Travel from Shanghai to Tibet by train is a super amazing trip. For us, traveling by train has always been a pleasure, especially in countries with which we are so culturally different, as it giving us the gift of seeing everyday scenes that happen outside the train at a glance.
We will make a small introduction of what we have lived these days, and then, at the end, give a series of recommendations and advice that we believe, can be helpful for anyone who is considering entering Tibet by train.
We feel wonderful and more in a place like China where every step and every view is different from the previous one and sometimes, it can be a bit chaotic.
1st Day Shanghai to Lhasa Train Route
Shanghai >> Suzhou >> Wuxi >> Nanjing >> Bengbu >> Xuzhou >> Zhengzhou >> Xi’an (1509 kilometers)
We chose Train Z164, leaving Shanghai at 20:10 p.m. And at 11:14 in the morning, we woke up and found it had arrived in Xi’an, where we were a couple of years ago and where the famous terracotta warriors of Xi’an are.
Here the train from Shanghai to Lhasa makes a brief stop of 10 minutes that we take advantage to stretch our legs and take a short walk on the platform.
Although we had read that the first day the trip by train from Shanghai to Lhasa was passing between grey landscapes, we have to say that since the day has dawned, the day is quite clear, we imagine that due to the fact that it is spring the green gives to the landscapes a little more color than usual and we have to say, in no moment it becomes heavy or grey to be looking through the window, from our bunk, while we enjoy a coffee and a reading time.
Besides, when it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon, we cross a mountainous area, where we don’t stop seeing little villages with the traditional Chinese architecture, which remind us of the restored buildings we saw in Pingyao, but which here are “real” and which probably few tourists have seen.
It is time for lunch and we have to open our instant soups, fill them with boiling water and enjoy a typical Chinese lunch, which we make in the corridor, mixing the rest of the passengers. After 30 minutes, we decided to go back to our car and make our own soluble coffee.
After enjoying our coffee and a while of reading, it is 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we take another walk around the train carriages that are not closed, we read again and above all enjoy that window that we did not leave for a second and more now that we are getting so close to what we so many times dreamed of while we were preparing to travel to Tibet.
Until 8 5 o’clock in the evening when we decided to open another of our jars of instant noodles to make a dinner in the corridor sitting on the seats there so that we can enjoy the landscape and also stretch our legs a little.
It is almost 10:30 at night when we abandon our time of reading, we close the lights and we begin to enjoy what is our last night in the train from Shanghai to Lhasa.
2nd Day Shanghai to Lhasa Train Route
Xi’an >> Lanzhou >> Xining >> Golmud >> Naqu >> Lhasa (2864 kilometer)
From the Golmud stop to Lhasa, the points of interest are announced by loudspeakers, as well as a brief explanation of each one of them, in Chinese, Tibetan and English.
Something to bear in mind, due to the altitude, in case you feel unwell due to altitude sickness, just call someone from the staff to provide you with oxygen tubes. We had read that there is always a doctor and nurses on the train to treat any medical problem, although we only saw the train staff treating several people who needed medical attention due to the effects of altitude sickness.
I think this journey is the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. Snow mountain, glacier, grassland, yak, all kinds of scenery are like a beautiful oil painting, until entering the night, I had to stop to look outside the window.
When we woke up again, it was the afternoon of the 3rd day, and the train began to report that it would arrive at the terminal station, Lhasa station at 7:30 p.m.
After dinner, we began to pack our bags, because about an hour later, we will reach Lhasa. Before we go in, we must show our train tickets, passports and entry permits to Tibet. At an altitude of 3650 meters, we will discover Tibet and realize this dream of travel.
Shanghai to Tibet Train Details
The train from Shanghai to Lhasa has 15 carriages: 4 hard seats (3rd class), 8 hard berths (2nd class), 2 soft berths (1st class), and the dining car which is located right next to the first class.
– 3rd class (hard seats). The cheapest ticket, not recommended for 48 hours of travel.
– 2nd class (hard berths). This is the intermediate ticket, recommended for budget or for not having first-class seats. Each of the compartments has 6 berths, 3 per row. They share a bath and a toilet area every 2 cars.
– 1st class (soft berths). The most expensive ticket of the three. The train fare from Shanghai to Lhasa is about $220 per person. In each compartment, there are 4 bunk beds, soft, with bedding, two pillows per person, duvet, and slippers. It has a lockable door, a television in each of the bunks, only with local programs, a small table in the central area, a plug under the table, and a kettle to heat water. Two bathrooms are shared in each of the carriages, one Turkish style, and one western-style, as well as a toilet area.
Although it is announced that the dining car is available 24 hours, at least in our case, it was closed three times during the two days, so it is advisable to bring food and snacks for the trip, as well as drinks. Besides, throughout the day from the dining car, a trolley selling drinks, food and snacks is passed through the different cars.
Tips for Train’s Trip from Shanghai to Tibet
– Although as we have mentioned there is a restaurant car available, we recommend that you buy instant noodles (about 6RMB a pack), which you can make directly from the hot water available in all the cars. And buy different types of snacks, breakfast biscuits and water/drinks.
– If you like coffee or tea, we recommend that you take a thermos flask with you, although there is a kettle in first-class. Don’t forget to buy soluble coffee.
– During most of the tour, there is an internet signal, so if you have VPN you can enjoy additional entertainment.
– Although the scenery itself is already an entertainment, it’s not bad to bring a book, music or a movie to pass the time.
– Earplugs are great if you have a noisy neighbor in your room, so don’t leave them at home.
– Although you could put a suitcase on the bottom of the bunk, it’s best to travel with a backpack as it fits much better and is easier to store.
– Avoid peak hours at the toilets, first thing in the morning and midday. It’s best to go when there are no people around to be more relaxed.
– Even though the bathrooms are being cleaned, don’t expect to find anything fancy, even in first class, so it’s best to go prepared for everything. Bring wet wipes and toilet paper and hand sanitizer gel, you won’t find them on the train under any circumstances and they can be your best allies in different situations.
Recommendations for Altitude Sickness on the Train from Shanghai to Lhasa
We leave you with the recommendations that we followed and that helped us to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
– We take EDEMOX to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. 2 tablets per day (1 every 12 hours) starting two days before reaching the maximum altitude and continuing two days later.
– Take glucose and caffeine pills 1 pill every 8 hours. This also alleviates the effects of altitude sickness.
As we say and want to emphasize these recommendations are medical, so we advise you to talk to a doctor before taking anything, because according to your medical history, these recommendations may be more or less valid.
– Drink at least 3 liters of water per day.
– Do not eat copious amounts of food. It is advisable to eat hydrates, as they are slow to digest.
– Do not drink alcohol.
– Do not make unnecessary efforts.
– To move with tranquility, to walk slowly and not to run.
The most frequent symptoms of altitude sickness are vomiting, headache, stomach pain and/or fatigue. During the train journey from Shanghai to Tibet in our case we had none of these, but we did see quite a few people with vomiting, headaches, and fatigue, and in some cases needing oxygen.
Finally, the biggest goods received on this trip to Tibet witnessed the most beautiful night sky on the plateau. Let the accumulated energy of this trip illuminate our way forward.