Survey Complete for Vientiane-Luang Prabang Expressway Link

Lao-China Expressway near Vang Vieng, Vientiane Province (Photo: Hobo Maps)

The survey and preliminary design of an expressway, linking Vangvieng district in Vientiane province to Luang Prabang province, have been finalized. This development signals an important advancement in Phase 2 of the Laos-China expressway construction, which aims to connect Vientiane to Boten in Luang Namtha on the Chinese border.

The completion of Phase 1 of the Laos-China expressway in 2021 saw the inauguration of a 109-kilometer highway stretching northwards from Vientiane Capital to Vangvieng.

During the 2023 Transport Works Summary Meeting on 9 April, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Lan Sengaphone highlighted the focused efforts on building major highways and stressed the importance of finishing the proposed expressway connecting Vientiane Capital to Boten.

The expressway section from the capital to Vangvieng represents only 9.3 percent of the extensive Vientiane-Boten expressway. This expressway’s construction is divided into four phases.

Phase 2, from Vangvieng to Luang Prabang, has now concluded the survey and preliminary design phase. Meanwhile, Phase 3, extending from Luang Prabang Province to Oudomxay Province, is currently in the process of formulating development cooperation agreements with investors.

As for Phase 4, spanning from Oudomxay to Boten, a Memorandum of Understanding on construction has been initially signed with investors, with ongoing efforts to renew and update it.

The expressway connecting Vientiane Capital to Vangvieng has become highly popular, significantly cutting travel time between the capital and the tourism hub to just one hour, a substantial decrease from around 3.5 hours, facilitating day trips to the picturesque riverside town.

Additionally, the Vientiane-Vangvieng section of the China-Laos expressway is the first joint venture between the Lao government and China’s Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding (YCIH) Group, with YCIH holding a 95 percent investment stake and the Lao government contributing the remaining 5 percent of costs.

The expressway, operated under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model for a duration of 50 years,  represents a collaborative effort aimed at enhancing infrastructure and connectivity between Laos and China.