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China to Vietnam Train Travel

China to Vietnam Train Travel

Written by AppleUpdated Aug. 24, 2023

If you are searching for a true adventure in Asia, a border-crossing train journey definitely fits the bill — like China to Vietnam. The real romance of the journey begins when your view changes from modern cityscapes to rolling rice paddies.

Here is information about the two most popular routes from China to Vietnam, from Beijing or Hong Kong (Guangzhou), both of which require a change of train in Nanning. First we cover the key Nanning–Hanoi leg common to both journeys, then the Beijing or Hong Kong to Nanning options.

Hong Kong to Hanoi
Hong Kong to Guangzhou to Nanning to  Hanoi ( 18h at least)
Hong Kong to Guangzhou: (around 1 - 2 h)
33 high-speed trains from 08:06 to 22:50
Guangzhou to Nanning: (around 3 - 4 h)
80 high-speed trains from 06:53 to 20:45
Nanning to Hanoi: (12h)
T8701 - MR2 (change to train at Pingxiang) *
Beijing to Hanoi
Suggestion 1: Beijing West to Nanning to Hanoi ( 20h at least) Book Now
Beijing to Nanning:
Bullet Train 
(around 10.5 to 13h)
G421, G93
Normal Train (around 23h to 35h, Overnight):
Z5, Z285, T289/T28, K21, Z335
Nanning to Hanoi: (12h)
T8701 - MR2 (change to train at Pingxiang) *
Suggestion 2: 16:09 Beijing West 05:20 +3 Hanoi (Change trains in Nanning)
Train No.: T5 ( 41h04m) $388
(Soft Sleeper)
Book Now

* Tickets from Nanning/Beijing to Hanoi and return way can be purchased via China Highlights. Ticket delievery service is also available. Start Now

Nanning to Hanoi

A border-crossing trip from Nanning to Hanoi can be daunting, especially at night, and the choice of transportation matters. Instead of the long distance coaches that are cramped and smell unpleasant, traveling on an overnight train where the legs can be stretched, and beds are more comfortable, is more enjoyable.

Every day, train T8701 departs from Nanning at 18:45. There are two stops: border inspection and change to train MR2 at Pingxiang (凭祥), and the border inspection at Dong Dang. Train MR2 arrives in Hanoi the following morning at 03:45.

The T8701 Journey (local times)

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Nanning 南宁 --- 18:45 ---
02 Chongzuo 崇左 20:24 20:28 4 minutes
03 Pingxiang 凭祥 22:11 22:41 30 minutes
04 Dong Dang 22:22 00:00 (+1) 1 hour 38 minutes
05 Bac Giang 02:40 (+1) 02:43 (+1) 3 minutes
06 Gia Lam (north of Hanoi) 03:45 (+1) --- ---

Train schedules in China are always in Beijing time. When you are in Vietnam, make sure you wind your watch back an hour.

Buying Train Tickets at Nanning Station

Regardless of some cyber rumors that there are travel agencies or ticket offices in Nanning, Liuzhou, and Guilin who can help you purchase the tickets, the only way is to purchase them in person at Nanning Railway Station (南宁火车站28 Zhonghua Road, Xixiangtang District). Counter 1 is usually the place to go, but confirm at the Information Desk (问讯处). You will need your passport for the ticket purchase.

Considering the time it takes to buy train tickets to Hanoi in Nanning, it is wise to do things nice and slowly. Getting train tickets to Hanoi might take some time, so it is better to leave at least a couple of hours with all factors considered.

The price of the hard sleeper on T8701 starts from USD30 (RMB181); the soft sleeper starts from USD43 (RMB260).

At Nanning Railway Station, despite the "English Service" label, be prepared for the language barrier and print down what you might need to know in Chinese. For example:

  • 请问在哪个窗口买去河内的火车票? (Which counter sells train tickets to Hanoi, please?)
  • 我想买张去河内的火车票。 (I want to buy __[number of]__ train tickets to Hanoi.)

Contact our travel advisor for any help with the language.

The Vietnam Border Crossing

You might feel very sleepy when you are pulled up from the berth and told to get off the train for the customs check, so this should help you be prepared. It will be late, it will be dark, and it will seem as though you are in the middle of nowhere.

You will need:

  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least six months, with a few empty visa pages
  • China visa which is needed at Pingxiang
  • Vietnam visa (for nationalities that require one)
  • Two photos and a pen, in case of any paperwork
  • Small change for a SIM card or water, if needed
  • Train tickets, which should be with you all the time
  • A flashlight because it will be dark outside

The ticket offices at both Nanning and Hanoi will not ask to see a visa in order to purchase the tickets. Denial of entry at customs or the border due to an invalid visa or passport is entirely the traveler's responsibility, and the train station will not take any responsibility or grant any request for a ticket refund in such a case.

