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Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Outline Itinerary >>


After four years' construction, Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been completed and tourist traffic will be operational from July 1, 2006. Starting from Golmud in Qinghai, the railway will pass through Nachitai, Wudaoliang, Tuotuohe and Yanshiping before climbing over Tanggula Mountain to get to Amdo, Nagqu, Damxung, Yangbajain and leading to its final destination in Lhasa, Tibet. The railway is the world's highest and longest plateau railway and is expected to make visiting the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (world's most famous plateau) as "golden" tourist routes.

Nine world-class tourist attractions, twenty-three national tourism resources, 6 national nature reserves, and 193 first- and second-class tourism resources distributed along the road. Behind the natural heritage, there are many places of interests that have a distinct Tibetan culture, which has lasted for thousands of years.

When touring here, you can feel the profound culture that is strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan history, culture, and religion are just so enchanting and colorful. Numerours tourists are attracted by its peculiar geological features, magnificent natural scenery, splendid ethnic culture and characteristic local customs and practices.

Tourist Train

The train running on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the most advanced one in China. In order to deal with the terrible environment, the trains are equipped with unique state of the art technology as they will be operated with enriched oxygen systems and special UV protection. The toilet is designed to adopt the vacuum waste collection system. There are Tight-lock Couplers closely connecting the two compartments preventing the train from chilling wind.

The train from Beijing to Lhasa is designed in pressurized aircraft-like carriages. Each of their compartments has two sets of oxygen systems. One is the "mass style" oxygen providing system, which will provide oxygen through mixing the oxygen in the air conditioning system. It will help to maintain the oxygen contents in the air staying at 23%, which will make passengers feel like being in an oxygen bar. Another system is oxygen mask, if needed, the passenger can wear the oxygen mask any time in case of high altitude reaction. If the train is running at the altitude of more than 4000 meters, you will feel like being at the altitude of about 3000 meters, 1000 meters lower than the actual altitude. It will relieve the uncomfortable feeling at high altitude. These measures will make it easier for passengers to endure the thinner-air on the so-called "roof of the world".

Moreover, the tourist train will ensure an unique experience with stunning scenery. It will also carry doctors on board to ensure the safety of any travelers affected by the high altitude. The various entertainment activities including Tibetan dancing and Karaoke, will be possibly provided during the journey.

World Records of Qinghai-Tibet Railway

1. Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest railway. 960 kilometers' tracks are located at more than 4,000 meters above sea level and the highest point is 5,072 meters, at least 200 meters higher than the Peruvian railway in the Andes, which was formerly the world's most elevated track.

2. The railway is the world's longest plateau railroad. The newly completed Golmud-Lhasa section zigzags 1,142 kilometers across the Kunlun and Tanggula mountain ranges.

3. About 550 kilometers of the tracks run on frozen earth, which is the longest one in the world's.

4. Tanggula Railway Station, 5,068 meters above sea level, is the highest railway station in the world.

5. Fenghuoshan Tunnel, 4,905 meters above sea level, is the highest tunnel through frozen earth in the world.

6. Kunlun Mountain Tunnel, running 1,686 meters, is the world's longest plateau tunnel built on frozen earth.

7. Anduo track-laying base at an altitude of 4704 meters in Tibet is the highest track laying base in the world.

8. Qingshuihe River Bridge (11.7 kilometers long) is the longest plateau bridge on frozen earth.

9. Upon its completion, the maximum train speed is designed to reach 100 kilometers per hour in the frozen earth area and 120 kilometers per hour in non-frozen earth area.

The Qinghai Lake Scenic Belt

Qinghai lake is the largest inland saltwater lake in China and is also the biggest lake in the country. The lake has an abundant supply of fish, which in turn attracts large flocks of birds including many migratory breeds.

