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Is It Better to Go to or Leave Tibet by Train

Although it is only a means of transportation to get into Tibet by train, the scenery of its journey along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has made the Qinghai-Tibet Railway itself one of the itineraries and attractions of Tibet. Even though it is the fastest way to get in and out of Tibet by plane, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway still attracts a large number of tourists. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is regarded as the most beautiful railway line. Even it may be a long and tiring journey that takes more than 24 hours from Qinghai to Tibet, but it can't stop the enthusiasm of tourists who want to take the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

What we discussed just now is about whether to take a plane to Tibet or take a train. In the following passage, we will explain in detail whether to take the train when entering Tibet or when getting out of Tibet. Is there any difference about when to take a train? First, it takes as much time to get into Tibet as it does to get out of it. But since the train departs at the different time, so the scenery along the road that you see may be different. It is likely that you can see the sunrise of Hoh Xil when you enter Tibet, but when you leave Tibet, you may see the sunset. What’s more, tourists are often filled with curiosity and excitement when they first get to Tibet because of the unknown things. While they often tend to be clam when they get out of Tibet. They are not so excited as before and feel peaceful after seeing the scenery in Tibet, which allows them to take some pictures comfortably. Finally, some people suffer from altitude sickness at the beginning of the journey, which makes the whole train journey more painful. However, after a few days of travel in Tibet, tourists have adapted to the plateau, which reduces the occurrence of altitude sickness.

For people travel to Tibet for the first time, it is recommended to take a train to enter Tibet. Because those tourists know little about Tibet and they know about the scenery mostly from the words and pictures without experiencing it by themselves. They don’t not understand what the plateau means. So if choosing to take a train, it allows passengers to enjoy the beautiful scenery outside the window on the train. It’s wonderful to enjoy the amazing scenery in the oxygen-supplied train, which makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. In a word, if you take the train, you can see a lot of beautiful scenery along the way and make you enjoy the scenery of Tibet outside Lhasa in advance. If you take a plane, the scenery along the trip to Lhasa is limited. People taking a train often can’t wait to leave Lhasa to embrace the land of Tibet.

In summer, it is advised to take a train when you leave Tibet. Summer is the peak season to travel to Tibet and it is also the most beautiful season in Tibet which attracts the largest number of tourists during a year. However, the number of trains entering Tibet is limited every day, and the soft sleeper seats are extremely limited, so it is difficult to buy the tickets for soft sleepers. Our travel agency often provides tourists with a guide to purchase the train tickets in the peak season, but there are few tourists who can actually buy tickets. Our travel society tries to meet the needs of the guests and successfully purchases the tickets for the guests through various channels. Since the train tickets in the peak season are limited, the prices will be more expensive. Under this condition, tourists can choose to take the train when they leave Tibet. Although there is less expectation and freshness than taking the train to enter Tibet, the scenery you see is the same and it will be more comfortable to take a train after adapting to the plateau.

The Necessity of Traveling to Tibet to Experience the trip on Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is one of the most important modes of transportation to Tibet. For overseas tourists, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a completely unknown mode of transportation. It can be seen on the Internet that it takes 20 to 50 hours to take the train to Tibet through Qinghai-Tibet Railway, but there are still a number of people choose to take the train. Why is the Qinghai-Tibet Railway so attractive?

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the railway with the highest altitude in the world, the scenery along which is unique. The starting point of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is Xining City, and it ends in Lhasa City. The entire train line has a pyramid structure at an elevation, and the elevation on both sides is relatively low which is below 3,500 meters, while it is relatively high in Qinghai and Tibet reaching about 5,000 meters. The extreme altitude also creates a completely different ride experience. The temperature inside and outside the train is very different. The temperature in the train is so warm that makes you feel it’s like spring, but the temperature outside the train is cold as you are in the ice and snow. Traveling on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, you will pass through the Station of Tanggula Mountains which is the highest railway station in the world. It is a very different experience whether you sleep, eat, go to the toilet, or take pictures.

There are different landscapes along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The grasslands, lakes, deserts, rolling snow mountains, wetlands, and red land show tourists a wonderful visual feast respectively. Although it takes a long time to take the train, the scenery along the trip is irreplaceable. For tourists who lives around the sea for a long time, the different scenery can bring them great shock.

Exploring Tibetan antelopes in the uninhabited area of Hoh Xil through the Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Hoh Xil, similar to Ngari, is a mysterious place of Tibet. Many people used to think that the two regions are the same region, which is not the fact. Hoh Xil is located in the northwest of Tibet which is next to Xinjiang; while the the uninhabited area of Hoh Xil is located in the north-central part of Tibet connecting with Qinghai Province.

There are Tibetan antelopes in Hoh Xil which are the rare species in the world. This kind of animal which looks like the yellow sheep only lives in an alpine area at an altitude of 5,000 meters. And one of the best ways to enjoy the Tibetan antelopes is take the train. However, the Tibetan antelopes are alert most of the time, it is advised to keep away from them and enjoy the cute antelopes at a long distance.