Are you going to Vietnam based on an impulse? Then don't worry, we offer an easy and fast China visa application service, and delivery is also available at a very reasonable price. Contact us to get more help. This should be done at least one week prior to heading for Vietnam.

At Pingxiang (Chinese border train change), every passenger has to leave the train with all their belongings and wait to get on the new MR2 train. The new train has smaller carriages, which are typical in Vietnam, and passengers are likely to be allocated carriages by the conductors.

Train T8701 will stop at Pingxiang Station at 22:11, giving passengers 30 minutes to unload, get through customs and the passport and visa check, and get on the new train. At 22:41, the Vietnamese train MR2, which is bound for Dong Dang, will leave Pingxiang Station.

You will arrive in Dong Dang, a small colonial-style station, after about 40 minutes. Change your watch to Vietnamese time (GMT+7). Then the second passport check is at the Vietnamese side, taking 1 hour 38 minutes. You won't have to unload your belongings at Dong Dang Station, but please make sure your valuable items are kept safely with you.

There will be vendors selling SIM cards, water, and snacks at Dong Dang Station; they will likely accept US dollars in small bills or even Chinese yuan. You can even find money exchange agents at Dong Dang, with occasionally desirable rates.

Buying Return Tickets in Vietnam

Travelers can either buy tickets for Nanning in person at Hanoi Railway Station (20 Lê Duẩn Street, Cua Nam Ward, Hoan Kiem District) or book online using a Vietnamese travel agencies' website. Travelers cannot purchase tickets at Nanning Railway Station. We recommend buying tickets at least one day ahead of departure. The train departs from Gia Lam Railway Station, not Hanoi Railway Station.

For a return trip on the train from Hanoi to Nanning, a soft sleeper is roughly USD36 (VND750,000).

Be aware that the Hanoi–Nanning train arrives at Nanning Railway Station, yet some Nanning (to Beijing or Guangzhou) trains depart from Nanning East Railway Station, at least one hour away by bus.

* Tickets from Nanning/Beijing to Hanoi and return way can be purchased via China Highlights. Ticket delievery service is also available. Start Now

Nanning Route 1: From Beijing

There are seven trains from Beijing to Nanning daily. G421 and G93 are the around 10-13 hour high-speed trains, and Z5, Z285, T289/T288, K21, and Z335 are overnight trains. The following table shows details. Check here to search for available seats and price details.

Train From Departs To Arrives Duration Price
G421 Beijing West 北京西站 07:31 Nanning East 南宁东站 20:43 13h12m From USD153
K21 Beijing West 北京西站 08:18 Nanning 南宁站 19:33 35h15m From USD42
G93 Beijing West 北京西站 09:00 Nanning East 南宁东站 19:27 10h27m From USD153
Z5 Beijing West 北京西站 16:05 Nanning 南宁站 15:18 (+1) 23h13m From USD84
Z335 Beijing Fengtai 北京丰台 20:25 Nanning 南宁站 21:07 (+1) 24h42m From USD42
Z285 Beijing West 北京西站 21:05 Nanning 南宁站 20:52 (+1) 23h47m From USD45
T289/T288 Beijing West 北京西站 22:00 Nanning 南宁站 05:05(+2) 31h5m From USD48

Taking a high-speed train is definitely a trendy way to travel and a worthwhile experience in itself. CHR trains G421 and G93 can take you across the country at a full gallop, easily completing the 2,565 km (1,594 miles) within just half a day. The price is only half of the airfare, making it extremely budget-friendly. Nevertheless, some still consider an overnight train ride to be the real deal for serious train travel. The Z5, the most comfortable ride, offers hard and soft sleeper berths with modern and clean in-car facilities.

Example High-Speed Train Journey (G421)

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Beijing West 北京西 --- 07:31 ---
02 Zhuozhou East 涿州东 07:56 08:00 4 minutes
03 Baoding East 保定东 08:21 08:40 19 minutes
04 Shijiazhuang 石家庄 09:16 09:19 3 minutes
05 Xingtai East 邢台东 09:47 09:49 2 minutes
06 Anyang East 安阳东 10:17 10:19 2 minutes
07 Xinxiang East 新乡东 10:45 10:48 3 minutes
08 Zhengzhou East 郑州东 11:08 11:12 4 minutes
09 Xuchang East 许昌东 11:34 11:45 11 minutes
10 Luohe West 漯河西 12:01 12:03 2 minutes
11 Wuhan 武汉 13:21 13:24 3 minutes
12 Chibi North 赤壁北 13:57 13:59 2 minutes
13 Changsha South 长沙南 14:52 14:55 3 minutes
14 Hengyang East 衡阳东 15:32 15:34 2 minutes
15 Qidong 祁东 16:03 16:05 2 minutes
16 Qiyang 祁阳 16:19 16:21 2 minutes
17 Yongzhou 永州 16:37 16:41 4 minutes
18 Quanzhou South 全州南 17:16 17:18 2 minutes
19 Guilin North 桂林北 18:01 18:06 5 minutes
20  Yongfu South 永福南 18:34 18:36 2 minutes
21 Liuzhou 柳州 19:22 19:26 4 minutes
22 Laibin North 来宾北 19:52 19:54 2 minutes
23 Binyang 宾阳 20:15 20:17 2 minutes
24 Nanning East 南宁东 22:43 --- ---

