The Most Complete FAQ Collection about Taking a Tibet Train Travel
Tibet is one of the most renowned destinations of the world. There is no denying the fact that Tibet has a lot on offer for travelers. Right from being the “Roof of the World”, to the scintillating series of beautiful monasteries to the snow-capped mountains; it leaves no stone unturned when it comes to mesmerizing tourists and visitors alike.
Every first timer wants to know some of the most common questions when travelling to Tibet by train. While some people prefer to fly down to Tibet, many others prefer to travel by train, simply because they don’t want to miss out on the picturesque scenic beauty of Tibet’s landscape.
So here are some of the options which people travelling by train can avail to make the most out of their Tibet’s travel itinerary.
1. Where does the train start from?
The train starts from Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province and reaches Lhasa directly.
2. How long is the train journey?
The train journey from Xining to Lhasa takes about 21 hours, and is considered to be the shortest journey, amongst some of the other train journeys. This route is considered to be the world’s highest railway, since it connects Tibet Autonomous Region to China extensively on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Rest assured, this is the most cost efficient route for reaching Tibet from China. As a reward for the train ride, you get to enjoy the panoramic view of the surroundings.
3. What is the cost of the ticket?
The ticket costs 781 Yuan (approx. 126 USD) soft sleeper berth; 495 Yuan (approx.71.88 USD) hard sleeper berth.
4. What types of sleeping cabins are available on the train?
Since there are around 4- 5 trains plying on this route, getting a train ticket is rather easy. There are 2 sleeper cabin options available; one costs 495 Yuan/per person while the other costs 781 Yuan/per person. The former option is a hard sleeper, while the latter is a soft sleeper. You can expect a lot of privacy and coziness in the soft sleeper option, which is the best suited option for families and friends.
5. What to do if you feel altitude sickness on the train?
For people who feel a lot of motion sickness, it’s advisable to travel by train, instead of flying down directly to Lhasa. However, even if you travel in the train, there are high chances that some passengers might feel altitude sickness. Since there is a difference between the outside temperature and the inside temperature, and the train is travelling at a very high altitude, it’s imperative to always stay prepared. The Qinghai-Tibet train is well equipped with oxygen masks to aid passengers who face altitude sickness. You can ask the conductor for the oxygen tubes to help you breathe and cope up with the motion sickness.
6. Do train attendants speak English?
Since most travelers are Chinese natives, the train attendants speak basic English. However, if you need some assistance, it’s best to reach out to fellow passengers for translation purposes.
7. Is it safe for senior citizens to travel through on the train?
Since the journey is spread over a long period of time, it’s best if senior citizens avoid making long train journey. For younger crowds, Tibet is a place which offers lot of adventure and adrenaline pumping opportunities.
8. What facilities are available on the train?
Considering the time you would be spending in the train, the train’s facilities are an equally important factor to evaluate at the time of booking. While the train is classified as a 3 star facility only, one can’t deny the fact that the facilities are rather amazing. Travelers get access to comfortable sleeper cabins, along with clean washrooms. This is not all, for the food is one of the most important factors worth a mention. Everything is cooked fresh onboard, and travelers will never get a chance to complain about the quality of the food being served throughout.
For people who are not too keen on dining in the dining car, they can wait for their meals to be served in the sleeping cabins. One can purchase packed meals for only 18 Yuan. However, if you are not a fan of Chinese food, then it’s advisable to carry pot noodles or packet food, which can be cooked with boiling water in a matter of minutes.
9. Are there any entertainment facilities inside the train?
There are not many entertainment facilities inside the train. It’s advisable to bring a novel or some reading material to entertain yourself throughout the journey. Otherwise, you would need to make do with the scenic beauty only, to help you pass your time. There are some TVs available in the soft sleeper cabins, which can help you stay entertained for a while. However, before travelling, do remember that there is no Internet connection available inside the train.
10. What are the best clothes to wear during the journey?
Since the journey is spread out over a long travelling period, it’s important to be wear comfortable clothes throughout. The trains are air conditioned, so you don’t need to wear heavy clothes, which are ideal for Tibet. The air pressure is well maintained throughout the train, so you won’t need to worry too much about the breathing pressure. There are oxygen tubes available in the train, in case you feel breathless or feel constricted due to the change in outside pressure.
What all places does the train cover on the way to Lhasa?
1. Jinyintan Prairie:
Just west of Xining lies the Jinyintan Prairie; since the Prairie is at a high elevation, the vegetation gives way to dry land, making it one of the highest elevated zones. Despite the lack of vegetation, there is a lot of natural beauty to feast your eyes on. The best time to view the vegetation in its full glory is from July to September, as nature is in its bountiful bloom.
2. Qinghai Lake:
Just west of Jinyintan Prairie lies the Qinghai Lake, which is one of the biggest inland salt water lakes. The rail line dots the north bank, which makes the view more luxurious and scintillating. Along the banks of the lake, the traveler can see a lot of clear water and the tips of inaccessible snow capped mountains. The best time to visit the lake is in July and August, especially when the rape flowers are in full bloom. The fusion of rape flowers and the blue lake water adds a splendid charm to the Lake’s beauty.
3. Qarhan Salt Lake:
The Qarhan Salt Lake offers an astounding view, which comes right after Qinghai Lake. The "Long Salt Bridge" is one of the highlights of the Lake, which makes it one of the prettiest, salt-over bridges in the vicinity. The bridge stretches over a length of 32 kms, and is a sight to behold.
4. Kunlun Mountains:
As you continue the trip, the train will slowly wind its way into the Kunlun Mountains. The east pinnacle, Mt. Yuzhu peeks through the scaffolds; the mountain gives way to Taoist sanctuaries along with some Mani Stones of Tibetan Buddhism and stone statues.
5. Hoh Xil / Kekexili:
Post Kunlun Mountains, the train moves into the Hoh Xil, which is one of the biggest uninhabited regions of China so far. Throughout the landscape, one can see a lot of stone woods, jokul and gorge and Tibetan antelopes. There are two extensions Chamuer River and Tuotuo River, both of which are spread out over Yangtze River. Definitely a paradise which should not be missed!
6. Tanggula Mountains:
As the train crosses the Hoh Xil, it enters the Tanggula Mountains region, where the oxygen levels go down drastically by 60%. Situated at a height of 5,068 meters above sea level, Tanggula station is the world’s most elevated railway station. The view will intoxicate the travelers with its magnetic charm and snowy affairs.
Slowly and steadily, the train maneuvers out of the Tanggula Mountains and enters into the Nagchu region, which is a rather famous district in the northern part of Tibet. From the station, one can feast their eyes on perfect vistas of lakes amidst the clear blue skies, as wild creatures gallop around. In the month of August, every year the Nakchu Horse Race festival is held to entertain people.
Amongst some of the other places, the train also covers Cuona Lake, Nyainqentanglha Mountains, Yangpachen and Dagze County. Finally the train will reach its destination - the Lhasa City in the lap of Tibet.
The Tibet train journey is as beautiful as it sounds. People who are willing to travel and spend some time with themselves would love every moment they spend in the train. Right from the winding plateaus to the snow-capped mountain peaks; there is a lot to explore in Tibet. The journey is as fruitful as it can be. Let’s embark on this magnificent train journey and experience the magic of a lifetime.