On December 3rd 2021, the 1,035-km (643-mile) China-Laos Railway was fully opened making possible a bullet train journey of only 10 hours from Kunming to Vientiane, capital of Laos.
The China-Laos Railway is set to make travel between China and Laos much easier. However, due to COVID-prevention measures, passing the border by train is not available at the moment. You can only take the ride the railway within China or within Laos.
Map of the China-Laos Railway
Highlights of the China-Laos Railway
There are 24 passenger stations along the rail line: 14 stations in China and 10 stations in Laos. Starting from Kunming, the trains crosses the Mopan Mountains, Ailao Mountains, the Yuanjiang River and Lancang River, and passes through the mountains in southern Yunnan and northern Laos. It features high mountains, deep valleys, primitive upland forest and rainforest views, and some minority villages along the way. The main stops with travel highlights are listed below:
- Kunming: capital city of Yunnan province, famous for the Stone Forest, Dianchi Lake, Dounan Flower Market, and more; convenient trains and flights to Dali and Lijiang
- Mojiang: known as "the place where the sun turns", its Tropic of Cancer Park marks the tropic line
- Pu'er: birthplace of Pu'er tea with ancient tea plantations, it’s Taiyanghe Forest Park has red pandas, deer, lazy lorises, and rhinoceroses
- Xishuangbanna: famous as China’s Chiang Mai with Buddhist temples and pagodas, Wild Elephant Valley, Dai minority culture, rainforest experiences, and more
- Mohan: the last stop in China, with Dai, Hani and other ethnic minority villages around
- Boten: the first stop in Laos after trains from China cross the border
- Luang Prabang: Millennium Buddha capital, a Laos tour must-visit famous for its morning market, Xieng Thong Temple, Kuangsi Waterfalls, and the Royal Palace Museum.
- Vang Vieng: a place with beautiful scenery, known as little Guilin, it’s a paradise for outdoor sports
- Vientiane: capital of Laos, famous for the Vientiane Arc de Triomphe and Great Buddha Temple
China-Laos Train Schedule and Ticket Booking
Because of COVID measures, travelers are not allowed to take a train from Kunming to Vientiane, but you can take use the rail line in China and in Laos, as long as no train crosses the border. The trains are operated well domestically in China and in Laos. All trains on the China-Laos Railway are C trains. C-category high-speed trains are intercity-class trains. There are two classes of seat on the rail line’s C trains: second class and first class. See more about bullet train seat types.
In China: the Kunming-Mohan Railway
Most trains terminate at Kunming, but there are 3 trains from Pu’er and 1 train from Xishuangbanna. There are about 21 C trains from Kunming to Xishuangbanna from 09:18 to 18:59 each day, departing about every 30 minutes (Jan. 2022).You can take the bullet train from Kunming to Xishuangbanna in 3½ hours. The price of a second class seat is about CN¥147. Kunming to Pu’er takes 2½ hours and the price starts from CN¥119. Contact us to book train tickets.
The only train to Mohan, the last stop in China, is C379 starting from Xishuangbanna.
Chinese Train Ticket Booking
You can book train tickets on the China Highlights website. Tickets now are all e-tickets, and you will need to show your passport when checking in. Search our train schedules and book a ticket now!
Laos: Vientiane–Boten Trains
During the current pandemic control period, passenger transport services are provided at only six passenger stations in Laos: Vientiane, Phonhong, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Muang Xai, and Boten.
Vientiane–Boten Train Schedule (Some trains don’t stop at all stations.)
Boten–Vientiane Train Schedule
Laos’ Train Ticket Booking
You can only book a Laos train ticket from train stations in Laos, and tickets can be booked up to 3 days in advance. Your passport and two-shot vaccination certification will be needed when you book a ticket. If you have these, we can help you book: Contact us for train ticket booking and Laos tours.
Children under 1.2 meters accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket travel ticket-free if they do not occupy a seat. A child ticket (usually half price) is needed if they occupy a seat.
How to Board the Train
Valid passports or Chinese ID are needed to board the trains. We suggest that you arrive at the train station at least 1 hour before departure for enough time to go through security, find your waiting room, negotiate the ticket gate queue, and proceed to the platform to board the train. 5 minutes before the train departs doors will close, and no more boarding will be allowed.
In China, all tickets are now e-tickets. You just need to show your valid passport and green code to check in.
In Laos, paper train tickets, valid passport, and two-shot vaccination certification are needed when you check in at the railway station.
- Adult: 20 kg
- Child (including those with a free ticket): 10 kg
- Diplomat: 35 kg
- Baggage size: the three dimensions’ total cannot exceed 130 cm, i.e. medium suitcase size, typically 60x43x26 cm (24x17x10.5”)
Folding wheelchairs can be taken on the train without weight and size limits.
China-Laos Train Features
- As well as the usual standard features in a Chinese bullet train, a multilingual service is available on the China-Laos intentional trains, including Chinese, Lao, and English.
- The charging points have both Chinese and Laos sockets.
- The trains each have two special seats for disabled passengers with SOS call buttons. Passengers can press the button if they need anything.
- In order to distinguish various passengers, five colors of Chinese knot are used on the train to indicate different passenger needs. Blue indicates elderly passengers, yellow children, green sick passengers, purple disabled passengers, and red pregnant passengers.
- Digital luggage trackers are available on the trains. You can put one on your luggage and pair it with your cell phone. If the luggage is moved beyond a certain distance from its rack, your phone will get a warning.
- Wi-Fi is available throughout China trains.
Other China – Southeast Asia Railways
China and Southeast Asia have strong cultural, economic, and geographical ties, and so train travel is expected to become more and more popular between them. The China-Laos Railway and China-Vietnam Railway are the only two existing routes so far. China-Laos Railway will also serve as the trail-blazer for the Sino-Thai Railway. Soon, you may can be able to take a bullet train from Kunming to Bangkok passing Vientiane.
The China-Vietnam Railway
There are two popular routes from China to Vietnam. One is from Beijing, and the other one is from Hong Kong (Guangzhou). Both of which require a change of train in Nanning. See more on China to Vietnam Train Travel.