Example Overnight Train Journey (Z5, the most popular night train)

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Beijing West 北京西 --- 16:05 ---
02 Shijiazhuang 石家庄 18:30 18:36 6 minutes
03 Zhengzhou 郑州 22:04 22:15 11 minutes
04 Wuchang 武昌 02:54 (+1) 03:01 (+1) 7 minutes
05 Changsha 长沙 06:18 (+1) 06:24 (+1) 6 minutes
06 Hengyang 衡阳 08:16 (+1) 08:22 (+1) 6 minutes
07 Yongzhou 永州 09:43 (+1) 09:49 (+1) 6 minutes
08 Guilin North 桂林北 11:16 (+1) 11:24 (+1) 8 minutes
09 Liuzhou 柳州 12:53 (+1) 12:59 (+1) 6 minutes
10 Nanning East 南宁东 15:00 (+1) 15:04 (+1) 4 minutes
11 Nanning 南宁 15:18 --- ---

Buying Train Tickets

You can buy these in person at the train station with your passport, no matter which city you are in. Otherwise, use our easy and smart booking system to get it done within three minutes. If you prefer booking tickets as you go, you might want to try our app: China Train Booking.

The cost, depending on what kind of train and seat you choose, varies from USD42 (for a hard seat on a night train) to USD476 (for a business class seat on a G-train).

Booking the return trip to Beijing prior to your arrival in Nanning can actually save some time and trouble since this is a busy route.

Prices of Nanning to Beijing trains differ per train and seat type. The most popular and considered the most comfortable choice is a USD108 (CNY718.5 soft sleeper)

Nanning Route 2: From Hong Kong (or Guangzhou)

Hong Kong to Guangzhou

Travelers arriving at Hong Kong airport may take a train, bus, or flight to Guangzhou, but the bullet Train is the most convenient.

33 high-speed trains run from Hong Kong West Kowloon to Guangzhou East/Guangzhou South daily (G6552, G6582, G6510, G306, G6536, G6558, G6580, G6586, G6526, G6506, G6504). They all take from 46m to about 1h42m, departing from 08:06 to 22:50.

Example 'Earliest Train' Journey (G6552)

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Hong Kong West Kowloon 香港西九龙 --- 08:06 ---
02 Shenzhen North 深圳北 08:24 08:28 4 minutes
03 Dongguan South 东莞南 08:46 08:48 2 minutes
04 Guangzhou East 广州东 09:35 --- ---

See more on the Guangzhou – Hong Kong Bullet Train

Tickets from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, are sold at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. You can buy them at the station counter, or from some agent offices situated outside the station. Booking ahead is not needed, given the frequency of the services.

Planning ahead, you can book tickets with us, and the E-ticket is quite convenient. Click to start.

Another option is to cross the border at Luohu Port (罗湖口岸) in Shenzhen and take a train up to Guangzhou, which requires a 40-minute bus trip and possibly a long queue. G-trains and D-trains are available from Shenzhen to Guangzhou as well. If you enter from Luohu Port, be prepared for a transfer to Shenzhen North Railway Station (深圳北站).

The Hong Kong Border Crossing

Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland have an official border, so you must be prepared for a customs check even if you enter Hong Kong without a visa. The immigration inspections are needed at the Immigration/Customs Departure Hall on -3F or Arrival Hall on -2F at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. All your luggage must also go through security checks and x-ray.

You will need to complete the 'Departure Card' and the 'Arrival Card' beforehand at the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station.

Travelers who hold an invitation from any Chinese organization or company could apply for an On-Arrival Visa at the station. The Shenzhen 144-hour Convenient Visa and Guangzhou 72-hour Visa-free Stay Policy are not eligible for this China–Vietnam border-crossing trip.

Guangzhou to Nanning

With the Guangxi–Guangdong High-Speed Railway in operation, travelers can now shave nine hours off their journey. Nanning would make a nice stopover, no matter whether you go with a high-speed train or an overnight one. Weighing the two options, night trains can not only save a night's hotel bill but are also less rushed.

