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Xining to Lhasa Train

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Xining to Lhasa train departs from Xining Railway Station along the Qinghai–Tibet railway with 1,956 kilometers and arrives at Lhasa Railway Station the next day. Trains Z8981 and Z8991 are two trains that run directly from Xining to Lhasa. Train Z8981 runs every other day for around 20 hours and 30 minutes. Train Z8991 runs daily for around 19 hours and 49 minutes. In addition, all trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and others to Lhasa will stop in Xining. So, you can enjoy different trains from Xining to Lhasa in a single day.

Qinghai-Tibet train scenery

Xining to Lhasa train was launched in July 2006, while the Xining Railway station was set in 1959. It is one of the three initial railway routes of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, and the other two lines moved from Beijing to Lhasa and Chengdu to Lhasa. It is one of the most favorite routes to Tibet. In addition, it is also the shortest of all the train routes to Lhasa. The famous Qinghai-Tibet railway starts from Xining to Lhasa. Xining to Lhasa train covers the highlighted view of the Tibet train with the shortest duration.

Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province and the largest city on the Tibet Plateau. In addition, it is also the east portal of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. About a quarter of passengers travel from Xining to Lhasa by train every year. To enjoy more chances of getting a Tibet train ticket for the planned travel date, tourists can also book the train to Tibet originating from other cities.

Xining to Lhasa train route map

The Xining to Lhasa train is the starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet train, which departs from Xining many times a day, passing through Xining, Delingha, Golmud, Nagqu and finally arrives at the holy city of Lhasa, with a total of 5 stations.


Xining to Lhasa train Schedules and Tickets

There are two types of Xining-Lhasa trains, one is Xining as the first station of the train, which departs from Lhasa. The other is to start from other cities, pass through and stop at Xining, and then drive to Lhasa.

There are 3 trains from Xining to Lhasa, of which the Z6811 train departs every day, the Z6801 train departs every other day, and the Z9815 is a temporary seasonal train, which is mainly added during the peak tourist season in Tibet every year, and will also be added during Tibetan holidays from time to time, with an interval of 2 days.

Train Number Departure Arrival Duration Distance Frequency Ticket Price
Z8981(Xining-Lhasa) 12:50 10:20 21:30Hours 1,960km Every Other Day ¥495
Hard sleeper
Soft sleeper
Z8991(Xining-Lhasa) 21:50 17:39 19:49Hours Daily ¥495
Hard sleeper
Soft sleeper

*Note:The actual arrival and departure time of train, please refer to the information on your ticket, or consult your travel consultant.

Xining to Lhasa Train Schedule 2024/2025

Train Number Departure Arrival Duration Frequency Distance
Z8981(Xining-Lhasa) 12:50 10:20 21:30 every other day 1960km
Z917(Lanzhou-Lhasa) 12:50 10:20 21:30
Z21(Beijing-Lhasa) 15:24 11:36 20:12 daily
Z165(Shanghai-Lhasa) 19:26 15:05 19:39
Z323(Chengdu-Lhasa) 11:41 07:41 20:00 every other day
Z223(Chongqing-Lhasa) 11:41 07:41 20:00
Z265(Guangzhou-Lhasa) 18:13 14:17 20:04 depends
Z9815(Xining-Lhasa) 21:50 17:39 19:49 daily

Xining to Lhasa Train Z8981 Timetable

Days Station Altitude Arr. /Dep.Time
1 Xining 2,200 m --/12:50
1 Delingha 2,980 m 16:37/16:43
1 Golmud 2,780 m 18:58/19:23
2 Nagchu 4,500 m 06:15/06:21
2 Lhasa 3,650 m 10:20/--

Xining to Lhasa Train Z8991 Timetable

Days Station Altitude Arr. /Dep.Time
1 Xining 2,200 m --/21:50
2 Golmud 2,980 m 03:50/04:15
2 Tuotuohe 2,780 m 20:48/21:13
2 Amdo 4,800 m 12:24/12:26
2 Nagchu 4,500 m 14:00/14:06
2 Lhasa 3,650 m 17:39/--

Xining to Lhasa Train Ticket Fares

There are three types of train tickets on all Xining Lhasa trains – Soft Sleeper, Hard Sleeper, and Hard Seat. The fares differ a lot. Soft Sleeper, the most luxurious type of train tickets, is the most expensive, and costs around CNY 781. The Hard Sleeper, the second-class ticket, is cheaper, and costs around CNY 495. The Hard Sleeper, less chosen by foreign travelers, is much cheaper and costs only about CNY 224. To enjoy a quieter and more comfortable train journey, we strongly suggest you choose a Soft Sleeper. Check the following table for details about Xining Lhasa Train Fares:

