CHINA Railways has announced that China to Laos international passenger services have begun running from April 13, with one train per day in each direction making the border crossing.

The trains will operate between Kunming South and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, taking 10h 30min, including two stops for customs and immigration checks on both sides of the border. The border crossing also entails crossing a time zone, with the time in Laos being one hour earlier than the time in adjacent Yunnan.

The China - Laos service departs Kunming South as Train D887 at 08.08 China time. The service in the opposite direction departs Vientiane as Train D888 at 08.08 Laos time - with the number 8 being given such prominence as it is seen as being particularly auspicious in both countries, especially in China.

Both China Railway (CR) #RevivalGreen Lime Train and Laos-China Railway (LCRC) LanXang Express EMUs, manufactured by CRRC and first delivered and tested in Laos from autumn 2021 following completion of LCRC tracklaying, are operating the service. The EMUs operate at up to 160km/h and seat 720 passengers, including both first and second-class accommodation along with a dining car. Some vehicles marketed as “international carriages” will have their doors locked between the two termini. Onboard announcements will be made, and passenger information displayed, in English, Chinese and Laotian.

Tickets for the service, which went on sale from April 11, are available both on the CR website and on the LCRC mobile phone app. In China tickets can be bought at Kunming Main, Kunming South, Pu’er, Xishuangbanna and Mohan stations, while in Laos they can be obtained at Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Boten stations. First class tickets for the full journey are available for Yuan 760 ($US 110.57) while second-class tickets are priced at Yuan 470.

Both a passport and paper ticket/printout will be required to cross the border, and passengers are also advised to check visa and Covid-19 vaccination requirements, with the border stations being at Mohan in China and Boten in Laos.

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