Hardly do people know the place – Golmud, if you are not planning the overland trip to Tibet by train. Golmud is the second biggest city in Qinghai province en route Xining to Lhasa. Golmud, built for mining natural sources such as salt, magnesium etc, has nothing to offer except dry desert. Though less popular and small, Golmud is the nearest city where tourists can take trains to Lhasa from inland China, with only 1,142 km and approximately 12 hours train journey.
All trains bound for Lhasa via Golmud makes a 20-minute stop here in the morning, then beginnings to climb up to Tibet Plateau from 2780m to the highest point 5200m. In other words, Golmud is the real start points of high altitude train journey.
Golmud to Lhasa Railway Map
|Train No.||Destinations||Depart||Arrival||Run Time||Distance||Frequency|
|Z264/Z265||Guangzhou to Lhasa||04:46||(17:43)||1142km||12h 57m||Every Other Day|
|Z917||Lanzhou to Golmud||(23:48)||(13:39)||1142km||13h 51m||Every Other Day|
|Z21||Beijing to Lhasa||(00:35)||(14:30)||1142 km||13h 55m||Every Day|
|Z9801||Xining to Lhasa||(23:48）||(13:39)||1142km||13h51m||Every Other Day|
|Z164||Shanghai to Lhasa||(05:11)||(18:57)||1142km||13h51m||Every Day|
|T22||Chengdu to Lhasa||02:04||15:28||1142km||13h24m||Every Other Day|
To make sure the train you choose from Golmud to Lhasa is traveling almost during the daytime, the scenery is stunning from Golmud. If you choose the wrong train you will miss a big part of the sightseeing. However the proper train sometimes is not easy to book in Summer, as the trains are always overbooked from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and there is no enough vacancy for short distance Gulmod-Lhasa transfer.
How to get to Gulmud
By Plane: Golmud Airport operates flights to and from Xining and Xian.
By Train: Golmund station (Qinghai Huochezhan) is on Jiangyuan Road. Situated to the south of the city, the station is a modern building, completed in 1979, and is convenient for travelers coming from the city to get to. Taxis from downtown to the station only cost the initial rate, and there are a few local buses that pass by the station.
While all the trains stop at Golmud – and there are 17 trains that pass through each day – passengers to Lhasa may not get off there and catch a later train. If the city is not the arrival city listed on your ticket, you will not be allowed to leave the station, so if you want to visit, you need to get a ticket direct to Golmud. It has direct connections with the following major cities:
Beijing (34 hours), Chengdu, (28 hours), Chongqing (28 hours), Guangzhou (46 hours), Lanzhou (16-17 hours), Lhasa (14 hours), Shanghai (37 hours) and Xining (14-16 hours), Xi’an (20-22 hours)
Sightseeing nearby Golmud
Just 60km to the northeast of the city lies Qarhan Salt Lake, the largest inland salt lake in the world, with an area of 5,856 square kilometers, and to the east lies Qinghai Lake. The area is rich in wildlife, and an ideal place to enjoy the landscape of the region. The Kunlun Mountains lie to the south, their snow-capped peaks clearly visible from the city, and the Kekexili National Nature Reserve is to the southwest.
The reserve covers an area of around 45,000 square km and is set to become the newest UNESCO world heritage site in 2017. It encompasses China’s largest area of uninhabited land and has an average elevation of 4,600 meters. This remote nature reserve is home to over 200 species of wild animals, many of which are now endangered species, such as the Tibetan antelope. While this remote, uninhabited area is barren and harsh, it is one of the most amazing landscapes in the world.
Golmud Connects Silk Road and Tibet
Though Golmud is a very small and remote city in the dry desert of north-west China, it is a vital hub connecting Silk Road Travel with Tibet Travel. A 530km bus ride connects Dunhuang (famous of Mogao Cave) with Golmud.There are buses running between these two cities every day, starting 8 am in Golmud and ending in Dunhuang 5 pm. Price is around 20 USD.
What sort of window view do we expect to see?
