Is the only way to get from Hekou to Kunming by bus?
Are there other options, like hiring a car with driver?
We are planning trip from Sapa, Vietnam to Kunming.
Thank you for your help
When I was there last March, there weren't any drivers looking/waiting around to be hired to make the drive but I bet you can ask at the bus station if you can speak any Chinese. Plus its a common trip probably so I'd also bet that hitching would be do-able but theres definitely no train.
Bus times if you're interested:
8:45am, 1050am, 1230pm, 100pm, 550pm, 555pm, 600pm, 605pm
Ticket price was around 135rmb
I think your best bet is to take the buses, the ride is about 8-10 hrs. I don't think it is safe for you to hire any driver unless he/she is highly recommend. The only problem with taking the bus is you never know which bus stations you might end up in Kunming (like all cities in China, Kunming have several long distance bus stations. unlike western countries only have one or two bus stations in a city or town), unless you are able to speak Chinese to the driver and ask which bus station he is going to and hopefully you end up going to the main bus station near the main train station, where it is easy to find local transportations to go any where in the city. Also, I think best if you can make reservation where you plan to stay in the city and ask them for the Chinese name and Chinese address. Most of the local people, especially the local drivers, do not speak English. They can only speak Chinese. It is best you have it in writing and show it to the driver where you want to go.
One more suggestion, when you are leaving Sapa. There are many mini-van leave Sapa to Lao Cai. You need to tell the driver before getting in that you want to go to the China border, otherwise the driver think you just want to go to the center of Lao Cai or the train station (it is a long walk to the border, about a mile and you might have to find another transportations from Lao Cai to the border). The cost from Sape to Lao Cai or to the Chinese border is the same, if the driver tell you different, he/she is trying to cheat you. It is best while you are visiting Sapa, ask the local people about the mini-van price to Lao Cai. And do not get into empty mini-van, the driver will not leave Sapa until the van is full, so you might be going around Sapa several times or waiting for ages (once I waited almost an hour before leaving Sapa).
Well, good luck!
Excellent information posted here (well done LuJingLin and NYC1983).
I will be going in the opposite direction. Any idea which bus station the bus to Hekou now leaves from?
Hi Kiwi3 and Medad
Recent updated about bus stations
I just spoke to my girlfriend (Chinese) and she mentioned to me that recently all the long distance bus stations been relocated to the outskirts of Kunming (It is unfortunate, to get any update information or news about Kunming, we need to depend on the local people). There are 5 long distance bus stations in Kunming now (Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern, and North West bus station. All are located at the 5 highways that go in and out of Kunming). In regard to going to or coming from Vietnam, it will be the Southern bus station in Cheng Gong district of Kunming. There are local buses that go to the Southern bus station but most likely you will end up taking 2 local buses to get there, depending where you are staying in Kunming. If you decide to take a taxi, it will be around 50-70 rmb to/from the center of the city.
Just want to mention about Visa, do not try to apply for your Visa (Vietnam or Chinese) at the border because both countries will not let you do it at the border. You have to apply in Hanoi (for Chinese Visa)(there is Visa service at guesthouses or hotels in Sapa but basically they just sent your passport to Hanoi and it will take several days to week to get your passport back with a Chinese Visa. It is best you do it yourself in Hanoi, you will save your money and time, also the possibility of loosening your passport while in transit) or in Kunming (for Vietnam).
Good luck to all!!!
thanks again hedgepig and NYC. That's the same bus station as from where I went to Xishuangbanna then. It's a long way from the centre of the city and when I used it in mid December taxi drivers didn't know it!
i happened to be in the area today, and i checked out the timetable at the south bus station. the routes seem to be biased a little more west than you need. check out the east bus station, as that's maybe where you need for Hekou.
while i'm at it, the south bus station is pretty lo-fi right now. the bus station for local buses is huge, and the long distance station is next to it - a temporary corrugate structure.
The Bus to Hekou is from the East bus station .It costs 136 Y .To get to East bus station you can take 60 from The train station or 2 from bai shi Qu .
I will be going to Hekou from Kunming this coming early March 2010. Can anyone link the Google Map place or the public bus from Railway Station to the Bus Terminal. Thanks!
Judy Zhang, EchinaRomancee, www.echinaromance.com
You could go from Heko to Kunming by bus, you also could contact to us, we could arrange a private car to meet you in Heko, to drive you back to Kunming. Please visit our website www.echinaromance.com
Judy ZHang mobile: 13888726753
I will go from Kunming to Hekou at the 19 of march. Yesterday I´vo got the information that the bus leaves from the New Eastern Busterminal: RMB 134.-. Judy Zhang how much do you charge for the privat car (minibus?)
