Travel from China to Vietnam by Railway
Railway Journey from Beijing in China to Hanoi in VietnamMap
TRAVEL TO BEIJING, CAPITAL OF CHINA AND STARTING POINT OF YOUR CHINA JOURNEY BY TRAIN
The city of Beijing can be reached from most major cities in Europe, Australia and the US with numerous non-stop flights. The city of Beijing is the capital of China and the starting point of your train journey from China to Vietnam.
Beijing is a modern, clean and multifaceted city with a long history and a huge cultural heritage. Often the first sight of the dimensions of Beijing leaves the visitor breathless. But once you get used to the crowds of people and the traffic jams and look behind the scenes of the modern glass facades of the skyscrapers, Beijing turns out to be a rather trendy and modern city, with a culturally rich past.
If one is not travelling in Beijing at rush hour, the subway is a very fast, cheap and safe means of transport in Beijing. The geographical center of Beijing is the Forbidden City with the Tiananmen Square in front.
When visiting Beijing, a visit from the Temple of Heaven should not be missing. For five centuries, the Temple of Heaven was the center of imperial ceremonies and the symbol of the connection between the "Son of Heaven" (the Emperor) and the universe, from where the Ming Emperors received the "Mandate of Heaven" to govern the middle Kingdom. Construction of the Temple of Heaven began during the reign of Emperor Yongle and was completed around 1420. The harmonious architecture as well as the simple beauty of the Temple of Heaven inspire visitors to this day.
CHINA TRAVEL: JOURNEY BY HIGHSPEED TRAIN FROM BEIJING TO LUOYANG IN CHINA
Journey to Luoyang: The city of Luoyang lies in the west of Henan Province and is one of the six old metropolises of China. The earliest traces go back to the Shang Dynasty of the Bronze Age, but the first real development seems to have been a walled city built by the Zhou in 1000 BC called Chengzhou. In the year 25 A.D. Luoyang was declared the capital of the eastern Han Dynasty by the Han Emperor Emperor Guangwu. For several centuries, Luoyang was the center of China.
Luoyang's trade and communication with the West on the Silk Road developed rapidly. Buddhism reached the city in 68 AD. In that year the "Temple of the White Horse" was built, one of the first Buddhist temples in China.
After the looting of the city in 190 the capital was moved to Xi'An for a short time, until, after a short phase of uprisings, Emperor Wen of the Wei Dynasty moved the capital back to Luoyang. The subsequent Jin Dynasty (265-420) also used Luoyang as its capital. However, the Jin were overrun by Xiongnu troops in 311 and the capital was moved to Jiankang, now Nanjing. During this uprising Luoyang was almost entirely destroyed.
During the Northern Wei Dynasty (493 - 543) Luoyang served for another 50 years as the capital of China and flourished under Emperor Xiao Wendi. During this time work began on the remarkable Longmen Grottoes on the outskirts of Luoyang. Also, the Shaolin Monastery in the nearby Song Mountains was built at this time.
The last heyday came during the Sui Dynasty as well as the Tang Dynasty when Luoyang served 3 times for a short time as capital. According to annals, Luoyang was the second largest city in the world after Xi'An at this time.
CHINA TRAIN TRAVEL: JOURNEY BY TRAIN TO LUOYANG IN CHINA - SHAOLIN KUNG FU AND LONGMEN BUDDHIST GROTTOES
The 6 million town of Luoyang is located in Henan Province at the confluence of the Yellow River and the Luo River.
The main attraction of Luoyang are undoubtedly the Buddhist caves of Longmen from the 5th century. The Longmen Caves are located 13km south of the city center of Luoyang and are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For your visit to the Longmen Grottoes you should plan at least half a day.
70km east of Luoyang you will find the Song Mountains with the famous Shaolin Monastery. The original Shaolin monastery dates to the year 495 but has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over the centuries. A visit to Shaolin Monastery should be combined with a hike to the nearby Sanhuazhai Nature Reserve. Those who want to put their fitness to the test can hike up to the Sanhuazhai Monastery in 4 hours. If this seems too exhausting for you, you can take the cable car half the way and walk the rest.