The uninhabited area of Hoh Xil is an endless land which is also the birthplace of many great rivers. Therefore, in addition to Tibetan antelopes, there are many animals living here. It is a paradise for wild animals such as wild yak, Tibetan antelope, wild donkey and white-lipped deer, which attracts a number of tourists to travel to Tibet by train.

The train on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway supplies oxygen providing tourists with a very different experience and feeling. There are various trains in the world, but the oxygen is only available on the train from Qinghai to Tibet. It is necessary to keep oxygen in the train because of the high altitude. There are two sets of oxygen supply systems on the Qinghai-Tibet train. One is like the air conditioner which spreads the oxygen everywhere in the train. And the other is the fixed oxygen supply system which is next to the bed or next to the seat. Both oxygen supply systems are provided to passengers free of charge. If you want more information, we have another article about the oxygen supply system of the Qinghai-Tibet train in detail.

The Differences of Taking a Plane or Train to Enter or Leave Tibet

Time spent on transportation

Obviously, it takes 2 to 5 hours to enter Tibet by plane to reach Lhasa Airport. After that, you will get to the hotel to have a rest in Lhasa, which takes about 2 hours. After arriving at the hotel, you can rest comfortably. However, it takes more than 20 hours to enter Tibet by train. If you start from Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, it takes longer time which is more than 50 hours. From Lhasa Railway Station to the hotel in Lhasa City, it takes about half an hour. After a long journey of exhaustion, it is the most important to rest at the hotel. Although you can’t take a shower on the train, it’s not advised to take a shower at once when you arrive at the hotel.

Note: Whether you get to Tibet by plane or by train, the night when you arrive in Lhasa is the worst time for altitude sickness. Most tourists will feel uncomfortable and it is generally relieved by the next morning. Try to rest as much as possible in the evening. If you are extremely uncomfortable, you must contact the tour guide in time.

Scenery along the way

Most of the scenery seen by train is the scenery of landscapes, such as grasslands, lakes, or snow-capped mountains. And sometimes rare animals can be seen.

If you choose to take a plane to Tibet, you can sit against the window and enjoy the scenery outside, which is different from the view you see by usual flights. If the weather is fine and the clouds are thin in Tibet, it’s clear to see the snow-capped mountains of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. After all, the flight altitude is about 12,000 meters while the higher elevation of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is more than 7,000 meters above sea level. Therefore, it’s clear to see the scenery on the land by plane. If you take the plane from Kunming to Tibet, you can also see the Meili Snow Mountain on the plane.

Comparison of the comfort

There are only business classes and economy classes on the plane where the space is limited. Generally speaking, most tourists take the economy class to get to Tibet that they can hardly move freely on the train. But there is also an advantage that it takes short time to take the plane.

There are hard seats, hard sleepers and soft sleepers on the train. The hard seat is similar to the economy class of the aircraft where there is little space and a number of passengers. The hard sleeper compartment can be used for rest at night which can hold 6 people for each including the upper, middle, and lower layer, and the space for sleeping is also limited; The soft sleeper has a private room for 4 people, and there are only two layers including the upper bed and the lower bed, which are more comfortable. Passengers prefer a soft sleeper and a hard sleeper when boarding a train in and out of Tibet.

In terms of comfort, the soft sleeper is the most comfortable, because there is a small private closed space and the range of activities is also large that people can sleep or sit on the train. However, if it takes a long time for the whole journey, it will be uncomfortable, which should be taken into consideration before starting the journey.

Reaction on altitude sickness

According to an article on the Internet, taking a train to get into Tibet can effectively alleviate the altitude sickness. But this view is not completely right. Although taking the train into Tibet does slow down the rate of elevation rise, it’s not the only reason for altitude sickness. There are various reasons for altitude sickness. For example, if you don't get a soft sleeper ticket, the journey to Tibet will be uncomfortable. Besides, if there is a motion sickness reaction during the journey, you can’t get used to the food on the train and you are sensitive to the taste of the train, it may also make you feel uncomfortable. In this case, the symptoms of altitude sickness are more likely to occur. After getting off the train, it still takes about half a day to adjust.

Flying directly from low-altitude areas to high-altitude areas may increase the symptoms of altitude sickness. But it’s advised to have a rest in a hotel as soon as possible after arriving in Lhasa. In a warm and comfortable hotel, the altitude sickness can be eased after the body get a full rest and you can adapt to the altitude sickness after the first night.

It’s recommended to take a plane to enter Tibet and leave there by train in the peak season. While in the off-season, you can choose to take a train to enter Tibet and leave there by plane.

Worth to Do It?

Whether taking a train to Tibet or leaving Tibet by train, the journey along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is worthy of experiencing that one can experience at least once in your life. This train route with the highest average altitude in the world not only has a unique oxygen supply system on the train, but the experience on the train is greatly different. The place where it passes is the plateau scenery that is hard to see in our daily life. If you choose to take a train to Tibet, the journey along Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Xining is definitely worth a visit.

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