There are three main types of seats on the train: hard seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper. Hard seat is just a metal seat where all passengers sit next to each other; it is rarely used by westerners, especially for long train rides. In hard sleeper, there are about 6 berths to a cabin where you will have your own bed. Soft sleeper is the most deluxe seat on the train with 4 berths in each cabin equipped with its own TV. Soft sleeper is about RMB 400 more expensive than soft sleeper. Toilets on the train are shared and are located at the end of each carriage.
Yes, you can book your train tickets to and from Lhasa (Tibet), but you should know that train tickets to and from Tibet starts sell 10 days before the departure date and can only be purchased from the train ticket counter located in the departing city; you can’t book your tickets online. Buying your own train tickets is very hard and generally only possible during the low season (Nov. - March).
Train tickets to Tibet are in very high demand and are nearly impossible to acquire in the regular way. First off, there are limited trains to Tibet and most of the seats are under state control, especially in soft sleeper. There are only 48 soft berths in each train and the government occupies most of them when they are needed. Secondly, there are numerous ticket-dealing agents that sell the tickets for a higher cost; so during high season, all tickets come with a very expensive service fee.
The Lhasa Train Station is only 15km south of Lhasa. It is separated from the main city by Lhasa River. It should only take around 20 minutes to get to the center of the city.
For the most part, trains depart on time and you are advised to arrive at the train station 2 hours before your departure time. You will need to fill out a health record form prior to departing and there are often many people in line so it may take some time to check into the train.
There is water boiler in each car and you can get boiled water for free, but you need to bring your own mugs.
There are no showers on the train so you will have to wait to until you get to Lhasa.
Yes, you can charge your electronic devices on the train. There are electric outlets in the corridors of each car, but remember the sockets and plugs used in China are A, C, and I. You can buy adapters in China.
The train is well pressurized for the plateau environment, but if you get a headache when crossing the mighty Thangula Ranges (5700m), the train has two main oxygen supplying systems. The whole cabin has an oxygen-releasing outlet and there are individual oxygen pipes right over your bed. Before the train reaches the high plateau, train attendants will distribute oxygen masks that you can use by connecting them to the outlets on your bed.
14. Is taking train to Tibet reduce the risk of getting AMS by allowing me to acclimatize along the route?
It remains a question for many travelers whether taking the train to Tibet helps with Altitude sickness or not, but many experts says that taking the train doesn’t really provide that much help since the train itself is well designed and pressurized to prevent altitude sickness in its passengers. Moreover, many passengers have trouble sleeping on the train and will be very tired when they arrive in Lhasa, which will increase the risk of getting altitude sickness. The best way to prevent the Altitude sickness is to spend at least 2 days in Lhasa doing mild activities before heading to higher altitude places.
Normally the train ticket cancellation fee costs 20% of the total ticket fee.
The train ride to Tibet from mainland China range anywhere from 24 – 50 hrs. It is not a short trip and you will need to pack properly in order to fully enjoy the train ride and scenery along the way. We suggest you pack all of your unnecessary items in a larger bag and put all necessary items in a smaller, handy bag that you can access easily. Here is a brief packing list for your smaller bag:
3. Mug or cup for boil water
4. Flash light (train cabin lights go out at 10pm)
5. Snacks and cookies
6. Ear plugs and eye mask