|Yunnan, China||Hekou||2002.04.26 - 04.27|
Border Crossing to China
Hekou, on the border with Vietnam, has everything one needs to begin travel in China. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China exchanges Vietnamese Dong for Chinese Yuan (¥) at the current market rate. But first you need to bypass the freelance moneychangers on the Vietnamese and Chinese sides of the border who offer 20~30% worse rates. They insist that banks in Hekou don't accept Dong. At another bank, The Bank of China, the ATM is connected to Plus, Cirrus, Maestro, and Diners Club international networks.
Transportation from Hekou to other cities in China is straightforward. Destination cities, fares, and departure times are clearly posted at the bus and train stations. Unfortunately, none of the schedules are in English. Using a map with both English and Chinese characters, the Chinese can usually be compared visually to understand 90% of the posted information.
Immigration between Lao Cai, Vietnam and Hekou, Yunnan, China is trouble-free. Although the exit / entrance procedure on the Lao Cai side takes and unreasonable 20 minutes or more, no bribes are demanded. On the Hekou side, all immigration and customs procedures are quick and professional.
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