The Australian government travel advisory website, Smartraveller, has upgraded its travel advice for Laos, advising Australians exercise caution when entering Bokeo Province.
According to the website, travel advice for Laos has been reviewed in light of criminals, drug traffickers, and other people pursuing illegal activities.
“We’ve reviewed our advice for Laos. We now advise you exercise a high degree of caution in Bokeo Province along the border with Myanmar, Thailand, and around the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone,” the new advice reads.
It notes that employment scams and other criminal activities operate in these border areas, but suggests that advice for other areas of Laos has not changed.
“For other areas of Laos, we continue to advise exercising normal safety precautions overall,” says the statement.
We’ve reviewed our advice for #Laos. We now advise you exercise a high degree of caution in Bokeo Province. We continue to advise exercise normal safety precautions overall. Higher levels apply in some areas. Read more and subscribe: https://t.co/nxilkXmcTU@AusAmbLaos
— Smartraveller (@Smartraveller) November 16, 2022
Several embassies in Laos have issued warnings to their citizens against travel to the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in recent months after a wave of international reports on kidnapping, extortion, and other crimes in the area.
Citizens of countries as far away as Taiwan, India, and Kenya have recently been freed from the zone in Bokeo, with assistance from authorities in Laos.
Families of victims in Malaysia held a protest outside the Embassy of Laos in Kuala Lumpur in September after reports emerged that over 700 Malaysian citizens were believed to be trapped in the Golden Triangle. Eight Malaysians managed to escape with assistance from local people in early October.
Most of the victims have been duped into employment by call center gangs promising a high salary and benefits, only to find themselves trapped and forced to work long hours pursuing victims for online scams.