China-Laos Railway

The railway project connecting China to Laos is actually part of a larger initiative known as the Kunming-Singapore Railway Project. This ambitious undertaking aims to link Kunming with Singapore by traversing through Thailand and Malaysia along the way.

The China-Laos Railway is a major infrastructure project that aims to connect the city of Kunming in China’s Yunnan province to the Lao capital of Vientiane. The railway spans a distance of approximately 414 kilometers and passes through several major cities and towns.

China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train
China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train

Sections of China – Laos Railway

Kunming-Mohan Railway

Kunming-Mohan railway is made up of two sections: Kunming-Yuxi Rail Line and Yuxi-Mohan Rail Line. Kunming-Yuxi Rail Line is about 88 km and has already put into service since December 15th, 2016 with the running speed of 200km/h. It takes about 1.5 hours. Yuxi-Mohan Rail Line is under construction with the max speed of 160/km.

Mohan (Boten)- Vientiane Railway

The construction has began on December 2, 2015 and scheduled to be completed by 2022. It is about 427 km with the running speed of 99 mph. Some 53 tunnels have been bored through mountains at a combined length of 37,314 meters, while 47 of the 167 bridges to be built for the line are under construction, according to the Vientiane Times.  It’s a medium-speed train system (160 kilometers per hour for passenger trains and 120 kilometers/hour for freight).

Vientiane–Boten Railway

Vientiane–Boten Railway (often referred to as the China-Laos Railway) is a 414 kilometres (257 mi) 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 instandard gauge railway under construction in northern Laos, between the capital Vientiane and the small town of Boten on the border with China.

Map of China – Laos Railway

China-Laos railway map

Meaning of China – Laos Railway

Laos, an impoverished nation of nearly 7 million people, is looking to boost socioeconomic development through trade, manufacturing, tourism, and sales of electricity produced by damming the Mekong and other big rivers. The Lao-China railway is a signature part of that effort. This regional rail connectivity will help Laos to realise its decades-long ambition of transforming itself from a landlocked country to a land link or a land bridge for the region, creating favourable conditions for the nation to become more prosperous.

China expects to use the China-Asean railway as an alternative route for export products to Asean due to cheap transportation costs while Asean countries will be able to reciprocate. Also, it will make travel between the two countries cheaper and easier compared with the expensive air-flight and time-consuming coach.

Highlights of the China-Laos Railway

The journey starts from Kunming and passes through the Mopan Mountains, Ailao Mountains, Yuanjiang River, Lancang River, southern Yunnan mountains and northern Laos mountains. Along the way are stunning views of high mountains, deep valleys, primitive upland forests and rainforests as well as some minority villages.

Here are some of the main stops with travel highlights:

  • Kunming: This is the capital city of Yunnan province which is famous for its Stone Forest, Dianchi Lake, Dounan Flower Market among other attractions. It also offers convenient trains and flights to Dali and Lijiang.
  • Pu’er: This is where Pu’er tea originated from with ancient tea plantations. Taiyanghe Forest Park here has red pandas, deer lazy lorises and rhinoceroses.
  • Xishuangbanna: Known as China’s Chiang Mai due to its Buddhist temples and pagodas; Wild Elephant Valley; Dai minority culture; rainforest experiences among others.
  • Mohan: This is the last stop in China before crossing over into Laos. There are several ethnic minority villages around including Dai Hani.
  • Boten: This marks the first stop in Laos after crossing over from China.
  • Luang Prabang: Famous for being a millennium Buddha capital that must be visited during a tour of Laos. Here you can find Xieng Thong Temple Kuangsi Waterfalls morning market Royal Palace Museum among other attractions.
  • Vang Vieng: Known for its beautiful scenery often referred to as little Guilin making it an ideal place for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
  • Vientiane: As the capital city of Laos this place boasts Vientiane Arc de Triomphe Great Buddha Temple amongst other attractions.

Kunming – Vientiane Railway

The Kunming – Vientiane Railway is consist of three parts of railways:

  1. Kunming – Yuxi railway (Kunming – Yuxi train, 0.5-1 hrs)
  2. Yuxi – Mohan railway (Yuxi – Mohan train)
  3. Boten – Vientiane railway (Mohan – Boten – Vientiane train)
Stations Pinyin  CN Name
Kunming Kunming 昆明
Kunming South Kunmingnan 昆明南
Yuxi West Yuxixi 玉溪
Yanhe Yanhe 研和
Eshan Eshan 峨山
Huanian Huanian 花念
Yuanjiang Yuanjiang 元江
Mojiang Mojiang 墨江
Ning’er Ninger 宁洱
Pu’er Puer 普洱
Yexianggu Yexianggu 野象谷
Xishuangbanna Xishuangbanna 西双版纳
Ganlanba Ganlanba Ganlanba 橄榄坝
Mengla Mengla Mengla 勐腊
Mohan Railway Station (China) Mohan 磨憨 磨憨
Boten (Laos) 磨丁
Mueang Xai 孟塞
Luang Prabang 琅勃拉邦
Mueang Kasi 嘎西
Vang Vieng 万荣
Vientiane 万象
China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train
China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train

Kunming – Vientiane Train Schedule

The direct train from Kunming to Vientiane is scheduled to begin operating on April 13, 2023, according to the official 12306 China Railway. The train will depart once daily from Kunming South Railway Station (Kunmingnan) and arrive at Vientiane Railway Station, with stops at Pu’er Railway Station, Xishuangbanna Railway Station, Mohan Railway Station in China, as well as Boten Station, Luang Prabang Station and Vang Vieng Station in Laos. The entire journey is expected to take approximately 10 hours and 30 minutes.

If you want to know more details, please click Kunming (Yunnan/China) to Vientiane (Laos) Bullet Train Schedules and Timetables.