The Baima Monastery on the eastern outskirts of Luoyang is also worth a visit. The Baima Monastery (translated: Temple of the White Horse) was originally built in the 1st century and was one of the first Buddhist monasteries in China. Today’s Baima monastery inspires above all with its age-old buildings and its devout atmosphere. From Beijing you can reach the city of Luoyang in China by highspeed train from Beijing in about 4 hours.
CHINA TRAIN TRAVEL: THE CITY OF XI'AN AND HOME OF THE TERRACOTTA ARMY
Travel by highspeed train to Xi'An. The city of Xi'An is the capital of the province Shaanxi in central China. Both historically and culturally Xian is one of the most important places in China.
The history of Xi'An can be traced back to the Bronze Age 3000 years ago. The heyday of Xi'An only began during the Han Dynasty (221-206 BC) when it became the first capital of the Empire of China under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. At that time the city of Xi’an was called "Chang An" which means "Long Peace".
The death of Qing Shi Huang in 210 BC also marked the end of the Qin dynasty. His successors were the Han, who ruled from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. and made Xi'An - or Chang An - also the capital of their Han empire.
Xi'An was long regarded as China's gateway to the West and was the beginning/end point of the Silk Road, one of the oldest trade routes in the world. Already 2000 years ago merchants and diplomats from all over the world flocked to Xi’An (Chang An). After the decline of the Han Dynasty (220 A.D.) Xi'An was destroyed during the subsequent turmoil of war.
Only with the beginning of the Sui Dynasty in 581, after a long period of fragmentation since the fall of the Han Dynasty, was it possible to reunite the Chinese Empire. Under the rule of the Sui, Xi'An was rebuilt and declared the capital of the short-lived Sui Dynasty (581-618). As the capital of the subsequent Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), Xi'An began to flourish once again. Xi'An developed into a trading center on the Silk Road and became a center of the arts. Buddhism also entered Xi'An during the Tang Dynasty. With the disintegration of the Tang Dynasty at the beginning of the 10th century came the economic decline of Xi'An. The capital was moved to Nanjing. Although Xi'An was rebuilt under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was never able to continue the success of the Tang Dynasty. From this last reconstruction comes also the well-preserved city wall. Today, Xi'An is regarded as the city with the most beautiful city wall of China, preserved in its original state.
Due to its eventful past, Xi'An today has a large selection of sights to offer. For this reason, a trip to Xi'An is particularly worthwhile. The main attraction and highlight of a Xi'An trip is certainly the Terracotta Army, which is located about 30km outside Xi'An. The Terracotta Army was created to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.
TRAVEL BY HIGHSPEED TRAIN TO THE TERRACOTTA ARMY OF XI'AN IN CHINA
Qin Shi Huang is considered the first emperor of China. Qin Shi Huang was born as Ying Zheng, son of the King of Qin, in 259 BC. His birth took place in the "Warring States Period", when the kingdom of Qin fought with six other states for supremacy. After the death of his father, Ying Zheng ascended the throne of Qin at the age of 13 as King Zheng. Between 230 and 221 BC, Ying Zheng gradually conquered the other states, putting an end to the fragmented Chinese feudal empire. The time of the fighting between these small states was over, China was born and the city Xi'An was appointed the new capital. Ying Zheng became the first emperor of China and from then on called himself Qin Shi Huang, which means "First sublime ruler of the Qin dynasty".
As ruler, Qin Shi Huang reorganized his empire with the help of a huge bureaucracy and carried out far-reaching reforms.
Everything was standardized, writing, weights, coins, the width of the wagon axles and even how the moustaches and hair knots had to sit was prescribed by the official state. Qin Shi Huang continued to build the Great Wall of China and built a 6,800 kilometers long road network, some of which is still preserved today.
The first emperor of China wanted to be prepared for the time after his death. Shortly after his accession to the throne, he is said to have begun the construction of his tomb. Over 700,000 forced laborers are said to have worked in his 56 square kilometer mausoleum for 37 years. In 1974 the terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang was discovered by chance by a local farmer. Since then, the excavation site has long since developed into one of the most important tourist attractions in central China.
The museum of the Terracotta Warriors consists of several pits and is only partially excavated so far. The largest has more than a thousand terracotta figures. The army consists of about 8000 clay warriors. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987 and is often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world.
