Vietnam, China open short-term border crossing trips
Two towns in Vietnam and China have kicked off a pilot scheme to allow tourists to travel across the border by car with no visa restrictions.
The program, approved by the two governments, will run until January 11 next year.
Cars from China will be allowed to travel to Mong Cai in the northern province of Quang Ninh, while Vietnamese tourists visiting Dongxing City in China's Guangxi Province by car will be regulated by Chinese authorities, Vietnam's government portal said in a statement.
On Thursday, 20 cars from Vietnam and the same number from China crossed the international border gate at Mong Cai following an opening ceremony.
Only 9-seater cars and below are allowed through the gate. No more than 100 cars from each country can make the trip per day, and visitors can stay for no longer than three days, the statement said.
All cars from Vietnam will be under the management of the Hong Gai Tourism and Services Joint Stock Company appointed by Quang Ninh's provincial government.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said the country has received more than 2.2 million Chinese arrivals this year, up 55 percent from the same period last year.
China now accounts for roughly a quarter of all foreign visitors to Vietnam.
Short flights and a strong cross-border relationship between the countries have played an important role for tourism.
Most Chinese tourists to Vietnam enter via northern border provinces, particularly Quang Ninh, home to the much loved Ha Long Bay.