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Breathtaking Scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

June,10 2023 BY Tashi 0 COMMENTS

The world-renowned Qinghai-Tibet railway refers to the railway that starts from Xining to Lhasa. Not only is the railway itself considered a man-made wonder in the transportation field but also the stunning scenery along the Qinghai-Tibet railway line offers a tasty appetizer for tourists who are heading towards Tibet for travel.

Here are some of the most stunning scenery you could enjoy along the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Qinghai Tibet Railway Attractions MapQinghai Tibet Railway Attractions Map

1. The Qinghai Lake in Xining

As the Qinghai-Tibet train departs from Xining, the first thing that catches your eyes off you is Qinghai Lake. It is the "largest lake" in China and also the "largest saltwater lake and inland lake" in China.

The Tibet train rolls of Qinghai LakeThe Qing-Tibet Railway rolls along the north shore of Qinghai Lake.

The Tibet train rolls along the north shore of Qinghai Lake for about half an hour, providing you with ample time to appreciate the stunning views of Qinghai Lake onboard.

If you take the Xining to Lhasa train in summer, you can see the golden fields of rapeseed flowers with the blue sky and clear water.

2. The High-altitude Deserts from Golmud

Passing through Qinghai Lake, the Tibet train will take you to Golmud, from where it will be an endless plateau of high-altitude Gobi.

Gobi Desert in GolmudA glimpse of stunning vista of Gobi Desert in Golmud.

As far as the eye can see is a barren sandy area, lifeless and solemnly depressed. Only the train is speeding across this vast expanse. At an altitude of over 2,800 meters, the sky is so close that it seems to be within reach.

When you see the snow-capped peaks on the edge of the Gobi, that means you have entered the Kunlun Mountain Ranges.

3. Snow-capped Kunlun Mountain Ranges with Yuzhu Peak

After leaving Golmud, the train continues deep into the Kunlun Mountains, and will stop at the station of Yuzhu Peak at an altitude of 4,160m. If weather permits, you can have a clear view of the summit of Yuzhu Peak from the train.

yuzhu peakYuzhu peak has an altitude of 6178m and is the summit of east part of Mt. Kunlun.

Once entering Kunlun Mountain Ranges, the surrounding mountains are no longer rolling hills, but tall and handsome snow-capped peaks. The highest peak of the eastern Kunlun Mountains, Mount Yuzhu, stands about 170 kilometers southwest of Golmud, with an altitude of 6178 meters. There are 15 snow-capped mountains with altitudes above 5000 meters surrounding them. The perennial glaciers and snow on the mountaintop create the spectacle of "Kunlun June Snow".

4. Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve

Shortly after passing Yuzhu Peak, the train from Xining enters the well-renown Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, which is the least populated and isolated region in the northwest of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. It is a home with many wildlife such as Tibetan antelopes, wild yaks, wild Tibetan donkeys, etc.

tibetan antelopesThe Tibetan antelope of Kekexili Nature Reserve.

From May every year, the pregnant Tibetan antelopes will migrate to Zhuonai Lake, Solis Lacus, and other properties in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve to deliver baby antelopes through the animal channel of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. If you take a train to Tibet during this time, you may have a chance to see this extraordinary sight.

5. Tuotuo River

Then, the train to Lhasa will arrive at the station of the Tuotuo River, where you can enjoy the natural scenery and cultural heritage of the Tuotuo River. The Tuotuo River, also known as the Ulan Mulun River, means "Red River" in Mongolian, and is the western source of the Yangtze River.

tuotuo riverThe Tuotuo River

With an altitude of 4,533m, Tuotuo River enjoys a comparatively mild climate in the region of the source of the Yangtze River and is the place with the lowest altitude between Kunlun Mountains Pass and Tanggula Pass.