TRAVEL BY RAIL FROM XI'AN TO CHENGDU, CAPITAL OF SICHUAN PROVINCE BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN
Travel from the historic city Xi'An with its Terracotta Army in Shaanxi Province in China by high-speed train to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. For the 700km long route through central China, opened in 2018, the CRH high speed train takes just about 4 hours of your travel time.
The 8 million metropolis Chengdu is the capital of the varied and scenically unique Sichuan province in the southwest of China. Already on the way from the modern train station to the hotel, one notices that Chengdu has a dimension of superlatives.
From the modern Chengdu Railway Station you reach your Chengdu hotel via huge motorways, generously laid out boulevards and past modern skyscrapers. The short stroll through the city of Chengdu is the perfect start to get to know this bustling city. The walking tour around Chengdu ends in a local restaurant where you can enjoy the excellent Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan cuisine is very varied, at times spicy and the heaps of Sichuan pepper will create this unique, tingling and numbing feeling on your tongue.
Despite the rapid development and modernization of Chengdu, you still find it, the "old" Chengdu with its countless, small, colorful side streets with traditional flea and street markets, typical hairdressing shops and local restaurants, which form an exciting contrast to modern Chengdu.
HIGHSPEED TRAIN JOURNEY FROM CHENGDU IN SICHUAN TO KUNMING IN YUNNAN PROVINCE IN SOUTHWEST CHINA
In Leshan you board the train for your train journey to Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province in the very Southwest of China. The high-speed train ride takes you south through the rather flat Sichuan Basin before reaching the mountainous region of northern Yunnan Province.
Through a seemingly endless number of tunnels, the train finally reaches Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. The city of Kunming with 7 million inhabitants lies at 1900m on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
The almost year-round, pleasant climate has also given the city of Kunming the nickname "City of Eternal Spring". The center of Kunming is the Green Lake Park, where every morning many locals gather to prepare for the day with sporting activities. The city of Kunming offers many sights to visit. The best known of these is certainly the Stone Forest of Lunan and the West Mountains.
THE KUNMING RAILWAY MUSEUM, YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA
The railway museum of Kunming is located at the place of the former, French built, northern railway station of Kunming at Beijing Lu. The Kunming Railway Museum has an interesting exhibition about the history and construction of the railway line from Yunnan to Vietnam.
The railway line between Kunming and the port city Haiphong via Hanoi in Vietnam was built during the French colonial rule in Southeast Asia and was completed in 1910.
In particular, the construction of the line from Hekou at 80m above sea level to Kunming at 1900m above sea level presented the engineers with a very special challenge. Near Pingbian the railway had to overcome a difference in altitude of 600 meters over a distance of just 23 km. 59 tunnels and countless bridges were necessary on this section to overcome the incline.
The Kunming Railway Museum is closed on Mondays. Inside the Kunming Railway Museum there are numerous exhibits of the Yunnan Vietnam Railway such as locomotives, cars and an exciting photo exhibition.
JOURNEY BY RAILWAY FROM KUNMING TO HISTORIC JIANSHUI, YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA
Travel by train from Kunming to Jianshui in Yunnan. The city of Jianshui, south of Kunming, has a beautiful old town and an impressive watchtower from the 14th century, from a time when the Ming Dynasty ruled over China and the Yunnan Province. The building has been preserved in its original state and houses an interesting photo exhibition which provides information about the eventful past and the construction of the Kunming Hanoi Railway by the French over 100 years ago.
A very special treat is a visit to the former residence of the once influential Zhu family. The residence, built at the turn of the last century, comprises 42 inner courtyards and a well-kept garden - the so-called "Garden of the Zhu Family".
Another highlight is the visit to the idyllic Confucius Temple, which is located not far from your hotel in Jianshui. Confucius was born in 551 B.C. in Qufu in the east of China and is considered one of China's most influential philosophers today. The Confucius Temple of Jianshui was originally built in 1285 and is the 3rd largest Confucius Temple in China. In addition to numerous interesting temple buildings and pavilions, the spacious temple complex also houses the "Lake of Wisdom", which is covered with beautiful lotus flowers.
