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Nepal to Tibet Train: Can I Travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa by Train?

April,12 2024 BY Jamyang Tsering 0 COMMENTS

The two Himalayan regions, Tibet and Nepal, share many ties of history and culture but don’t yet share a direct rail link. One is planned for the near future and will make travel between Lhasa and Kathmandu easier than ever. If you plan to travel across the mighty Himalayas now, we have great solutions available.

As the largest and most prestigious local Tibet travel agency with offices in both Lhasa and Kathmandu, we will show you the best workarounds to travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa when the Kathmandu to Lhasa train or Tibet Nepal Railway is yet available.

The Trans-Himalayan Kathmandu to Lhasa Train Is About to Open in 2025

A rail connection between China and Nepal via Tibet was first proposed in 1973. In 2006, the famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened, providing a reliable way to travel to Tibet and see the stunning landscapes. In 2014, a Lhasa to Shigatse railway opened. Then, in 2016, plans were made to connect Lhasa and Kathmandu.

On the Tibet side, the railway will be extended to Gyirong, at the border with Nepal. The Shigatse-Gyirong section will extend the Chinese side of the railway to 556km. On the Nepal side, the train will travel 72km from the border to Kathmandu and is expected to cost 8 billion USD. It is estimated that the opening of the Kathmandu to Lhasa train will be in 2025.

The route will roughly follow China National Highway 318 from Shigatse. It will pass through Lhatse, Sa’gya, Dingge, Tingri, and Nyalam, then follow Highway 219 to Gyirong. Not only will it make traveling from Tibet to Nepal comfortable, safe, and convenient, the railway will boost trade in the region and further promote cultural exchange.

Kathmandu to Lhasa train routeKathmandu to Lhasa train route map.

Kathmandu to Lhasa Train Alternative One: Fly from KTM to Chengdu and Take Chengdu-Lhasa Train to Tibet

Though currently, you can’t board the Kathmandu to Lhasa train to travel across the Himalayas, one of the great workarounds is to fly from Kathmandu to Chengdu and take the scenic Chengdu-Lhasa train to the Tibetan plateau.

Air China and Sichuan Airlines have daily flights from Kathmandu to Chengdu. The flights takes around 2 hours and 50 minutes and land early enough at Chengdu Tianfu International Airport to transfer to Chengdu West Railway Station and catch the train to Lhasa.

Train Z322 leaves Chengdu at 21:11 every other day. The 34.5-hour trip includes 20 hours along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It’s best to book a sleeper berth so you arrive in Lhasa refreshed and ready to start your tour.

Chengdu to Lhasa train route mapChengdu to Lhasa train route map.

From Lhasa, we recommend the 7-day Lhasa to Kathmandu small group tour to get the whole experience of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan region.

The tour passes from the north to the south side of Mount Everest after an overnight stay at Everest Base Camp. Yamdrok Lake, Rongbuk Monastery, and Gyirong Valley are just a few of the sites along the way. You’ll also spend three days in Lhasa to see cultural wonders like Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.

Kathmandu to Lhasa Train Alternative Two: Travel Overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa

While a direct Nepal to Tibet train isn’t open yet, don’t worry, you can still travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Our 8-day Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Small Group Tour via EBC is an even more thrilling adventure. From Kathmandu, you’ll set out to the Sino-Nepal border, passing through Langtang National Park. The scenery at the southern foot of the Himalayas is stunning, with vast forests and snow-capped mountains.

Across the border is the Gyirong Valley, with its serene Sherpa Villages and lush forests. On the way to Everest Base Camp, you’ll cross Kong Tang Lamu Pass (5,236m), entering the Tibetan Plateau, and then Gawula Pass (5,198m), where five peaks above 8,000m are lined up for breathtaking views.

Everest Base Camp is definitely a highlight, and there will be time to visit the nearby Rongbuk Monastery, the highest temple in the world.

Visit north face of Mount Everest at Tibet EBCVisit north face of Mount Everest at Tibet EBC.

