The town of Hekou is within walking distance of the border post, and Lao Cai is just across the bridge. The border is open 8AM-11PM (7AM-10PM Vietnamese time).
Trains link Hekou North Train Station (河口北站) with Kunming twice a day over the new railway opened in December 2014. Trains leave Kunming for Hekou at 9:28, 12:45, 16:00, and 22:48. The trip takes six to seven hours, and costs RMB 70 for a hard seat and RMB 160 for a soft seat.
Buses run from various destinations within Yunnan, including Kunming (¥140, 6 hours, 9:40, 10:40, 12:40, 19:00, 19:30, 20:00). Some connections, including Jinghong require you to change buses in Mengzi. Bear in mind that the bus may not take you all the way into Hekou, but might stop at a point West of town. It's about an hour's walk from here to the border post, along the Honghe river. Or, you could take a taxi (there are usually some waiting) for around ¥10.
When you leave the border office, ask the Chinese officials for a small guide with basic map of Hekou map and a glossary, if it is available.
Beware of helpful guys speaking English at the bus station, offer to sell bus/train tickets in Vietnam for triple their real price or exchange currency several times more expensive than in respectable places. Check prices and exchange rates in advance. Tickets can be bought easily at Vietnam side of border.
- Vietnam: Cross the border to Lao Cai via the foot and bicycle bridge in downtown Hekou, open from 8am to 11pm Chinese time). See Lao Cai#Get out for up-to-date information about onward travel to Hanoi, Sapa etc.
- Kunming: First bus is at 8h45, next 10h50 and 1pm, cost about 140 cny. It takes about 7-8h to arrive to Kunming Eastern bus station. Take bus 60 (2 cny) to reach town center / railway station. The bus station is about 3 km from the border to Vietnam.
- Yuanyang rice terraces (Xinjie via Yuanyang city): 5 hour bus journey from the bus terminal near Vietnam Street, departing at 6.10 and 9am. Purchase tickets for 59 yuan at least a day before to secure a seat on the small buses.
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