Many people still think taking the train to Tibet is the best way for acclimatization, but according to our professional experience, we would say a BIG NO to this. Let us share some of our experience with you to avoid you making some mistakes!
Available train or flights to Tibet
Currently visitors can take either train or flight for these cities:
Flight from---Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Xining, Kunming, Shangri-la, Guangzhou
Train from---Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xian, Xining
Advantages by taking Tibet train
1)Nice Scenery along the way---- The railway with 45 stations to the Roof of the World offers marvelous and majestic views as passing three mountain ranges and many rivers & lakes. Some famous sights including the Kunlun and Tanggula mountain ranges, Qinghai Lake, Kekexili and Tuotuo River, Grassland, etc. And also some rare wild animals can be seen along way. From desert scenes to frozen tundra to snow caps, plenty of yaks, sheep, cows. The closer to Tibet, the more prayer flags and stupas.
2)Cheaper to buy the train ticket---- The train to Tibet is very limited soft sleepers and can be very hard to buy in peak season (July to August), for example the Beijing to Lhasa train only has around 40 soft sleepers a day, so during peak season, travel agencies will have to buy from ticket scalpers by paying high booking fee, this make the train ticket expensive and still a risk of failing to get the train tickets some times. While the train ticket out of Lhasa is much easier and cheaper to buy.
Disadvantages by taking Tibet train
Long train ride---- which might be boring to some visitors.
Can be dangerous to certain people---- The reason is that during the train ride from Beijing or other Chinese mainland cities, visitors will experience with highest altitude contrast of 200m to 5,072m, in this case, many visitors might not feel physically comfortable and will throw up or get headache, etc. We have witness or heard many passengers got serious high altitude sickness on the train and the limited medical care facility on the train is not enough to treat these visitors, it can be extremely dangerous to certain people!!!
Let us show you a form below so that you can better understand the elevations along the Qinghai-Tibet railway. -------You can find that the ride from mainland China to Xining will already take around 1/2 or 2/5 of the total train ride , but the elevation before Xining is less than 1524m (5000ft), this is totally no use for acclimatization, the really acclimatization will be from Xining (2295m), but the ride from Xining to Lhasa is only 24hrs or so, so that means you need to experience the harsh elevation during 24hrs. The key of getting acclimatization is to ascend slowly, but the Xining to Lhasa section in 24hrs is certainly not a slow part, on contrast it is too fast ascending. That is no doubt many visitors got sick or life-danger by doing this.
Fly directly from above cities to Lhasa and then take train out of Lhasa.
Take either flight or train to Xining (2295m) ---start point of Qinghai/Tibet railway, stay 1-3 nights there to acclimatize, than take train from Xining to Lhasa (3490m). And Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province, it has the famous tourist resources like Qinghai Lake, Ta'er Monasery, etc, it is good to have a 3 days tour there.