Soft Sleeper (CNY) Hard Sleeper (CNY) Hard Seats (CNY)
Upper Berth Lower Berth Upper Berth Middle Berth Lower Berth 224
781 808 495 507 521

About ticket price:

The ticket prices above are the net price. In reality, as traveling in Tibet is so popular that the actual ticket demand far exceeds the supply, in-bound and out-bound tourists have to pay more than the net price to buy tickets. The actual price is subject to the market fluctuation. In some cases, the actual price could be double than the net price. Despite the uncertainty and difficulty in purchasing train tickets, TTC would manage to book tickets at a reasonable price ( usually 20 percent lower than the market price) and promise to offer free service for it. If tourists only want to buy train tickets via TTC without intending to travel to Tibet, TTC will have to charge a small amount of service fee.


To be able to board the Shanghai-Lhasa train, foreign tourists have to show your passport, Tibet Travel Permit, and train ticket to the train inspector. If tourists want to travel in Tibet, you need to find a licensed and trustworthy travel agency to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit.

Which Seat Class should I take, Soft Sleeper, Hard Sleeper or Hard Seat?

Each year, there are around one-quarter of tourists taking trains to Lhasa from Xining. The famous Qinghai-Tibet railway starts from Xining to Lhasa. It is the most essential part of all railways to Tibet.

As the capital of Qinghai Province and the largest city on the Tibet Plateau, Xining is also an important transfer and commercial hub that connects west China with other parts of China.

It is convenient to get to Xining from other cities and then take a Tibet train from Xining to Lhasa.

According to our local experience, we strongly suggest travelers choose the Soft Sleeper instead of the Hard Sleeper and Hard Seat to ensure a more comfortable and safer trip because passengers will have to stay a night on the train.

Comparison between Soft Sleeper and Hard Sleeper

  Soft Sleeper Hard Sleeper
Door Yes No
Vacuum Flask Yes Yes
Power Supply Yes No
TV Yes No
Size of Sleeper Width:700mm/Length:1900mm Width:500mm/Length:1800mm
Amount of Sleepers 4 6

Notice: Since there are usually about 64 Soft Sleepers on each train to Tibet, so you’d better confirm your trip and book the train tickets as early as possible. Currently, passengers can book the train ticket 30 days in advance.

Some useful phrases you may need to read your Xining to Lhasa Train Ticket:

西宁站:Xining Railway Station
拉萨站: Lhasa Railway Station
xx年xx月xx日: xx Year xx Month xx Date
xx车xx号: xx Carriage xx Berth
上/ 中/ 下铺:Upper/ Middle/ Lower Berth

Why Xining to Lhasa Train is Recommended?

1. It costs less time (only about 21hours) and money (soft sleeper around CNY 780) for a Xining Lhasa train journey compared with Beijing Lhasa train, Shanghai Lhasa train, Chengdu Lhasa train and other routes.

2. Spending one or two days in Xining to visit the beautiful Qinghai Lake is a wonderful experience as well as a very helpful way to acclimatize the plateau altitudes.

3. Passengers have a more flexible choice between different train timetables because there are usually 5 trains to Lhasa from Xining each day.

The length of Xining Lhasa Railway (Qinghai Tibet Railway) is 1972km (1225 miles). It takes only about 21 hours to take a train to Lhasa from Xining. Currently Xining Railway Station has 5 trains to Lhasa, including one exclusive train Z917 which only runs from Xining to Lhasa, and 4 trains from other cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, etc.

Xining to Lhasa Train from Xining and Tibet Travel Permit

To take a train to Lhasa from Xining, you will have to hold a Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Entry Permit) which is issued only by Tibet Tourism Bureau, and also can only be applied by travel agency behalf of travelers. When you check in at railway station, you have to show the permit. The Entry Permit is also required when you or your agent book train ticket at railway station or branch offices.

It needs about 15~20 days to apply for and get the Tibet Travel Permit. But there is no limitation on the months and dates except March. While the train ticket can only be booked about 30 days in advance, so you can first contact us to apply for the permit first, then move on to next step to book train tickets.

How to Apply for Tibet Travel Permit

1. Contact a us to work out and confirm an itinerary in Tibet;

2. Send us the scanned copies of your passport, and provide an available address in China(hotel or local agency) to receive your permit;

3. We apply for the Tibet Travel Permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa;

4. Once the permit is issued, we will send the original permit to you by post. >> Learn more detail about Tibet Travel Permit Application

