Since the Qinghai – Tibet Railway opened in 2006, millions of travelers have taken the train into Lhasa. The railway travels through remote areas of eastern and northern Tibet, across frozen plains, and over high mountain passes. In addition to offering passengers a glimpse of the incredible scenery of the Tibetan plateau, the train also offers the opportunity to rest and acclimatize before reaching Lhasa.

Train tickets become very difficult to purchase during the peak tourist season in the summer (May – October) and over the Chinese New Year. At these times, over 18,000 people per day (mostly domestic Chinese) take the train to Tibet. As a result of the high demand, the price of tickets increases.

How is it that train ticket prices increase during busy times? Before going on sale to the public, train tickets are available to large, government-owned travel agencies. These agencies buy up most of the Lhasa-bound train tickets and then sell them with a large mark-up to smaller travel agencies. In addition, ticket dealers camp out in the train stations overnight, buy out the leftover tickets as soon as they go on sale in the morning, and then scalp them to potential buyers. Even if we send our staff to wait in line for hours before the ticket windows open, scalpers who sleep at the station overnight sometimes buy all the tickets before we have a chance to get them and so we have to pursue secondary routes to get tickets. Almost all small-to-medium-sized travel agencies in China face this same situation, and so it is necessary to add a surcharge to the real ticket price in order to have a chance at getting our hands on tickets. Nonetheless, we always work hard to get them as cheaply as possible, so please check with us for going rates according to the season.

Arranging train tickets through SnowLion Tours:

WE DO NOT GUARANTEE TRAIN TICKETS

Passenger trains start in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining and Lanzhou. At the moment, SnowLion Tours can assist travelers in purchasing Beijing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Xining to Lhasa train tickets. For train tickets starting in other locations, we recommend you contact a local travel agency or hotel and ask them to purchase the tickets for you.

If you would like to arrange train tickets through us, arrange them at least 61 days beforehand, which is when tickets go on sale. Due to the unpredictable nature of obtaining Lhasa tickets during peak season, we cannot guarantee these tickets, but we always do our best. If we cannot get tickets for your preferred departure date, we will try for the next day. We recommend that you give us 3 consecutive dates that you are available to take the train, as this will better your chances of getting a ticket.

Soft sleeper tickets are the most difficult tickets to get. Many soft sleeper tickets are reserved for government and military officials. If we are unable to get soft sleeper tickets, we will try for hard sleeper tickets. Despite having an uncomfortable sounding name, hard sleeper berths are actually quite comfortable and are used by most foreign travelers to Tibet.

Hard seats are the easiest to get, but are uncomfortable for a long ride. We can arrange hard seat tickets for you, but recommend that you try to upgrade to a hard sleeper on the train, if possible.

If you have firm dates and need to arrive in Lhasa by a certain date to make your trip happen, then we recommend flying in. Train tickets out of Tibet are much easier to get, so if your schedule is tight, then it’s worth considering flying in and taking the train out.

During low season, it is possible to get train tickets for the real cost of the ticket, with only a small service fee for booking them.

You are also welcome to book your own train tickets. If you choose this option, it is best to ask a Chinese national to buy the ticket for you at the train station. Otherwise, it is likely that you will need to show your permit in order to buy the ticket. Nonetheless, if you choose to buy your own tickets, it is extremely unlikely that you will actually be able to purchase them. At best, you might have some luck booking a sleeper during the low season, or a hard seat during high season. If you want any assurance of getting a train ticket, it is highly recommended that you go through a travel agency.

Tibet Train Schedule 2017

Beijing – Lhasa and Lhasa – Beijing Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
Z21 Beijing 20:10 Lhasa 14:30(3rd day) 4,064km 42hrs 20min
Frequency (Year 2015): Daily
Z22 Lhasa 14:35 Beijing 08:20(3rd day) 4,064km 41hrs 30min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily

 

Chengdu – Lhasa and Lhasa – Chengdu Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
T22 Chengdu 20:45   Lhasa 15:28(3rd day) 3,360km 42hrs 43 min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Even Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

Odd Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

T24 Lhasa  09:40 Chengdu 08:16 (3rd day) 3,360km 46hrs 36min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Odd Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

Even Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

 

Shanghai – Lhasa and Lhasa – Shanghai Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
Z163 Shanghai 19:16 Lhasa 18:57(3rd day) 4,373km 47hrs 03min
Frequency (Year 2015): Daily
Z166 Lhasa 10:25 Shanghai 11:28(3rd day) 4,373km 49hrs 03min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily

 

Guangzhou – Lhasa and Lhasa – Guangzhou Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
Z264 Guangzhou 11:42 Lhasa 17:43 (3rd day) 4,980km 54hrs 02min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily
Z266 Lhasa 10:00 Guangzhou 18:10(3rdday) 4,980km 56hrs 10min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily

Chongqing – Lhasa and Lhasa – Chongqing Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
T222 Chongqing 20:23 Lhasa 15:28(3rd day) 3,654km 43hrs 05min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Even Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

Odd Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

T224 Lhasa 09:40 Chongqing 08:20(3rd day) 3,654km 46hrs 40min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Odd Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

Even Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

 

Lanzhou – Lhasa and Lhasa – Lanzhou Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
Z917 Lanzhou 12:19 Lhasa 13:39(2nd day) 2,188km 25hrs 20min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Even Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

Odd Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

Z918 Lhasa 08:40 Lanzhou 10:14(2nd day) 2,188km 25hrs 34min

Frequency (Year 2017):

Even Days in Jan/Apr/May/Aug/Nov/Dec

Odd Days in Feb/Mar/Jun/Jul/Sep/Oct

 

Xining – Lhasa and Lhasa – Xining Trains

Train # From Dep. Time To Arr. Time Total Distance Total Hours
Z6801 Xining 14:56 Lhasa 13:39(2nd day) 1,972km 22hrs 47min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily

(Multiple trains originating in other cities also stop in Xining on the way to Lhasa.)

Z6802 Lhasa 08:20 Xining 07:26(2nd day) 1,972km 24hrs 24min
Frequency (Year 2017): Daily

(Multiple trains headed out of Lhasa stop in Xining on the way to their destination.)