YUNNAN JOURNEY: THE RAILWAY FROM KUNMING TO HAIPHONG IN VIETNAM VIA HANOI: TRAVEL IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FRENCH COLONIAL TIMES IN YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA
In 1904 the French started a very ambitious project with the construction of a 855 km long 1 Meter gauge rail link between Hanoi, or rather the port town of Haiphong, and Kunming. In order to complete the project at the least time and cost, construction was divided into 12 separate sections which were progressed simultaneously.
French Yunnan Vietnam Railway Construction Company recruited more than 60’000 Chinese laborers from all over China as well as over 3’000 French, Swiss, American, British, Italian and Canadian Technicians and Engineers involved in the construction. The difficulties they encountered during the construction of the Yunnan Vietnam Railway line where beyond the imagination of the decision makers in Paris. Along the 465 km long Chinese section alone over 107 bridges of various types and shapes had to be built and over 155 tunnels excavated. In one particular 44km long section in Pingbian county in southern Yunnan Province the tracks had to overcome no less than 1’200 meters in height difference, which was an absolute masterpiece of engineering and technology in that time. Especially the construction of the line in Pingbian county confronted the engineers with a very special challenge. Near Pingbian they had to overcome a difference in altitude of 600 meters over a distance of only 23 km. 59 tunnels and countless bridges were only necessary on this section to create the incline.
The highlight of this section is the Wujiazhai Bridge over the Sicha River. The bridge is approached from both sides via a tunnel. The 67meter long Wujiazhai Bridge was one of the masterpieces of railway construction during that period. The bridge is also often referred to as Renziqiao ("human bridge"), because the bridge construction looks similar to the Chinese character "Ren" (human/person).
The railway line between Kunming and the port of Haiphong via Hanoi in Vietnam was completed in 1910.
Since 2003 only freight trains are making the trips from Kunming to Hekou and across the border in Vietnam. Most probably the end of train services on this masterpiece of engineering will come to a complete halt soon.
TRAVEL BY NIGHT TRAIN FROM LAO CAI TO HANOI IN VIETNAM
Your eventful journey by train from China to Hanoi continues with the next highlight: By night train from Lao Cai the journey continues in the direction of Hanoi.
This train line was built over 100 years ago by the French and was once part of the train line from Kunming to Hanoi. The train jolts at a leisurely pace on the old narrow-gauge tracks built by the French colonial rulers in the direction of Hanoi. The contrast to the modern high-speed trains in China could hardly be greater. In each cabin of the sleeping cars there are 4 comfortable berths. If you prefer to have a cabin for yourself, you can easily book a private cabin for an extra charge. The train arrives in Hanoi in the early morning, after which you are transferred directly to the hotel for breakfast and check-in.
The lively city of Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and at the same time one of the oldest and most exciting cities in Southeast Asia. Hanoi lies on both sides of the Red River (Song Hong) and is the second largest city in Vietnam after Saigon.
A city tour through the lively, almost chaotic city is a fascinating experience. Especially attractive is the historic old town with a labyrinth of small alleys lined with shady trees and colonial houses with ochre yellow stucco facades, wrought iron balconies and red tiled roofs.
"...the trip was very well organized, everything worked out very well. Our driver, Mr. Kuang, deserves a special thank you. He has always driven us carefully and safely through the mountain roads of the Yunnan province..."
Marcel and Sandy from Switzerland
"...the trip by the Jiayang steam railway was great! Especially the kids loved it a lot....thanks once again for arranging a perfect journey for us..."
Family Johansson, Beijing
Day 1: TRAVEL FROM BEIJING BY HIGHSPEED TRAIN TO LUOYANG, CITY OF THE PEONY FLOWER, CHINA
Pick up at your hotel in Beijing. Transfer to Beijing West Railway Station. Train journey by comfortable CRH highspeed train in just over 4 hours to Luoyang Longmen Station.
The city Luoyang is located in the west of Henan province and belongs to the six old metropolises of China. Luoyang became a capital for the first time in 771 B.C. during the Zhou Dynasty. Under the later Han emperors (25-225 A.D.) Luoyang rose then again to the capital.
During the Wei Dynasty Luoyang was used for the last time as capital for 50 years (493 - 543). During this time work also began on the remarkable Longmen Grottoes.
Luoyang had its last heyday during the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Luoyang is known for its peony flowers.
