Best time to visit Tibet

Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The world's highest railway is a real masterpiece attracting travellers from all over the planet

Best time: all year round

Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest railway in the world. This human-made world wonder attracts millions of visitors each year. Since its opening in 2006, the railway has become the busiest in Asia. Six trains connect Tibet and various parts of China, cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining, and the capital of the Tibet region Lhasa.

The total length of the railway is 1,956 km, and the highest part is located at the height of 5,072 m. Half of the track is set at a height of 4,000 m, and a considerable part is laid on permafrost. The highest tunnel in the world, the Fenghuoshan tunnel, is also part of this journey and can be found at an elevation of 4,905 m. There are 675 bridges set along the whole railway.

Other highlights you can see during your journey include the vast Qinghai Lake, the amazing Kunlun and Tanggula mountain ranges, the uninhabited Hoh Xiland, and the origin of the Yangtze River. You can also enjoy seeing some rare animals, like Tibetan antelopes, yaks, and various birds. Please note that being at such high elevations can be harmful to your health, so check all the risks before you book a ticket.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Qinghai-Tibet Railway?

It is advisable to travel between May to October to have a more stable weather and enhance the traveling experience. High tourist influx during peak seasons can result in crowded trains and delays in city exploration. Advanced bookings for tickets and accommodations are sensible for a smooth trip. Show more

What sightseeing spots can I expect from Shanghai to Lhasa journey?

The train ride from Shanghai to Lhasa is filled with mesmerizing landscapes like Qinghai Lake, Himalayas, and Tanggula Mountains. One can experience the distinct Tibetan culture and encounter wildlife habitats like yak and antelopes. The journey offers an enthralling experience to enjoy the serene and starry nights under the Tibetan sky. Show more

Will I be able to witness the Northern Lights during the train journey?

The train journey from Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Tibet's lower elevation cannot allow witnessing the Northern Lights due to its distance from the arctic region. Nevertheless, the train ride offers an impressive glimpse of the Milky Way galaxy without any light pollution and a view of thousands of bright shining stars. Show more

What precautions do I need to take while traveling on such a high elevation train?

To ensure a safe journey through high elevation areas, complete preparation ahead is necessary. It is better to begin fitness and health improvement weeks before the journey and avoid indulging in alcohol, smoking, and extreme work schedules. Drinking water and looking out for symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or a headache along with taking supplements to manage altitude sickness can also aid in a stabilized journey. For adequate preparation, consulting a physician before traveling is suggested. Show more

What opportunities do I have to learn about local traditions and cultures while on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway journey?

The train journey on Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a perfect avenue to explore Tibetan culture through their folklores, music, temples, traditional outfits, and culinary spreads. With stops at cities like Lhasa and Xining, tourists have a chance to experience the Tibetan way of life and enjoy indigenous hospitality. Besides, towns and villages along the way provide an avenue to connect with the local people and savor the Tibetan customs more intensely. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin