Thailand and Laos have built a road to link Nan province in northern Thailand with Luang Prabang province via Hongsa town in Laos. The road will cut by half travel times between both towns and is likely to boost neighbouring tourism.
Lao PDR and Thailand continue to improve their connectivity with a new road just opened last week to traffic. The new dual-lane road from the border to the former Royal Capital will help cutting travel time from nine to five hours on average as the road also helps to reduce the total kilometres connecting both cities from 190 km to 114 km. The construction of the new infrastructure reached US$64.2 million with Thailand providing 80% of the money through loans and direct contribution.
Talking to the Bangkok Post, Perames Vudthitornetiraks, president of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency of Thailand, said the new road runs from Hongsa district in northwestern Laos to Luang Prabang, extending the road network from the Huai Kon border checkpoint in Nan province Chalerm Phrakiat district to Luang Prabang. He declared expecting to see an increase in visitors of 10 to 20 percent, especially from China, Vietnam and Europe. The road from Luang Prabang further connects with China via Route 3 and Vietnam via Route 4.
The new road will however dent into the classical circuit that tourists were taking until now. From Nan, travellers were driving up to Pakbeng, a small town on the Mekong River from where travellers were taking a boat to Luang Prabang. Many tourists were also spending an overnight at hotels and lodges in Pakbeng. The road could weight negatively on the activity of the small towns although the boat trip along the Mekong River is one of the highlights for tourists in the region.
In another development, the launching of a Visit Laos-China Year is having a positive effect on the country’s tourism evolution. According to the Ministry of Tourism, total arrivals from China during the first quarter grew by 16%.
(Partial sources: Bangkok Post and VNA)