Pick up at the Luoyang Longmen train station. Visit the famous Longmen Grottos. The UNESCO protected Longmen Grottos were built between the 5th and 8th centuries during the Wei and early Tang Dynasties. On both sides of the Yi River more than 110'000 Buddhist stone statues were created, which are spread over about 2'300 niches and caves. The largest Buddha statue of the Longmen Grotto complex is 17m high.
Afterwards the Longmen Grottos you take a tour through the old town.
Overnight stay in Luoyang.
Day 2: CHINA TRAVEL: LUOYANG – VISIT SHAOLIN MONASTERY AND HIKING IN SONGSHAN MOUNTAIN
Drive to the Songshan Mountains, which are about 70km southeast of Luoyang. The Songshan belongs to the 5 holy mountains of Taoism.
You will visit the famous Shaolin Monastery. The original Shaolin monastery dates back to 495 but has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over the centuries.
According to legend, the Indian monk Bodhidharma, founder and first patriarch of Chan and Zen Buddhism, who came to the Shaolin monastery around the year 527, taught the basics of Shaolin martial arts, which were then further developed and passed on in the monastery.
You will take a tour of the monastery. During the 30-minute demonstration you will experience the impressive martial art of the Shaolin monks up close. In good weather there is the possibility to take the cable car to Sanhuangzhai
Return trip to Luoyang.
Day 3: LUOYANG – XIAN: TRAVEL BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN FROM LUOYANG TO XIAN IN CHINA
Transfer to the Luoyang train station and travel by highspeed train to Xian. Pick up at the Xian train station and transfer to Xian old town.
The city of Xian is the capital of Shaanxi Province. Xian - or Chang'An as the city used to be called - is considered the first capital of the Chinese Empire under Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. The old imperial city was long regarded as China's gateway to the West and was the beginning/end point of the ancient Silk Road, one of the oldest trade routes in the world. In addition, Xian has one of the longest, still largely preserved city walls from the Ming period.
In the morning you take a stroll or a cycling tour on the Xian city wall
Travel to the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, which is about 30km outside of Xian and is guarded for over 2000 years by the famous clay warriors of the "Terracotta Army". After fighting countless battles with the rivaling 6 other Kingdoms, Qin Shi Huang finally united China 230 B.C. by founding the Qing Dynasty.
The "Terracotta Army" was only found in 1974 by a local farmer. After a breathtaking first view over the whole terracotta army you will visit the museum and the "command center" of the army. You can admire unique and magnificent relics from the Qin Dynasty.
On the way back from the Terracotta Warriors to Xian you stop at the Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the most famous landmarks of Xian. In Buddhism the Great Wild Goose Pagoda of Xian has a very special meaning. Here the Buddhist scriptures, which the monk Xuan Zang brought back from his trip to India in the 7th century, were translated.
Return to your Xian hotel. Afterwards you visit the bell tower of Xian as well as the Xian "Muslim Quarter" with the pulsating night market. Overnight stay in Xian.
Day 4: JOURNEY BY HIGHSPEED TRAIN FROM XIAN TO CHENGDU, CAPITAL OF SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA
Today you travel by CRH high-speed train to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, in approx. 4 hours. The million metropolis Chengdu inspires the visitor by its contrasts: On the one hand modern, glass skyscrapers, western fast-restaurant-chains and countless modern shopping centers. On the other hand, there is the "old" Chengdu with its numerous narrow side streets with traditional flea and street markets, typical hairdressing shops, ancient temples and an array of local restaurants.
You will then visit the Wenshu Temple. Wenshu Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Chengdu and is dedicated to the God of Wisdom.
Continue to the Qingyangong Temple. The Taoist temple Qingyanggong originates from the Zhou dynasty (1122-221 BC). During the Ming Dynasty this wonderful temple was destroyed and later rebuilt under the reign of Emperor Kangxi (early Qing Dynasty).
In the evening you visit a Sichuan opera. This colorful mixture of singing, music, acrobatics, puppetry and mask dancing is a must when visiting Chengdu. A very special feature of the Sichuan Opera is the "change of face", where the actors change the colorful face masks up to 10 times within 20 seconds, without the audience even noticing! Overnight stay in Chengdu.
