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Ocean and Air Shipping From China to Vietnam

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Updated on 28 Nov 202114 min read

China and Vietnam share a 1,281 km border and a turbulent history. In recent years, however, economic and trade relations have moved in a positive direction. The trade turnover between the two countries is increasing, and Vietnam is developing into an attractive investment destination for Chinese businesses.

If you are looking to import from China to Vietnam, then you are in good company. The Asian giant is currently Vietnam’s biggest trade partner and its largest source of imports. As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Vietnam is also China’s fifth-largest export market.

This page is written to help add simplicity and success for businesses importing from China to Vietnam. It features profiles of key airports and seaports in both China and Vietnam and guidance to minimise the complexities of customs clearance.

Know Your Options for Shipping Freight From China to Vietnam

Warehouse operative pushing a trolley, stacked with boxes, from the Flag of China towards the flag of Vietnam

In addition to land transport, ocean and air shipping from China to Vietnam can be appealing options to serve your logistics needs. Both countries have long coastlines with several international ports, as well as many international airports. The vicinity of the two countries makes for short transit times, which benefits businesses with a time-strapped supply chain.

Ocean Freight From China to Vietnam

Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL ocean shipping, your cargo shares container space with products from other companies importing from China to Vietnam. LCL is typically the most cost-effective method for businesses with smaller consignments to ship.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL shipping you get exclusive use of a shipping container. Your goods will travel fully sealed in their container from origin to destination. An FCL shipment can not only be quicker than LCL, but also less expensive.

Air Freight from China to Vietnam

Air freight is by far the quickest way to export from China to Vietnam. Some shipments can be completed in just four days. However, it’s the most expensive way to ship freight.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From China to Vietnam?

The ultimate cost of shipping your goods from China to Vietnam will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The nature of the goods
  • The chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • The weight of the cargo
  • The dimensions of the cargo
  • The distance between origin and destination
  • The delivery terms

Unsure whether to choose air or ocean freight? If your consignment weighs less than 100 kg, you might discover that there is little difference between the cost of air freight and LCL ocean freight. For cargo above 100 kg, ocean shipping typically becomes more economical.

If your shipment weighs less than 35 kilograms, you might want to opt for an international courier service, rather than engaging a freight forwarder. Shipa Freight does not provide services for cargo in this weight bracket.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From China to Vietnam?

The time taken to ship goods from China to Vietnam, together with the price, is often a significant factor when deciding on a mode of transportation.

Naturally, air freight is the quickest option, with transit times between China and Vietnam ranging from four to eight days. Ocean freight transit times, on the other hand, can vary significantly depending on the distance between the origin and destination ports. You can expect shipping durations anywhere between seven and 31 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From China to Vietnam?

Here are a few examples of transit times for routes that Shipa Freight operates between China and Vietnam:

  • Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh City – 8 days FCL, 14 days LCL
  • Guangzhou to Ho Chi Minh City – 14 days FCL
  • Shenzhen to Ho Chi Minh City – 24 days FCL
  • Huangpu to Ho Chi Minh City – 24 days FCL, 16 days LCL
  • Lianyungang to Haiphong – 31 days FCL
  • Jiangmen to Haiphong – 7 days FCL, 5 days LCL
  • Shanghai to Haiphong – 13 days FCL, 7 days LCL
  • Dalian to Ho Chi Minh City - 31 days FCL
  • Qingdao to Haiphong - 7 days FCL
  • Tianjin to Haiphong - 13 days FCL
  • Zhongshan to Ho Chi Minh City - 27 days FCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From China to Vietnam?

Although flights from China to Vietnam take just a few hours, the full shipment process takes several days. The transit time for air cargo includes customs and security checks, as well as loading and unloading of the cargo.

Here are a few examples of transit times for typical air freight routes between China and Vietnam:

  • Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh – 4 days
  • Shenzhen Ho Chi Minh – 8 days
  • Shanghai to Hanoi – 5 days
  • Beijing to Hanoi – 8 days
  • Guangzhou to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh - 7 days

Customs Clearance in China and Vietnam

Customs clearance can seem like an intimidating process, especially if it is your first time exporting from China to Vietnam. A freight forwarder can take the weight off your shoulders by providing the necessary guidance and expertise to ensure your consignment complies with the rules.

