The Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway

This railway is not as famous as the Trans-Siberian one, but it is nevertheless a very interesting railway. Named “The Sky Road”, the Qinghai-Tibet railway reaches the length of 1,956 km and it connects the city of Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, to the city of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Approximately 960 km of this railway is at the 4,000 m above the sea level. It also includes the Tanggula Pass which is the highest railway station in the world. Located at 5,072m above sea level, this station offers an amazing view and is definitely one of the most popular tourist spots on this railway.


The first part of this railway, from Xining to Golmud, was finished in 1984. The second part, from Golmud to Lhasa, was finished in 2006, and since then it helps in connecting China and Tibet, as well as promoting Tibet’s tourism and its economy.


Of course, altitude is one of the problems for the passengers. It is not rare that passengers feel altitude sickness and nausea. Trying to prevent any inconvenience during the journey, trains have two oxygen supplies. One of these supplies is maintaining the oxygen level in the train, while the other is for passengers in the form of tubes and oxygen masks which can be found next to every seat. Besides that, every train has its doctor in case of the emergencies.


In order to take the train between Golmud and Lhasa, it is required of passengers to have a Passenger Health Registration Card. Before getting this card, passengers need to read the health notice about the high-elevation travel. After signing all the papers, passengers confirm that they are aware of all the possible negative altitude impacts on health.


In case you wish to travel to Tibet from China, this railway is the best option. Flying to Tibet is not recommended since the altitude acclimatisation is much harder this way. Besides Chinese visa, in order to stay at Tibet, you will also need a Tibet entry permit. Tibet is the autonomous region of China, so it has its own permits and regulations. This entry permit can be obtained from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Also, if you wish to see more of Tibet and not just Lhasa, you will need additional permits.