Next is Shigatse and Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. The way to Lhasa will include lunch at a lakeside farmhouse at Yamdrok Lake, with time to explore before arriving in Lhasa. You’ll end the tour with a chance to see the famous Monks Debate at Sera Monastery, explore the vibrant Barkhor Street, enjoy tea at a Tibetan tea house, and, of course, visit Potala Palace.

Insider Tips:
- Make sure to arrive in Kathmandu at least four days in advance for time to arrange the Chinese Group Visa.

- To help reduce the risk of altitude sickness, all overnight stops are planned with acclimatization in mind.

- The visibility of Everest is subject to weather conditions. April to May and Sep. to Oct. have the clearest weather without being very cold.

Kathmandu to Lhasa Train Alternative Three: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Explore Tibet, and Take Tibet Train Out

Flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa and then taking the train outbound from Tibet is another great option. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes through the same landscapes in both directions, so you can experience the same scenery. Outbound tickets are often easier to book, so you have more flexibility with dates.

The only nonstop international flight Best time for Photographyto Lhasa is from Kathmandu. Operated by Himalaya Airlines, it flies once per week on Monday. The flight takes 1h20m and passes right over the Himalayas. Choose a window seat on the left of the plane, and you’ll be treated to an amazing birds-eye view of Mount Everest.

Visit Himalaya by Lhasa to Kathmandu flightPlane’s birds’ eye view of Mount Everest from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

From Lhasa, take our 8-Day Lhasa to EBC Small Group Tour to see the highlights of Tibet, including EBC. The tour travels to EBC via Gyantse and Shigatse, then returns to Lhasa along the Yarlung Tsangpo River.

Seven destinations connect to Lhasa directly by Tibet train. The gateway cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining, and Lanzhou, are all interesting places to visit after experiencing the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. You can take the opportunity to explore other parts of China or pick the city with the best outbound connecting flights.

How Should I Prepare for the Nepal to Tibet Train Tour

The requirements for entering Tibet are different when coming in through Nepal. International travelers traveling by flight or overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa need to obtain a Chinese Group Visa and Tibet Travel Permit.

The Chinese Group Visa is available through the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. It can only be applied for by a registered travel agency on behalf of tourists and takes 4-5 working days to process.

The Tibet Travel Permit can take 15-20 days and is issued with the Chinese Group Visa. After booking, we will let you know what documents are needed and start the application process on your behalf.

A sample of Tibet Entry PermitA sample of Tibet Entry Permit.

A Chinese tourist visa is needed to fly to Chengdu from Kathmandu. This can be applied for at your nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate. A Tibet Travel Permit is also required and applied for after getting the Chinese tourist visa. Processing takes 7-14 days.

As an award-winning local Tibet travel agency, with offices in both Lhasa and Kathmandu, we can help you secure a Chinese Group Visa, Tibet Travel Permit, and any other permits needed, such as the Alien’s Travel Permit for the Everest Region and offer you diverse Tibet tours to select from. Please feel free to email us for free inquiry.


The future Kathmandu to Lhasa train will be an incredible experience for travelers, bringing more convenience and comfort to seeing the Himalayan region. You don’t have to wait until it opens to plan your Nepal-Tibet tour, though. Great options already exist for overland and train travel through the Himalayas. Our tours give you many choices for how to experience the trip of a lifetime or contact us to plan your custom tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

Jamyang Tsering

About the Author - Jamyang Tsering

With a perpetual smile and a wealth of Tibetan knowledge, Jamyang Tsering is a seasoned Tibetan guide with over 15 years of expertise. Interestingly, many first come across him on YouTube as a humorous YouTube content creator, proudly introducing every facet of authentic Tibetan life to the world.

Now, not only can you watch Jamyang’s latest video update on our Tibet Vista channel, but also read his travel guide here or book our Tibet tours and travel with the YouTube influencer Jamyang to explore the majestic landscape and culture in Tibet.

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