The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a very beautiful country and shares many borders with surrounding countries such as Vietnam, Laos, India, Russia etc.
Many backpack travelers love to travel from PRC to Vietnam or vice-versa during travels. While a trip by airplane costs around 200-300 dollars for a single trip, there are many cheap alternatives.
Here I am going to illustrate how to cross make the trip via coach!
DISCLAIMER: While this method saves money, mind you that it can be very tiring! The trip can be very long depending on where you start from Mainland China. I am illustrating traveling from Guangzhou, Guangdong province to Ping Xiang then crossthe friendship pass to enter Vietnam at LangSon and then from there travel to Hanoi. It took me around 18 hours but this may vary.
Step 1: Get Documents Ready
So before going on buying tickets etc, be sure to prepare your travel documents!
You must have a valid passport with proper visa for you yo be in China in the first place! Check if you require a visa to enter Vietnam.
If somehow you need one, find any nearest consulate/embassy in China. I issued mine at the consulate in Guangzhou. It cost around 50 dollars. Importantly I didn't factor this expense into the cost of the travel given than it depends on the citizenship of the individual traveling.
You can also issue at the Border but however I prefered making one beforehand.
Ok, next get your gears ready. Pack light clothes cause Vietnam is really hot and humid.
Don't bring any perishables as it can make crossing border inconvenient.
Step 2: Guangzhou to Pingxiang
You can buy coach tickets for traveling from Guangzhou to Pinxiang at the major bus stations. These are sleeper buses. I chose Yuexiu Coach Terminal.
The ticket cost me around $42 dollars. These can be bought at the counter or directly from vietnamese operator inside the station. The bus usually leaves at 7.30 pm bound for Pingxiang coach terminal and usually takes around 14 hours. Note that this may vary.
The ride can be a bit bumpy sometimes and many complain of being unable to sleep. So be prepared! Depending on the operator, the coach may stop at the pingxiang coach terminal or near the Border crossing, so be sure to ask beforehand. However it does not make much of a difference, you can essily take a taxi from the coach station to the border. Its quite close.
Step 3: Crossing the Friendship Pass- Chinese Customs
When you get of the bus, please make sure to check your belongings. Stretch your legs and get ready to cross the border. there is still a long way ahead.
You can take small cars that will deliver you to the chinese border crossing. It costs less than a dollar per person and is rather convenient. They are usuallu coloured yellow. On your way you will find a large building and a crossing underpass. It says 友谊关 which means friendship pass.
The car will leave you at the chinese customs area, just walk into the buiding and fill in the departure card that chinese authorities require. Get your passport ready.
Step 4: Crossing the Border- Vietnam Customs
After completing the required formilities, China grants you departure stamp. You can officially leave Mainland China.
You will find similar yellow cars outside. Just hop in one an travel towards the Vietnamese customs.
Once there, queue up and get ready to clear customs.
If all your documents are in order, the officer will grant you access. Once you have the official stamp, you are golden. You are officialy in Vietnam territories.
Step 5: Langson
The area is called Langson in vietnam. Once you leave the vietnamese customs building, you will have to take a small car again to go to nearest coach terminal. There may be a passport check-- like in the picture.
Once there, you will find minivans that will hassle to get you as a customer. Depending on where you are headed, take one but be careful. Decide on the price before getting in any car.
I took a van bound for hanoi, it cost around $ 6. The trip is about 3 hours long. They will stop mid-journey to rest.
Step 6: Hanoi
So here it is. Traveling from Guangzhou to Hanoi.
The journey itself is picturesque...
Arriving in Hanoi, the van can drop you anywhere you want.. I suggest going to The Old Quarter and find a cheap hostel or a luxurious villa, your choice!
Step 7: Pitfalls
Ok, this instructable is only meant to be educational. You can use it to plan your trip. However as I mentioned earlier, the trip can be tiring. However, the journey itself is very rewarding and is an adventure in itself.
Note: people must abide by laws of countries they are visiting.
The author is not responsible for any activities carried out by readers.