Beijing to Tibet by Train

An epic journey by rail from Beijing via the world's highest Qinghai-Tibet Railway over mountain landscapes to Tibet. Explore Beijing’s Summer Palace, Forbidden City and Tiananmen, hike the Great Wall before embarking on your rail journey. On the way, you will visit Xining’s impressive Cultural Museum, the beauty of Qinghai Lake and Lhasa's Tibetan temples.

Best time for this rail journey: March to Jun / September and October

Touring style: Unaccompanied rail travel with professional guides during the touring.

You must consult a doctor before the trip to check that you are physically capable of climbing to altitudes above 4000 m

Prices are seasonal and start from:

GBP 1954 per person, twin sharing, Standard Class Hotels

GBP 2180 per person, twin sharing, Superior Class Hotels

GBP 2368 per person, twin sharing, Deluxe Class Hotels

Price includes second class sleeper trains, accommodation, breakfast, transfers, tours, professional English guide, private basis.

Airfares are additional.

Beijing to Tibet by Train at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrival in Beijing
  • Day 2: A walk or Hike the Great Wall
  • Day 3: Beijing touring. Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven. Train to Xining
  • Day 4: Arrive in Xining. Touring
  • Day 5: Xining to Qinghai Lake
  • Day 6: Qinghai Lake-Xining to Lhasa by train
  • Day 7: Arrival Lhasa. Lhasa walking tour
  • Day 8: Lhasa touring. Potala Palace
  • Day 9: Ganden Monastery day trip
  • Day 10: Lhasa to Zedang
  • Day 11: Zedang departure
Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 1

Day 1: Arrival in Beijing

On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
In the afternoon, take a tour by a rickshaw to one of Beijing’s famous hutongs close to Houhai Lake. From here you will visit the Drum Tower, where the passing of the hours was signalled by a drum roll during the Ming era. The tower is opposite the Clock Tower and provides a pleasant insight into old Beijing.

Overnight in Beijing.

Distance and journey time:

Beijing airport – Beijing city (approx. 30km): 40 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 2

Day 2: A tour of the Great Wall and Ming Tombs

Visit the massive Great Wall, 90 km north of Beijing. After lunch at a local restaurant stop at the Ming Tombs, burial place for 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty, approached through the Sacred Way and Avenue of the Animals.

On your way back, visit the Summer Palace. At one time a simple imperial garden, the site was totally redesigned by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century becoming one of the capital’s major sites. The Imperial Court used to relocate to the Summer Palace during the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the Forbidden City. A mix of temples pavilions, lakes, pagodas and gardens make up this harmonious representation of Chinese culture and architecture. The Long Corridor, the Marble Boat, Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the key landscape features of the Summer Palace gardens.

Overnight in Beijing

Distance and journey time:

Beijing city– Mutianyu Great Wall (approx. 75km): approx 2 hours

Mutianyu Great Wall – Summer Palace (approx. 75 km): 1h45

Summer Palace – Beijing city (approx. 22 km): 40 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 3

Day 3: A tour of the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven

Visit the Temple of Heaven’s park to witness a uniquely Chinese morning ritual – public exercise. Beijingers, who believe that morning exercise is essential for their well-being. Discover the Temple itself, notable for its architectural simplicity and symbolism reflecting early Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. Here, emperors would forge the link between the round sky and the square earth through sacrificial rituals based on the founding principles of this ancient civilisation.

In the afternoon visit the Forbidden City. Most Chinese buildings face south, which according to ancient beliefs symbolised the barbarian threat and potential invasion from the north. This explains why the main entrance to the Forbidden City faces south towards Tiananmen Square, the third-largest city square in the world.

Transfer to Beijing railway station for the world’s highest train to Xining. This railway traverses 17,000 foot-high mountains, bridges and valleys. All train cars are installed with environment-friendly toilets, wastewater deposit tanks, and garbage treatment facilities. It takes a total of 43 hours on the direct Beijing to Lhasa train (a total span of 1956 km). 

Train Station: Beijing – Xining
Train Number: Z21
Estimated departure time: 20:00
Estimated arrival time: 15:00(+1)

Second class tickets are included in the price. Tickets feature soft berths, 4 berths per cabin. For those who would like to reserve an entire cabin (or change to another ticket class), please contact us.

Overnight in the train (2nd class: soft sleeper)

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 4

Day 4: Arrival Xining. (altitude 2200 m)

Arrive in Xining (estimated arrival time 3:00 pm). Your personal guide will be waiting for you at the station. Visit Xining's Tibetan Culture Museum and the 14th century "Great Mosque" before a transfer to your hotel.

In the evening, we suggest a Hui speciality dinner: Gan Ban Mian noodles.

Overnight in Xining

Xining train station – Xining city (approx.3.5km): 10 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 5

Day 5: Xining to Qinghai Lake (altitude 3500 m)

This morning's tour will start with a drive to Kumbum to visit the 15th-century Kumbum Monastery, built at the historic birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism. Afterwards, visit the Buddhist Temple Beichan built into the side of a cliff offering impressive views over Xining.

Drive to Qinghai Lake, the largest lake in China, located 3,500 metres above sea level. On the way, you can take a picturesque train-ride to Salt Lake.

 Being on the ‘rooftop of the world,’ it’s imperative to bring suncream, lip balm, sunglasses and to stay regularly hydrated.

