Laos: Holiday hotspots bustle again as visitors return

Popular tourist sites in Luang Prabang Province and Vangvieng, Vientiane Province, are once again filled with activity following the opening of the Laos-China railway, which has brought thousands of people out of the capital for a welcome breath of fresh air.

More than 2,600 people, both Lao and foreign, visited Vangvieng district in December, spending more than 1 billion Laotian kip, according to the district’s information, culture and tourism office.

In anticipation of the return of tourists, district authorities have improved infrastructure, created new tourism products and taken steps to regulate the price of services and food. The quality of hotels and guesthouses is being checked and those that are considered to be substandard will not be allowed to reopen.

Vangvieng is a riverside town that offers a wide range of activities. There are festivals, stunning landscapes, and lots of exciting adventure opportunities. The Nam Xong river gives visitors the chance to kayak, float downstream in an inner tube, jump from rope swings, or rent a longtail boat for a spectacular trip. Other attractions include the Jang and Poukham caves, the blue lagoon and Kaeng Nyui waterfall, and zip-lines.

People are also returning to Luang Prabang province, especially on weekends, with most arriving by train. Tickets to this destination are sold out each day, including for first-class seats. Reveling in their new-found freedom after months of boredom in Vientiane while the COVID-19 outbreak held sway, people are making the most of the new railway and getting out and about, the Pathetlao Daily reported.

Luang Prabang authorities have restored and upgraded various popular tourist attractions as well as improved services and standards at hotels, guesthouses and restaurants to keep visitors satisfied. Vangvieng and Luang Prabang Province have been classified as green travel zones where foreign tourists are also now allowed to visit.

It is hoped that the move will attract at least 1.9 million domestic tourists and more than one million foreign visitors in 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sonexay Siphandone, who is also Minister of Planning and Investment, told the National Assembly.