Traveling The Qinghai-Tibet Railway To Tibet

The Qinghai-Tibet railway connects the capital of Tibet, Lhasa, with major cities inside China. The State owned railway company manages the line which runs for 1,956km; the train has been running since 2006; it is a high-elevation railway (the Tanggula Pass section is the highest railway in the world at 5,072 meters); there are 675 bridges along the route and it is the first railway line to connect the Tibet Autonomous Region with mainland China. The train offers a quick, economical and comfortable way of getting from China to Tibet and an alternative to flying. An added bonus is that passengers can see the changing landscape as the train travels through a number of different terrains and the journey allows the body to acclimatize itself to the high altitude of Tibet. The stations in China include Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Chongqing. Trains run daily in both directions and takes approximately 47-47 hours one way.

Tibet Train Tickets

Tibet train tickets can be bought online through travel agents and prices vary according to the type of seat you choose; season you are traveling and your starting point. Tibet train tickets can cost as little as 50% of an airfare to Tibet but you need to pay a service charge to the travel agent of about %20-30. Tibet train tickets need to be purchased in advance preferably between 6-1 month before departure as they are in high demand. Travel agents are required to present a “train ticket reservation plan” in the form of an annual, 3 monthly and monthly plan. If you book less than 30 days in advance your ticket may not be guaranteed. There are many Tibet train ticket scams so be careful which travel agent you choose.  It is also possible to buy empty seats on the day of departure but this will leave you unsure of your travel plans.

The seating options include “soft seats” where your seat is reserved in a large train carriage; “hard seats” which do not recline and your seat number is not reserved in the train carriage; “soft sleeper berths” or 1st class sleepers for 4 passengers where there is a T.V. and other amenities and “hard sleeper berths” or 2nd class sleepers for 6 passengers where you still have a bed in a compartment but there is no door on the compartment. Children under 1.1 meters tall are eligible for a free Tibet train ticket when traveling with a paying adult and sharing their berth. Kids over 1.1 meters but shorter than 1.5 meters get a discount and their own berth. It can sometimes be problematic booking for kids through a travel agency as they have no proof of the child’s height.

The main rule is to buy your Tibet train ticket early and choose a seat on the train where you will be as comfortable as possible but still within your budget. Then just sit back and enjoy one of the most interesting and unique train journeys in the world.