Tenwest Mandarin School

User profile: Tom69

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  • RegisteredNovember 17, 2010
  • RegionChina
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  • RegisteredNovember 17, 2010

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Forums > Travel Yunnan > Tourist Visa's killing me softly

That's true and it will only get tougher in future. Laos also makes it tough to get a visa for these nationals if not resident in the country they apply in. Or they might need to go on a tour. I am not confident this Nigerian guy you met would have been issued a Lao visa. They require the purchase of a tour package, local guarantor and return flight tickets so going in by bus is a no-no unless a multiple entry visa that has been previously used has been issued but Laos does not routinely issue anything other than single entry visas.

Forums > Travel Yunnan > travelling form Yunnan to Myanmar

A little off topic, but the USD advice is old news. Since late 2012, all banks that deal in foreign exchange (the best are CB Bank and KBZ Bank) can exchange three currencies: USD, EUR and SGD. There are however plenty of official money changers that take other currencies including AUD, CHF, JPY, MYR, THB, GBP and even CNY and possibly a few other major currencies such as HKD and NZD all at good rates and these money changers are plentiful in Yangon and Mandalay including their respective airports. Near the Chinese border nearly everyone deals only with CNY and not USD.

ATM's are nearly everywhere now even in some smaller towns although maybe not in the most out of the way places. Again, CB Bank and KBZ Bank ATM's are reliable and work without any problems (except in rare cases) however, if you're in Yangon you'll have like 100 other ATM's to choose from in case one is down but I didn't even have problems from the one ATM in Hpa-an for example. Even Mu-se now has 3 ATM's in case you happen to pass through town once the border crossing opens officially.

Forums > Travel Yunnan > travelling form Yunnan to Myanmar

I just came back from Mu-se to deliver some goods to the border with China. I was in mu-se for one night at the beginning of this month. This was my second trip to the area the first time being in 2013. The procedure to enter the Mu-se economic zone is much the same as 2 years ago.

You will have to show your passport at the 105 mile checkpoint with a sign in English, Burmese and Chinese indicating this. There is a certain sense of paranoia amongst the local immigration guys who will assume you are coming to cross into China and will ask for your permit. After telling them you don't have one as you just want to stay in town and then turn back and return to the interior of Myanmar, a few phone calls to the head immigration guy at the border some 10km away they'll let you go. But then you still have to fill in an accommodation registration slip and report in person to immigration. The procedure was thus identical to 2013.

However, last time the immigration guys at the 105 mile checkpoint were rather easygoing with immigration at the border a bit stern. This time it was the exact opposite: 105 mile checkpoint was paranoid but border immigration very quick and quite friendly. Note that leaving the zone for other parts of Myanmar also requires checking in with both border immigration and 105 mile however, that was a very quick process compared to arrival in town. If you have crossed over from China with a permit it might take longer though.

Apart from myself and a friend, I spotted only one more foreign looking individual in town on the back of a pickup.

However, this may change once the border crossing opens officially to all - Chinese, Burmese and third country foreigners with passport and relevant visas (if required). Although there has been talk of an imminent opening of the border since various news sources first announced it in late 2013, about half a year since I first went to mu-se, the opening dates have been delayed again and again.

But the good news is that the immigration complex at the border, which is under construction is projected to be completed soon in order to allow the passage of third country nationals. This construction should be finished around June and allow the upgrading of the border to international status to take place between June-August according to various news sources and Myanmar immigration. While this is quite good news, I wouldn't hold my breath as further delays wouldn't surprise me. Although I am confident the border should be opened fairly soon in time for the Aec 2015 ASEAN economic community, a priority for all ASEAN member states including Myanmar.

The recent outbreak of fighting near the Chinese border some 100km east of mu-se at Laukkai shouldn't have any effect on the Mu-se-Ruili crossing because 1) the Mu-se-Mandalay road is under full government control and an important trade corridor and 2) the Laukkai area, which is not under direct government control is not anywhere near Mu-se and therefore one will be able to pass through the border from Mu-se to places like Lashio, Pyin u lwin and Mandalay without passing through any dangerous areas/territory in much the same way that the Thai-Myanmar border crossings allow you to cross into the Myanmar interior along main roads even if there may be instability in the hills not too far away in some cases.

Like last time the only Chinese in town appeared to be Ruili locals and no Chinese were crossing at night. Perhaps because they're not allowed to.

Forums > Travel Yunnan > Yunnan motorbike to Vietnam

@tigertiger nowadays Vietnam generally only allows Lao and Vietnamese registered vehicles to cross their common border. Only pre-arranged tours can enter otherwise for vehicles registered in other countries.

Forums > Travel Yunnan > Yunnan motorbike to Vietnam

I'm afraid you won't be able to enter Vietnam on a Chinese registered bike (or car for that matter) unless maybe you go on an organized tour with arrangements made at least a month in advance. There is no way you will be successful if you attempt to enter independently and forget about trying to enter from Laos to Vietnam as the Lao authorities won't allow your bike to leave their territory. The Vietnamese consulate is no use so go to www.ride-asia.net or gtrider.com for more detailed info.


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@bluppfisk, the only way you can reach Hanoi in like 5 hours from Hekou is if the new expressway is currently finished and a bus service that takes this expressway is already in operation. Alternatively, you could take a private car or taxi, but that might be a little expensive unless you share with other travellers.

Currently the train to Hanoi takes around 8 hours and the road journey by car also took 8 hours on the old road, so probably 9-10 by bus.

