Crossing the Vietnamese Border From China

by Poi on October 17, 2010

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Nanning to Hanoi by bus – It’s a long day, but by far the cheapest way to Travel from China to Vietnam.

There are 3 buses that leave every morning at 8am, 9am and 10am. We’re lazy so chose the 10am one, figuring we may as well give ourselves a bit of a lie in – we are on holiday after all???

Before you plan this bus journey make sure you have got your Vietnamise visa, Vietnam is the only country in South East Asia that will not issue you a visa at the border.

The bus station is quite a way from the centre of Nanning and pretty confusing place for someone that cannot understand a word of Chinese.  When we arrived there was a bus boarding and we couldn’t tell whether it was ours or not but someone who was making the same journey  as us tried to board it and was very quickly shouted down and told to wait, you won’t be allowed to get on the wrong bus.

By 10 we were off on our way to Pingxiang border (I still don’t know how to pronounce this!). Water was provided and around 2 hours in there was a rest stop, one nice surprise was an included meal just before the border.

We never say no to anything free so settled down to some pretty tasty grub. Hanging around the restaurant were unofficial currency exchangers and quite a few people did change a bit of Yuan into Dong but their exachange rate was wayyyyy off so we politely refused.

Coach on the China side of the journey between nanning and hanoi

Coach on the China side of the journey

We arrived at the border around 1pm, as we got off the bus we were handed a lanyard which identified us as part of the coach company and we were looked after for the duration of the border crossing.  Exiting China was incredibly easy, just fill out the departure card, hand it over with your passport, get a stamp and then x ray your bag, boom your out.

On the Vietnamese side it was a little more confusing, on entering you have to collect a form from the furthest window, only to walk back and give it to the first window. I am sure the guards must be sick of saying, “pick up form from last window” to everyone who walks in.  Once you have the all important stamp it is just a quick check of your temperature and your done.  None of this should cost you any money as you have already paid for your visa beforehand.

Although this sounds like a quick process, the border formalities took just over two hours. After this it is 4 hour ride to Hanoi including a 30 min rest stop. The Vietnamese bus wasn’t the most comfortable bus in the world, it felt like all the seats had springs in the backs so if you sat back you ended up jumping all over the place!

having to push a taxi home in Hanoi vietnam

Our interesting taxi jouney in Hanoi

We arrived in Hanoi around 7pm, travelling for a total of 9 hours, not the 7 advertised!  The bus doesn’t drop you off at a bus station but on a side of the road reasonably far from the old quarter, where most people stay.

Plenty of  touts are ready waiting to take you anywhere you want to go.  We ended up going with a “metered taxi” that charged us 160,000 VND (£5) to take us around 2/3 km. Even worse was that Poi had to push it a lot of the way as it broke down twice! He was nice, but the meter went up far too quickly, we probably paid twice or three times the going rate. My advice: try and book a taxi or try and get your hotel/hostel to pick you up.

We finally got to Hanoi Backpackers Hostel around 8pm. We checked in and was soon relaxing with some very cheap beer.

Overall the bus journey was extremely easy and pretty cheap when factoring in lunch and the free golf buggies ferrying round the border crossing. I would recommend this type of border crossing to anyone just be aware of the difference in quality between the Chinese and Vietnamese coaches on either side of the border.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Ayngelina October 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

We took the train to Hanoi which brings you a little closer to the Old Quarter but you still need a taxi. We were so overwhelmed by all the drivers we just walked the 2 km.
Ayngelina´s last blog post ..The ethics of being robbed


Poi October 20, 2010 at 7:54 am

It took some time getting use to the attention you get when stepping off a bus here – we do the same and just walk for 5 minutes to get away from it all now!


Skott & Shawna October 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Hey guys – I am sure you have read this already, but I thought it was a great post from the Pause the Moment folks just in case….

an interesting read, at the very least…


Poi October 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

Thanks – We’ve left Hanoi now and have read that post – we managed to avoid any scams in Hanoi although we did get approached by a lot of ‘Students’


Heather October 19, 2010 at 3:35 am

I haven’t had to tackle anything remotely close to this before (Australian visa was online and Turkish I bought at the airport) so it’s really helpful to hear about your experience and how the day unfolds. SE Asia is hopefully in the cards for me in the next few years so details about visas and how it all works is what I need to know 🙂

I’m sorry for not keeping up with you two as I was early on for the past few weeks…started a new job & had friends visiting for 3 weeks. So glad you’re well on your way!!
Heather´s last blog post ..Epic East Coast Trip- The End


Poi October 20, 2010 at 7:58 am

Glad to be of help!

Don’t worry about it – we’ve been falling behind a bit as well on keeping up with some blogs, it happens when travelling. Nice to hear form you again!


Camels & Chocolate October 22, 2010 at 6:20 am

Don’t you love those fickle bus times that always seem to take double what is advertised? We were just on a similar one from Brunei to Malaysian Borneo and almost missed our return flight as a result!

The worst, though, is taking a cross-country bus in an Islamic country during Ramadan–everyone’s aggro from not having eaten and you take nice long breaks at stations, but can’t find anything to eat!
Camels & Chocolate´s last blog post ..That Time a Triggerfish Mistook My Leg for Lunch


Poi October 23, 2010 at 5:24 am

Kirsty gets pretty wound up when things dont go to plan during travel so an extra long bus journey isn’t the best.

That doesn’t sound great, we’re more use to taking long bus breaks so the driver can eat!


Emily July 26, 2011 at 9:37 am

Hi! Do you mind to tell me how much the bus from nanning in china, to hanoi should cost us? My brother and I are planning a trip to vietnam using this same route. But we have no idea how much the bus should cost! Thanks!


Poi July 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

It should cost you about 150RMB (about $23) we paid slightly more as our hostel arranged everything for us.


Emily July 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

Thanks for the reply and also the link! Is it necessary to have our hostel/hotel arrange it for us (meaning is it difficult to get tickets)?


Poi July 27, 2011 at 9:47 am

You can book tickets direct from the bus station however as we didn’t, I can’t say how easy it will be, we booked with our hostel 2 or 3 days in advance I believe.

If you have a few days in Nanning you could always try going to the bus station first to book and then if it proves too difficult you always have your hostel/hotel to fall back on.


Aisleen August 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Hey, you can just get the bus tickets to Hanoi at the bus station in Nanning itself – we had no trouble at all – just went up to the counter and said ‘ Hanoi’. They have A4 sheets of paper written in English on the counter window which has the itinerary and price on it. The bus for Hanoi leaves at 7.30 am and costs 148 RMB. We loved this overland journey. Oh yeah, and when you arrive in Hanoi – def walk away from the touts for at least 10 minutes and hail a cab!


Francine July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Hi tomorrow we take the bus from Nanning, China to Hanoi Vietnam. Can anyone tell me the name of the arrival bus station in Hanoi?

Thanks, Francine


bpajmani March 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm

want to travel from laos to nanning and then to hanoi kindly tell about the border crossings


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