Taking Qinghai-Tibet railway to Tibet is a journey that we think should be included on every traveller’s bucket list. The railway is an engineering miracle in the history of railway construction and extends 1,956 kilometres on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It also connects China with Tibet – the highest land on the planet. The construction lasted half a century with a huge amount of money invested and it wasn’t officially open to public until July, 2006. The magical journey transcends through distant lofty mountains, rivers, wide lakes and vast prairie lands. Views from both sides of the train are truly breathtaking.
Often known as the “rail above the clouds’’, Qinghai-Tibet railway is the world’s highest railroad with nearly half of the railway lying more than 4,000 meters above sea level. The geographic obstacles often posed a huge challenge and a staggering amount of money was spent throughout the construction, but the engineers made it.
At it’s highest point it reaches 5,072 meters and the highest station on the line is Tanggula Station (5068 meters above sea level) which also happens to be the highest station in the world. In addition, the Qinghai-Tibet railroad runs through the world’s most elevated tunnel, Fenghuoshan Tunnel (4,905 meters above sea level) which is built on frozen earth and the world’s longest plateau tunnel, Kunlun Mountain Tunnel (1,686 meters long) which is also built on frozen earth, too.
Not only is the Qinghai Tibet Railway an engineering miracle, but also offers tourists breathtaking scenery along the line. It’s easy for tourists to take the train to Tibet from large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, most of which takes around 40 hours.
Why you should experience the Tibet train tour – attractions
- Qinghai Lake with Bird Island – Qinghai Lake is the largest inland salt water lake at 3200 meters above sea level. The lake has an abundant fish amount of fish attracting flocks of birds which makes a charming Bird Island on the western shore of this lake.
- Kunlun Mountains – Imagine a place where you are transferred from hot summer to severe winter suddenly, with magnificent snow scenery surrounding you. Here you can also see rare animals leaping and skipping on the snow and grassland.
- Tuotuo River – The Tuotuo River is the officially recognized source of the Yangtze – the longest river in China. The natural scenery around the Tuotuo river is unique and amazing, with bamboo-shaped ice bars, ice-bridges, icy lakes and so on.
- Tanggula Mountain Pass – This is the highest railway station in the world. There is a sightseeing platform at the station where you can see the majestic Tanggula Mountain covered with snow all year round, the vast plains, highland lakes, and the Tanggula River and glacier.
- Changtang Grassland – A beautiful place where yaks, sheep and nomad’s camps reside.
- Cuona Lake – You can clearly see this beautiful lake from the train, like a glittering blue pearl nestled among the vast grasslands.
Tourists are likely to suffer altitude sickness as they ascend from the mainland in China at low elevation to the high elevation at Qinghai-Tibet plateau. To combat this, the train has the most advanced facilities in the world – they come with an ample oxygen supply and oxygen tubes are available for each traveller (they are simply plugged into the air supply). Every carriage of the train also has a doctor and the luxurious train offers comfort throughout the entire trip.
The best time to go is June to August which is the warmest time of year across the Tibetan Plateau. This is when the vibrant prairie and turquoise lakes can be seen. Qinghai-Tibet railway is a popular line with thousands of travellers taking the train to Tibet. Book in advance (at least three month before your trip). The easiest way is find a reliable China Based Tibet Tour Agency to book for you.
If you are travelling with your family it would be better to ask a travel agency to book tickets with close ticket numbers so the whole family can travel together (otherwise there is a chance the same group could be seated separately in different carriages due to the volumes the agencies have to deal with).
ChinaTibetTrain.Com, the official tourist website of Tibet Train, offering authoritative Tibet Train Travel Guide, Update Schedules, and booking service.
Tibet Vista, Tibet Travel & Tours, is a Tibet Travel Guide offers innovative ideas on itineraries, things to do and see, places to eat and sleep, practicalities (transportation, emergency information, and visa guidelines, best times to go)