Lhasa is the transportation hub of Tibet. Because of the geographical remoteness, access to Lhasa and other districts of Tibet used to be difficult, and was limited to infrequent air services and arduous road trips. Nowadays, travelers have more options to choose from to get to Lhasa Tibet. Following is the information for trains, buses and flights to Lhasa, Tibet.
To get to Lhasa, most foreign travelers choose air transport. There are direct flights between Lhasa and Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi'an, Xining, Guangzhou, Chamdo, Kunming and Kathmandu. As tourism to Tibet picks up, new flights are opening all the time. Chengdu, with 20 flights a week, offers a convenient route, as it is a two-hour flight costing about RMB 1,500. Another good option is Xi'an, which operates 18 flights a week (3 hours, about RMB 1,650). There is a daily flight from Beijing (4 hours, about RMB 2,430), and some other cities with direct links are Chongqing (2.5 hrs, about RMB 1,630), Xining (2.5 hrs, about RMB 1,610) and Xian (3hrs, about RMB 1,650). The flight to Kathmandu takes about 3.5 hours.
Lhasa Gonggar Airport is located in Gonggar County, about 65 kilometers south of Lhasa city. The shuttle bus (RMB 25) takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. If you choose to go by taxi, you can expect a fare of around RMB 150.
Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA) (Lhasa Gongga Jichang)
Add: Jiazhulin Town, Gongga County, Shannan Area, Tibet
Inquiry Tel: 0891-683 3446
Airport Ticket Booking Tel: 0891-624 6458
• Shuttle Service:
To the airport
There are half-hourly shuttle buses from the downtown CAAC Ticket Office to the airport daily from 6.00am. The fare is RMB 25.
Shuttle buses (RMB 25) go regularly from the airport to the CAAC Ticket Office downtown. The schedule depends on flight arrivals.
• Ticketing Service:
CAAC Lhasa Ticket Office
Add: 1 Niangre Lu, Lhasa
Tel: 0891-6833446, 6832923, 6822393
Bus route: 103, 105, 106
The Lhasa railway station is ten minutes by taxi from the center of Lhasa. It is the largest station along the newly built Qinghai-Tibet railway in western China. The trains from Lhasa Railway Station connect Lhasa with Beijing (47hrs), Shanghai (49hrs), Guangzhou (56hrs), Chongqing (46hrs), Chengdu (46hrs), Xining (25 hrs) and Lanzhou (28 hrs).
Train timetable Website
• Lhasa Railway Station (Lhasa Huochezhan)
Add: Liuwu Town, Duilongdeqing County, southwest of Lhasa
Ticket Reservation Tel: 0891-675 6991
Inquiry Tel: 0891-675 6222
Bus route: 86, 89, 91
Ticket hotlines in other cities:
Beijing West Railway Station: 86-10-9510 5105
Shanghai Railway Station: 86-800-820 7890
Chengdu Railway Station: 86-28-8332 2088, 8333 2499
Lanzhou Railway Station: 86-931-492 2222
Chongqing Railway Station: 86-23-6386 2607
Xining Railway Station: 86-971-819 2832
There are five main highways in Tibet. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway stretches east to link Lhasa with Chengdu; the Yunnan-Tibet Highway also goes east, following the same route as the Sichuan Highway as far as Markam, then heading southeast into northern Yunnan; the Qinghai-Tibet Highway provides northerly road access to Xining, the Qinghai capital, via Golmud; the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway travels through western Tibet into the far west of Xinjiang province; and the China-Nepal Highway goes southwest and crosses the border into Nepal about 110km from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. For entry to or exit from Tibet, only the Qinghai-Tibet and China-Nepal Highways can be used by foreigners at present.
The bus station in Lhasa is located southwest of Barkhor Square and serves a wide range of destinations within Tibet. There are also long distance buses to Lanzhou, Chengdu and Xining. Note that because of the standard of roads in Tibet, long-distance bus journeys can take as long as several days.
Thanks to the increasing number of tourists, minibuses have become a booming industry in Tibet. The area south of Barkhor Square is where minibuses set off for places like Tsurphu Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Another place to look for a minibus is in front of the Kirey Hotel, where there are daily minibuses to Naqu, Samye and Shigatse. Usually the departure time of the buses is not fixed, so inquiry in advance is highly recommended.
• Lhasa Long Distance Bus Station (Lhasa Changtu Qiche Zhan )
Add: intersection of Jinzhu Lu and Minzu Lu, Lhasa
Inquiry Tel: 0891-682469
Minibuses are the main form of transport in Lhasa. They can easily be picked up along Beijing Road, and the flat fare is RMB 1. Services start in the late morning and finish in the early evening.
Taxis are plentiful and clearly marked in Lhasa. There is a flat fare of RMB 10 for destinations in the city, rising to RMB 15 for suburban destinations, with a RMB 5 night surcharge. Trips beyond the environs of Lhasa are negotiable: for example, if you are heading for Drepung Monastery, you can expect to pay around RMB 20.
Outside Lhasa, roads can be rough and a rented 4-wheel drive is a good (and sometimes the only) way to get around. One popular route is from Lhasa to the Nepalese border, via Yamdrok-tso, Gyantse, Shigatse, Sakya, Everest Base Camp and Tingri. The trip to Mt Kailash and Namtso is another journey where a 4-wheel drive is the best choice. It is a comparatively expensive way to travel (around RMB 1000 per vehicle per day), so ask around for information on the best deals.
Trips outside Lhasa are controlled and cannot be taken without a guide and an itinerary pre-approved by the PSB. Plan carefully and include all destinations which you feel that you may want to visit. Once on the road, the driver will not go to places not included on the itinerary.
Pedicabs, while slower than minibuses, are a popular transport option on Lhasa streets. They can carry two people and cost between RMB 4 and 7. The fare should be settled beforehand to avoid misunderstanding. Pedicabs are a pleasant option for short trips within the city. Don't forget to settle the price before you set off. If you've acclimatized to the altitude, renting a bicycle is more flexible alternative for getting around Lhasa.
Traveling by bike is another pleasurable way to get around the city. Remember, though, that Lhasa's altitude can take some getting used to and you should avoid strenuous activity when you first arrive. Bikes can be rented from many hostels along Barkhor Street for around RMB 2 per hour or RMB 20 per day (a deposit is necessary). Mountain bikes are slightly more expensive.