Lhasa Transport - Introduction

Lhasa Transport - Introduction

Lhasa is the transportation hub of Tibet. Because of the geographical remoteness of the region, access to Lhasa used to be difficult, and was limited to infrequent air services and arduous road trips. Nowadays, travelers have more options to choose from.

The easiest way to get to Lhasa is still by air. Lhasa Gonggar Airport is 98 kilometers from Lhasa City, and is about an hour and ten minutes drive away by shuttle service or taxi. Lhasa is linked by air to nine Chinese cities as well as Kathmandu in Nepal.

There are five highways into Tibet to Lhasa, but at present, only two – the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and the China-Nepal Highway – are open to foreigners. There are long-distance bus services which provide access to various parts of Tibet and destinations beyond, but many visitors prefer to hire four-wheel drive vehicles, which are better-equipped to handle the roads.

Traveling by train to Lhasa is another choice. The first section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway between Xining and Golmud went into service in 1984. The second section between Golmud and Lhasa began operations on July 1 2006. Reaching a maximum altitude of 5042 meters (16,542 feet), it is the highest railway service in the world. There are scheduled trains to Lhasa from Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xining and Lanzhou.

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