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Tibet Transport

Tibet Transportation

Tibet is used to be an inhospitable region, but lots of the people want to travel there. With the transportation network build up, it is easier to get to Tibet with different access. Rail, road, air all are very convenient. The most popular way to enter Tibet now is taking the train-the sky train. On the way, you can enjoy the unique high land sceneries that you will miss by taking the flights.

Transportation condition in Tibet has changed greatly since the liberation in 1951 when pack animals were the main mode of transportation in the region. Now highways and airlines are connecting it to other regions of China.


Tibet also opens both international and domestic airlines. You can take the regular direct domestic flights from Chengdu (2hours' flying time), Beijing (6hrs), Shanghai(8hrs), Chongqing (2hrs), Xi’an (3hrs), Guangzhou(5hrs) and Kunming (4hrs)to Tibet. The international route is from Kathmandu 2hours flying (capital of Nepal). Gongga Airport Tibet is at the Gongga County in the south of Lhasa 100 kilometers away. It takes around 2 hours’ driving from Lhasa.:

Lhasa Gonggar Airport:

Planes are by far the fastest means to move to the Roof of the World. There are two airports in Tibet while Gonggar airport connects Lhasa, hence Tibet, with Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Chongqing, and even Katmandu and Hong Kong. There is no air route within Tibet at present. Traveling by air into Tibet will surely brings visitors unique and thrilling experience. Just imagine that you are above the world highest snow and cloud clad peaks! However, since planes travel fast and there is little time for acclimatization.

Tibet railway:

Tibet Railway has already been open to traffic since July 1, 2006. Now travelers can make convenient access to Tibet by train.

Lhasa Railway Station

Train from West Beijing to Lhasa


There are five highways in Tibet.

Sichuan-Tibet Highway:

Sichuan-Tibet highway is the longest, 2413 kilometers (1496 miles) long, built in 1950 and opened for traffic in 1954. The roads ply the uneven terrain over 14 mountains which average 4000-5000 meters (13120-16400 feet) high, and over a dozen of famous rivers such as Lantsang River (Mekong). The climate along the road presents beautiful scenery ranging from spring to winter. However, the road condition is not good.

Liuwu Long-Distance Bus Station in Lhasa:

Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Golmud of Qinghai, the only road providing bus service among the five highways and the main road to travel Tibet. 1160 kilometers (720 miles) long and averaging 4000 meters (13120 feet) high, along Kunlun Mountains and vast grassland, which amaze people living in modern civilization, the bituminous road is the best road leading to Tibet.

Xinjiang-Tibet Highway:

Xinjiang-Tibet Highway starts from Yecheng in Xinjiang. It runs 1455 kilometers (902 miles), winding its way among fives mountains soaring more than 5000 meters (16400 feet) high above the sea level. A spectacular view of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarova overwhelm travelers while traveling along the road.

Yunnan-Tibet Highway:

Yunnan-Tibet Highway spans 800 kilometers (492 miles) to reach Markham, a less beaten track by travelers.


Chinese-Nepalese Highway is another main road traveled often. It stretches 900 kilometers (558 miles) from Kathmandu to reach Shigatse and Lhasa.

Among the five highways, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Chinese-Nepalese Highway are open to foreigners at present. Inside Tibet, there are now regular buses shuttling between major towns.

Transportation within Tibet:

transportation in Tibet Considering the features of Tibetan tour, the best way is to rent certain kind of vehicle.

In general, the prices for renting vehicles are as below (they may change according to seasons):

Ordinary import cross-country vehicle: RMB3-3.50/km

Luxury import cross-country vehicle: RMB3.50-4.50/km

Mini bus for 20 persons: RMB5.50-6.50/km

Large bus for 40 persons: RMB5.50-6.50/km Besides, exploring and traveling in remote or depopulated areas, you’d better be equipped with a reserve car to secure rear service. On the one hand, for the transportation of food, tents and fuels; on the other hand, it may help to rescue when other cars are in danger.

In downtown Lhasa, there are many buses and all the tickets are sold for RMB2.00. It’s convenient to reach each scenic spot. Taxi drivers don’t like the automatic calculator to evaluate the cost and each ride will be charged with an average of RMB10. It will cost more if it’s a little bit far, but you can bargain with the driver.

Road conditions in Tibet:

Road conditions in Tibet have also improved in recent years, especially in the cities and roads between big cities. Most of the famous sightseeing places have asphalt-paved road.

In Lhasa minibuses are the main means of transportation and it is easy to hire a taxi. Pedicabs are unique vehicles to tour around the city of Lhasa. Bikes can be easily hired at Lhasa at most hostels. Inside Tibet, there are now regular buses shuttling between major towns.

While getting to Lhasa is straightforward, transport to some remote mountain areas or other isolated religious destinations, such as Ngari prefecture, may not be convenient. Public bus routes are not developed like those you see in Beijing. The road gets bumpy and dusty. It will be even worse in rainy seasons. If you are going to those places, renting a good quality Land Cruiser from local travel agency is recommended. The price is judged by day. The conditions of minor roads are only passable by jeeps. Due to the rough road condition from Tingri to Everest Base Camp, 4WD plays main role for Everest Base Camp tours.

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