Major sights on or around the lake are: Bird Island, Haixin Hill, Haixi Hill, Sankuaishi (Three Stones), and Sand Island. Every April, thousands of birds come to the Bird Island to lay eggs and before winter, they fly south. There was a beautiful legend about Tang princess on the way to marry in Tibet. This is a place with natural grassland and where the horses are being bred.
There is an archeological site in West China's Qinghai Province on the bank of a lake that has been dubbed "lover lake" that is between 50 to 60 meters high. The site, known by local people as "the ET relics," is on Mount Baigong, about 40 kilometres to the southwest of Delingha. On the north of the mountain are twin lakes dubbed the "Lover Lakes,"( Keluke Lake and Tuosu Lake) one with fresh water and the other with salty water. The "Lover Lakes" and the ET relics formed the most fascinating scenic spots here.

Keluke Lake(fresh lake) is fringed by a large area of reedbed and flooded grassland which is used for grazing, and the lake itself has a rich growth of freshwater macrophytes. In the lake were families of Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe, whilst the surrounding flooded grasslands held 15 species of breeding waterbirds including Little and Common Terns, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelducks, Gadwalls, Greylag Geese, Redshanks, and Kentish Plovers. Other species recorded include Golden Eagle and Henderson's Ground Jay. Keluke Lake is unique in being one of only a few sites in Qinghai Province that supports a large area of reedbeds and aquatic plants. The importance of this does not seem to have been considered before, and it seems that no botanist has visited or surveyed the site.

Even though Tuosu Lake(salt lake) was only some 3 km away, it is a complete contrast to Keluke Lake. The surrounding landscape was desert-like with sandstone pinnacles. Although the lake supported a large number of birds - mainly Brown-headed Gulls (440) and Ruddy Shelducks (124) - the diversity was much lower. The only signs of breeding activity, were 3 - 4 broods of Ruddy Shelducks, and a family of Black-necked Grebes. Apart from a pair of Desert Wheatears, no nests were found on the island in the centre of the lake, possibly explained by the number of fox scats and footprints in the sand. The lake freezes over in winter, allowing terrestrial predators to get across to the island.

There is a beautiful story about the two lakes. A perfect couple once lived here. The husband went out to do business on salt but did not come back for a long time. His wife looked for him all the way and found him died by the lake. Striken by the sadness, she died beside her husband too several days later. The husband turned into the Tuosu Lake and his wife turned into Keluke Lake.

The so-called ET relics structure is located on the south bank of the salty lake. It looks like a pyramid and is between 50 to 60 metres high. At the front of the pyramid are three caves with triangular openings. The cave in the middle is the biggest, with its floor standing 2 metres above the ground and its top 8 metres above the ground. This cave is about 6 metres in depth and inside there is a half-pipe about 40 centimetres in diameter tilting from the top to the inner end of the cave.

Another pipe of the same diameter goes into the earth with only its top visible above the ground. Above the cave are a dozen pipes of various diameters which run into the mountain. All the pipes are red brownish, the same color as that of surrounding rocks. The two smaller caves have collapsed and are inaccessible. Scattered about the caves and on the bank of the salty lake are a large number of rusty scraps, pipes of various diameters and strangely shaped stones. Some of the pipes run into the lake.

The result shows that they are made up of 30 per cent ferric oxide with a large amount of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide. Eight per cent of the content could not be identified. The large content of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide is a result of long interaction between iron and sandstone, which means the pipes must be very old. This result has made the site even more mysterious. Nature is harsh here. There are no residents, let alone modern industry, in the area, only a few migrant herdsmen to the north of the mountain."

Someone has suggested that the site might have been a launch tower left by ET.

Kunlun Mountain Scenic Belt

After traversing through Golmud, the train will enter the Kunlun Mountain Scenic Belt.

