude there.

    Oxygen supply system on Trains to LhasaAll trains to Lhasa are equipped with the oxygen supply system.

    Prepare for at least one night stay on the train to Lhasa.

    All trains to Lhasa cover vast distances, and even the shortest train takes almost a full day and night to reach the Tibetan capital. Before traveling to Lhasa by train, you should prepare for at least one night spent on the trains, and up to two nights, depending on where you depart from.

    The longer journeys usually start late in the day and arrive in the mornings of the third day of travel. This means it is better to book a sleeper cabin berth than to travel in the seats.

    Trains have both soft and hard sleeper cabins, though both have nice soft beds to sleep in. The main difference is the cabin size and type. Soft sleepers on Tibet trains have four beds and a lockable door, while hard sleepers have six beds and no door.

    Tibet train soft sleepersTibet Train Soft Sleepers

    Since it is unavailable to take a shower on the train, it is suggested to bring some wet wipes with you.

    If you have dietary restrictions, please bring your own food on the train to Lhasa.

    The food on Tibet train is limited to mostly Tibetan and Chinese cuisines. If you have any dietary restrictions, such as being vegetarian, lactose intolerant, or allergic to certain foods and ingredients, it is suggested to bring your own food, such as instant noodles or pre-packaged food.

    Hot water is available 24 hours a day on the train. It is safe for drinking, and can be used to make instant noodles. Bring a hot water bottle with you for the trip.

    Book your Lhasa train ticket together with your Lhasa Tour for more hassle-free travel.

    The best way to avoid hassle, and ensure you get the tickets you want it to book your tour and your train tickets together. The tickets for the trains to Lhasa sell out fast once they open for sale, and you may not get the tickets you want if you leave it too late.

    Booking your Tibet train ticket and your Tibet tour together with a reliable Tibet local travel agency means you can receive one-stop service for your travel to Tibet. Our expert travel consultants can give you professional advice on tour plans, and will have the latest information about train tickets, and Tibet travel permit applications. We’ll handle all the details of your tour one-on-one.

    Meet Our Guide at Lhasa Railway StationMeet Our local Tibetan Guide at Lhasa Railway Station


    Travel to Lhasa is always much better by train, even if it is not faster. The quality of travel, the stunning views, and the outstanding service available on the trains makes it the experience of a lifetime, and the best way to start your trip to the Roof of the World. Make sure to arrange your train journey to Tibet as early as possible so that you can get the tickets you want. We’re dedicated to make things worry-free and will also help to arrange the details from train tickets and travel permits, to hotels and transfers throughout Tibet.

    Related Readings:

    Most Recommended Tibet Trains Tours

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