Tag Archives: free

Thailand May Reinstate Land Border Entry for Expats in Neighboring Countries

Thailand Visas

Could the cross-border retail and recreation-related dreams of foreign expatriates, non-diplomats and other non-Lao-non-ASEAN-passport-holding residents in Laos be about to come true across the Mekong in Thailand once again visa-free?

Laos’ near neighbour is reportedly considering removing the restrictions on land border entry affecting foreign expatriates in neighbouring countries including Laos for an initial period of two months, both The Nation and Bangkok Post reported on November 14.

Bangkok Post's List of Planned Changes includes a proposed lift on restrictions affecting expatriate residents of Laos.

Bangkok Post’s List of Planned Changes includes a proposed lift on restrictions on land border entry, potentially improving connectivity for expatriate residents of Laos.

The move would loosen restrictions that have been in place since December 31, 2016 as reported by Laotian Times.

The reported move from the country’s cabinet Tuesday comes amid efforts by Thailand’s policymakers to attract more visitor arrivals.

Other proposed measures also include double-entry visas for six months and special discounts at Thai malls under the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale: Passport Privileges” campaign that continues from November 15 to January 15, 2019.

Since the start of 2017, limits on land border entry have affected foreign non-ASEAN passport holding expatriates (including those eligible to a visa-waiver), restricting them to just two single visa-free entries on arrival via the country’s land border points per year.

It remains to be seen whether the mooted liberalization will come in the form of carving out an exemption for foreign expatriates or result in the removal of the two-times-per-year land border entry restriction entirely.

Either way, a loosening on the restriction is likely to be welcome news, particularly to those for whom visa application processes and fees have proved onerous enough to prevent them from regularly visiting otherwise accessible destinations located on the far side of mighty Mekong.

Thai Visas

Viettel (Unitel in Laos) Pioneers Free Roaming in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

Vietnam’s giant telecom levels call and data charges between three ASEAN neighbors.

HO CHI MINH CITY — Vietnam’s state-owned telecom Viettel will eliminate overseas roaming charges between its operators in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from January 2017.

“Users of Metfone in Cambodia, Unitel in Laos and Viettel in Vietnam will be charged at the local mobile fee when they make cross-border calls to each other,” said Nguyen Manh Hung, Viettel’s managing director, who regards the three countries as an economic and cultural bloc.

Discussions about free roaming services started years ago in Australia, Europe, and New Zealand, but without bearing fruit. Free roaming within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has also been discussed by regional ministers since 2013.

Viettel has well-established infrastructure in the three countries, and is the first telecom to launch such a service within a regional economic bloc, promising cheaper cross-border rates for calls and data.

In a statement released on Thursday, Viettel said it expected its individual operators to lose some revenue initially with the reduced charges, but provided no figures. The figure could be 2% according to one Europe model in 2013. Viettel expects users to become more active when they travel if they can continue paying domestic rates.

Military-run Viettel posted revenue of $9.7 billion in 2015 with 13% year-on-year growth, and profits up 8% to $2 billion.

As of September 2016, Viettel had 90 million customers, of which 26 million were in nine overseas markets: Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Haiti, Laos, Mozambique, Peru, Tanzania, and Timor Leste. Viettel has targeted 25 countries by 2020.

Cambodia and Laos were Viettel’s first foreign ventures, and remain its most profitable. By August, Unitel in Laos had $1 billion in accumulated revenue over seven years and aggregate profit of $300 million. Unitel has a brand value of $132 million, making it one of the 30 most valuable in the region and top in Laos, according to a report by UK-based Brand Finance in April. The company currently has more than 2.5 million customers. It accounts for 47% of Laos’s mobile market and 35% of the broadband market.

Metfone in Cambodia has a brand value of $94 million and is the leading mobile service provider in the country with 5.5 million customers and 37% market share. It recorded $256 million in revenue last year.

Viettel already operates in East Timor, and is about to launch in Myanmar with a $1.5 billion commitment and two local partnerships. It is also believed to be negotiating its entry into Indonesia.

Viettel is targeting $1.5 billion in gross revenue from its overseas markets this year, up from $660 million in 2015. This has been driven by expansion of profitable third- and fourth-generation services. Overseas revenues were up 13% year on year in the first half of 2016.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

Free HIV/AIDS Treatment Centre Opens in Vientiane

The Ministry of Health recently opened a new unit to treat people living with HIV/AIDS at Mittaphab Hospital in Vientiane.

