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Booking vietnamese train tickets form Yunnan?

Natsymir (101 posts) • 0

I'm gonna enter Vietnam through Hekou shortly. But I need to get to Hanoi as quickly as possible, which makes me wonder; is there any way I can book vietnamese train tickets from here in Kunming?

AlexKMG (2361 posts) • 0

There are a lot of sleeper buses to Hanoi in LaoCai in addition to the train. However, if you arrive in the morning, don't miss the early trains to Hanoi (I think before 10am), because I didn't find any buses in the day to Hanoi. Don't hang around Hekou sightseeing if getting to Hanoi faster is important. Not much to see, do, or eat in Hekou or LaoCai that's worth note.

There are some online websites for trains, but I never used them. Seat 61 is helpful with pictures and timetables.

www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm#Hanoi-to-Lao-Cai
vietnam-railway.com/

Also, I didn't see any where in Hekou that would sell train tickets. And in LaoCai, the station was very unhelpful and no English. Vietnamese train stations are very poorly and understaffed and not open all the time like Chinese stations. So lower your expectations a lot, with the exception of main Hanoi and HoChiMinh. Finally, if you take the train from Hanoi to Nanning, that station is in a different part of town from the main station in Hanoi. Don't bother trying to say "Ga" for train station. It will only confuse the driver. Use pen and paper. Vietnamese tones makes Chinese seem easy. The alphabet based system just fools you into thinking you have a chance.

Some other useful times.
First bus to Hekou from eastern bus station is 9:40am, last is 7pm.
Border crossing at Hekou is 8am to 10:50pm

Tom69 (105 posts) • 0

Good information AlexKMG, although my experience with the train station at Lao Cai was that staff could speak some limited English, enough to get by and assuming you arrive in time for train departures, you'll be able to buy a ticket (or you could always buy one through a local hotel or restaurant). It is generally sufficient to show up at the train station and book tickets for same day travel there, except during peak periods such as Tet, Labour Day in May and other Vietnamese holidays.

If you want to catch an overnight sleeper so you can arrive in Hanoi early morning on day 2, then leave Kunming on the earliest bus to Hekou or take the only daily train to Mengzi, get off and then catch a Hekou bound bus. However, now that the expressway is apparently 100% complete between Kunming and Hekou, the direct bus would be faster and more convenient.

I agree that there may not be anywhere to buy Vietnamese train tickets in Hekou, but there is little need if you are just passing through anyway - you can get off the bus from Kunming or Mengzi and be at the Lao Cai train station in literally 15 mins - the border crossing is fast and efficient, on both sides.

Perhaps you could email a Vietnamese travel agent to book tickets for you and then bring them to you in Lao Cai, otherwise I wouldn't know how else to take care of your tickets before you arrive.

Eating is far better in Lao Cai than Hekou - there is a big difference. There are plenty of western style restaurants and English speaking staff in Lao Cai, especially near the train station as well as good local food - in Hekou there's probably not a single western or Vietnamese style restaurant and the food scene is shite. Always cross over to Lao Cai as soon as possible and never linger in Hekou, it's boring and the food scene is non-existant.

Geogramatt (194 posts) • 0

The expressway isn't almost 100% finished. There's still a major gap from Suolongsi (锁龙寺) north of Kaiyuan (开远) to south of Mengzi (蒙自). The old road through this section is very crowded and slow, taking nearly 3 hours.

Even though the new expressway is indeed completed all the way from Shilin (石林) to Suolongsi, passenger buses may not take it. Last time I was on this route, I asked the driver why he didn't the new expressway since it was complete, and he said his bus hadn't yet received permission from the provincial transportation department.

Tom69 (105 posts) • 0

@Geogramatt, my friend claimed that the expressway was now complete. However, I'll take your word that it isn't - though when was the last time you traveled along it? BTW Hekou express buses always take the expressway - they only get off where there is no more expressway left. In 2011, this was from south of Shilin (石林) to north of Mengzi. Once in Mengzi, the expressway goes all the way to the outskirts of Hekou.

So if the expressway is indeed still incomplete, my advice is to take the train to Mengzi (4 hours) then an express bus to Hekou (1.5-2 hours). The last two times I went (in either direction) on a direct bus through to Hekou the non-expressway sections have been slow due to accidents, including a 3-hour wait once due to an accident and on the way back, 45 mins.

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