How to Cross the Border from China to Vietnam

vietnam china border crossing

If you are considering traveling to Vietnam through China, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. One of the most important aspects to consider is having a valid Vietnam online eVisa to enter the country. The electronic visa for Vietnam is a requirement to visit the country for tourism purposes and it grants its holder a stay of up to 30 days.

Besides applying online for your eVisa for Vietnam, make sure you have a valid passport.

Entering Vietnam by Crossing the Chinese Border

China-Vietnam ports of entry

Going into Vietnam by the Chinese border is not a common way to travel to the country. However, it is not difficult to cross the border between China and Vietnam. There are three main border crossings you can look into:

  • Mong Cai – Dong Hung
  • Dong Dang – Ping Xian
  • Lao Cai – Hekou.


All three border crossings are situated in the northeast region of Vietnam. You can get to Mong Cai from Quang Ninh Province or from Halong City. One of the fastest ways to enter Vietnam is the Lao Cai – Hekou border.

Crossing the border from China to Vietnam could depend on where you wish to go first when arriving in Vietnam. Coming from China through Don Dang border gate is a good option if you wish to get to Hanoi as there are several buses or trains available.

How to Get to Hekou and Reach Lao Cai

We’re going to share some information about the border crossing of Hekou in China and Lao Cai in Vietnam. To get to Hekou you can travel by bus or train, the latter being faster and cheaper. When traveling by train you will be able to admire some of the countrysides. Note that you will need to go through several security checks before boarding the train.

Upon arrival in Hekou be sure to avoid the taxis and search for green buses that will take you straight to the border. When you arrive at the border, you will need to enter a building that has an “Exit” sign above a door. Bring the immigration ticket you completed when you entered China. Bear in mind that at this point you should have met the Vietnam online Visa requirements and applied for one before your trip. Your eVisa for Vietnam grants you a stay of up to 30 days.

After you have passed all the security checks in China, you will be allowed to cross the bridge that separates China from Vietnam. After walking a few hundred meters you will need to go through a check by the Vietnamese authorities.

Once your documents and Vietnam eVisa have been checked, you can continue your trip. There are minivans that can take you to Sapa or, if you prefer to head to Hanoi you can do so by train.

If you are planning a trip through the countries of the area, you may also be interested in the posts about crossing the border Laos – Vietnam or crossing the border Cambodia – Vietnam

A Little Bit of History of the China-Vietnam Border

The land border measures about 1,281 kilometers and it begins at the Tripoint with Laos and goes to the Gulf of Tonkin. There have been territorial disputes over the Spratly and Paracel Islands leaving maritime borders between the two countries undefined.

The border between China and Vietnam was established in the Treaty of Tientsin, signed in 1885 when the Sino-French War came to an end. During the Chinese Civil War, China used the border near Vietnam as a refueling station. The Chinese also provided aid to the Vietnamese who were fighting the French during the First Indochina War.

How to Get an e-visa to Cross the Land Border from China

Eligible travelers must have a visa to cross the border from China into Vietnam. With no need to visit an embassy or consulate, or join queues at the border, the Vietnamese eVisa is the most convenient option for people arriving directly from China.

Furthermore, the eVisa application can be completed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, 24 hours a day. Travelers in China who decide to add Vietnam to their itinerary can obtain the visa on the move.

Foreigners applying for a Vietnam eVisa should check that their passport is valid for 6 months from the date of arrival and has 2 blank pages available.

Completing the Vietnam e-visa Application Form from China

The first step to obtaining a Vietnam eVisa is to complete the online application form. This can be completed in just a few minutes by entering information including basic personal details and passport information. Some specific travel details for the trip to Vietnam are also required.

A scan of the passport’s biographical page can be uploaded digitally, conveniently there’s no need to provide paper copies of documentation.

Before finalizing the request, it’s essential to check all the details carefully, any mistakes made at this stage may lead to delays, Vietnam eVisa rejection, or difficulties crossing the land border. Even minor errors such as incorrect spelling can cause problems.

Once everything is in order, the Vietnam eVisa fees are paid using a debit or credit card and the application is submitted for review.

How Long Does It Take to Process a Vietnam Evisa Application for Vietnam-China Border?

Most people receive their approved Vietnam eVisa in 24 to 72 hours, the document is sent to the email address provided by the applicant. Whenever possible, it is recommendable to apply at least 7 days before crossing the land border with China in case of any delays.

The eVisa is presented along with the passport to officials at the border with China.

Can I use a VOA for the Vietnam-China border crossing?

As a visa on arrival may only be obtained at either Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Danang airports for passengers flying into the country, it is not possible to use a Vietnamese Visa on Arrival to cross the border from China to Vietnam.

Nevertheless, travelers who are planning to cross the China-Vietnam border to enter the country can do so using a valid eVisa obtained online through a simple electronic application.

The Vietnam electronic visa system also removes the need for travelers to have to wait in border control queues upon arrival to submit a VOA application, as holders are granted expedited entry to the country.