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Chengdu to Lhasa train

Brief Info:

The Tibet train from Chengdu to Lhasa was inaugurated in 2006. This express train has been running safe and sound across the roof of the world for more than 10 years. The railway from Chengdu to Lhasa covers a total distance of 3360km, with 1960km from Xining to Lhasa running on the famous Qinghai-Tibet railway. The whole ride takes around 36 hours, departing every other day at 21:37 PM from Chengdu North Railway Station, arriving Lhasa at 09:55 AM in the third day morning. So this is the shortest one after the one departing at Xining and Lanzhou.

Chengdu-Lhasa train

Like every Lhasa-bound train, the Chengdu-Lhasa train is also specially manufactured for the use of high altitude environment. All the carriages are installed with double-paned windows and ultraviolet filters to protect passengers from ultraviolet radiation. Also, the train is also tightly sealed to firstly keep the inside air pressure normal, and secondly prevent passengers from littering.

Tickets & Carriages:

There are 3 classes of Tibet train tickets, namely soft sleeper train ticket, hard sleeper train ticket and seat train ticket. Normally, the Chengdu to Lhasa train has 15 carriages except the locomotive. Among them, 8 are hard-sleeper carriages with each holding 60 passengers, 2 are soft-sleeper carriages with each holding 32 passengers, 4 are seat carriages with each holding 98 passengers, and the last one is the dining car for passengers to have meals. The most expensive ticket is the soft sleeper ticket, and then hard sleeper, while cheapest is the seat ticket. 

Many tourists have misunderstanding about "hard" sleeper, they image it's like a "hard" bunk without any mattress upon. But, like soft sleeper, hard sleeper also has every necessary beddings that soft sleeper has. The only two advantages of a soft sleeper compartment over a hard sleeper compartment are, firstly, soft sleeper compartment is more spacious as it only holds 4 passengers while hard sleeper compartment holds 6 passengers, and secondly, soft sleeper has a sliding door which protects your privacy better while hard sleeper compartment has no door. What follows is some detailed description about what soft sleeper compartment, hard sleeper compartment and seat carriage like. 

Soft Sleeper compartment: Soft sleepers are more spacious, only 4 bunks in each compartment, two upper & two lower. All necessary bedding is provided. Inside the compartment, there is a table and beneath it a thermos bottle of hot water is provided too. The compartment has a slide-door which can lock conveniently and so your privacy and luggage is well protected. The Lhasa express train is even equipped with individual flat-screen TV and power sockets for laptops & mobiles. It is a very comfortable option if your budget allows.

Soft-sleeper compartment on a soft sleeper carriage (4 bunks)
Soft-sleeper compartment on a soft sleeper carriage (4 bunks)

Hard Sleeper compartment: Though the name of "Hard" Sleeper may sound uncomfortable, but if fact, hard sleeper bunks of Tibet trains are reasonably comfortably padded, and bedding is also supplied. Hard sleeper consists of open-plan compartment with a broad aisle on one side of the car, bays of 6 bunks (upper, middle & lower) on the other side. It is a good choice if you are on a tight budget.

Hard-sleeper compartment on a hard sleeper carriage (6 bunks)
Hard-sleeper compartment on a hard sleeper carriage (6 bunks)

Seat Carriage: Seat carriage is the crowded because it is the cheapest of all tickets, students, locals and labor workers would choose this; however we do not suggest you take this unless your budget is really very tight. Because it takes 36 hours, it will be very tough for you to sit there still for 2 nights without a good sleeping. Insufficient sleep will cause trouble for you to acclimatize the high altitude while you arrive in Lhasa.

Washrooms: There is no single private bathroom on board, but one open and public sink area at each side of each car (one is washroom, the other is toilet). That is to say, dozens of passengers on each car will share them. Most of time, the washrooms and toilets are tidy and clean because the attendant will clean them frequently, so there will be no much problem to share them at the same time. Note that there is no toilet paper provided, please bring by yourself.

Tibet train washing area  Tibet train toilet 
Tibet train washing area Tibet train toilet

Schedule & Ticket Price:

Train No. From To Dep./Arr. Duration (km) Stops Duration
Z322 Chengdu(成都) Lhasa (拉萨) 21:37/09:55 3360km 8 36Hour18Minites
No. Station Arrival time Departure time Stop time(Minites)
01 Chengdu(成都) ---- 21:37 ----
02 Guangyuan(广元) 02:23 02:40 17
03 Lanzhou(兰州) 09:11 09:27 16
04 Xining(西宁) 12:07 12:27 20
05 Delingha(德令哈) 16:35 16:37 2
06 Gelmud(格尔木) 19:20 19:45 25
07 Naqu (那曲) 05:59 06:05 6
08 Lhasa (拉萨) 09:55 ---- ----


Altitude Sickness:

Compared with arriving Lhasa by air, train travel is safer in terms of acclimatization. However, it is inevitable to talk about the altitude sickness when introducing the Qinghai-Tibet railway, for most of time it runs above 3500 meters. After checking in on the train, the attendant will ask you to fill a Passenger Health Declaration Form to declare that your health can adapt 3000 meters above high elevation travel.

Tibet train Passenger Health Declaration Form
Tibet train Passenger Health Declaration Form

The highest place of the Qinghai-Tibet railway --Tangula mountain Pass stands at 5072 meters. Tremendous altitude problem would happen if the train was not properly and considerately designed.

Chengdu Lhasa train oxygen supply
Chengdu Lhasa train oxygen supply

The Tibet train has two oxygen supply systems; one is the individual oxygen supply system that works anytime when you need it and it is just under your seat or above your sleeper, very easy to get access to; the other is the central oxygen enrichment system that starts to work after the train arrives at stop of Golmud city which is 2815 meters above sea level, that is to say, after the train passing the stop of Golmud city, all the train carriage will be oxygen-enriched. And individual supply is only used when extreme cases take place, yet this seldom happens.

Chengdu Lhasa train oxygen outlet
Chengdu Lhasa train oxygen outlet

Maps & Route:

The Chengdu to Lhasa train rides through 5 provinces, such as Sichuan, Shanxi, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet, which almost covers one third of the whole Chinese territory. Through the whole ride, there are only 7 big city stops before arriving at Lhasa train station. They are Guangyuan, Baoji, Lanzhou, Xining, Gelmud, Delingha and Naqu.

Chengdu to Lhasa Train Map

All the way from Chengdu to Lhasa, the train ride covers different landforms in great diversity. From Chengdu to Guangyuan city, the first stop, the train will ride across the famous and fertile Chengdu Plains. Then from Guangyuan to Baoji, the second largest city in Shanxi province, just next to Xi'an city, the train will first cross Tsinling Mountains which is abundant in natural flora and fauna, the famous wild giant panda has its habitat here. Tsinling Mountains is also the dividing line of the southern and northern part of China; it is reputed as China's Central National Park. After arriving in Baoji city, , the train turns west along the Ancient Silk Road, this part of land is barren but rich in stories of ancient culture and civilization. The Qinghai-Tibet railway experience then starts when the train arrives in Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province, which is regarded as the starting point of Qinghai - Tibet railway.

Picturesque vistas open up after Xining. Against the sharp blue sky, snowy summits and rippling mountain ranges are embellished by turquoise plateau rivers and lakes, glimmering miraculously in the sunlight. The snowy summits and gracious clouds afar seem just at eye level. On this vast grassland, herds of yaks and sheep with nomadic tents dotted peacefully on the real roof of the world, with the average altitude is above 4000 meters. Now and then, you can see rare animals too, like Tibetan antelope, wild ass.

litang horse racing festival
panda keeper volunteer program