Just like the road trip by car, one could enjoy the scenery on both sides of the road. The stunning scenery along the Tibet railway line will never let you down. As the train passes Xining and enters Golmud region, the breathtaking view appears one after another. Be sure to capture the memorable experience with your camera. Major attractions are Qarhan Salt Lake, Yuzhu Peak, Kekexili Nature Reserve, Tuotuo He River, Tangula pass, Tsonag Lake, Qiangtang prairie, Namtso, etc.
Having a ride on Qinghai-Tibet train route is definitely the experience of a lifetime. Besides, the long distance and pressurized train tailor-made for acclimatization of extreme altitude make the ride different from another train journey. Following tips are suggested for tourists to better enjoy the Views on Tibet train. See more: the detailed introduction of the scenery of Qinghai-Tibet railway.
Travel Tips for Catching Your Train
- Check your train ticket or consult with your ticketing agent to make sure that you get the correct train station.
- You will be allowed on board the train 30 minutes before departure time. The train will be closed 5 minutes before departure. So please well schedule your time for the transfer from your hotel to the station taking the traffic snag into consideration.
- You are requested to go through the security check (luggage check) when you enter the main hall of the train station.
- Once you are in the main hall, please see the huge live train timetable board to get the correct waiting room for your departure train.
- In the waiting room, very often you have to stand to wait there for the coming train since usually there will be very much crowded and no seats are available.
- While in the waiting room, please see the live train timetable and a signboard indicating the boarding time of your train.
- Line up for the ticket check by the ticket collectors or insert the ticket in the turnstile and then follow the throng on to the platform ( make sure to get the correct platform).
- Show your ticket to the train conductor standing the door of your carriage before you embark on your train ride.
- After the train is moving, the train conductress will walk to you again to check your passport or ID card for security reason. In addition, you have to give your ticket to the conductor in exchange for a boarding card (if sleeper tickets). The card shows your seat number same with the ticket. When the train is about to arrive, the conductress will approach you to exchange the card back for your ticket.
- If you miss the train or lose your tickets, you cannot have your tickets refunded and you have to buy another one.
- If you lose your tickets on the train, you are supposed to buy another one when passing the arrival station. So do not lose your tickets on the train
Railway Rules and Regulations You Should Know
China railway rules and regulations are different with any other country in the world. Getting familiar with these rules will make your rail travel in China more successful and happy!
Carry-on Luggage Rules:
- Inflammable and explosive dangerous goods, animal and pet are not allowed to take on board of the train.
- Weight requirement for carry-on luggage: maximum weight of carry-on luggage is 10kg for a child passenger, the maximum weight for carry-on luggage is 20kg for an adult passenger.
- Size requirment for carry-on luggage: total length of your carry-on luggage ( length+width+height) should be under 200cm.
Requirements for Child Tickets
Instead of age, China railway has special requirements on height to buy child ticket. Summary for child ticket requirements:
- Children with the height under 120cm can enjoy free rail travel and don’t need to pay to travel by train.
- Children with the height of 120cm and 150cm have rights to buy discounted train tickets. Price for a sleeper ticket for a child is about 70% of that of an adult ticket.
- Children with the height above 150cm should buy fully-priced train tickets no matter how old they are.
- The timetable above is just for reference.
- We can NOT offer ticket-only service. According to the Tibet Government, foreign visitors must book a tour from a travel agency and obtain a Tibet Entry Permit before booking Tibet train ticket.
- Tibet train tickets are quite popular and always sold out quickly, please make your inquiry at least 3-5 months before your departure date.
- Because the hard and soft sleeper tickets from Other cities to Lhasa are few and hard to get, we recommend you to take a flight to Xining, and then take the train from Xining to Lhasa.
- The main advantage of traveling via airplane to Xining and then taking the train from there is that you can save time on the trip, and as Xining is at an elevation of 2,275 meters, you can always spend a day there to help with acclimatizing to the higher altitudes. This can help to reduce the risk of altitude sickness. Moreover, as most of the spectacular scenery is on the train from Golmud (where the train starts its ascent to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) you would not be missing any of the best parts of the train journey.