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“Train from Shanghai to Lhasa” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Train from Beijing to Lhasa

Train from Beijing to Lhasa
Ranked #1 of 1 Transportation in Lhasa
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Beijing is considered as the 1st choice to take the train to Lhasa on Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Nowdays, you can also choose to take train from Xining, Chengdu, Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou, Chongqing.
Jiaxing, China
Level Contributor
16 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Train from Shanghai to Lhasa”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2013

A long trip but so worthwhile. Bring your own food and prepare to be blown away by the geography, wildlife and people you will see as you gradually climb to your destination. It's 48 hours but well worth it. Breath the oxygen pumped through nozzles in the rooms and hallways to prevent altitude sickness.

Visited October 2013
9 Thank 923Terry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“The scenery & experience with locals is once in a lifetime - awesome”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 8, 2013

My mum (66 yrs young) and I decided to travel from Beijing to Lhasa by rail. You will need everything pre-booked by your tour agency, and make sure you have all your permits to Tibet printed out and ready as they will check this on the train.

You'll then need to pick up your train ticket using the booking number provided by the tour agency. We picked up the tickets at Beijing Railway station, and Thankfully had a local Chinese friend to help us. Just make sure if you're travelling WITH other people that you insist you are in the same cabin. My mum and I were separated but we did manage to move a number of times through the journey (with a number of stops, there were a number of carriage changes) until we finally got into the 1 cabin. All you need to do is ask and the people & officers were friendly enough to help.

Get to the train station early, too - as it can be a little weird to try to find the platform. Most Lhasa trains will depart from Beijing Xi station - this is not the main Beijing station, but Beijing WEST, so take note.

What this ISN'T:
First up: This is not the Orient Express. You're travelling with locals - many tourists from China and some people who actually live in Tibet and are travelling home. So if you are expecting the romantic ideal of train travel, with silver cutlery, your own toilet and shower in your cabin, privacy, and Poirot.... this is not it.

Having said that, the trains are still modern, but it is a loooong train journey and each carriage has an area with sinks to brush teeth, wash your face - but no showers. There are also 2 toilets per cabin. One western toilet and one squat toilet. So based on the length of the journey and the number of people in carriages who wander up and down the train, you can imagine, toilets are well-used, not just from the people in your carriage.

So - If you're squeamish with squat toilets maybe China isn't the place for you anyway. :) BUT if you made it this far, then read on.

What it IS:

If you book the 4 soft sleeper cabins, you will have 4 beds in 1 cabin. Each bed will have linen, pillow and a quilt. It was clean. So with 4 beds, my mum and I shared with 2 other people in each cabin. And sometimes these people changed as some got off at stops, and new people got on. Note: the linen & quilt did not change.

As it's a 44 hour trip, suggest you pay for the soft sleeper. I wandered through the other carriages - hard sleeper (6 bunks in 1 cabin) and the seats carriages. It was very cramped. I don't think I could've lasted 44 hours in the other class cabins.

What you will get is a very rare experience to travel with locals, and take in the scenery (and yes, there is lots of it). This aspect of the romantic train journey is quite amazing - you see the industrial Chinese juggernaut slowly change to vast open rocky expanses, change to smaller towns, sides of mountains, open up into vast valleys, lakes, flocks of sheep, wind energy fields...the variety of China/ TIbet's landscape is amazing to take in. I can't emphasise how much I enjoyed the scenery - I was up at night just taking it in from the window, hopefully the attached photos give you an idea of the variety, expanse and scope of the country.

At one stage in the journey, my cabin was freeeeezing, so I wandered the corridors to find an officer, and when I finally found one (it was 3am) I explained this by gestures - by hugging myself and shaking plus I was wearing track pants and a fleecy hooded jumper. Despite my pathetic miming, the officer, nodded, followed me to my cabin and then nodded again and went to the control room and turned off the air conditioning.
Also, as my mum and I were placed in different cabins, we spoke direct to other passengers, who were happy to swap if they were travelling solo and the officers were ok with that too.