Facilities on Xining Lhasa Train – Life on the Train

Compartment In the Soft Sleeper Compartment, there are a small table, a heat-retaining vacuum flask, and a trash can. Under the table is a plug to get power supply. There is also a small TV fixed on the door near the aisle. Close to the window, there is an outlet of oxygen. While in the Hard Sleeper Compartment, there are some other friendly facilities – a small table, a thermos, a dustbin.
Toilet and Washing The toilets in Soft Sleeper Carriages are one western-style toilet and another squat toilet. While in the carriages of Hard Sleepers and Hard Seats, there are only squat toilets available. Bring toilet paper on your own. There is a simple washbasin on each side of the carriages. Only cold water is provided, undrinkable.
Luggage Storage If you are taking a Soft Sleeper, you can put your luggage or suitcases on the luggage closet above the door in each Soft Sleeper Carriage. It is about 16 inches (40cm) high and 20 inches (50cm) wide. If you are taking a Hard Sleeper, just place your luggage and suitcases on the luggage racks above the window by the side of the aisle.
Food and Drink There is a dining carriage in the middle position of the train which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner and some snacks. Only some Chinese food and cuisines are provided rice, vegetables, meats, and soups. You can also buy packed food from the Food Trolley. Hot water is provided all the time. The water received from the washing area is not drinkable.
Air Conditioning and Oxygen Supply There is an air-conditioning system on the train to create a comfortable temperature and ensure clean and fresh air. There are also two kinds of oxygen supply systems equipped with on the train. One is a ‘dispersion-mode’ oxygen supply system, which spreading oxygen in the train’s cars through the air-con system. The other system is directly used by passengers through the independent port.

Altitude Change of Xining to Lhasa Train

Xining to Lhasa Railway, measuring 1,956 km, starts from Xining (2,275m) to Lhasa (3,650m). This railway with the highest altitude around the world reaches its highest point at Tanggula Pass (5,072m) and the entire railway line is built over 4500m. It is known that high altitude may trigger physical discomforts such as headache, dizziness and other altitude sickness symptoms. Yet, this specially-built train is equipped with oxygen supply system that will automatically release oxygen into the carriage to minimize altitude sickness when reaches Golmud (2,829m).


Oxygen Supply and Altitude Sickness on the Xining to Lhasa train

Sometimes called “mountain sickness”, altitude sickness is a group of symptoms that can strike if you walk or climb to a higher altitude too quickly. Characterized by symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, altitude sickness is the biggest concern for traveling to Tibet.

Air-conditioning alone is not sufficient to make a cozy environment on the train to Tibet. The oxygen supply is the key element to ensure passengers' comfort and safety. There are two oxygen-supply systems on each train. One is used for increasing the oxygen level in the train, by temperature and air pressure controlling systems, when the train enters into the plateau zone. The other is directly used by passengers through an independent port. There are oxygen supply tubes and masks in each cabin for emergencies. Private oxygen masks are provided to every passenger, whatever ticket they have. In sleeping berth cars, you can find outlets on the wall beside the windows, while in seat cars, you can find outlets under your seat.


How to choose the Xining to Lhasa by train or Lhasa to Xining?

Take a train to Lhasa from Xining or from Lhasa to Xining are both great. What matters most is to get a train ticket as it is usually not easy to book train tickets especially a soft sleeper during traveling peak seasons (usually from May to October). But we recommend Xining to Lhasa train ride more if you are able to obtain the tickets because you can spend one or two days to acclimatize the high altitudes of Qinghai Tibet Plateau firstly so that you won’t suffer from high altitude sickness on the train and during you trip in Tibet. At the same time, you will have chance to take the Train Z164 from Shanghai and Z264 from Guangzhou at Xining. These two trains allow more daytime to enjoy the beautiful landscape along the Golmud Lhasa section which is the most beautiful section among all.

How to Book Xining Lhasa Train Tickets

Currently all trains to Tibet will make stop at Xining, which means you can choose to take any one of the 6 trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Lanzhou to Tibet. Plus, Xining also operates one exclusive train Z6801 to Lhasa.

You can book train ticket on your own at any railway station or branch office in China or contact a travel agency to book for you. Generally speaking, the travel agencies always have the bigger chances to obtain a Tibet train ticket especially during tourism peak season because they can book tickets both online and off line. They also always keep up with the latest situations. Both the passport and Tibet Travel Permit are needed to book train tickets at railway station, but only passport information is needed if you let a travel agency book train tickets online.

Some useful tips to increase the chance of successful ticket booking

1. If you fail to book the ticket of Xining to Lhasa train, you can try booking tickets of former stations (cities) to Lhasa, such as Lanzhou, Xian, etc. If you have managed to obtain a ticket from those cities, you can also board the train at Xining Railway Station.

2. When you find it hard to book a ticket for Xinig to Lhasa train, you can change a starting station, such as Lanzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai.