Overnight in Qinghai Lake

Xining city – Kumbum monastery (approx. 28 km): 40 min 

Xining city – Salt Lake (approx. 300 km): 5 hours 

Salt Lake - Qinghai Lake(approx. 150 km): 2h30

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 6

Day 6: Qinghai to Lhasa

This morning is for you to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake,  turquoise waters, snow-topped mountains, Rapeseed meadows and sand dunes. The best time to admire the Lake is between the end of March and June when millions of birds take residence. Cormorants, black-necked cranes, seagulls, bar-headed goose.

Drive to Xining train station to rejoin the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Lhasa. 

Train Station: Xining – Lhasa
Train Number: Z21
Estimated departure time: 15:20
Estimated arrival time: 12:30(+1)

Second class tickets are included in the price. Tickets feature soft berths, 4 berths per cabin. For those who would like to reserve an entire cabin (or change to another ticket class), please consult us in advance. in the train (2nd class: soft sleeper)

Qinghai Lake - Xining city (approx. 150km): 2h 30

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 7

Day 7: Lhasa arrival (altitude 3700 m)

Arrive in Lhasa in the afternoon (estimated arrival time is 2:42 pm). Welcome to the administrative, political and religious capital of Tibet! While the city is divided into Chinese and Tibetan halves, the Tibetan areas will undertake most of this itinerary.

You will be met by your guide who will transfer you to Lhasa old town.

Begin the tour with a first visit to the 8th century Jokhang Temple, the most venerated religious site in Tibet. Afterwards, you will enjoy a walking tour of Lhasa’s old town.

Overnight in Lhasa.

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 8

Day 8: Lhasa touring. Potala Palace and Sera Monsatery

Begin the day with a visit to the Potala Palace, the one-time residence of the Dalai Lama – the religious head and political leader of Tibet. 

Afterwards, visit the 4th century Sera Monastery.

Lhasa Potala Palace – Sera monastery (7 km): approx. 15 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 9

Day 9: Day trip to Ganden Monastery

Visit the Drepung Monastery, another important Yellow Hat Sect destination. Continue to the Ganden monastery, the original monastery and stronghold for the Yellow Hat Sect.

Ganden monastery is located at 3900 m altitude, and it is advisable to visit only if you are physically able to cope with the altitude.

Return to Lhasa for an overnight stay.

Distance and journey times:

Lhasa city – Ganden monastery (approx. 40 km): 1h30

Ganden monastery – Drepung monastery (approx. 65 km): 2 h

Drepung monastery – Lhasa city (approx. 13 km): 20 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 10

Day 10: Lhasa to Zedang (altitude 3600 m)

Drive to Zedang, home of Buddhism in Tibet.

After the permit has been obtained, visit the Samye Temple.

Overnight in Zedang.

Lhasa city – Zedang (approx. 170 km): approx 3h

Zedang – Samye temple(approx. 40 km): approx 40 min

Samye temple – Yongbulakhang(approx. 60 km): approx 1h15

Yongbulakhang – Zedang(approx. 14 km): 20 min

Beijing to Tibet by Train Image 11

Day 11: Departure from Zedang

Morning at leisure. Transfer to Lhasa train station or airport for your onward travel.

You may wish to consider extending your Tibetan adventure or taking a trek to the Everest Base Camp.


Not quite right? This itinerary is just to give you an idea of what is possible. Need some more inspiration? Please get in touch at 01473 214305 or email We welcome your questions. We're here to help!


Beijing: Great Wall and Forbidden City

The capital of China is rich in historical sites, cultural institutions and national heritage. From the narrow hutong alleys to impressive temples and The Forbidden City. Beijing is also a great base to visit the Great Wall.

Read more

Lhasa, centre of Tibetan Buddhism

Lhasa, translating from Tibetan as the Place of the Gods is a city of palaces and ruins, history, and serenity set at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet in a Himalayan valley, and for 1000 years has been the centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

Read more

Qinghai Lake, an area of outstanding beauty

Qinghai Lake – or Koke Nuur in Mongolian translates as Blue Lake and is the largest saline lake in China.

Read more

Xining, The Tibetan Plateau

The city is a vibrant mixing bowl of cultures and cuisines and spectacular river and mountain scenery at the eastern approach to the vast Tibetan Plateau.

Read more


Beijing, Deluxe
Regent Beijing

Located in the historic heart of Beijing, this elegant, Michelin-starred luxury property is set an easy walk from most of the city’s attractions.

Read more

Beijing, Superior Class
Hotel Kapok Beijing

Located close to the Forbidden City, this boutique property infuses a contemporary, natural-light aesthetic with recurring traditional Chinese design motifs such as bamboo, and the iconic Chinese lantern.

Read more

Beijing, Standard Class
Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel

Set among the lanes or hutongs of historic Beijing, this beautiful Qing Dynasty property dates to the 18th Century, and was formerly the private villa of the prominent scholar Ji Xiaolan. Now a stunning boutique hotel

Read more

Lhasa, Deluxe Class
The St Regis Lhasa Resort

This is without doubt the best hotel in Lhasa, with a superb location with easy access to Bharkor Square

Read more

Xining, Deluxe Class
Sofitel Xining

On your exotic Beijing to Tibet sojourn along the ancient Northern Silk Road, take a respite at Sofitel Xining, where 5-star European luxury meets Chinese hospitality on the Tibetan Plateau.

Read more