Tips for the journey:
- Hot water is free - there's a hot water dispenser near the sinks, so you can always make a cup of tea or a bowl of noodles.
- Bring your own food - noodles in a bowl, or buy noodles in a packet and a cheap metal cup with lid at any corner store in Beijing. We also brought snacks, fruit, sunflower seeds....and sharing your snacks is a great way to make conversation.
- Bring your own music/ movies/ entertainment/ cards
- 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). Unfortunately, I only found the power plug at the last 6 hours of our journey! HAHHA! Oh well. You gotta have a sense of humour, right? everyone was really happy for us to "take turns" with charging devices.
- Bring some wet wipes (you can find these in stores) so you can refresh yourself
- Bring a small towel (I concur with The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - it is indispensable in all travels!)
- Bring your own toilet/ tissue paper
- Wear comfy and warm clothes - loose clothes and warm layers as it will get colder as you get higher in altitude.
- Have a change of clothes for bed - I asked fellow passengers whether I could change, and the men were gracious and left the cabin so I could swap pants/ top.
- Ladies, bring panty liners.
- There WILL be smokers. This is China. Bring essential oil and dab on tissue. If it gets overwhelming, ask politely if the person smoking can smoke down the carriage (there are smoking sections in every carriage) and cite a health issue. I find being polite and asking often gains amazing results for humans who don't have psychic powers.
- Toiletries - small bag with toothbrush/ paste, comb, deodorant, essential oils, moisturiser, face cleanser.
- The food sold on the train looked ok - they come round to carriages with a trolley and you buy straight from that. I wasn't too impressed with the food sold in the restaurant, but it wasn't terrible. We only ate there once. It was nice to have a change in the surroundings. We were glad we brought our own food.
- There are a number of stops where you can grab some quick food from trolley stalls on the platform - fruit/ boiled eggs/ snacks etc. and the train will stop for about 5-10 mins so you can buy this if you're desperate & want to stretch your legs.
- PERMITS - make 100% sure you have them your passport, tickets, visa etc. on hand so you can show them to the officers as they do check them. Might be different number of checks for each journey, but you definitely need a permit to enter Tibet, so make lots of copies.
- Altitude sickness: it can affect you on the train - don't know if it's better to fly or not, but take a gamble. We bought altitude sickness tablets before the train trip and took them when we got on the train. The tablets can be bought at Chinese Chemists. They are safe to take every 3 hours. The locals who lived in Lhasa took them too and said even after the many train trips they've taken home, they still feel tired & out of sorts. So they still take the tablets as a safety/ to lessen the affects. I had some tiredness, but my mum was fine. Everyone's different, so suggest you take tablets as a precaution.

Despite the toilet horrors (you can use your imagination), I have to say, the toilet is just as bad/ good as some tourist locations in China on really busy times (Forbidden City, Summer Palace etc.).

Balancing out the toilet issue for us was the experience of chatting to 3 older gents on a tour to Tibet, learning "Chi" breathing from a guy from Guang Dong, meeting a family who was living in Lhasa, and talking about life, politics and sharing photos of our pet dogs. The scenery, the life experience outweighed the toilet issue/ cramped conditions. Everyone was polite, considerate when they sat on our lower bunks (we were happy to share) and happy to chat about their lives, family, travels. After all, we were all on the same train to Lhasa. :)

If you're realistic, and can handle the above, you won't miss this opportunity to travel to Lhasa and see China's landscapes in a very unique way.

Visited July 2013
43 Thank sydneypo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
93 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“Train from Lhasa to Lanzhou”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2013

My group and I had to spend a long time queuing up outside Lhasa Train Station and after going through a few security checks we boarded the train. There are two toilets in each compartment, which are not cleaned frequently and in the morning there a long queues also from pasengers from other compartments, so be prepared. Bring your own toilet paper!
The cabins were far too narrow and the limited storage space above the door was for very small luggage. The bedding was very clean and there were also slippers for each passenger. Bring your own food and water as the food served during the journey might not be to your taste.

Visited August 2013
4 Thank Christopher P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
594 reviews
223 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 292 helpful votes
“A Fair Experience”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 18, 2013

Headed to Tibet I have mixed reservations about being on a train for 44 hours as this will be the longest train trip I have ever taken.

Although there is about a 2 hour flight option for about the same cost, the supposed benefit of taking the train is to gradually get use to the higher altitudes in Tibet and potentially avoid getting altitude sickness. Besides, I am game for a rocking and rolling adventure.

Boarding the train in Beijing around 8:30pm is much easier than expected. Although I have provisions for the journey, I do purchase some goods at the train station all available for a reasonable price.

My accommodations on the train is in a 4 person soft sleeper section of the train. I have an upper berth but would recommend a lower much for a better ride and nicer views of the passing scenery.

Since the train leaves at night there is not much sightseeing but daylight brings some surprising and beautiful views of the Chinese landscape. Rolling hills, desert farmlands, scattered lakes and towering mountains provide enjoyable views.

The train is equipped with both types of restrooms which were kept reasonably clean although toilet paper was often in short supply. Always a good idea to bring your own.

I did have one meal in the dining car and thought it was pretty decent and flavorful.

Surprisingly, the time passes a lot quicker than expected but it helps to have good company, a book or a few movies to watch. Power is available in sleeping berths.

For a one time journey this is not a bad option but don't forget a good book, movies and TP!

Visited April 2013
7 Thank DMBTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
296 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
“I have always wanted to go on this tibetan railway ever since i watched the plan for construction on TV.”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013 via mobile

For years i have wanted to take this route which i finally did. Boarding from xining i spent 25hrs on d train taking in d sights. We went thru meandering bends n tunnels over bridges. I must say there are interesting sights/scenery along d way. However, the mgmt should seperate the tourist coach away from d buffet coach. Its just too noisy n disturbing having everyone on board bypassing our cabins.

Visited June 2013
4 Thank ChanML
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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