Kunlun Mountain lies in Qinghai Province and the mountains inside Qinghai all belong to the Kunlun Mountain Range, which used to be respected as the origin of all mountains or the mountain of dragon in ancient times. Many fairy tales have something to do with Kunlun Mountain, such as Chang'e (the goddess of the moon), Xi You Ji (Pilgrim to the West), and Bai She Zhuan (Legend of the White Snake). The Kunlun mountains are well known in Chinese mythology and are believed to be Taoist paradise. The first to visit this paradise was, according to the legends, King Mu (1001-947 BCE) of the Zhou Dynasty. He supposedly discovered there the Jade Palace of Huang-Di, the mythical Yellow Emperor and originator of Chinese culture, and met Hsi Wang Mu, the Royal Mother of the West, who also had her mythical abode in these mountains.

Kunlun is not only famous for its grandeur but also the color jade it produces, and the jade is called Kunlun Jade. Among the snow and the grassland, rare animals are leaping and skipping, presenting a beautiful picture of nature. The desert or, at best, steppe conditions prevailing throughout the Kunluns inhibit development of vegetation. Much of the terrain consists of rock deserts. Occasional stagnant water pools provide browsing and water for several wild ungulates, such as the Tibetan gazelle and Tibetan goat antelope (chiru), along with large herds of wild asses (kiang) and clusters of wild yaks. In the more humid western mountains, argali sheep (nayaur and Marco Polo) graze on the high grasslands. On the upper crags blue sheep, Ladakh urials, and ibex range sporadically throughout the western reaches. Willow thickets near watercourses frequently contain brown bears; wolves are endemic, but the snow leopard is rare. Many migratory waterfowl visit the lakes during seasonal migration. These highest peaks are in the Arkatag range of the range complex.

If it is rainy, you may miss the chance to catch the sight of Tibetan goat antelope (chiru), you may also see fabulous colorful lightning and experience the thrill of being driven by lightning on a running train. Of course there is no need to worry about your safety for the train which is well equipped with Lightning Protection Systems.

The Yangtze River Source Scenic Belt

Neighbouring Kekexili is the Yangtze River Source Scenic Belt. The source of the Yangtze River is called "Changjiangyuan" in Chinese. Lying at an altitude of over 5,000 meters it is located far from the sea in the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Yangtze River, Yellow River, and Mekong River originate in Qinghai, from which the name of "the source of the rivers" derives. Snow mountains, ice peaks, deserts, vast pastures and lakes dotted like stars in the sky and flocks of rare birds and animals weave its unique, fascinating and colorful natural landscapes.

Tanggula Railway Station, 5,068 meters above sea level, is the highest railway station in the world and is also the last scenic spot of the Yangtze River Source Scenic Belt.

Scenic Belt of Qiangtang Grassland

Qiangtang, the meaning of "northern highland", refers to the north Tibetan plateau. Located in among kunlung mountains, Tanggula mountains and Ganddis mountains, its land area covers 2/3 of the whole Tibet. Its total area is over 600 thousand square kilometers averaging about 4000 meters above sea level. Cold, Windy and snowy for 8 or 9 months in a year and frozen land can be seen everywhere. An old folk song sings like this: "The mysterious Qiangtang, it is so wild and desolate when you are here the first time; it becomes your lovely hometown when you get to know more."

The north of Qiangtang Plateau is even called "No People Area",thus the place becomes the ideal living area of rare animals,including the north of the Gangdisi Mountains and Nyainqen-tanggula Mountains and the wide area south of Kunlun Mountains. Qiang Tang Grasssland breeds thousands of wild animals,and 40 of them are specially protected by the state or regional government.Such rare animals as Wild yaks,Bharals,Tibetan wild donkeys,White-lipped deer,etc.are being well preserved in the area.Also it is the best preserved area in which rare animals researches are being carried out.

In Qiangtang Nature Reserve,there are vast prairies and glaciers,numerous mountains and lakes,hot springs,terrestrial heats.The golden season is the period from June to September,during which the temperature can reach 7-12 centigrade degree and the north of Tibetan plateau will take on a spectacular view before you with gentle wind,mild sunshine,lush grazing and large number of castles and sheep.