Day 5: CHENGDU: PANDA BREEDING CENTER – GIANT BUDDHA OF LESHAN – TRAVEL TO EMEI SHAN
Visit the Panda breeding station outside Chengdu. The Panda Research Station, founded in 1993 with the support of the WWF, has made it its mission to protect these rare, endangered animals. You take a walking tour around the Panda Park.
Drive to the Great Buddha of Leshan.
With its 71 meters height, this colossal and impressive Buddha statue is considered the largest Buddhist sculpture in the world. Over 90 years this building would be carved out of a rock wall in the 8th century! You visit the Dafo Park from where the incredible dimensions of the Dafo, the Chinese name, are impressively shown to advantage.
After lunch you will take a short boat trip on the Min River. From the boat you have the best view of the entire Buddha.
Afterwards you continue to the Emei mountain. With the park bus as well as the modern gondola lift you go to the summit. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay at the summit of Emei Mountain.
Day 6: EMEI MOUNTAIN – QIANWEI
Since the "Middle Kingdom" in the 6th century Emei Mountain is considered one of the 4 most important Buddhist mountains in China.
Emei Mountain, which is also called "The Mountain of the Great Light" (Da Guang Ming Shan), was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
In the morning you can enjoy an unforgettable sunrise from the top of the Emei mountain.
You will visit the Huazang Temple at the summit. Afterwards you drive to the Wannien Bus Station. From there you take the cable car up to the famous Wannien Temple. After visiting Wannien Temple you hike in approx. 2 hours through wonderful pine forests down to the Wuxianggang bus station.
From here the park bus takes you back to the park entrance. Drive approx. 1.5 hours to Qianwei, the starting point of tomorrow's train journey with the Jiayang Steam train to Huangcunjing.
Check-in at the hotel in Qianwei. Overnight stay in Qianwei.
Day 7: CHINA TRAVEL: QIANWEI – TRAVEL BY JIAYANG STEAM TRAIN TO HUANGCUNJING – JOURNEY BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN TO KUNMING IN YUNNAN PROVINCE
A short drive brings you to Shixi near Qianwei, the starting point for your train journey to Huangcunjing.
At leisurely pace you travel by Jiayang steam train of a former coal mine through the picturesque countryside to Huangcunjing. In 1938, a 600 mm human-powered narrow-gauge railway to Mamiao was built for the removal of coal from the Huangcunjing coal mine. In July 1959 a new line was opened from Huangcunjing to Shixi.
In the mid-1970s a regular passenger service was introduced on the narrow-gauge railway between Shixi and Huangcunjing. Since May 2010, the Jiayang narrow-gauge railway and the mine in Huangcunjing have been preserved and are protected as an important cultural relict by the government of the Sichuan Province. "Jiayang" is the name of the owner of the coal mine, so today the train is called Jiayang Railway.
Afterwards you drive to the Leshan highspeed train station. You board the highspeed train and travel to Kunming in about 3 hours. Pick up at the Kunming railway station and transfer to your hotel. Overnight accommodation in Kunming in Yunnan Province.
Day 8: KUNMING – KUNMING RAILWAY MUSEUM – TRAVEL TO WESTERN MOUNTAINS AND BAMBOO TEMPLE
In the morning you visit the railway museum of Kunming, which awaits with an exciting exhibition about the history of the Kunming-Hanoi railway.
Afterwards you drive into the legendary Western Mountains at the southwestern outskirts of Kunming. The ascent to the Dragon Gate takes you past countless smaller temples and pavilions and offers unique and unforgettable views of Kunming and Lake Dianchi.
The highlight is the visit to the Dragon Gate, where monks in the late 18th century carved numerous grottos, sculptures and pavilions from the steep rock face at dizzying heights.
On your way back to Kunming you make a stop at the hidden, idyllic bamboo temple (Qiong Zhu Si) from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which has over 500 life-size clay figures of former monks. ("Arhats").
Return journey to Kunming.
Day 9: KUNMING – TRAVEL BY HIGH SPEED TRAIN TO STONE FOREST OF LUNAN – KUNMING
It is only a short walk from your hotel to the Kunming railway station.
You board the high-speed train for your 20-minute ride to the famous Stone Forest of Lunan. Transfer from the Shilin train station to the Stone Forest of Lunan in Yunnan Province.