How to Get to Xining Railway Station

There are three railway stations in Xining – Xining Railway Station (西宁站), Xining East Railway Station (西宁东站), Xining West Railway Station (西宁西站). But only the Xining Railway Station provide passenger transport service. The other two stations are for freight transport. Xining Railway Station is the starting station of Qinghai Tibet Railway. It is also the joint railway station for all trains to Tibet, including trains from Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Lanzhou, Chongqing and Guangzhou.

Xining Railway Station is located at Huzhu Road, Chengdong District, Xining City (西宁市城东区互助路), about 2 miles (3 km) from central city area, 19 miles (30 km) from Caojiabao Airport, and 20 miles (32 km) from Ta'er Monastery. You can take a taxi to Xining Railway Station conveniently from any region in Xining. It is suggested to get to the railway station at least 1 hour before the train departure so that you will have enough time to collect ticket, check in and find your train. Currently there is no subway in Xining City.

Xining Railway Station Outlook

How to Plan a Travel in Xining

Xining not only provides the shortest train road to Tibet, but also offers a great opportunity to enjoy a short-break trip. You can spend about 2 or more days in this exotic city in northwestern China to explore its beautiful nature and charming culture.

Classic Xining Two Days Tour

Day 1: drive about 155km (about 2.5hrs) to visit the best highlight of Qinghai Lake – Erlangjian Scenic Spot. After Qinghai Lake sightseeing, drive back to Xining for accommodation.

Day 2: In the morning, you can go to take a half day tour to Taer Monastery, the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master – Tsongkhapa. Then drive back to city to catch a train to Tibet.

Xining – Qinghai Lake- Zhangye – Jiayuguan – Xining Circuit

Xining is also the gateway to northwestern China - Ancient Silk Road Region. If time allows, you are suggested to take following Silk Road Adventure from Xining

Day 1 drive about 155km (about 2.5hrs) to visit the best highlight of Qinghai Lake – Erlangjian Scenic Spot. After Qinghai Lake sightseeing, drive back to Xining for accommodation.

Day 2 Take a high speed train Zhangye in the morning, and visit the famous natural wonder – Zhangye Danxia Landform;

Day 3 Visit Giant Buddha Temple, and then take a high speed train to Jiayuguan City to visit the ancient project Jiayuguan Pass Fortress.

Day 4 Drive to Dunhuang. Visit Yulin Grottoes along the road.

Day 5 Visit the world famous Mogao Grottoes in the morning, and explore wonderful Crescent Lake and Sand Echoing Mountian in the afternoon.

Day 6 Take a flight back to Xining to catch your train to Tibet.

Abouts Xining to Lhasa Train FAQs

Q1. Where to recharge your mobile phones and electronic devices?

The power plug for chargers are located in the corridors OR under your table in the cabin with the 4 soft sleepers (in between the 2 lower bunks).

Q2. Can tourists have shower in the train?

Unfortunately, there is no shower room in the train. Do bring some wet wipes in stores and a small towel. And small but equally important thing is to bring enough toilet/tissue paper.

Q3. How to Get Help on the Train?

Some of the staff on the train speak English and they are easy-approaching and hospitable to foreign tourists. If one runs into any trouble, you may ask the head of conductor for help. Most of the passengers may have symptoms of altitude sickness (such as headache, fatigue, difficult sleeping, lack of appetite, etc.) as the train reaches Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Now, you may switch on the oxygen outlet to inhale oxygen to ease the discomfort. If the symptom gets worse, you may find the conductor for help and the doctor on the train will come and give you timely treatment.

Q4. How can we minimize the effect of altitude sickness?

The effect of altitude sickness on passengers varies. Yet, to minimize or ease the impact of altitude sickness, one may prepare some altitude sickness tablets before boarding the train and take some when the train climbs to plateau. There is no need to worry too much the altitude sickness, the train is built with oxygen supply system which is easy to use.

Q5. Is smoking allowed in the cabin?

Smoking is strictly forbidden in the train as the train is tightly sealed and pressurized and oxygen is pumped into the carriage when the train ascends to extreme altitude.It would be devastating if the train caught fire.

Related Articles & Tibet Train from Other Gateway Cities

Apart from Xining, you can also enjoy a fascinating Tibetan train journey from major provincial cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Xi'an, Chongqing, and Chengdu. Every city has a completely different travel experience. Many exciting journeys await you to discover and join us for a well-designed train journey to Tibet train tour.

Most Recommended Qinghai-Tibet Train Tour Packages

Based on our over 10 years Tibet train tour running experience, we handpick the top 4 most recommended Qinghai-Tibet train tours for you. You can easily combine the scenic tours in Xining with an exciting Tibet train tour all the way to holy Tibet. With reliable service for Tibet train booking and Tibet Travel Permit, we promise you a once-in-a-lifetime Xining Tibet train journey. Just tell us your tour date and personal preferences for your Tibet train tour, we love to make it happen for you.

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