Tibet Train FAQs

1. What documents are needed to board a train to Tibet?

If you are taking the train to Tibet, then you will only need a copy of the Tibet Travel Permit, we will send a copy of the permit by email that you can print out and take with you on the train.

2. What types of seats are available on the train?

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 in open compartments of 4 or 6. Westerners rarely choose this option, especially for long train rides.
In hard sleepers there are 6 berths to a cabin and you will have your own bed. There is enough space to lie down but not sit up on your bunk.
Soft sleeper is the most comfortable and expensive option on the train. They are usually RMB 400 more expensive than hard sleepers.  There are 4 berths in each cabin and is equipped with its own TV. Toilets on the train are shared and are located at the end of each carriage.

3. Can I book the train tickets myself?

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).

4. Why do I have to pay a few hundred more than actual to get a train ticket?

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.

5. What are the risks if I try to book my own train tickets during the high season?

We should always book train tickets from the ticket dealers in advance. If you would like to book your own ticket, then we wont’ book your ticket for you and you will have to get in line at the train ticket counter to purchase them. It is very common that all the train tickets are sold out before they even begin to be sold from the ticket counter. In this care, we will try to purchase the tickets for you but because of the late booking, there might be an expensive surcharge.

6. How far is the Lhasa Train Station from the city?

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.

7. How do I receive the train tickets if I booked them with you?

f you book the train tickets with us along with the packaged tour, then we will arrange for the train tickets to be delivered to your hotel in China. You will need to send us the address of your hotel and your booking number. Usually we will make the delivery 5-10 days prior to departure.

8. When should I arrive at the train station?

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.

9. Are meals served on the train?

Each train has a dinning car with a capacity of 40-50 seats. The dining car mainly serves Chinese cuisines, noodles, soups and some Tibetan dishes. If you don’t want to eat in the dinning car, then there is a delivery cart that will bring dishes around to each car every meal. If you need to purchase dishes, the cost will increase by RMB 20-25. For breakfast, they generally serve pickles, eggs, bread and rise porridge for RMB 10-15.

10. Is there boiled water available on 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.

11. Can I take a shower on the train?

There are no showers on the train so you will have to wait to until you get to Lhasa.

12. Can I charge my camera or electronic devices on the train?

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.

13. Is Oxygen available on the train?

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.

15. What is the train ticket cancellation policy?

Normally the train ticket cancellation fee costs 20% of the total ticket fee.

16. How do I pack for the train ride and what should I bring?

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:

1.         Slippers

2.         Toiletries

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

Frequently asked questions and Answers

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