Even when you hire a forwarder, you will still need to provide compulsory documentation that customs officials in China and Vietnam will almost certainly want to see:

  1. A Commercial Invoice
  2. A Packing List
  3. A Certificate of Origin
  4. A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  5. An Airway Bill for air cargo or a Bill of Lading for ocean freight (you can leave this to Shipa Freight)

This document list page features examples and detailed explanations of the paperwork mentioned above. You might need to provide additional paperwork such as a permit, certificate, or license. A lot depends on the nature of the goods you intend to ship.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Sea freight is a great option if your supplier is located near a major Chinese port. If you choose this as a means to ship your freight, it will be transported by a carrier in a shipping container from China to Vietnam.

A cargo vessel will carry your goods in a 20-foot or 40-foot container from China to Vietnam, unless your shipment is not suitable for a standard container unit. Your forwarder will advise if your freight requires a different type of container, such as a ventilated or refrigerated unit.

Your forwarder can also help you decide whether FCL or LCL is the best mode of ocean shipping for your goods. Below, we outline the pros and cons of each:

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

DO consider LCL shipping if:

  • Your consignment is small—no more than six standard pallets
  • Your freight isn’t needed in Vietnam urgently
  • Your products are safe to ship inside a shared container
  • You can accept the extra logistics (consolidation and deconsolidation) that may cause your shipment to take longer when compared to FCL shipping

DON’T consider LCL if:

  • Your recipient urgently requires the goods by a specific date
  • Your goods are unsuitable for sharing a container
  • Your products are delicate and could be damaged during the frequent moving and handling involved in LCL shipping

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Using an FCL service to ship a container from China to Vietnam could be ideal if:

  • Your delivery must reach Vietnam by a specified date
  • Your freight cannot share a container due to its size, weight, shape, or other reasons
  • Your supplier can load and seal a container
  • Your recipient has the facilities to unload a container
  • Your consignment will fill at least half the capacity of a 20ft container

Air Freight

If you need your cargo to reach Vietnam quickly, then air shipping might be the best option for you. It is considerably faster and more flexible than ocean freight, especially given the daily flights from China to just about any main airport in Vietnam.

However, flying your goods can be much more expensive than sending them via sea.

You should consider air shipping if:

  • Speed of delivery is key
  • Cost is a secondary consideration
  • Your goods are perishable so need to be shipped quickly
  • Your cargo is relatively small—occupying no more than three pallets
  • Your freight is safe to ship aboard an aircraft
  • Your consignment is high value, requiring the tight security measures provided by airlines and airport operators

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in China


Port Facts:

  • The world’s busiest container port and China’s most important foreign trade gateway
  • Home to the largest automated container terminal
  • Located close to the city of Shanghai facing the East China Sea
  • Convenient for any supplier or manufacturer situated in the Zhejiang or Jiangsu provinces
  • Infrastructure comprises a deep-sea port and a river port

Owned By: Shanghai International Port Company Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >40 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • A collection of several ports spread along Shenzhen city’s 260 kilometer coastline
  • Close to Macau and Hong Kong
  • Serves over 220 international routes
  • Facilities include around 140 berths
  • Continuously in the top five of the world’s largest container ports

Owned By: Shenzhen government.

Annual Container Volume: >25.2 million TEUs.


Guangzhou (Nansha)

Port Facts:

  • Located in the heart of the Pearl River Delta with access to the South China Sea
  • One of China’s major commercial and trading ports
  • Ideal if your supply chain involves the movement of goods from Guangdong province
  • Connected by direct routes to Europe, South East Asia, Australia, as well as North and South America

Owned By: Guangzhou Port Group Co.

Annual Container Volume: >15 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the Minjiang River on the southeastern coast of Fujian
  • Faces the Taiwan Strait
  • This is the closest Chinese port to Taiwan
  • One of the ten busiest container ports in China
  • Direct express rail connection to inland China
  • Direct weekly services to Vietnam

Owned By: Fuzhou Port Group Corporation Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: > 3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located in the Yangtze Delta in China’s Jiangsu province.
  • Has been a major seaport since 229 AD.
  • The largest inland port in the world.
  • Direct rail services to Russia and central Europe.

Owned By: Nanjing Port (Group) Co Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.


Other Ports in China

In addition to the five ports mentioned above, Shipa Freight can also transport your freight from China via the following gateways:

  • Tianjin
  • Wuhan
  • Chongqing
  • Lianyungang
  • Qinzhou
  • Shantou
  • Zhuhai
  • Zhongshan
  • Xiamen
  • Qingdao
  • Ningbo-Zhoushan
  • Dalian

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Port Facts:

  • A network of ports located on the Saigon river
  • Also known as Saigon port
  • Largest port in Vietnam and the 25th-busiest container port in the world
  • Busy hub for import and export in Vietnam’s most important economic center

Owned By: Saigon Newport Company.

