Thanks to several border crossings (currently there are three in China, seven in Laos and seven in Cambodia), travelers now can enter Vietnam by train, bus, or car from Laos, Cambodia, and China. If getting in from Cambodia, people may opt to take a boat trip along the Mekong River with stunning scenery.
International trains are only available from China and it is recommended to take a bus when entering from Cambodia. Crossing from Laos by bus takes a long time with a lot of difficulty, so it is advisable to fly in from Laos.
Arriving by Train from China
Presently, passengers have three choices to get into Vietnam from China by train: a bi-weekly train connecting Beijing and Hanoi, a daily train going between Nanning and Hanoi, or 2 - 4 train services running daily that link Kunming and Hanoi. All train tickets need to be booked in advance and it is recommended get these via travel agents.
Usually the train arrives in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at around 5:30am, which seems quite early. Remember that in Southeast Asia locals get up earlier than most Westerners do. Many taxis wait outside the station at this time, which is different from that in a Western city in the early morning. So there is no need to worry.
Trains Running Between Nanning/Beijing in China and Hanoi in Vietnam
|Nanning||Hanoi||11 hours||Departs every day||$38 for a soft sleeper|
|Beijing||Hanoi||3 days and 2 nights||Departs every Thursday and Sunday from Beijing;
departs every Tuesday and Friday from Hanoi.
|Asia Highlights’ View||
Train Schedule from Beijing and Nangjing to Hanoi
|Train Z5, runs daily, soft and hard sleepers and a restaurant|
|Beijing West||Depart||15:45 Day 1||Thurs. and Sun.|
|Guilin||Depart||11:36 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Nanning||Arrive||15:40 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Train T8701/MR2, runs daily||||
|Nanning||Depart||18:10 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Pingxiang, Chinese Border||Arrive||22:01 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Pingxiang||Depart||22:41 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Dong Dang, Vietnam Border||Arrive||23:22 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Dong Dang||Depart||01:00 Day 3||Sat. and Tue.|
|Hanoi Gia Lam Station||Arrive||05:20 Day 3||Sat. and Tue.|
Train Schedule from Hanoi to Nanning and Beijing
|Train MR1/T8702, runs daily, soft sleepers only|
|Gia Lam Station, Hanoi||Depart||21:40 Day 1||Thurs and Sun.|
|Dong Dang, Vietnam Border||Arrive||01:55 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Dong Dang||Depart||02:50 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Pingxiang, Chinese Border||Arrive||04:31 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Pingxiang||Depart||06:20 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Nanning||Arrive||0:10 Day 2||Fri. and Mon.|
|Train MR1/T8702, runs daily, soft sleepers only||||
|Nanning||Depart||11:00 Day 2||Wed. and Sat.|
|Guilin||Arrive||14:22 Day 2||Wed. and Sat.|
|Beijing West||Arrive||09:55 Day 3||Thurs. and Sun|
- The train running between Nanning and Hanoi departs from Platform 16 at Nanning Railway Station.
- Passengers need to leave the train twice before midnight. The first time is at 22:30 Chinese time at the Pingxiang border to have the luggage scanned and get the Chinese exit stamp. It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to pass through customs at Pingxiang, the Chinese border. The second time to leave the train is at Dong Dang at around 23:30 Vietnamese time to get the Vietnam stamp and fill in the arrival card. It takes 45 minutes to clear the custom.
- Passengers need to wind the clock back 1 hours at the Vietnamese border.
- When arriving at Gia Lam Station in Hanoi in the early morning, lots of taxis will be waiting outside the station. Visitors can get breakfast near the station.
Trains Running Between Kunming in China and Hanoi in Vietnam
Actually this is a less popular route, which can be very time-consuming. The whole route consists of two parts: Kunming - Hekou (the Chinese border) and Lao Cai (Vietnamese border) - Hanoi.
1.Kunming - Hekou Port
A train ride from Kunming to Hekou takes around 6 - 7 hours. After passing through the border, passengers need to transfer to the night train running from Lao Cai to Hanoi, taking 8 hours.
|Kunming Railway Station - Hekou North Railway Station|
|K9832||09:28||15:33||6 hours and 5 minutes||
Soft sleeper: USD $28
6 hours and 10 minutes
5 hours and 50 minutes
|K9816||22:48||06:08||7 hours and 20 minutes|
2. Lao Cai - Hanoi Port
Hekou North Railway Station is about 2½ kilometers from Lao Cai, the Vietnamese border. Several train services operate between Lao Cai and Hanoi with a length of 350 kilometers, taking 8 hours. Taking a night train will make the journey shorter as sleep is the fastest way to kill the time. If time permits, visitors can start the Vietnam trip from Sapa to see the rice terraces and diverse tribal culture. It is only 40 kilometers from Lao Cai.
Hanoi - Lao Cai
Lao Cai - Hanoi
Some privately-run tourist sleeping-cars are added to the train SP2/SP4, making the trip much more comfortable. The one-way ticket costs around $30 for a quad room and $70 - $80 for a double room. The following online booking websites are helpful:
Other Connecting Trains
In the future more international railways will operate between Kunming and Southeast Asia. The Kunming - Yuxi - Mohan route is expected to be accessible in 2021, connecting China and Laos within 4 hours. The Kunming - Dali - Ruili route linking China and Myanmar will be available at the end of 2021, taking over 6 hours.
Arriving by Boat from Cambodia
It is a scenic option to take a boat or a luxury ship from Cambodia to the Mekong Delta along the river. The Vinh Xuong border near Chau Doc makes it easy and hassle free.
A perfect trip will be made by starting from Phnom Penh by ferry and traveling to Chau Doc in 4 hours. Then transfer to Can Tho and stay overnight there. The following day, rise early to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market and take in the view of local villages around the Mekong Delta. Head for Ho Chi Minh City and continue your Vietnam trip.
The other way is to take a luxury ship from Siem Reap or Laos and go southward along the river. Enjoy the natural scenery and various culture of the Mekong River for 5 - 7 days, getting a deeper insight of the area.
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