Road tours to China sold like hot cakes on the ongoing New Year holiday, causing many Vietnamese tourists to queue up for up to six hours on Saturday for their turns to complete procedures at a border gate in China.
Many groups of Vietnamese travelers were waiting in line at Lao Cai International Border Gate in the namesake province in northern Vietnam at 5:00 am on the same day to conduct customs procedures to enter China.
After completing all exit procedures on the Vietnamese side, they continued to face a wait time of up to six hours at China’s Hekou International Border Gate.
“I had no time to enjoy my lunch due to a long wait,” Thanh Huong, a tourist from Hanoi, lamented.
Vuong Trinh Quoc, head of the Lao Cai Province economic area management board, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that as of 4:00 pm on Saturday, some 4,000 Vietnamese tourists had completed exit procedures at Lao Cai International Border Gate, while nearly 1,200 people had entered the province.
The higher number of tourists conducting customs procedures to enter China jammed the border gate.
Quoc attributed the long waits and confusion at the international border gate to the construction of a Hekou border gate control house in China that is causing the restriction on the opening of some lanes.
|Many groups of visitors wait from 5:00 am on December 30, 2023 to conduct customs procedures at Lao Cai International Border Gate in northern Vietnam to enter China. Photo: Thanh Toan / Tuoi Tre
Hoang Tuyet from Van Nam Group, a travel firm specializing in arranging tours to China, said that on Saturday alone, the tour operator took more than 400 Vietnamese visitors to Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture and Kunming in Yunnan Province, China.
Tourists on a tour to the prefecture were required to show their travel permit certificate, while those visiting Kunming had to show a passport, Tuyet said.
Many travelers on both tours complained that they had to get in line for five to six hours for their turns to conduct entry procedures.
Road tours to China have become popular with Vietnamese due to low prices ranging from VND3.4 million (US$140) to VND5.1 million ($210) per visitor.
“With such affordable China tours, visitors can experience Chinese culture and cuisine. Snow is falling in Kunming, so Vietnamese travelers can enjoy the snowy weather that is rare in their country,” Tuyet said.
On Saturday, the Huu Nghi International Border Gate in northern Lang Son Province experienced an increase in the influx of people departing from and arriving in the province.
An official from the border gate said that border guards would be sent to the gate to help clear the crowds, speed up customs, and shorten wait times.