Annual Container Volume: >6 million TEUs.


Vung Tau

Port Facts:

  • Located in the Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province in southeast Vietnam
  • Includes the ports of Cai Mep, Phu My, Dinh river, and Ben Dam
  • Around 50 kilometers from Vietnam’s commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City

Owned By: Vung Tau Commercial Port J.S Co.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Established in 1876 and located near Haiphong City
  • Northern Vietnam’s main port
  • Recently opened a deep-water port to accommodate larger vessels

Owned By: Hai Phong Port Joint Stock Company.

Annual Container Volume: >1.15 million TEUs.


Da Nang

Port Facts:

  • Located in central Vietnam on the Han River, facing the South China Sea
  • Made up of two terminals and a freight warehouse
  • Marks the end of the East-West economic corridor, linking Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam

Owned By: Danang Port.

Annual Container Volume: >600,000 TEUs.


Qui Nhon

Port Facts:

  • Major port of Vietnam’s Bình Định Province.
  • Most accessible port for Vietnam’s central highlands as well as parts of Cambodia and Laos.
  • Over ten direct routes to international ports.

Owned By: Quy Nhon Port Joint Stock Company.

Annual Container Volume: >130,000 TEUs.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in China

Shanghai Pudong

Airport Facts:

  • Third busiest cargo airport globally.
  • Named world’s top cargo airport in 2019 by Air Cargo World.
  • An Asia-Pacific cargo hub for FedEx, UPS, and DHL.
  • Planned expansion will increase capacity to six million tons of freight per year.

Vietnam Airports Served: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Shanghai to Vietnam Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in the Pearl River Delta, 32 km northwest of the city of Shenzhen.
  • Handled more than 1.2 million tons of cargo in 2018.
  • 24th busiest cargo airport in the world.
  • A major hub for cargo airlines UPS and SF Airlines.

Vietnam Airports Served: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Shenzhen to Vietnam Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • The main airport for Guangzhou in the Guangdong province.
  • China’s third busiest airport and the 19th busiest cargo airport globally
  • Asia-Pacific hub for FedEx.
  • Infrastructure includes two terminals and three runways

Vietnam Airports Served: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Guangzhou to Vietnam Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in the Sichuan province, 16 kilometers southwest of Chengdu.
  • Important cargo hub for western China.
  • Fourth-busiest cargo airport in China.
  • Operates flights to more than 50 international and 170 domestic destinations.

Vietnam Airports Served: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Chengdu to Vietnam Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in China’s Hubei province, 26 kilometers from the city of Wuhan.
  • The busiest airport in central China.
  • Facilities include two runways and one terminal, with a second being under construction.

Vietnam Airports Served: Ho Chi Minh City

Wuhan to Vietnam Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in China

In addition to the five airports mentioned above, Shipa Freight can send your air freight to Vietnam from the following Chinese airports:

  • Qingdao
  • Xiamen
  • Beijing
  • Zhengzhou
  • Shanghai Hongqiao

Airports of Arrival in Vietnam


Airport Facts:

  • Noi Bai International Airport is the largest airport in Vietnam in terms of total capacity.
  • Located 45 kilometers northeast of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.
  • Handled more than 700,000 tons of cargo in 2017.

Connected Airports in China: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai.

China to Hanoi Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Ho Chi Minh City

Airport Facts:

  • Tan Son Nhat International Airport is the busiest airport in Vietnam.
  • Located six kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Over 550,000 tons of cargo handled in 2017.
  • Plans for a new airport are underway, which will feature a designated cargo terminal.

Connected Airports in China: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xiamen.

China to Ho Chi Minh City Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Ocean and Air Shipping From China to Vietnam: Why Shipa Freight?

No matter which mode of transport you choose, Shipa Freight can remove the complexity involved in importing from China to Vietnam. With our easy-to-use online portal, you can now handle your entire shipment process online.

Here are the key Shipa Freight benefits:

  • Receive and compare quotes quickly online
  • Place your booking directly online without losing time
  • Enjoy a simpler approach to shipping documentation with our integrated compliance engine
  • Manage all your imports and exports on one platform
  • Talk to a Shipa Freight representative whenever you need help—we’re available 24/7
  • Ensure compliance with shipping rules and regulations

The best thing is that you don’t need to coordinate multiple agencies to manage your shipping process. So why not give Shipa Freight a try? Simply fill out the form at the top of this page to get started.

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