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Rail Operator Reminds Passengers to Get a Chinese Visa Before Travelling

Source: Vientiane Times

Passengers traveling to China on the Laos-China railway, especially to Xishuangbanna, must get a visa prior to departure, with visas obtainable at the Chinese Embassy in Vientiane or at the consulate in Luang Prabang province.

According to Laos-China Railway Company Limited, it takes a minimum of four working days to issue a visa to enter China, which costs US$15. ICBC bank staff are stationed at the embassy to facilitate payment. If a visa is required urgently, within one, two, or three days, the price will be higher.

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To apply for a visa, passengers must provide information about their accommodation in China and include these details in the visa application.

In addition, two photographs of the passport holder with a white background measuring 4 x 6 centimeters must be submitted. It is not yet possible to obtain a visa on arrival in China.

Lao nationals traveling on an official passport are not required to obtain a visa but must get approval for their visit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministry that employs them. These documents must be presented to immigration officials on entry to China.

When arriving at Boten station in Luang Namtha province, passengers must leave the train with their luggage and pass through immigration.

After their exit from Laos is approved, they will reboard the train and return to their former seat. It takes approximately one hour for all passengers to complete immigration procedures and get an exit stamp, after which the train will continue to China.

On arrival at the Chinese border, the train stops at Mohan station where passengers must disembark with their luggage to pass through immigration and get an entry stamp.

After everyone has completed immigration procedures, which takes about one hour, passengers will return to their seats on the train for onward travel.
Immigration forms to be completed for entry into China will be handed out on the train before arriving at the Chinese border.

The form requires passengers to enter their intended address and contact number in China, which is normally the phone number of a hotel or family member. Accommodation in China can be booked through Chinese or international apps.

Train tickets to China can be booked through the LCR Ticket App and paid for using UnionPay, VISA, WeChat, Alipay, or the Bank of China.
Tickets can be purchased for travel through Kunming or an earlier station in China.

A ticket from Vientiane to Boten costs 407,000 kip, with a journey time of three hours and 32 minutes. A ticket from Vientiane to Kunming costs 1,192,000 kip, with the journey taking 10 hours and 30 minutes.

After payment has been made, tickets can be collected at the Vientiane Center shopping mall (with an additional service charge) or at Vientiane station before the day of departure.

The China-Laos Railway launched cross-border passenger trains on April 13, ahead of Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year), with one train a day running in either direction between Vientiane and Kunming.

Trains depart from Vientiane and Kunming in the early morning and arrive in the late evening, stopping at Vangvieng, Luang Prabang, Boten, Mohan, Xishuangbanna, and Pu’er.

Total travel time, including the time taken to pass through customs and immigration at the Lao and Chinese borders, is 10 hours and 30 minutes.