The gateway to Vietnam
The town of Hekou is located on the Red River (Yuan Jiang) in the south-eastern of the Yunnan province at the border with Vietnam. Hekou is the starting point of the legendary narrow gauge railway that runs from Hekou all the way to Kunming. The Hekou – Kunming railway was built under an enormous effort by the French at the beginning of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, all colonial style houses on the Chinese side including the railway station have been destroyed over time. The only remaining colonial style buildings can be found on the other side of the Yuanjiang (Red River) in Vietnam. Passenger service has been suspended a couple of years ago, now only a few freight trains make the 2 day journey all the way to Kunming. Otherwise there is not much to see and to do in Hekou.
For travelers who plan to make the cross-border trip from or to Vietnam Hekou is a place you may have to spend a night.
There are various Zhuang, Hmong, Miao and some Yi villages in surrounding hills that can either be explored by car or on foot. In 2009 a new highway was completed from Hekou all the way to Honghe and on to Kunming. The journey from Kunming to the Hekou border takes about 6 hours along the highway.
With the opening of a new railway line in 2017, it is once again possible to travel from Kunming all the way to Hekou by train. The journey by train from Kunming to Hekou takes between 6 and 7 hours.