As I have not heard anything to suggest that the whole expressway has opened to traffic yet (if it has, please provide a source) and only some sections near Hanoi have opened, my best guess is 6-7 hours using a combination of the old and the new road.

"In the future, the modern railway is expected enhance tourism and commerce in southern Yunnan and one day extend all the way to Hanoi."

umm excuse me there is already a railway from Lao Cai to Hanoi that has been in operation for decades. Please get your facts straight. The only "missing link" per se would be like a 3 km stretch from Hekou to Lao Cai by train, but that's no big deal as you can just walk across the border and then catch a taxi to the Lao Cai train station as is currently the case.

The article mentions the planned "Kunming-Laos-Thailand" railway. My understanding is that line has been delayed numerous times and it is currently unclear if construction has already begun or when it will begin. Even if it has, as the author of this article eludes to, it does not necessarily mean that once it reaches the Lao border that it will be able to continue inside the country. I suspect that if things don't go according to plan, then at least there will be a line down to Jinghong as that won't be affected by any change of plans.

And as for an extension into Thailand, this would be even further off. The current government there has not made a commitment to using Chinese technology to build the Thai line - in fact, recent announcements suggest that initially, there won't even be a link to Nong Khai on the Thai-Lao border, connecting to the Kunming-Vientiane line, but rather, only a Bangkok-Phitsanulok line (which is part of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai line) and Bangkok-Nakorn Ratchaseema (less than half way to Nong Khai) and also a Bangkok-Pattaya-Rayong line. Only the second line would connect to the Kunming-Laos line, but according to the Thai government's plans, this would be many years off as the Bangkok-Pattaya line is the first one likely to be constructed.

Of course this article is about the newly opened Yuxi-Mengzi line, but I just wanted to point out that in the absence of any definitive news on the Kunming-Laos line, I wouldn't jump to conclusions about anything happening on that line so far. Even the Vientiane Times, which has talked about progress on this project in the past has had very little to say since last October, when it claimed a new agreement on this line was reached with China.

@bluppfisk, as clearly indicated in the article and the replies, you must be in transit to a third country not on a simple return ticket. For example, Hong Kong via Kunming to Kathmandu, Seoul via Kunming to Kolkata or Bangkok via Kunming to Mandalay. In the latter case, a stopover in Kunming would only make sense if you really had business to do in Kunming, but this new visa-free transit stay will allow you to enter China via Kunming for a short period without needing to apply for a visa. As more destinations are added to Kunming's airport, it will become more attractive as a stopover destination. Rumours suggest that next year, Sydney will be served by a direct flight from Kunming, which would mark the first non-stop, direct flight from Kunming to an intercontinental destination. If this happens, then flying via Kunming to say, Kolkata, Mandalay, Yangon or Kathmandu, all destinations not served from Australia and generally few other non-regional cities will open up another option to stopover in Kunming for some travellers.

The problem with this policy is it is too limited. China is trying to woo international travelers to it's shores this way by promoting a 3-day stopover, but the problem is that compared to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and even Hong Kong SAR, all of which offer lengthy visa-free stays of at least 30 days and up to 90 days for some nationalities, China's policy is so limited in scope and the requirements are so specific that many would be travelers under this policy are likely to give China a miss. Indeed for any trip from Australia to Europe for example, I would always fly either via Thailand or Singapore and would never consider China as a stopover, even with attractive airfares.

While Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou can get some traffic under these rules since they are hubs for airlines such as Air China, China Eastern and China Southern, respectively, with the exception of Hainan Airlines which also has a second hub in Beijing, very few other airlines and no foreign airlines use any mainland Chinese cities as transit hubs for their flights from say, Australia or SE Asia to Europe - indeed, there is no need and previous stringent visa requirements made such plans unlikely to ever be implemented. Even under the current terms, Virgin Atlantic is much better off using Hong Kong as a transit stop on it's Sydney to London flight, for example. This is in addition to Cathay Pacific and previously Qantas, which now uses Dubai as it's transit hub.

The policy would be much better implemented if the requirements were: must only be in possession of a round-trip ticket say Kuala Lumpur-Guangzhou-Kuala Lumpur, Sydney-Shanghai-Sydney or Los Angeles-Beijing-Los Angeles or even Sydney-Shanghai-Melbourne, rather than an onward ticket to another destination and a 1 or 2 week visa free period were implemented instead, even if it only allows limited travel in the same province or 1-2 adjacent provinces.

In the case of Kunming, it is highly unlikely that there would be a reasonable number of travelers using the policy for onward travel, since few airlines use Kunming as a hub - a traveler flying from say Bangkok to Seoul could use Kunming as a transit stop under this policy flying China Eastern but this would be rather inconvenient as direct, non-stop flights would be far cheaper (besides, there are like half a dozen operators flying the route anyway) - I don't think there would be any good deals available for flying via Kunming either, maybe via Shanghai but definitely not Kunming, which would likely require the purchase of 2 separate tickets. For all other possible combinations, separate tickets would need to be purchased thus driving up ticket costs and making Kunming an unattractive hub, unless the government and airlines can work together to implement a more attractive policy.

Still, I think if the implementation of this policy is a step towards some kind of future visa-free travel policy for foreign travelers, then bring it on. However, China would be wise to learn from the examples of the SE Asian countries (including Hong Kong SAR) I have mentioned, as they have earned billions of dollars in valuable foreign exchange from their open visa policies.


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