A newly paved road connecting the town of Vangvieng to Poukham cave is one of the key factors attracting more tourists to the area at present.
The asphalt road that was built last year and opened in April was funded by the tourism sector, which paved over 10km of road with the aim of promoting tourism on the other side of the Xong River.
The Blue Lagoon and Poukham cave are two of the biggest attractions in t he area and draw many domestic and foreign tourists who visit for the swimming or for a picnic.
Visitors also enjoy the 12 stations of zip lines through tall trees in the nearby forest as well as riding off-road quads to take in the landscape including the karst mountains and farmers who are now planting rice in their fields.
The road also permits tourists to ride their bicycles and motorbikes, allowing for even more access to traveling in the area.
Visitors get to experience the lifestyle of the locals living along the road where they grow their crops in fields and sell local fruit and vegetables surrounded by the beautiful scenery.
The Xong River is a highlight of the water activities in Vangvieng where tourists like kayaking, tubing, and swimming in the river which is not always as popular during the rainy season.
Head of the Vangvieng Tourism Office Mr. Bounmy Phommavongsa said yesterday “We have not only paved the road but we have also developed natural tourism sites here, especially the Poukham, Nang-Oua and Xang caves.”
“We plan to build cable cars from the Phangeun cliff to Poukham cave, which an investor has already surveyed and is in the process of getting permission to install,” he added.
On the other side of the Xong River, it seems that the number of restaurants, guesthouses and resorts has also increased.
One of these resorts is the Vieng Tara Villa, located in the heart of Vangvieng’s most beautiful rice paddies and the karst mountains.
Mr. Bounmy said to attract more tourists to Vangvieng the office also planned to pave the 8km of road from Road 13 North to the Keang-yui waterfall, which will be underway soon.
“Tourists are mainly Korean, Chinese and Thai in tour groups from Asia which are largely responsible for the surge in visitor numbers,” he said.
Mr. Bounmy said that over 90,000 people visited the area in the first six months of this year which is an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. Of these, 45 percent were European and 50 percent from Asia.
Mrs Noy, who sells food and drinks at a new extension area of the Poukham cave site, said “Since the road has been paved, many people visit the cave even in the rainy season. Most of them seem to be Korean and Chinese, while Lao people mostly come at weekends.”
According to a 2015 report by the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Vientiane province is in fourth place for the number of visitors with over 561,000 tourists, after Vientiane with over 1.7 million visitors, Savannakhet province with over 1.2 million, and Champassak province with over 611,000 visitors.
The statistics also showed that there were 1,957 listed tourist sites in Laos but that some of them required further development in order to cater to visitors.
Laos is now conveniently connected to many cities by air and land which makes it easier for people living overseas to visit the country.
It is forecasted that the number of tourist arrivals will reach over 5 million by the end of 2016 so transport authorities and tourism bodies will need to make sure that the transport options available to visitors are reliable.
Revenue from tourism last year reached over US$725,000, which was the third highest source of income in the country after the minerals sector with over US$1.2 million and other industries totaling over US$900,000 in revenue.
Source: Vientiane Times