Mekong Eye

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Mekong subregion shapes up for tourism influx

Infrastructure and services demand seen rising sharply

Luang Prabang and Laos' tourist attraction Credit: Villa Saykham

By Peter Janssen

Luang Prabang, Laos, June 19, 2017

Nikkei Asian Review

Hundreds of cars from Yunnan, southern China, packed Luang Prabang’s streets during China’s “Golden Week” holiday earlier this year, as tourists flooded the city’s 5,000 hotel and guesthouse rooms. Yet, there is not a single traffic light in Luang Prabang, the laid-back former royal capital of Laos, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

“It was very dangerous,” said Seng Tong, a Luang Prabang mini-bus driver. “The Chinese don’t drive like we do. They drive crazy.”

Laos, a land-locked country of 6.8 million people, has opened up to cross-border travel from its three much larger neighbors: China, Thailand and Vietnam. Tourists from these countries can drive their own vehicles on Lao highways. The land access helps explain why Chinese tourists were the largest single market for Luang Prabang last year. They accounted for 13.5% of the 469,586 international travelers that visited the city, with many of them traveling by car from Yunnan province through the border crossing at Boten, Luang Namtha province, in Laos.

Read more at Nikkei Asian Review

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