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The world-renowned Qinghai-Tibet railway refers to the railway that starts from Xining to Lhasa. Not only is the railway itself considered as a man-made wonder in transportation field but also the stunning scenery along the railway line offers a tasty appetizer for tourists who are heading towards Tibet for travel. Some of the must-see scenery are as follows:

On the way from Xining to Lhasa

Starting from Xining, the Qinghai-Tibet train ushers the first superb view to passengers at Golmud, also known as a rising city of the Gobi desert, where Qarhan Salt Lake, the largest salt lake in China lies. Tourists can see endless grotesquely-shaped salt flowers and unusual salt lake surroundings.


Xining, a city of just over one million inhabitants, is situated in a remote valley on the eastern edge of Qinghai Province – occupying China’s rugged, cold-weather northern “frontier.” The city is best known for the Kumbum Monastery (Ta’er Temple), one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist sites in China. The Gelugpa sect was founded here by Tsongkhapa, and the hillside monastery was erected in 1560 in his honor. Up to 2,000 monks can gather to chant sutras in the Great Hall of Meditation, whose roof is supported by carpet-wrapped pillars. The Hall of Butter Sculpture includes colorfully-painted yak butter sculptures depicting important events in Buddhist history. Once home to over 3,000 monks, Kumbum Monastery now houses 600.

Qinghai Lake

The lake is about the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, though Qinghai Lake is not nearly as salty. Its waters support a variety of fish which, in turn, support a variety of birds – many of which call on Qinghai Lake during their bi-annual migrations. Cormorants, geese, cranes, and swans are plentiful here. The summer months bring herds of yak. Over twenty rivers and streams flow into the lake but there’s no outflow; evaporation maintains its level.


The city’s economic mainstays are its burgeoning mineral, oil and chemical industries. But to the visitor, Golmud’s main function is “transportation hub.” Through here funnels traffic from China’s eastern and northern cities to the lone highway (and now, the lone railroad) leading southwest to Lhasa. To many visitors passing through, Golmud’s surrounding landscape presents an almost lunar look; at an almost 10,000-foot elevation, the region is virtually treeless.

Qarhan Salt Lake,

750 kilometers away from Xining, might be the first majestic sight that catches your attention when you are on the train to Lhasa for 32 kilometers of the Qinghai Tibet Railway.

Yuzhu Peak

As the train keeps moving up, it will stop at the station of Yuzhu Peak at an altitude of 4160m. The Yuzhu Peak is the best mountain for entry-level mountaineering. If weather permits, one can have a clear view of the summit of Yuzhu Peak.

Yuzhu peak has an altitude of 6178m and is the summit of the east part of Mt. Kunlun. Its topographical feature is ideal for entry-level mountaineers for its wind-eroded rock face of the mountain and gentle slope cause no avalanche. With a varied topography, for years it has remained a popular destination for mountaineering training.

Kekexili Nature Reserve

Shortly passing Yuzhu Peak, the trains enter the well-renown Kekexili nature reserve, the least populated and isolated region in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. It is home to many wildlife such as Tibetan antelope, wild yak, wild Tibetan donkey, etc. Then, the train will arrive at the station of Tuotuo He River, where tourists can enjoy the natural scenery and cultural heritage of Tuotuo River, the first town or away from the source of Yangtze River.

In May each year, the pregnant Tibetan antelope will migrant to Kekexili Nature Reserve to deliver baby antelope. The tunnel is built under the bridge to allow Tibetan antelope to have an easy access.

Tuotuo River

With an altitude of 4533m, Tuotuo River enjoys a comparatively mild climate in the region of the source of Yangtze River and is the place with the lowest altitude between Kunlun mountain pass and Tangula pass.

With an altitude of 4533m, Tuotuo River enjoys a comparatively mild climate in the region of the source of Yangtze River and is the place with the lowest altitude between Kunlun mountain pass and Tangula pass.

Tang Gu la Mountain

Then, the train heads for the highest place of Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which is the Tanggula station (5072m). Having a ride at such a high altitude makes passengers truly feel how marvelous the “Sky Road” is.

The Qinghai-Tibet train is heading towards Tanggula Mountain and the phenomenal mountainous range will definitely blow you away.

Tsonag Lake

After entering the Nagqu prefecture, the train unfolds a completely different natural beauty to riders. Tourists can catch a glimpse of Tsonag Lake, one of the highest freshwater lakes in China, which is only tens of meters away from the railway. The lake looks like a precious mirror and meanwhile, travelers can enjoy the boundless Qiangtang prairie, one of the top five pastures in north Tibet plateau as well as home to numerous rare wildlife.

Tsonag Lake has an altitude of 4650m and is an alpine freshwater lake, covering an area of over 400 km. It is believed to be a sacred lake by local Tibetans and thousands of Tibetan pilgrims come to here and worship the lake for an auspicious year. The train will stop here and tourists can take a snapshot themselves.

Qiang Thang prairie

If you are interested in Tibetan prairie or Tibetan nomads, then Qiangtang prairie is the place where you should be. The boundless grassland and century-old nomadic life offer tourists many more to explore.

You can see nomads and their livestock in summer along the railroad in Naque.

The next highlight comes at Damxung railway station, a midway between Nagqu prefecture and Lhasa. The sacred Namtso, dazzling like a crystal-clear gem, is the second-largest saltwater lake lying in Qiangtang prairie in China. It is only 30 km away from Damxung county.

Namtso Lake

The surrealistic scenery of Namtso Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Tibet. In the Tibetan language, “Namtso Lake” means “Heavenly Lake”. Each year, numerous Tibetan pilgrims and tourists will come and do the circuit around the sacred lake.

Lhasa River

The Train is driving close to Lhasa and going across Lhasa River

Lhasa, the final destination of Qinghai-Tibet train, offers virtually every aspect of Tibetan culture for visitors to explore.

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