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“Overrated train journey from Chengdu to Lhasa”

Qinghai Tibet Train (Lhasa Express)
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3-Night Lhasa Impression Small-Group Tour
Ranked #1,092 of -31,990 things to do in China
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Owner description: Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest railway goes 710 miles from Qinghai to Lhasa, on which the train starts from mainland China: Beijing, Xining, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, making your trip to Tibet extremely unparalleled and attractive. It has become the most popular way to Tibet since the initial launch of China Tibet railway across the vantage point for viewing the plateau scenery. To book train to or from Tibet, feel free to contact Explore China Tibet travel service!
Reviewed 22 June 2014

My friends and I took the soft sleeper coach on T22 train expecting an unforgettable positive experience. Unfortunately it was UNFORGETTABLE!!!

The train was not well maintained, the toilets though not the worst in China were dirty and used as a smoker's retreat; the dining coach and kitchen were not hygienic (we've seen staff spitting on the floor!); the dining coach was monopolized by the staff during off peak meal times, we had to vacate at their command; the staff lacks customer service, they shout and actually monopolize seats in the dining area that should be reserved for paying clients. In short the staff were not professional and lacks training.

The scenery was not spectacular at all. Perhaps it was the wrong season? Very little announcement or information on passing landmarks to inform passengers. The railway line may be the highest railway in the world (top of the world), boasts of ingenious technological and engineering feats, and deserved accolades for the labor involved in building the railway in adverse harsh terrains, it is incomparable to the efficiency and standards of the European lines. To quote a friend of mine, "It has the hardware but not the heartware"

Until the Q-H line undergoes an organizational re-structuring with a vision to improve the heartware, it is better and less painful to take a flight in to Lhasa. The Tibet land tour was good with its rich and colorful culture and history.

9  Thank QGC2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"soft sleeper"
in 31 reviews
"hard sleeper"
in 11 reviews
"altitude sickness"
in 8 reviews
"high altitude"
in 9 reviews
"toilet paper"
in 9 reviews
"dining car"
in 7 reviews
"snow capped mountains"
in 6 reviews
"boiling water"
in 5 reviews
"small table"
in 5 reviews
"cup noodles"
in 4 reviews
"highest point"
in 4 reviews
"bunk beds"
in 4 reviews
"above sea level"
in 4 reviews
"ran out"
in 3 reviews
"luggage space"
in 3 reviews
"entire cabin"
in 2 reviews
in 2 reviews

41 - 45 of 125 reviews

Reviewed 14 June 2014

We, a group of 11 friends, from Sri Lanka bordered to the train to a soft sleeper birth that was arranged by our travel agent, Tibettravel.org, on 17th Sep 2013 around 19.00 hrs. We are due in the train two nights and reached to Lhasa on 19th around 16.00 hrs. The experience was unforgettable, though there were some weaknesses. The birth was compact to share by four. We have walk to the other compartment for hot water. The menu in the cafeteria was limited. But the experience gathered by viewing the area we passed was awesome. The snow capped mountains, huge plains with beards of yaks and sheep, and isolated small villages with box shaped houses show a magnificent view. The train passed the altitude more than 5000 meters, but the automated oxygen pumping system was helped to be acclaimed with the situation. When we got down from Lhasa, nobody of our team affected with altitude sickness. Thanks for the train that passed about 3,750 kms from Beijing within about 44 hours. We felt well on the land, too. This train is more suits the healthy people as you have to passed various altitudes within the train runs about 120 km per hour. It is advisable to buy the train ticket in advance, don't pay any more than the invoice you get. The agent from the agency is trying to charge more by saying this and that, which we experienced. But We paid only the invoiced amount.

4  Thank Jayantha Badran... S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2014

Leaving Lhasa
This beautiful Buddhist city ringed by high snow dusted mountains
World Heritage Monasteries and Palaces
Luxury lounge waiting area
Train info displayed on train departure boards in Chinese. We'll manage somehow
What to expect? Who knows?
All aboard Qinghai Tibet Express
Roll up the cabin carpet, cleaner underneath.
Slowly climbing from 3700 metres
Yang Ba Lin 4610 mt at 3.25 pm is our first station
Yaks, yakkety yak please come back we hear them call.
Goats Sheep Cattle chewing on nothing, tended by shepherds on motor bikes or on foot
Ploughing plots. Yaks harnessed to primitive ploughs. Women dressed in chubas working fields
Rice paddy, some dry some wet. Barley plots swaying in the wind.
Nomad huts, solar panels, prayer flags, occasional girt.
Yak dung drying on a brick wall
Big piles of yak dung like a wood heap, the higher we climbed the bigger the pile
Small communities, animal yards of stone walls
Trucks and cars and buses out on the plateau, no roads to see
Prayer flags fluttering in the icy cold wind, down mountainsides, over glacial streams, on hillsides.
Stone fences around stone houses
Rubbish in glacial streams
Plastic bags caught in fence lines
Na Qu 4513m our 2nd biggish station in the middle of the Tibetan Plains
Gang Xiu 4646m Station
Windy, lots of passengers departed our train.
Toilet still in the deep end.
Dinner of steamed whole fish, with chilli and other things I didn't know, with a bowl of rice each and a bowl of "soup" 64 yuan
Large inland lake at 4700+ mtrs
Tou Ju station at 4891 mt 7.20 pm
Zha Jia Zang station4886 mt at 8pm
Tangula station 5067 mt at 8.20 pm. This is the highest point on the train journey and currently highest station in the world. Surely are traveling along the roof of the world.
Time for bed. Oxygen hissing from the outlets, providing a little extra relief.
Often awake
Stopping few stations. Main stop around 3.30am for awhile. More passengers depart and alight.
Awake around 8.20 am.
Passing a very large inland sea for maybe 30 mins
Now wide open plains. 10.30 am snowing lightly and snow on ground
Xining West Station. Stopped for 20 mins. Bought yoghurt from stall vendor on the station. 5Yuan. Was "most famous black rice yoghurt " in China. And yummy.
Now we are going through more densely populated area, many multi storey apartments both completed and being built. Large section of new road and railway extension or duplication for 10 Kms or so from the station on towards Beijing. We are halfway.
Squatter and sitter toilet both blocked now and out of order. Not looking good. 19 hours to go.
17 hours to go. Stopped at station. Bread rolls purchased from trolley on station. We all had different fillings, banana, salad, ham and cheese, then we woke up and realized they were just plain old sweet glazed bread rolls. Ah the food we have eaten this trip, pizza, pasta, hamburgers, you name it we have imagined it.
Instant noodles for dinner.
And so we frittered away another day, 42 hours in all, all aboard the Express. Fun filled. We have had some laughs and made great memories. With the wrong attitude, We can see that the train trip could be taxing, just need to approach it with a sense of humour, (and more snacks) we won't ever regret doing it. It's great to be a traveller and we have been so lucky.