The unit comprises patients’ rooms, a laboratory, a counselling room, a pharmacy and other facilities.

The unit’s primary focus is to provide patients with advice on sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and other related issues.

Director of the Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI, Dr Bounpheng Philavong, said at the opening ceremony the unit plans to distribute information on the risks of HIV to the public.

The unit also plans to run awareness campaigns, which especially target young people, with an added focus on adolescents and sex workers. They will be invited to participate in various activities to help them better understand HIV and AIDS.

Some 11,000 people are estimated to carry the HIV infection in Laos. Fully 7,000 of them have not received treatment and 100 have recently died. Over 4,000 people living with HIV, including 227 children, have received treatment with antiretroviral drugs.

We believe the alarming increase in the rate of HIV infection is due to the fact more people are becoming aware of the dangers of the disease and are turning up at clinics and hospitals for testing, Dr Bounpheng said.

According to the Centre for HIV/AIDS/STI in Vientiane, there are 10 units that treat HIV/AIDS free of charge, including two units in Vientiane at Setthathirath and Mitthaphab Hospitals, in addition to clinics in the provinces of Khammuan, Savannakhet, Champassak, Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Bokeo and Huaphan.

According to UNAIDS, at the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV globally, including 3.4 million children under the age of 15.

There were 2.7 million new HIV infections across the globe in 2010, including 390,000 among children over 15 years of age.

Globally, the annual num ber of newly infected peop le with HIV continues to decline, although there is stark regional variation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the newly infected people live, an estimated 1.9 million people became infected in 2010.


Source: Vientiane Times

Lao, French Medics to Provide Free Treatment in XiengKhuang

A medical team from the Lao-French Medical Association is advising people with cleft lips and palates, and people who have problems with their ears and mouth, diabetes or heart disease, to register for free surgery and treatment at the provincial hospital in XiengKhuang province.

Registration is now open and those interested should call hospital officials on 020 55761649, 020 22477787 or 061 213448.

Free treatment for people with the above conditions will take place from November 7-18, while free cleft lip and palate surgery will be performed from November 21-25.

Provincial hospital official Dr Xaysomboun Yayongyia told Vientiane Times a medical team from the association had been providing free surgery and treatment in XiengKhuang province for the past 10 years. More than 20 people, both children and adults, have benefitted from the programme each year.

He explained that surgery and treatment can only take place at the provincial hospital. Patients from remote areas and neighbouring provinces can register on weekdays for free surgery or treatment, but cannot be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Over 60 people have registered so far and the medical team will select those who meet the criteria for surgery.

In the past 10 years, people from Borikhamxay, Oudomxay, Bokeo, LuangPrabang and Huaphan have come to XiengKhuang provincial hospital to get free surgery and treatment, Dr Xaysomboun said.

About 20 Lao and French doctors and nurses will carry out the surgery this year, undertaking four procedures each day.

Hospital officials say that about 1,000 people, both children and adults, in XiengKhuang province are in need of assistance with these conditions.

People with cleft lips and palates have already undergone free surgery by local medical staff in conjunction with teams from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, Republic of Korea and Thailand.

Last year, a medical team led by doctors from Interplast Australia and New Zealand provided free surgery for people in XiengKhuang province suffering from burn scar contractures and cleft lips and palates. More than 90 people received free surgery under the programme last year.


Source: Vientiane Times

More Oudomxay Villagers Get Free Health Checks

More than 6,000 people in eight remote villages of Houn district in Oudomxay province recently received free dental, ear, nose and throat (ENT) and eye examinations, along with general health checks.

Microsoft Provides Free Online Courses to Lao Students

Microsoft has concluded an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in Vientiane yesterday to provide more than 2,500 free online courses to Lao students.

Three Villages in Borikhamxay Announced as Open-defecation Free

Three villages in Borikhamxay province – Houayhai, Tapae and Pameuang in Pakkading, Borikhan and Viengthong districts – have now been officially announced as open- defecation free.

Laos Remains Free From Dengue Outbreaks So Far

Laos has been quite silent this year in regards to any potential dengue fever outbreaks even as some countries in ASEAN are still facing rising dengue infections.