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Experience the World Wonder Railway – Tibet Train to Lhasa

May,24 2021 BY Master Kungga Dundruk

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is absolutely a miracle in the construction history of mankind. It was built 11 years ago on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the world’s highest plateau, under extremely harsh natural conditions. The 1,956 kilometers rail line expands a vast highland area with an average altitude of 4,300 meters above sea level, the highest being 5,068 meters.

For a considerable number of years, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was the only area in China that had no rail lines. Road trips to Tibet were long and dangerous. Many people got killed en route. Since the 1950s, China has been dreaming of a railway to Tibet, but it took the nation nearly 60 years to realize the dream.

Lhasa Railway StationTravel Tibet by train

Every cloud has a silver lining. Despite unbelievable difficulties during its construction, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway goes through areas of breath-taking scenery—lofty mountain ranges, snow-capped peaks, emerald lakes, rare animals, vast prairie... You would never want to miss the capricious highland weather—it is now clear and sunny, and yet it will start to snow the next minute. No human beings have ever seen all these nature wonders until the first train left Xining for Lhasa on July 1, 2006.

It would be a huge loss if you decide to travel to Tibet without taking the Qinghai-Tibet train. Since its operation, the Qinghai-Tibet railway has become one of the busiest railways in Asia. Around 250 million people have been on board the train as of June 2017. The Railway was highly acclaimed as "Heavenly Road" by the west, which marvels at the majestic architecture and the magnificent landscape.

Where do you start the train journey?

Many foreign tourists assume that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway connects Beijing with Lhasa. However, it actually goes from Xining City in Qinghai Province to Lhasa City of the TAR. Xining is within easy reach from across the country. Therefore, the railway connects the whole nation with Tibet.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway MapQinghai-Tibet Railway Map

If the long distance travel from your first stop to Xining is too overwhelming, you may choose to fly to Xining. The rest of the trip would be no more than 24 hours—a good sleep overnight and a full day’s spectacular views.

What Does Tibet Train Look Like Inside?

The picturesque views along the Tibet Train route is one of the highlights for taking a train to Tibet. The train cars are designed as per suggestion from Tibetan scholars and experts. The curtains, table cloths and the carpet are all in Tibetan colors and patterns, presenting warm ethnic attractions. The cars are large and spacious enough for tourists to enjoy convenient views through the windows.

Soft Sleeper on Tibet TrainSpacious Soft sleeper on Tibet Train

They are decorated to the high-end standards, with hi-tech and comfortable facilities, many of which were used for the first time ever on a train. Every car is ventilated with warm, oxygen-rich air; separate oxygen inhalers are sufficient, ensuring enough oxygen for those in need. The railway is dubbed “the highest’, and it is also the longest highland railway line in the world.

Guidance to the Scenic Spots through Your Qinghai Tibet Railway Journey

The best part of the train journey is from Golmud Station all the way down to Lhasa. The train reaches the Station early in the morning when the day just starts to break on the plateau.

It first stops at the Yuzhufeng Station, an altitude of 4100 meters. When Tibetan antelopes, yellow sheep and other wild animals suddenly flash by your window, you know you’ve reached the world-renowned Kekexili, which has just been recognized as a World Heritage site.

Tuotuo RiverRunning across Tuotuo River

The train then goes through the world’s highest tunnel – the Fenghuoshan Tunnel, winds its way through the high plateau prairie, and comes to Tuotuo River, the time-honored source of the Yangtze River.

You will rarely see any mountain peaks below 5,000 meters when it reaches Tanggula Mountains. The legend goes, "When you reach the Tanggula, you are very close to heaven”. The Mountains devide the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau into two different ecosystems—the north is bitterly cold while the south is warm and moist. You will feel cold no more as your train rushes into the beautiful pasture land.

As it approaches Naqu Station, the scorching sun is still scary, but the pasture land is busy with people trading and having festival celebrations. The next treat is North Tibet Pearl – Dangxiong Wet Land. Known as "The Lungs of Dangxiong”, the wet land is capable of having an impact on local climate.

When you see dazzling white clouds ascending from the distance, you know it is the Yangbajing Station, widely- known for its hot springs. Finally, you arrive in Lhasa Station in the evening, the end of a long journey of roughly 12 hours.

Booking the Train Tickets

Since the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2006, getting on the train has become a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" for millions every year. Undoubtedly, the tickets are easily sold out, especially during peak seasons (April-October). Don’t even think about getting one from its official website during these months. The best method is to book the tickets through a travel agency.

But you have to do it early and do it fast. As most passengers on the Qinghai-Tibet train are tourists, the railway operator usually sell tickets to travel agencies, which resell them together with tour packages. However, not all travel agencies are qualified to get the tickets. Tibet Vista has been selling the Qinghai-Tibet train tickets since 2006. Each year, we send over 3,000 travelers to Tibet by train. The best seller of our products are "train tour + Tibet tour". Please order at least 30-60 days prior to departure. The earlier, the better.

Check out a video below for the stunning views from the windows of the train:

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

The Lhasa-born prodigy used to study business overseas, and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland.With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

Responsible, considerate and humorous, he devoted his entire life guiding and serving international tourists travelling in Tibet.As a legendary Tibetan travel guru with 20-year pro guide experience , he once had an exclusive interview with the US media. Currently he is working in Tibet Vista as the Tour Operating Director. Whenever our clients run into troubles, he is your first call and will offer prompt support.

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