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Shanghai to Lhasa Train Schedule, Tickets & Travel Tips

Written by Senior Expert Celine Schneider|Updated: 2024-04-17

The Shanghai to Lhasa train route is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful journeys on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Stretching over 47.5 hours, this train ride takes you through some of China's most breathtaking landscapes. Along the way, you will encounter the stunning Qinghai Lake, the starry skies of Kekexili, the sunrise over the Tuotuo River, a scenic traverse alongside Cona Lake, and the majestic Northern Tibetan Grasslands. Finally, you will arrive at the exhilarating destination of Lhasa.

This comprehensive Shanghai to Tibet train guide provides detailed information on the Shanghai to Lhasa train schedule, ticket booking procedures, highlights of the journey, and essential travel tips. Whether you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime Tibet Train adventure or seeking to explore the wonders of Tibet, this guide will assist you in making the most of your Shanghai to Lhasa train experience.

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  • triangleShanghai to Lhasa Train Facts, Distance & Map
  • triangleShanghai to Lhasa Train Schedule
  • triangleShanghai to Tibet Train Ticket Price & Facilities
  • triangleHow to Take a Tibet Train from Shanghai
  • triangleWhat to See During Your Shanghai to Lhasa Train Tour
  • triangleHow to Shorten Shanghai to Lhasa Train Travel Time?
  • triangleInsider Tips for Your Shanghai to Lhasa Train Ride
  • triangleHow to Plan a Shanghai Lhasa Train Tour
  • triangleTake Tibet Train Tours with Asia Odyssey Travel

Shanghai to Lhasa Train Facts, Distance & Map

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Shanghai to Lhasa Train Schedule

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Shanghai to Tibet Train Ticket Price & Facilities

Seat Capacity Bed Door Toilet Price
Hard Seat 392 98人/carriage / 1 squat toilet From 402.5 RMB
Hard Sleeper 480 6 berths/carriage, 60*180cm / 2 squat toilets From 793.5RMB
Soft Sleeper 36 4 berths/carriage, 75*190cm Sliding door with lock 1 toilet and 1 squat toilet From 1262.5 RMB

Hard Seat

Hard Seat is not the most recommended option for traveling from Shanghai to Lhasa by train. You will spend ca. 47.5 hours on the train, which can be challenging for tourists starting their journey from Shanghai. However, if a Qinghai-Tibet train journey is high on your travel list, Hard Seat can still be a viable option, especially during the summer vacation months of July and August. Hard Seat tickets are also quite rare to come by.

It is advisable to bring warm clothing to combat the temperature drop with increasing altitude. Some items such as a U-shaped pillow to alleviate travel fatigue, an eye mask, and earplugs to reduce noise should also be included in your luggage.

Hard Sleeper

Considering the comfort and price of long-distance train travel, Hard Sleeper occupies the majority of seats on the train from Shanghai to Lhasa, accommodating approximately 480 Hard Sleeper passengers per trip. You will find that the Hard Sleeper carriages are divided into upper, middle, and lower berths, with six people sharing the space. The lower berth provides more room for movement and is priced accordingly.

Soft Sleeper

Soft Sleeper offers the best comfort for traveling from Shanghai to Lhasa by train. The four-person compartments with upper and lower berths and a lockable sliding door provide excellent privacy for passengers, making it ideal for families or group travel. However, there are only 64 Soft Sleeper seats available on the train from Shanghai to Lhasa, which means obtaining a seat is not easy.

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Hard Sleeper
Shanghai to Lhasa train
Soft Sleeper

Dining Car

There is a mobile trolley selling snacks, beverages, and fast food on the train from Shanghai to Lhasa. Many people also choose to visit the dedicated dining car to enjoy Chinese dishes, rice, and soup. Additionally, the larger windows of the dining car offer a beautiful view of the stunning Qinghai-Tibet Plateau scenery.

If you want to have a cup of coffee on the train, you can go to the end of the carriage to get hot water for brewing coffee, milk, or tea.


Toilets are generally located at the end of the carriage, and both Hard Seat and Hard Sleeper provide squat toilets. On the other hand, Soft Sleeper carriages offer a choice between a flush toilet and a squat toilet.

Oxygen Supply

One of the highlights of traveling on the Shanghai-Lhasa train is the provision of dispersed oxygen when the train reaches the high-altitude areas. Each bed in the sleeper carriages has an individual oxygen outlet, and if needed, disposable oxygen equipment can be requested from the staff.

