Vietnam border overwhelmed by surge of Chinese tourists

The Vietnam-China border gate in Quang Ninh was overloaded when thousands of Chinese holidaymakers flocked to the Vietnamese province home to the famed Ha Long Bay to spend the weekend.

The Mong Cai border gate, the main entrance for Chinese tourists to the northern Vietnamese province, normally receives 8,000 to 10,000 entries a day, up to 3,000 of which are from China.

However, over the last weekend, the number of visitors passing Mong Cai spiked to 15,000 a day, with Chinese arrivals doubling to 5,000 on Saturday and Sunday, Luong Quang So, head of the border gate’s management board, said.

Tourists were seen queuing in long lines from the Chinese side to pass the gate, where they would tour Mong Cai City, Luon Cave and Ha Long Bay.

“Tourists from China usually come in larger numbers at this time every year, but this year’s surge is unprecedented,” So added.

“The border gate was overloaded for around 30 minutes due to the huge influx of tourists.”

Chinese tourists wait to pass the border gate to Quang Ninh Province.

Industry insiders attributed the unusual spike of Chinese arrivals to Quang Ninh to the fact that travel firms in China are offering affordable tours to the Vietnamese province at this time of the year, so middle-income Chinese holidaymakers have grabbed the opportunity to travel.

With Quang Ninh being one of the three Vietnamese provinces to feature in Hollywood movie ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ some speculated that tourists came in droves to Vietnam thanks to the ‘Kong effect.’

Despite a global premiere on March 10, Kong will not beat his chest in China until March 24, meaning it is unlikely that Chinese visitors are flocking to Quang Ninh because of the giant ape.

Duong Van Co, chairman of Mong Cai City, said the huge number of Chinese tourists overwhelmed the border gate for some time, but there were no security issues.

The good news is the surge in tourist numbers will add a considerable amount in terms of border entrance fees to the province’s budget, he added.

In 2016 Mong Cai earned more than VND230 billion (US$10.27 million) from its tourist entrance fees.