Many a person on the backpacker trail has headed from Vietnam to China overland. Now whilst the regular bus from Hanoi to Nanning is by far the most sensible option, arguably the more fun option is to take the nightly train from Hanoi to Nanning.
The only problem with this option (as I recently discovered) was that there is no only scant information on the Vietnam to China by train option, but nothing even resembling a timetable.
It is with this in mind that I provide the quintessential guide to taking the train from Hanoi to Nanning (Vietnam to China by train)
What is the Hanoi to Nanning Train Timetable?
The train is daily and leaves at 21.20 every night.
Where does the Hanoi to Nanning Train leave from?
The actual train station it leaves from is called Gia Lam Railway Station in fairly central Hanoi. There are buses here, or get a GrabTaxi, or better still a GrabBike! I took a GrabTaxi from Hanoi airport to Gia Lam Railway Station and it cost me around $10.
How does immigration work?
This is where the Hanoi to Nanning Train loses some points and makes even the Beijing to Pyongyang train seem advanced. At around 2 am you arrive at Dong Dang the Vietnamese border town with China, get off the train (with your belongings) and do Vietnamese customs and immigration before getting back on the train.
Then at 4.31 am, you arrive in Pingxiang, the Chinese border city with Vietnam and do it all over again! In case you are considering visiting Pingxiang, don’t, it is horrible.
So in theory at about 5.30 am you head off to Nanning arriving at 9.30 am, a cool 12 hours after departure, but with at best 6 hours sleep.
What are the carriages like on the Hanoi to Nanning Train?
Chinese style soft sleepers, but the trains are somewhat dated to say the least
Is there a restaurant cart on the Hanoi to Nanning Train?
No there is not! So stock up on supplies in Hanoi. There are a ton of shops near Gia Lam railway station selling all manner of foods and drink for the journey (including vodka be warned).
Which is better the Hanoi to Nanning bus, or the Hanoi to Nanning Train?
Without doubt the bus is quicker, easier and to an extent more comfortable. If you are doing this route regularly, the bus is the way to go, but if you are a train nerd, or fancy a change the Hanoi to Nanning Train is well worth a try.
Summary of information
– Train Number – China Railway MR1/T8702 – bed style soft sleeper
– travel by train from Hanoi to Nanning takes about 12 hours
– Train Leaves Daily at 21.20
– one-way train ticket costs about 1 000 000 Vietnamese Dong
($49) – One way train ticket to PingXiang (China) 250,000 Vietnamese Dong ($12)
– Name of train station in Vietnam – Gia Lam Railway Station (481 Ngọc Lâm)
– tName of train station in China – Nanning Railway Station (63 Zhonghua Rd)