How to Book a Shanghai to Lhasa Train Ticket

You can purchase train tickets from Shanghai to Lhasa either at the train station or through the official website of China Railway, 12306. The website is available in both Chinese and English versions. Once you have registered and logged in, and have a valid payment method in China such as Alipay or WeChat, you can proceed to book your tickets.

Tickets for the Qinghai-Tibet train are usually available for sale 15 days in advance. During peak travel seasons, it is advisable to set an alarm and be prepared to book the tickets as soon as they become available. However, it is important to note that it can be quite challenging to book train tickets during the Chinese Spring Festival period, as they tend to sell out quickly.

How to Take a Tibet Train from Shanghai

Your Shanghai to Tibet train journey will start at Shanghai Railway Station. Upon your arrival at Shanghai Railway Station, you can proceed to the ticket counter with your passport and Tibet Travel Permit to collect your tickets. After that, you will undergo a security check to enter the station. Next, you can find your train number and the designated platform on the large electronic screens. Once your train tickets and Tibet Travel Permit are checked, you can board your desired Shanghai-Qinghai Tibet ride.

Tibet Permits required for Tibet train travel

The Tibet Travel Permit is crucial for traveling to Tibet by train. Your Tibet Travel Permit will be checked during ticket collection and boarding. Therefore, please ensure that you have obtained the Tibet Travel Permit from a travel agency before boarding the train.

It's important to note that you cannot obtain the Tibet Travel Permit on your own. You will need assistance from a travel agency. When you choose our Tibet Train Tour Package/Tibet Package, we will be more than happy to help you obtain the Tibet Travel Permit as part of our complimentary service. We are dedicated to providing you with excellent service to make your journey smooth and memorable!

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Tibet Travel Permit
Shanghai to Lhasa train
Tibet Travel Permit required for Shanghai to Lhasa train journey

Departure: Shanghai Railway Station

There is a daily train from Shanghai to Lhasa, departing from Shanghai Railway Station located at No. 303 Moling Road, Zhabei District, Shanghai(上海市闸北区秣陵路303号). You can reach the station by taking Shanghai Metro Line 1, Line 3, or Line 4. If you are traveling from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, it takes approximately 30 minutes by taxi to reach Shanghai Railway Station.

Shanghai Railway Station has both north and south squares, and you can enter the station from either square. Simply follow the signs to reach the train boarding area. After collecting your tickets, go through the security check and then locate your designated platform on the large electronic screen. It is recommended to arrive at the railway station about 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time to allow sufficient time for boarding.

Arrival: Lhasa Railway Station

Lhasa Railway Station is the final destination for trains from Shanghai to Lhasa. It is located in Liuwu Street, Duilongdeqing District, Lhasa(拉萨市堆龙德庆区柳梧街道). The station is conveniently close to the city center, approximately 10 kilometers away. You can easily take a taxi to reach the city area from the station.

If you have booked our Tibet tour package, we will provide you with attentive Lhasa Railway Station transfer services. Upon arrival, simply contact our driver/guide, and they will assist you in reaching your hotel.

Check detailes about How to Exit Lhasa Railway Station to Meet Guide? >>

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Shanghai Railway Station
Shanghai to Lhasa train
Lhasa Railway Station

Transfer at Xining Railway Station

It is worth mentioning that your train from Shanghai to Lhasa will have a transfer at Xining Station. However, the transfer process is not complicated. You will simply disembark from the train at one platform and then transfer to the train bound for Lhasa at another platform in Xining Station.

What to See During Your Shanghai to Lhasa Train Tour

The Shanghai to Lhasa train journey has long been known as the most beautiful route of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. You can expect to witness the highlights of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, including Qinghai Lake, Kekexili Nature Reserve, Tuotuo River, Cona Lake, and the Northern Tibetan Grasslands.

Qinghai Lake

When the train from Shanghai to Lhasa arrives at Qinghai Lake, it is usually around 8:00 PM, which is the perfect time to admire the sunset over the lake (during July-August). The train will glide along the lakeside for about 20 minutes. The azure waters reflect the ever-changing hues of the sky, replaced by warm and gentle light that bathes the entire landscape in an ethereal glow.

Kekexili Nature Reserve

You will arrive at Kekexili in the early morning. The pre-dawn hours around 4-5 AM are the best time to observe the starry sky, and the sight of the Milky Way above the desert is truly spectacular. The train will traverse through Kekexili in the soft morning light, and if you are lucky enough, you may witness herds of Tibetan antelopes running across the snowy mountains and open plains.

