By Le Tan   October 10, 2023 | 07:16 am GMT+7

Vietnam, China resume self-driving tours along frontier

People walk at Mong Cai border gate in Quang Ninh Province. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

After more than three years of suspension due to Covid, self-driving tours at border areas between Vietnam and China are slated to resume at the end of this month.

The Mong Cai border crossing in the northern province of Quang Ninh will open to vehicular traffic on October 30. This will allow Vietnamese tourists to drive their automobiles to Nanning City in China, and Chinese tourists to drive to Ha Long in Vietnam.

Ha Long, home to a world heritage bay, is only around 150 kilometers from Mong Cai, while the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning, is about 600 kilometers away.

As China was Vietnam’s largest feeder tourism market before to the epidemic, this is all part of an agreement between Vietnamese and Chinese authorities to support tourism recovery.

Both the potential number of automobiles eligible for the program and implementation details remain undisclosed at this time.

It was only between Quang Ninh’s Mong Cai City and China’s Dongxing City that self-driving car excursions were permitted to operate when Vietnam and China began testing them in 2016.

One year after the program’s launch, 93 vehicles carrying 256 Chinese visitors arrived in Mong Cai City. The inverse was also true; 110 Vietnamese tourists traveled in 38 vehicles to Dongxing City.

Quang Ninh’s self-driving tour was only allowed to expand to Ha Long in 2018 thanks to approval from the Vietnamese government, while in 2017 the Chinese government authorized Vietnamese tourists to drive their automobiles to Guilin City.

Due to the spread of Covid-19, autonomous vehicle tours had to be put on hold.

More than 1.1 million Chinese visitors came to Vietnam in the first nine months of this year. At 28% of pre-pandemic levels, China was still Vietnam’s second-largest source of tourists, behind only South Korea.

Source: vnExpress