QUOTE(boston333 @ Jan 30 2009, 06:45 AM)
Have only read one person telling first-hand experience of taking the train from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet - and it was not too nice to read.
Would be interested to read any other accounts. The 4 bunk soft bed option ok?can we take luggage?, how much? Do they clean the rest rooms? Do they stop at certain stations for photos and stretch the legs? Altitude sickness, tips to avoid,tablets etc?Have to book tickets how long before journey? Best to book in Beijing? Get Tibet permit from a genuine Travel Agency in Beijing would take how long? Book Tibet accommodation in Beijing- tips and advice on doing this?
I love Chinese trains. I have always taken them to travel around China and have never had a bad experience on one, except the time I could only get a hard seat ticket to travel from Guilin to Beijing. 24 hours on a wooden bench was not terribly pleasant. Until very recently trains were so much cheaper than flying, that flying wasn't even an option for me. The soft sleepers, which are the 4 bunk type are wonderful. They are very exclusive, and you can lock the doors to the little room. They have their own light controls and televisions. The older trains have one television and the newer ones have one for each bed. Luggage is not a problem. Since the cars with the soft sleepers are exclusive for the ticket holders there are not too many people trying to get around on them. They do stop at different stations where you can take some photos, but it is fairly quick. Altitude sickness is usually not too much of a problem for people. I suggest taking pills with you before leaving for China. Also I found that drinking plenty of water and taking a day to simply rest in my hotel room did the trick. If you try to do to much right off the bat, you will suffer more than if you give yourself a day to relax and adjust.
The easiest way to plan a trip like this is to use a tour company. If you want to do it the cheap way, I would suggest doing all of the hotel bookings by yourself online. It is a lot cheaper than doing it in Beijing and there are plenty of websites online that can help you with that. The Tibet Travel Permit must be gotten by a travel agent. You should be able to do it in Beijing. The permit should only take a couple of days.
Hope this helps.