VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Tourism is on the rebound in Huaphan province, with both Lao and foreign visitors coming to the remote northern area since Nongkhang airport opened in Xamneua district last month.
Deputy Head of the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mr Phouvan Phetmixay, told the Vientiane Times that many more visitors are coming to Huaphan than in previous years now that travel is much more convenient.
In the past the journey to Huaphan by road was long and tedious because of the mountainous terrain, but the new airport has put the province within easy reach of people wanting to travel from Vientiane, he said.
Director of Lao Airlines’ Commercial Department, Mr Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, said Lao Airlines is operating four flights a week between Vientiane and Huaphan on a trial basis.
The first flight to Huaphan took place on May 12 when Nongkhang airport first came into service, he added.
Hour-long flights depart Vientiane on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 12 noon, and return from Xamneua to Vientiane at 1:40pm.
Another flight departs Vientiane on Thursdays at 10:30am and returns from Xamneua at 12:10pm.
All of the flights so far have been full, Mr Noudeng said, with the first flight being especially popular.
Meanwhile, Lao Skyway carried out its first test flight from Vientiane to Xamneua on June 6.
Lao Skyway currently operates two flights a week from Vientiane to Xamneua, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 9:30am-10:30am.
The return flight from Xamneua on Tuesdays and Saturdays has a scheduled departure time of 11am, arriving in Vientiane at 12 noon.
Huaphan province is located in the far north of Laos, about 600km from Vientiane, and has many visitor attractions.
It is renowned for its stunning waterfalls, including Sa Lery, Tadloun and Phavang, as well as Tham Hang cave and the Hiem and Nam Meuang hot springs, the Hintang archaeological site, and the Nam Et-Phouleuy National Protected Area.
Huaphan is also home to Pha Thee Mountain and has a striking city pillar in the provincial capital.