My mainland China visa expires in a week. I can’t renew it, I have to leave the country and re-enter with a new visa. I have to do this once or twice a year, usually taking this chance to go to Hong Kong or Thailand. As recently as three months ago I took a trip to Macau for this reason, had had a fantastic time there.
The imminent question is – which border to cross?

I’m leaning towards a flight to Sanya, at the southern-most tip of Hainan Island, which is technically part of China, but lies just east of Vietnam’s Halong Bay. Sanya and Hainan Island are big tourist destinations for Chinese – the Hawaii of China, if you will. I’ve seen it many times on TV and read about it in some travel books. It’s a tropical island, except still China. Border areas where cultures collide are fascinating; I want to see the Chinese border to NK, Vietnam, and this visage of tropical China. After spending a few days there, I’d like to take a boat from Hainan to Vietnam, and take the slow overland route back to Chengdu. A few days in the Vietnamese capitol Hanoi, a train to the Chinese border (stopping at Sapa, 30 miles from the border first), and then a bus to Kunming in Yunnan Province in China. From there I can take a night train back to Chengdu. Below is a map where I’ve indicated the overland (red) and flight (blue) paths that I’ll take.