Hi Macgyver, may be we can go together to Hekou? Where are you staying in Kunming?
Hi Phuc_Linh! Thanks for your invitation. I am staying in mountainous area YangLin (50km away from Kunming City). I have to exit from China before 7 March as my Chinese Visa stamp will expire by then. Go for short trip in Hanoi and then return back to Kunming again. If you plan to change your plan, the update me.
Hi everyone! Anyone is planning to go to Hekou on 5 or 6 March 2010 from Kunming? My wife and I are planning to go there. Update me by email : firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Judy Zhang from Echinaromance, if you could have 4-5 people to trip to Heko, we could offer you a private 5 seat car or 7 seat minibus for you, which could save money for the tours. Pls contact to me
Judy Zhang: 86-13888726753
Last December I took the night sleeper bus to Hekou. While I was sleeping I was ripped off for 3000 RMB which was in my shoulder bag under my blanket. I was lucky as they could have taken the whole bag with my passport, camera etc., but they just wanted the cash. This bus is known to be plagued with thieves, so watch out!
The other problem with this night bus is that it arrives in Hekou at 5AM and you have to wait 2 hours to cross into Lao Cai. And once in Lao Cai the only day train to Hanoi takes about 12 hours and has only hard seats.
The comfortable night sleeper trains leave after 8PM arrives in Hanoi in the morning. So if you want to wait for the night train to Hanoi you will be stuck in Lao Cai for 12 hours! I took the hard seat day train and it was literally a pain in the ass.
OK, and this is my question. The first day bus from Kunming to Hekou leaves at 9:40 AM and is 'supposed' to arrive in Hekou at 5:40 PM China time. The border is supposed to close at 6 PM. If there is time to cross the border this would be ideal as there would only be a short wait for the night train into Hanoi. If you miss the border crossing than you're stuck in Hekou. Has anyone done this??
If you live in Kunming as I do, then you know that it's impossible to get reliable information about anything. And why would they schedule a morning departure to Hekou that would arrive too late to cross into VN? Only possible answer would be perversity!
The return from Hanoi is a piece of cake. Very comfortable night sleeper train arrives in Lao Cai about 6AM. Time for breakfast and your last cup of good Vietnamese coffee. When the border opens there is time to cross and get the day bus to KM that leaves about 9:30 and gets into KM around 5PM.
For some reason all the travel blogs I have found recommend the sleeper bus from KM to Hekou. The problems with this I described in my last post. No one mentions being stuck in either Hekou or Lao Cai for 12 hours. Or take the bone breaker day train. It was kind of interesting though as it is the cheapest and was filled with Vietnamese peasants. If it's your first contact with Vietnamese you notice how friendly they are sharing food and smiles. Then you arrive in Hanoi feeling like a truck ran over you!
you could send email email@example.com to ask our Echinaromance to arrange a private car/van for you to pick you up at Heko border, then drive you back to Kunming, please visit our website www.echinaromance.com to see the Yuanyang, Jianshui, Heko tours. Welcome to make a call to Judy Zhang's mobile phone 86-13888726753.
Like Bochi, I just lost 3,000 yuan on the sleeper bus from Kunming to Hekou. It was inside of a travel wallet, inside of my backpack, which was underneath my legs, which were covered over with a blanket.
They thief sliced open my backpack with a razor, extracted the travel wallet and took the cash. Mercifully he left my passport and ATM cards. I suspect that they do this on purpose because passports stolen from foreign citizens might force the police to actually do something, thus ending the thieves' gravy train.
Given that other people have experienced the same thing, and that a knife of some sort was involved in my case, I would recommend skipping the sleeper altogether and taking the day bus.
Just did the Hekou visa run, thought I would update this thread as it (and others) are a bit old and out of date. Vietnam visa picked up at the consulate 2 blocks north of the train station. 385 kuai for 3 day service if you have a passport photo, 395 if no passport photo. You have to pick up 3 days later at 5-5:30pm. Not sure what will happen if you show up early/don't show but you get the idea. Easy to get and the staff speak English/Chinese/Vietnamese.