There are 80 bullet trains (76 D-trains and 4 G-train) running from Guangzhou to Nanning (either Nanning East or Nanning Railway Station). Travelers are advised to book tickets at least one day in advance even though the trains depart every half an hour.

D3802 — the earliest high-speed train — 3 hours 29 minutes

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Guangzhou South 广州南 --- 06:53 ---
02 Foshan West 佛山西 07:11 07:13 2 minutes
03 Zhaoqing East 肇庆东 07:34 07:36 2 minutes
04 Yunfu East 云浮东 07:57 07:59 2 minutes
05 Wuzhou South 梧州南 08:31 08:34 3 minutes
06 Guiping 桂平 09:10 09:12 2 minutes
07 Guigang 贵港 09:31 09:33 2 minutes
08 Binyang 宾阳 09:54 09:56 2 minutes
07 Nanning East 南宁东 10:22 10:27 5 minutes

It costs USD29 for a second-class seat and USD34 for a first-class seat on a D-train; the prices are the same for a G-train, plus it costs USD85 for a business class seat.

Bear in mind Guangzhou has three stations. Make sure you leave enough time to get to the right one.

Guangzhou East to Guangzhou

Bus: Walk to Shengjunqu Station (省军区站) and take bus 30 to Guangzhou Railway Station, which takes about one hour.

Subway: Take Subway Line 1 to Yangji Station (杨箕站) and change to Subway Line 5 to Guangzhou Railway Station, and exit at D1 Exit, which takes approximately 40 minutes.

Guangzhou East to Guangzhou South

Bus: Walk 870 meters to Juntiyuan Station (军体院站) and take bus 303a to Guangzhou South Bus Station (广州南汽车客运站), then walk 300 meters to Guangzhou South Railway Station, which takes about two hours.

Subway: Take Subway Line 1 to Gongyuanqian Station (公园前站) and change to Subway Line 2 to Guangzhou South Railway Station, which takes approximately one hour.

One K-trains can help you save a night's accommodation, K1205 from Guangzhou Railway Station to Nanning Railway Station

K1205 — 12 hours 36 minutes

Order Station Arrives Departs Stops
01 Guangzhou 广州 16:06 16:28 22 minutes
02 Foshan 佛山 16:52 16:55 3 minutes
03 Zhaoqing 肇庆 18:02 18:05 3 minutes
04 Yangchun 阳春 20:08 20:11 3 minutes
05 Maoming 茂名 21:44 21:52 8 minutes
06 Maoming West 茂名西 22:05 22:28 23 minutes
07 Yulin 玉林 01:07(+1) 01:17(+1) 10 minutes
08 Nanning 南宁 05:49 (+1) 06:14 (+1) 25 minutes

Choosing a K-train, it costs USD18 for a hard seat, USD34 for a hard sleeper, and USD53 for a soft sleeper.
Enter Guangzhou and Nanning to get full train listings and book.

Getting a ticket from Guangzhou to Nanning is much easier when booking with China Highlights than at the train station, ticket agency, or Chinese website. You cannot book from a station in Hong Kong. However, you can book from anywhere using our app: China Train Booking. You can get it done within two minutes before you have crossed the Hong Kong – China border.

As part of the busiest southbound rail system, trains from Guangzhou to Nanning are often full. Please ensure you book ahead. The cost for the return trip is similar to the outgoing journey.

A Typical Journey Timeline — 2 Days

07:00 Get to Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. Do the immigration inspections at the Immigration/Customs Departure Hall on -3F or Arrival Hall on -2F.
08:25 Get on the high-speed Train for 1 hour.
09:35 Arrive at Guangzhou South Railway Station.  Go to Guangzhou station to take the train to Nanning. Have a break (maybe grab some lunch or a coffee) while waiting to get on the train to Nanning Railway Station, depending on the connection train.
16:28 Take the overnight train K1205 at Guangzhou Railway Station.
05:49 (+1) Arrive in Nanning Railway Station and make sure you get the tickets before you head off to explore the city.
18:00 (+1) Wait in the Waiting Hall for the ticket check, and get on the train.
22:11 (+1) When the train pulls into Pingxiang Railway Station, you must get off the train with your luggage and get ready for the customs check.
22:22 (+2) There is another border check at Dong Dang Station in Vietnam, and an hour and a half to spend at the immigration point.
03:45 (+2) Finally, you will arrive in Hanoi! Get off the train at Gia Lam Railway Station.

Getting the Journey Right

Plan well and ensure you have everything you need, including especially enough time to get tickets and change stations. The key is not to rush anything; it is better to go slow rather than to get it wrong.

In Nanning, after you get the Nanning–Hanoi train tickets, the chances are you will have some free time to get some travel supplies, or you could even take a short trip to downtown Nanning.

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