The Stone Forest of Lunan is located 110km east of Kunming and is one of the most famous tourist attractions of the Yunnan province. Over thousands of years, rain and erosion have formed a unique, impressive landscape that, with little imagination, resembles a forest.
Then return to the Shilin train station and travel by highspeed train back to Kunming. Walk to the hotel. Overnight stay in Kunming.
Day: CHINA BY TRAIN: TRAVEL BY TRAIN FROM KUNMING TO JIANSHUI IN YUNNAN PROVINCE
Short walk to Kunming railway station. Take the modern express train south to Jianshui.
The line is part of the new railway line from Kunming to Hekou on the Vietnamese border and was opened in 2015. Pick up at Jianshui railway station and travel to Jianshui Old Town.
Visit the Confucius Temple (Wen Miao). This large temple complex dates from 1285 and is the third largest Confucius temple in China. Inside there is a small lake which is full of beautiful lotus flowers during the summer months.
You will also visit the former residence and gardens of the formerly wealthy and influential Zhu family.
Visit the Chaoyang Lou, which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1389) and once served as the east gate of the old town of Jianshui. Inside the tower there is an interesting photo exhibition about the history of Jianshui with photos of Auguste François, who worked as a French consul in southern China between 1896 and 1904. Among other photographs, you will also find informative photos about the construction of the Kunming-Hanoi railway. Overnight stay in Jianshui.
Day 11: KUNMING – TUANSHAN – VISIT GEJIU RAILWAY STATION – YUANYANG RICE TERRACES
In the morning travel by the narrow gauge tourist train to Tuanshan. This rather unspectacular railway line was once part of a 600mm narrow gauge railway network, which was built in 1921 and led from Kaiyuan via Jianshui to Baoxiu near Shiping. The peculiar gauge of 60cm was chosen by the local authorities because they feared that the French could travel directly to Jianshui with their trains and transport the valuable zinc directly to Vietnam with their own trains.
However, for practical reasons, the route was adapted in the 1940s to the 1000mm track built by the French from Hanoi to Kunming.
On the way the train stops at the "Double Dragon Bridge" (Shuanglong Qiao). The "Double Dragon Bridge" dates from the late 18th century. The original "Double Dragon Bridge" had only 3 arches. In 1839 another 14 arches were added and the bridge reached today's length of 148 meters.
Afterwards continue the train journey to the village of Tuanshan, which offers a unique, well-preserved wooden architecture. Walking tour through Tuanshan village.
Drive by private vehicle to Yuanyang, the starting point to the fascinating rice terraces of Yuanyang. On the way you will make a stop in Gejiu.
The city of Gejiu is located about 70km southeast of Jianshui at the foot of Baohua Mountain. The mining of tin has a long tradition in Gejiu, already in the Han Dynasty the valuable material was mined in the area around Gejiu. Even today, tin is the largest source of income in the Gejiu region. Gejiu was also the end point of a railway line running from Jijia to Gejiu and is therefore of special interest for friends and enthusiasts of old railway lines. The line from Jijie to Gejiu once served as a branch line of the already mentioned 600mm narrow gauge railway network, which was built in 1921 and led from Kaiyuan to Baoxiu (behind Shiping). While the main line from Kaiyuan to Baoxiu was later adapted to the 1000mm track leading from Hekou to Kunming, the line from Jijie to Gejiu remained at the original 600mm track until it was closed in 1991 and was mainly used for transporting tin.
You visit the old train station of Gejiu. Continue your journey to the rice terraces of Yuanyang. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight in Yuanyang near the famous rice terraces.
Day 12: TRAVEL FROM THE RICE TERRACES OF YUANYANG TO MENGZI AND BISEZHAI RAILWAY STATION
Early risers will experience an unforgettable sunrise over the rice terraces. For centuries, the rice terraces of Yuanyang have been hacked by the local farmers out of the slopes of the Ailao Mountains.
If possible, visit a colorful market in the area, where members of the Yi, Lisu and Hani ethnic groups in their traditional costumes go shopping.
You visit some places with the most beautiful view of the rice terraces. Later you make a beautiful 2-3 hours hike through the rice terraces and the surrounding villages.
