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Why You Can't Get a Tibet Train Ticket?

Last updated: July,27 2017

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the main link between China and Tibet, and on average, over 5,000 people take these trains every day. Tickets for the trains range in price, depending on the departure location and the seat or berth type. The further away from Xining, the higher the cost, and the less chance of getting a ticket on the travel dates of your choice.

 Train to Lhasa Train to Lhasa

While Xining is the best option to get a ticket for the train to Tibet, many people want to travel from the main centers in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Xi’an. The main reasons for this are the fact that many people enter China through one of these major cities from overseas, and that they want to visit some of the attractions of the Chinese cities before they travel.

Peak Season Ticket Availability

With many people wanting to travel from China’s main cities, getting a train ticket for the date you need to travel can be quite hard, and in the peak months of summer, almost impossible. With only one train a day from most of the cities in China that serve Tibet trains, the demand often outstrips the supply of tickets.

 Get Tibet train ticketTibet train ticket

The best option for those wanting to travel from the major cities in China is to book the tickets through your travel agent when you book your tour. All tours to Tibet must be booked through a local travel agent in China or Tibet, and they will be able to book the ticket for your train journey at the same time. Travel agents have train ticket reservation plans for booking tickets with the ticket offices, although booking early is still advisable.

Popular Tibet Train Routes


Traveling to Lhasa from Beijing is the most popular route for tourists to Tibet. Majority of tourists who choose this route want to see the sights, history and culture of China, before moving on to visit Tibet.

 Temple of Heaven Temple of Heaven in Beijing

The train to Lhasa departs daily in the evening, and takes around 42 hours to travel across China into Tibet, and on to Lhasa. Prices range from 763CNY for a hard seat to 1,186CNY for a soft sleeper berth.

>> Join-in the most classic Beijing Tibet Train Tours


The route from Shanghai, in eastern China, is an incredible journey that crosses eight provinces in China, before climbing up to the roof of the world for the journey across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

 Shanghai city Shanghai city

As the trip time is around 47 hours, the whole journey encompasses three days of travel. Prices are a little more than from Beijing, but you will get to see the amazing sights of this vibrant city on the mouth of the Yangtze River.

>> Join-in the most classic Shanghai Tibet Train Tours


While not as popular as Shanghai and Beijing, Chengdu has something they do not – Pandas. Nearby lies the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, where you can see these beautiful bears in a near natural habitat, as well as seeing many other sights in the area. Trains from Chengdu only depart every other day, and takes around 43 hours.

 Chengdu Panda in Chengdu

>> Join-in the most classic Chengdu Tibet Train Tours


Down in the southwest of China is the city of Guangzhou, a major entry point into China from Hong Kong, and one of the main commercial business hubs in southern China. The main starting point for travelers to Tibet who come through Hong Kong, the train from Guangzhou takes around 53 hours to cross the 4,980km to Lhasa.

 Guangzhou Railway Station Guangzhou Railway Station

The longest of all the routes, this three-day journey takes in a lot of Chinese countryside and cities before climbing up to the plateau to give you your first glimpse of Tibet.

>> Join-in the most classic Guangzhou Tibet Train Tours


While there is no train that actually starts at Xi’an, several trains pass through the city on the way to Lhasa. However, one of the major cons of this city is that getting a ticket from here in the peak season really is impossible, even if booking in advance.

 Terracotta Warriors Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an

However, there are other options if you want Xi’an to be your jumping-off point, and there are many pros to stopping here before going to Tibet. As well as being one of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an is the site of the world famous Terracotta Warriors, which date back to the reign of the first Emperor of China, over 2,200 years ago.

>> Join-in the most classic Xian Tibet Train Tours

Fly to Xining Firstly

The major option, and most likely the best, for those who are not able to get tickets for the train to Tibet from the major cities in China, is to first fly to Xining, and take the train from there. Xining is the starting station of the Qingzang railway, and the trains from there always have more carriages than from anywhere else.

 Fly to Xining Fly to Xining

Moreover, it is much easier to get tickets from Xining, as the ticket allocation is higher than anywhere else, and many travel agents have ticket booking plans with the Qingzang Railway. Flights to Xining cost from around 695CNY from Beijing, and will vary from other cities.

Once in Xining, the train only takes around 22 hours to get to Lhasa, and the cost is relatively low, at only 815CNY for the luxurious soft sleeper berths.

Book from a Travel Agency

Traveling to Tibet by train is the best option of getting to Lhasa, and although there can be some problems with booking tickets, booking through a travel agent is still the best option. Not only will you get an excellent service from them for your Tibet tour, they will be able to let you know the availability of tickets from the stations of your choice on your required travel dates, and can arrange the whole thing for you with a minimum of fuss.

Tell us your travel plan and we’ll help sort out all your travel details and requirements once in China.

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