Bus leaves from East bus station. You can take some buses to get there, I couldn't figure out which one so caught a taxi from the north for 30 kuai. Bus ticket easy to get - took 8 hours to get there with a stop for lunch at a dirtbag town somewhere. I recommend taking some fruit with you for lunch as the dirtbag town has a monopoly on crappy food. You can also buy a drink there and you won't get ripped off much. About 50km from Hekou there is a police checkpoint where everyone has to show their passport/ID card. They will take your passport off the bus in order to write down your particulars so don't worry. They do the same on the way back to Kunming.
Arrive in Hekou the situations a little different. The bus dropped us off seemingly in the middle of a road with a bunch of taxis waiting to take us to the border. With 2 other passengers in 1 taxi it cost 10 kuai each for about a 3km ride (a rather big rip off, so beware those on a budget). The border crossing on both sides is straightforward. Watch for people trying to rip you off on the Lao Gai side, they are insistent and highly annoying. They will try to steal your things (the hat I was wearing in my case) and will ask for spare change and be generally annoying. At this point you can turn around and come back in or go on to Sapa/Hanoi for a few days, whatever.
Back into China and interestingly all the Entry/Departure cards on the Chinese sides had the Departure section removed. Not sure why or if this will cause me issues when I try to leave next.
Coming back into China from Vietnam a whole stack of motorbike dudes are waiting to take you for 20 kuai to the long distance bus station. Bargain one down to at least 15 kuai because its definitely not worth it for the distance and the danger (no helmets, a bit mad the riders on quite powerful bikes). The long distance bus station in Hekou is pretty new and quiet. Easy to get the ticket to Kunming and again is 8 hours back to the East bus station with the stop in the fleabag town. The buses are fairly comfortable and will stop on the side of the road if you need to pee (or more likely if 2 or 3 of you need to pee). Advise getting some yummy tropical fruit for the trip back to Kunming on the China side (much less likely to be ridiculously ripped off) from the Hekou township before heading to the long distance bus station as they only have those bad Chinese snacks for sale at the station.
The buses during the day are fairly comfortable and you go through some pretty nice areas (Shilin, a pretty gorge half an hour north of Hekou). Also they will play 2 or 3 movies of varying quality during the trip on screens above the aisles. They seem to be fairly concious of when a laowai is onboard and played movies with english/chinese subtitles only and even the recent Prince of Persia, when I went. Actually its quite a comfortable trip and I recommend it especially if you spend a couple of days in Sapa and need your double entry visa renewed. You could easily do the trip in 2 comfortable days staying overnight in Vietnam/China depending on your preference.
Does anyone else recommend "Jian Shui"? Or is somebody just link-building? I am still deciding where to stop during our trip from Heuko > Kunming > Xishuanbanna > Laos. I am going to Vietnam first so I'll probably pick up a lonely planet that should show me the most interesting places but personal recommendations are always best.
BTW; good visa-run write up Blobbles! From what I am reading about thieves, I think we'll avoid the night bus from Heuko to Kunming.
Jian Shui is quite nice actually, I would recommend it too! Its got a sort of "fake" old town which is less fake than others I have seen and isn't frequented much by tourists. There are some fairly pricey attractions there (e.g. the Confucian park I think was 60 kuai when I went... wooo... hen gui) but it was really really nice inside and totally photogenic. Actually even the fake old town is really nice to walk around and they have a big gate building at the end of the old town main street which is actually authentic and very cool. So yep, I can also recommend!
Saturday, May 25
Kunming's Best Jazz: Zoltan's Jazz Trio plays two great sets. 8:30pm, free entry
3rd Improvisation Dance Workshop by Vangelis Legakis, 120 yuan/person, 7-9:30pm
Paper Memory: solo exhibition by Xue Tao, 9pm, free entry
Drama: Hitler's Belly, 8pm, 100-580 yuan
Champions League Final: Bor Dortmund vs Bayern Munich, 2:45pm, free entry
Local legend John Nevada Lundemo teams up with Joost playing Blues and Rock`n`Roll, 10pm; single malt whisky of the week: Ardbeg 10-year 30% off, free entry
Live pub music with gin and tonics on special, 15 yuan singles/25 yuan doubles, 9pm, free entry
Final performance (dancing & singing) from the Swedish Students, 8pm, free entry
DJ Swei playing minimal techno, 11pm, free entry
A Local Affair: with DJ Cheng Cheng and DJ Mao mixing up break-beat, house and tech-house, 10pm, free entry
Day 2 of the Kunming Nandu Music Festival II with many local bands, 6-10pm, free entry
Gin or vodka cocktails on special all day: 10 yuan for singles/20 yuan for doubles
Vietnamese spring rolls with Du, 6pm, free entry
4 other events Show calendar