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Qinghai Lake
Shanghai to Lhasa train

Tuotuo River

When the train from Shanghai to Lhasa reaches the Tuotuo River, it is the time of sunrise. This river, known as the source of the mighty Yangtze River, flows quietly, perfectly reflecting the ever-changing colors of the morning sky like a mirror.

Cona Lake

Cona Lake is a major highlight of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The train runs along the lakeshore, at times just 20 meters away from the lake. In a span of around 10 minutes, you will be treated to the sight of the blue lake, green grasslands, and the iconic plateau scenery embellished with yaks and sheep.

Northern Tibetan Grasslands

As the train crosses the Northern Tibetan Grasslands, you will witness the magnificent Nyenchen Tanglha Mountain Range, the steaming Yangbajing Hot Springs, vast expanses of grasslands dotted with grazing Tibetans, white sheep, and black yaks. This marks the anticipation of reaching one of the most thrilling destinations in the world – Lhasa.

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Cona Lake
Shanghai to Lhasa train
Northern Tibetan Grasslands

How to Shorten Shanghai to Lhasa Train Travel Time?

Indeed, a 47.5-hour train journey can be quite long. If you are looking for a shorter travel option, I suggest taking a flight from Shanghai to Xining and then starting your Tibet Train journey from there. This way, you can reduce the travel time significantly. Xining is a popular starting point for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and offers convenient connections.

For travelers who wish to explore other popular destinations in China, such as Xi'an or Lanzhou, you can also consider taking a high-speed train or a flight from Shanghai to these cities and then board the Qinghai-Tibet train from there. This allows you to break up your journey and have the opportunity to visit these destinations before embarking on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway adventure.

Insider Tips for Your Shanghai to Lhasa Train Ride

After storing your luggage on the train from Shanghai to Lhasa, it may not be convenient to open your suitcase frequently to access your belongings. Therefore, I recommend packing your essentials and valuable items separately in a carry-on backpack for easy access.

After Xining, the train will provide diffused oxygen supply and individual oxygen outlets, so there is no need to worry too much about altitude sickness. Additionally, there will be doctors on board the train to assist passengers at any time.

It is crucial to keep warm on the train, so please remember to bring adequate warm clothing with you.

How to Plan a Shanghai Lhasa Train Tour

A train journey from Shanghai to Lhasa can be planned for approximately 1-3 weeks.

1-week itinerary

Experience the picturesque Shanghai to Lhasa train journey and explore the highlights of Lhasa, including the majestic Potala Palace, sacred Jokhang Temple, vibrant Barkhor Street, and breathtaking Yamdrok Lake.

2-week itinerary

Extend your train journey from Shanghai to Lhasa and venture to the thrilling Everest Base Camp, where you can witness the grandeur of the world's highest peak up close. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Lhasa and its surrounding attractions as well.

3-week itinerary

Embark on a comprehensive adventure by exploring iconic destinations in China like Shanghai and Xi'an, or Xining, before boarding the Tibet train to delve deeper into the wonders of Lhasa, the awe-inspiring Everest Base Camp, and the sacred Mount Kailash, known as the Roof of the World.

Shanghai to Lhasa train
Tibet Everst Base Camp
Shanghai to Lhasa train
Mount Kailash

Take Tibet Train Tours with Asia Odyssey Travel

As a seasoned travel agency specializing in Tibet travel for over 10 years, Asia Odyssey Travel has established offices and local teams worldwide, including major Chinese cities conveniently connected to Lhasa, Tibet (Xizang), by train and flights. Expanding tour destinations in China provides a Panoramic Tibet Travel Experience with diverse optionsThat's why we have meticulously crafted Tibet Train Tours starting from various major Chinese cities, ensuring an immersive, all-inclusive journey with a wide range of choices.

You can opt for our Tibet Train Tour starting from Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Xian, Xining, Chongqing, Hong Kong and more cities in China or even from Bhutan or Nepal!

There is no need to worry about booking train tickets to Tibet, language barriers, or anything you can think of, as we have you covered every step of the way! If you prefer to travel at your own pace Asia Odyssey Travel will always map out the Best Travel Plan for you, so you can simply hop on the train and start your Grand Tour of Tibet!

If you have any questions about this article, please contact us by submitting the following form and we'll immediately get back to you.

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