Besides direct trains, there are other trains that stop at different stations for you to choose from or stop at. If you want to know more details, please click Kunming-Mohan Train Schedules of China-Laos Railway and Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Boten Train Schedule of China-Laos Railway.

How to Book or Buy Train Tickets

Trans-Asia Discovery can help book international train tickets from Kunming to Vientiane all year round (RMB 780 per person), and can also do visa and hotel booking on behalf of travellers, and help make the connection between the railway station and the border crossing between China and Laos to ensure the efficiency of customs clearance and quality travel.

There is a bullet train directly from China to Lao: Kunming – Pu’er – Xishuangbanna – Mohan – Boten – Luang Prabang – Vang Vieng – Vientiane.

You can buy train tickets at the eight stations as list above or online. You need to show your paper ticket when you check-in.

1. Buy online with official China Railway 12306

12306 China Railway is China’s only official online train ticketing platform, where you can check the real-time train schedule, booking rail tickets and managing your rail journey within every part of mainland China and Hong Kong. It has launched English version website since November of 2020, allowing foreign travelers to book tickets directly with their passports and credit cards.

2. Buy tickets with online ticket agents and are the two recommended and trusted online ticket agents on Trip Advisor forum. Lots of foreign travelers had use their websites to check live train schedule and book ticekt with them. They even provide ticket delivery service. You can read some reviews on Trip Advisor before using them.

3. Buy tickets at train station

You can also buy train tickets in person at any train station in China with your passports and cash. Don’t expect the train station staffs to speak any English. In Mohan, you can buy the domestic train tickets or international train tickets in Mohan Railway Station.

4. Buy tickets on a phone APP

LCR Ticket APP is the official phone application for booking Laos rail tickets. It is owned by Laos-China Railway Co. Ltd. (LCR) and offer services in 3 languages: the Chinese, English and Laotian. With the app, passengers can check real-time schedule, purchase tickets, and make online payment and ticket refund, etc. It has both Android and iOS versions. Check: LCR Ticket Android or LCR Ticket iOS.

Children’s Tickets:

Children who are under 1.2 meters in height and accompanied by an adult with a valid travel ticket can travel for free if they do not require a seat. However, if they occupy a seat, a child ticket (usually at half price) is required.

How to Board the Train

To board the trains, you will require valid passports or Chinese ID and paper tickets. We recommend that you arrive at the train station at least one hour before departure to allow enough time for security checks, locating your waiting room, queuing at the ticket gate, and reaching the platform to board the train. Boarding doors will close 5 minutes prior to departure, and no further boarding will be permitted.

Luggage Allowances

  • Adult: 20 kg
  • Child (including those with a free ticket): 10 kg
  • Diplomat: 35 kg
  • Baggage size: the three dimensions’ total cannot exceed 130 cm, i.e. medium suitcase size, typically 60x43x26 cm (24x17x10.5”)

Folding wheelchairs can be taken on the train without weight and size limits.

China-Laos Train Features

  • The article describes the features of the China-Laos train, which includes multilingual services in Chinese, Lao and English.
  • The charging points on the train have both Chinese and Laos sockets.
  • There are two special seats for disabled passengers with SOS call buttons.
  • Five colors of Chinese knot are used to distinguish various passengers based on their needs – blue for elderly passengers, yellow for children, green for sick passengers, purple for disabled passengers and red for pregnant passengers.
  • Digital luggage trackers are also available on the trains that can be paired with cell phones to receive warnings if luggage is moved beyond a certain distance from its rack.
  • Wi-Fi is available throughout China trains as well.

    China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train
    China-Laos Railway and High Speed Bullet Trains Train

Other China – Southeast Asia Railways

China and Southeast Asia share strong cultural, economic, and geographical connections. As a result, train travel between these regions is anticipated to grow in popularity. Currently, the China-Laos Railway and China-Vietnam Railway are the only two established routes. The China-Laos Railway will also pave the way for the Sino-Thai Railway. In the near future, it may be possible to take a high-speed train from Kunming to Bangkok via Vientiane.

How to travel between Yunnan and Laos Currently

Laos-Yunnan by Flight

There are 3-4 daily non-stop flights flying from Vientiane to Kunming and 1 direct flight flying from Luang Prabang to Kunming.

Flight Number Routes Airlines Departure Time Arrival Time Duration
3U8710 Vientiane-Kunming Sichuan Airlines 10:30 13:15 1h45m
MU2590 Vientiane-Kunming China Eastern Airlines 10:50 13:25 1h35m
MU2590 Vientiane-Kunming China Eastern Airlines 15:50 18:30 1h40m
QV815 Vientiane-Kunming Laos Airlines 07:25 09:50 1h25m
MU2562 Luang Prabang-Kunming China Eastern Airlines 15:45 18:00 1h15m

Laos-Yunnan Coaches

The Laos – China bus service is available for Yunnan, the border province of China. Buses from Laos to China go to Meng La, Jing Hong and Kunming prefecture, in Yunnan province (the province that shares a border with Phongsaly Province in Laos). There are coaches running from Vientiane to Kunming via Luang Prabang. Six coaches are available from Luang Prabang to Jinghong city of Xishuangbanna. Please note that some of the coaches are not daily and contact us for the coach information before you go.

1) direct bus from LPB to Kunming(sleeper)–about 24 hours
2) direct bus Oudomxai to Meng La(day bus)
3) direct bus Oudomxai to Jinghong(day bus)–about 8.5 hours
4) direct bus LNT to Meng La(day bus)
5) direct bus LNT to Jinghong(day bus)

Transportation in Yunnan:

Yunnan Travel by Air

Rail Transport in Yunnan

Roads in Yunnan