VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Australia’s website Traveller has included Laos in its list of 10 best places among the 25 hottest destinations to visit this year, further putting the country in the global tourism spotlight.
“Anyone who has visited Laos in the past would know well its laidback charms, from the deeply cultural beauty of Luang Prabang to the adventure capital of Vangvieng to the youthful energy of Vientiane,” stated the website.
“What they would also know is the time necessary to get around this undulating, landlocked country, on winding roads aboard cramped minivans.”
However, things have changed. The opening of the Laos-China Railway in 2021 resulted in the improvement of accessibility, enabling tourists to spend less time travelling between Vientiane and the northern provinces.
The train calls at tourist hotspots including Vangvieng in Vientiane province, the Luang Prabang world heritage site, and Xay district in Oudomxay province, and has totally changed the game for independent travellers hoping to see the country quickly and comfortably.
“Vientiane to Luang Prabang, for example, takes two hours on the train – the drive is six-and-a-half hours. Get here and experience this country before everyone else does,” Australia’s website Traveller said.
The website included several Asian countries on the list, including Japan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
With China reopening to the outside world, experts believe many thousands of Chinese tourists will visit Laos using the Laos-China Railway.
This year the government aims to attract at least 1.4 million foreign tourists to Laos and plans to improve facilities and services to accommodate the surge in foreign visitors.
Last year’s records indicate that more than 1.68 million tourists made trips in Laos, equalling 85.5 per cent of the target set for 2022 and generating more than US$219 million in revenue.
Of this figure, 1.06 million people were Lao nationals, equalling 97.2 per cent of the target figure, while 644,756 foreign tourists visited Laos, equal to 71.63 per cent of the target. The number of travel companies currently stands at 592, with seven firms established last year.
In addition, more than 2,000 tour guides across the country are ready to assist visitors. Laos has been ranked by several media organisations as one of the world’s top travel destinations for 2023.
Just recently, the US-based multinational news channel CNN included Laos in its list of 23 best destinations to visit. In addition, National Geographic, one of the most widely read and respected magazines in the world, selected Laos among 25 breathtaking places to visit this year.
The Telegraph, a highly-regarded British newspaper, also named Laos in its list of 20 special places to visit in 2023.