It is also the main base for animal husbandry, having a large range of pasture land and grass of high quality. The famous "plateau boat" Yak and Tibetan antelope just live in this area. The herdsmen's homes "dong wozi" are mostly located by the foot mountains and the sides of lakes. When summer comes, they put their simple packing on horseback, wandering and herding around the boundless prairie, the melodious songs accompanying with their changing footsteps. The herdsmen shake away the long loneliness by hardworking and singing in the harsh nature, creating their beautiful and colorful life.

The Scenic Belt from Nagqu to Lhasa

Holy lakes, holy mountains and mysterious no-man lands in western Nagqu combine to attract an endless flow of visitors and worshippers.

Of the many skyscraping peaks on the North Tibet Plateau, Sangdainkangsang is very famous. As one of the five highest peaks in all of Tibet, the peak is believed to be the powerful protector of Buddhist doctrines. The peak also changes its dress along with the seasons: it is the color of milk in the summer, silver in the winter, and bright in spring and autumn. The peak is skirted by the Qinghai-Tibet Highway.

By the road from Damshung to Nagqu one may meet Eight Pagodas. It is said that once King Gesar had led his troop here and one of his generals died in battle. In memory of this brave general, King Gesar ordered his subjects to build eight pagodas.

Nyainaentanglha is believed by many religious followers to be a Buddhist guardian. lt is also the major deity in the grasslands to the north. At the foot of Nyainaentanglha is the Nam Co Lake, which, with an elevation of 4,718 meters, covers 1,920 square km. In the shape of a reclining Diamond Tara, the lake has 18 ridges to the south (including the Tortoise Ridge and the peacock Ridge), 19 islets to the north (including the Ducklslet and the Roc Islet), and four monasteries surrounding it. Legend has it that Namco is the daughter of the heavenly king and mother of Nyainqentanglha.

You will also have the chance to catch the view of the famous Yanbajain Geothermal Power Station and the beautiful Lhasa river. All the beautiful scenery will accompany you all the way into Lhasa.

In addition to this, Qinghai-Tibet railway provides you an opportunity to witness this world-beating project: you will view the Sanchahe extra-large bridge, the highest bridge along the Qinghai-Tibet railway; the Qingshuihe bridge, one of the longest Bridge-substitute-Road, like a rainbow across the no man's land zone of Kekexili; Kunlun Mountain Tunnel, the world's longest plateau tunnel built on frozen earth; Fenghuoshan Tunnel, the world's most elevated tunnel on frozen earth. And Yangbajain tunnels. All these architecture miracles in the human history will provide you a breathtaking scenery.


Outline Itineray



Day 1: Arrive in capital Xining of Qinghai Province.

Day 2: Kumbum, Kokonor Lake
Visit Kumbum Monastery (Ta’er Si), one of the largest and main Gelugpa institutions. Drive across Ri Yue Shan (Sun Moon Mountain) to Kokonor Lake, the largest salt water Lake. Drive to the western shore of Qinghai Lake (Bird Island), the island that attracts hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.

Day 3:
Watch the birds of heavenly Bird Island and in the afternoon return to Xining. In the evening (8:07pm) board the Lhasa- bound train. Overnight in train.

Day 4: Enjoy the train ride on the roof of the world. Appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Tibetan plateau. You will arrive at Lhasa-the capital city of at around 11 pm. Transfer to hotel.

Days 5 & 6: Explore the highlights of Lhasa that includes the major Tibetan monasteries, Potala Palace, Jorkhang Temple, Barkhor Area, Tibetan Medicine center etc.

Day 7:
Drive to  Gyantse via dazzling Yamdrok Tso Lake over two high passes.

Day 8: Tour the highlights of Gyantse such as Pelkor Chode Monastery and Kumbum Stupa and later drive to Shigatse, to visit the famous Tashilunbo Monastery.

Day 9: Return drive to Lhasa via new road.

Day 10: Departure transfer to the airport or extend your stay in Tibet.
For private departures, the trips can be customized.


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