Early afternoon you will leave the rice terraces of Yuanyang and travel north to Mengzi. Mengzi is the capital of the Honghe region, which is known for its tobacco industry.
Outside of Mengzi there is a special treat for railway enthusiasts: the Bisezhai railway station. When the first part of the 600mm railway to Gejiu was completed in 1918, Bisezhai station was the junction where the railway from Gejiu met the Kunming-Hanoi line. As a result, Bisezhai developed into a bustling transshipment station for goods and passengers. Later a shorter connection from Caobao to Jijie was opened in 1959 and the Bisezhai station lost its importance. Drive to Mengzi for the overnight stay.
Day 13: MENGZI – HEPINGXIAN – WUJIAZHAI (RENZIQIAO) RAILWAY BRIDGE – PINGBIAN
Your journey continues, largely along the Yunnan Vietnam railway line, through the mountainous landscape of South Yunnan Province in China to Hepingxian. Although the journey can't run exactly along the railway line, one gets a good impression of the topographical challenges the French had to struggle with more than 100 years ago. On the way you visit an old, French built, railway station.
Afterwards your journey continues along a winding road through the mountainous terrain to the valley of the Sicha River, a tributary of the Nanxi River.
This section of the Kunming-Hanoi Railway was a big challenge for the French engineers. Here it was necessary to overcome the difference in altitude from the Red River valley to the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
The highlight of this section of the Yunnan Vietnam Railway is the Wujiazhai bridge over the Sicha River. The bridge is approached from both sides via a tunnel. The 67 meter long Wujiazhai Bridge was one of the masterpieces of railway construction at that time.
Continue to Wantangxiang, where you will visit the abandoned station and the overgrown colonial station. This is railway romance in its purest form!
Afterwards the journey continues through breathtaking scenery up to Pingbian at 1300m. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay in Pingbian.
Day 14: PINGBIAN – TRAVEL ACCROSS THE BORDER FROM YUNNAN TO VIETNAM AT HEKOU BODER TO SAPA
In the morning drive along the road S235 towards Hekou and the border to Vietnam. Here the road largely follows the Yunnan Vietnam railway line built by the French.
After completion of the border formalities on the Chinese side short walk approx. 300m over the bridge to the Vietnamese immigration office. After completing the immigration formalities, your Vietnamese guide will wait for you to continue your journey on a winding road to Sapa.
Sa Pa was developed as a mountain retreat by the French in the 1920's in order to escape the heat of the lowlands. Sapa is located in a beautiful valley at the foot of Mount Fan Si Pan, the highest mountain of Vietnam (3,143 meters).
The magnificent landscape as well as the ethnic minorities living here make Sapa a worthwhile destination. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay in Sapa.
Day 15: SAPA – TRAVEL BY NIGH TRAIN TO HANOI IN VIETNAM
Today you take a bicycle tour through the wonderful surroundings of Sapa. The bright green of the terraced rice fields contrasts with the rugged mountain slopes and often snow-covered peaks. A winding downhill route takes you to the village of Su Pan, inhabited by the Black Hmong.
Continue to Ta village Ban Ho where you will have lunch. Time to explore the village - if you feel like it you can enjoy a swim in the river together with the locals. The extremely friendly Ta form one of the largest ethnic groups in Vietnam and originate from South China.
On foot you explore the nearby village Nam Bong which is inhabited by the Red Dao. You visit one of the traditional houses built on stilts. Return to Ban Ho from where you drive back to Sapa.
In the late afternoon travel to Lao Cai. You board the night train to Hanoi. This train line was built over 100 years ago by the French and was once part of the train line from Kunming to Hanoi. The train jolts at a leisurely pace onto the track built by the French colonial rulers to Hanoi.
Overnight accommodation on board the train.
Day 16: ARRIVAL AT HANOI RAILWAY STATION WHERE YOUR JOURNEY "CHINA TO VIETNAM BY RAIL" COMES TO A CONCLUSION
Early in the morning the train from Sapa arrives at Hanoi railway station. You will be picked up at the train station for your transfer to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel. Breakfast.
End of your journey by train from China to Hanoi. We are happy to book a city tour in Hanoi or a follow-up program in Vietnam for you.