8  Thank Rosemary T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 May 2014

we boarded the train at Xining, soft sleeper, as we were 2 travellers we booked a 4 sleeper for the 2 of us; Christina@absolutechinatours booked the 16 day itinerary for us. having read previous reviews I was quite nervous but all went well, our guide saw us to our sleeper. I would recommendat least 4 litre each of water,the train ran out of water, there is boiling water on tap, and a flask in ones cabin. toilets are western and asian style; take toilet paper with you and a hand towel.

5  Thank Susan R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 May 2014

After going thru 44 hrs from Chengdu to Lhasa, the experience isn't that bad. 44 hours sounds long, but most of the time you spend is sleeping or doing your own stuff ( some isolation time) but if you are those hyperactive kind, skip this train ride, just fly to Lhasa.

All trains that go to Lhasa are similar (i.e coming from Beijing, Xian or Chengdu etc). The first 24 hours probably will not get you the view that you want. Is the next 24 hrs that you will see nicer scenic mountain views. If you have to take this train, board at xining or lanzhou instead. It will reduce your journey by a day.

3 types of seatings in the train.
1) SEATS that doesnt recline and is the cheapest
2) 6 bed bunk in a carriage (total 60 pax) the next cheapest
3) 4 bed bunk in a carriage (total 32 pax) the most expensive
Price depends on where you board and also if you are paying an agent fee, although there is no need for it, but some people do pay 100-1000RMB for the agent fee. Prices of tickets you can search online.

Inside each bunk, there is only one charging point, you gotta share, if not you can charge your stuff along the corridor. Inside the dinner carriage, there is no charging point. There is a personal TV that ceased to function since time started, so bring your own entertainment. The attendent do clean the cabin when possible. There are toilets at each end of the carriage, may not be the cleanest but it function well. You can take a short breather or walk when the train stops at major stations (for about 20 mins). There's a hot water dispenser if you want to have hot tea or cup noodles.

If you are taking the sleepers(aka bunks), it will depend on your luck on whom you get as your bunk-mates. Some may get those noisy smokers etc, i got lucky and got some local ladies, whom was always sharing with me their home cook food. Do note that although smoking is prohibited in the carriage, but they can still smoke at the intersection of the carriage, and the smoke will flow into the bunks/carriage eventually.

Food at the dinner carriage was delicious. It's opened 24 hrs, and you can sit at the carriage and dine with a view. Price wise would depends on what you order. Fish will be more expensive, and the others would be an average of 50RMB per person. If price is a factor, you can bring your own food. There will be someone pushing out a cart of about 4 local dishes and rice along the corridor. The price would be 25 RMB for a plate of rice and 4 dishes. When there are lesser dishes, the price will drop to 15 RMB. Price is the same for dinner and lunch. They do serve breakfast too, but i was sleeping.

If you want to acclimatize by taking the train, i would not recommend it because the train is going up and down (5000+ to 3000+) in altitude, you can hardly acclimatize. the best way is to fly to Lhasa direct and stay an extra day or two. There is extra oxygen pumped out into the cabin, but if you are moving too much at 5000+ metres, you will get dizzy too. There are many people whom puke in the cabins (6 bed bunk), probably not enough oxygen for a cramped number of people. I saw lesser people whom puke in the 4 bed bunks. Do bring your altitude medicine if it works for you, or if you need oxygen can or tube, you can approached the staff.

The view is beautiful to see and to be kept in your memory. If you want to take photos, it will be difficult as the train is moving and the reflection of the train's windows do a bad job. After a while the scenery is the same. So to stay couped up for 24 hrs to see almost similar view/scenes it may not be ideal for some.

I feel it's not a must to train but if you want to train it is fine too. There is no right or wrong in it, it depends on your choice. Flying will be much faster and sometimes cheaper too. you probably can see the same view when you are touring round tibet.

13  Thank EdwinLau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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