6. Tanggula Pass

After passing through Tuotuo River, the train heads towards the highest altitude station of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Tanggula Railway Station (5,068m), which replaces Bolivia's Condor Station as the world's highest-altitude railway station.

tanggula mountainThe Qinghai-Tibet train is heading towards Tanggula Mountain and the phenomenal mountainous range will definitely blow you away.

And less than 1 kilometer away from Tanggula Railway Station is Tanggula Pass, the highest point of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the world's railways. Having a ride at such a high altitude makes passengers truly feel how marvelous the “Sky Road” is.

7. Tsonag Lake

After entering Nagqu County, the scenery along the way showcases a completely different natural beauty. You can catch a glimpse of Tsonag Lake, one of the highest freshwater lakes in China, which is only a few tens of meters away from the railway.

tsonag lakeTsonag Lake has an altitude of 4650m and is an alpine fresh water lake, covering an area of over 400 km.

Covering an area of approximately 300 km, Tsonag Lake is at 4,650m above sea level and is the highest-altitude freshwater lake in the world. It is believed to be a sacred lake by local Tibetans and thousands of Tibetan pilgrims come there and worships the lake for an auspicious year.

8. Qiangtang Grassland

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the boundless Qiangtang Grassland, which is the largest natural grassland in Tibet. With an average altitude of over 4,500m, the Qiangtang Grassland is one of the top five pastures on the Northern Tibetan Plateau as well as a home to numerous rare wildlife.

Qiangtang GrasslandThe boundless Qiangtang Grassland

If you are interested in Tibetan grassland or Tibetan nomads, then Qiangtang grassland is the place where you should be. The boundless grassland and century-old nomadic life offer you more spaces to explore. You can get off the train at Damxung Railway Station, midway between Nagqu prefecture and Lhasa. Just 30km away from Damxung is the sacred Lake Namtso, the most popular holy lake in Tibet.

9. Lhasa city

Lhasa, the final destination of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, offers virtually every aspect of Tibetan culture for you to explore.

Potala PalaceAn bird view of Potala Palace at sunset

As the train slowly approaches the heart of Lhasa, the view outside the window transforms from Tibetan villages to modern buildings. The last section of the Qinghai-Tibet train journey offers glimpses of the rural life and natural beauty of Tibet, with grazing livestock, and distant mountains on the horizon. But as the train enters the city, the landscape evolves into a modern city. The juxtaposition of these contrasting scenes provides a fascinating insight into the evolution of Tibet’s culture and society over time, from its pastoral roots to its modern urban identity.

10. The Qinghai-Tibet Highway beside the railway

For a long stretch of the journey, the Qinghai-Tibet railway runs parallel to the Qinghai-Tibet highway across the vast Tibet Plateau. From the train, you can see vehicles traveling on the parallel highway, transporting goods or tourists. Having the opportunity to become temporary companions on the world’s highest railway and highway through the vast land is a lifetime experience.


Taking a train to Tibet is the best way to explore the stunning scenery of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Through the train window, you can see canola flowers scattered all over the mountains, Tibetan antelopes living freely, and Qinghai Lake with the same color of water and sky...The train is galloping like a steed, passing through different landscapes outside the window, sometimes is the wilderness, sometimes is the vast desert, and sometimes is the grasslands covered with yaks and sheep. If you are interested in a lifetime railway journey to Tibet or have any questions about the Tibet train tour, please feel free to send us an inquiry. We will do our best to help you out.


About the Author - Tashi

Tashi Namgyal is a devout Buddhist and an extraordinary local Tibetan guide who exemplifies the essence of excellence. With 20+ years of guide experience, Tashi excels at channeling his deep knowledge of Tibetan culture to guests through his unique sense of humor.

When off work, Tashi loves reading books on Tibetan Buddhism and practicing Buddhism himself like meditation, which makes him a perfect choice for the Tibet meditation tour.

Apart from that, Tashi was born with a knack for connecting with young people. Whether you are on his cycling tour, Buddhist meditation tour, or Mt.Kailash pilgrimage, you will be taken great care of and have a delightful experience.

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