Tag Archives: travel

Angkor What? Explore Ancient Architecture on Smaller Scale At Savannakhet’s Stone House

Ancient Heritage That's Older Than Angkor: Savannakhet's Stone House Heuan Hin

Laotian Times‘ own Laotian Eye Takes A Look To Laos’ Pre-Angkorean Treasures Of The Ancient Khmer Empire At The Stone House Huean Hin On a Trip to Savannakhet Province.

Flying In: Singapore’s Scoot Swoops Into Laos’ Vientiane, World Heritage Listed Luang Prabang

Flying from Singapore to Laos and beyond just got easier after Scoot launched its inaugural flights from the city-state to the jewel of the Mekong.

The inaugural journey marks the start of a three-times-weekly service from Singapore to Luang Prabang and Vientiane.

The flight was reported in local media including The Laotian Times sister publication ລາວໂພສຕ໌ Laopost.

The addition of the two destinations in Laos brings to a total of 67 in Scoot’s network across 19 countries and territories.

It is also the only airline offering direct Singapore-Laos services after routes were transferred from sister airline SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines.

The routes will be operated with Scoot’s A320 aircraft.

To celebrate Scoot’s maiden flight to Laos, traditional Lao music was played over the sound system in the aircraft.

Passengers onboard were tested on their knowledge of Laos and Scoot in a fun quiz.

Five lucky passengers walked away with prizes including Scoot travel voucher valued at SGD100, a Scoot travel organizer, a Laos travel guide, Scoot-in-Style lounge access and for the kids, a Scoot Nano Brick Aircraft and Control Tower Playset.

The flights operate on a circular routing departing from Singapore for Luang Prabang, followed by Vientiane, before heading back to Singapore.

Chief Commercial Officer of Scoot Mr Vinod Kannan welcomed guests celebrating the inaugural flight.

“Laos is a hidden gem that is yet to be discovered by many and is the ideal destination for people looking to escape from the concrete jungle,” he said.

“With Vientiane and Luang Prabang joining our network, our customers now have more travel choices, and travelers from Laos can also explore more destinations around the world via Singapore.”

Upon landing at Luang Prabang Airport and Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, the A320 aircraft named Yellow Tail, was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute.

Travel Plans? Laos Set to Provide eVisa From June 2019

Laos EVisa Program Planned for June Implementation

Laos has announced it will begin offering electronic visas (eVisa) to foreign tourists and travelers from June this year.

Establishment of the eVisa program will commence in mid-2019, according to a Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice issued earlier this month dated March 11.

Laos' eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Laos’ eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The move comes as the government takes steps to modernize and ensure visa procedures are faster and more convenient for tourist visa applicants, according to the notice.

It is also another means by which the government hopes to attract more tourism to the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consular office is working with all other ministries and departments to ensure the comprehensive and timely development of the eVisa program.

The eVisa program, it is hoped, will allow foreign visitors greater access to information and more convenience in visa processing, and will assist in making the country more widely known among tourists.

It comes as policymakers and the private sector seek to capitalize on the benefits of improved connectivity and widen the range of offerings to attract valuable tourism and travel-related income and investment.

© The Laotian Times


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

Simple, Natural, Innovative As BambooLao Straws Slurp Up Tourism Award

Luang Prabang’s very own BambooLao has captured the top prize and a US$10,000 Innovation Grant in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge, which is described as “an elite travel startup competition, supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank, (including) Asia’s most prominent travel-specialized venture capitalists among its advisors.

“BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastics from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws and other bamboo utensils, using indigenous bamboo varieties and a proprietary natural treatment process.

“Their straws are used by Aman Group, Pullman, Rosewood Group, and Sofitel properties, as well as EXO Travel tours. BambooLao estimates their environmentally-friendly products have displaced the use of 5 million single-use plastic straws.”

MIST’s top prize comes with a USD10,000 innovation grant.



Winner of MIST’s 2018 Startup Accelerator, Laos’ Luang Prabang’s BambooLao.

“The MIST innovation grant will help us scale–up production from one to three villages. We must invest in capacity to meet growing international demand,” said BambooLao founder Arounothay Khoungkhakoune was reported as saying.

Bamboo Straws Production
Bamboo straw production a community process.

Vietnamese startup Ecohost reportedly captured MIST’s second prize and received a USD5,000 grant. Ecohost facilitates quality tourism experiences in the Vietnamese countryside, working with rural communities to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of local homestays to serve international guests.

“BambooLao, Ecohost, and other MIST finalists demonstrate how the Mekong region’s bright, innovative entrepreneurs are finding practical solutions to solve industry problems while striving to make tourism more inclusive and sustainable,” said Jens Thraenhart, co-organizer of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

According to the organisation, “MIST supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality, particularly startups that generate positive impacts for communities, culture, and the environment. The program’s five 2018 finalists refined their business acumen and pitching skills during MIST’s weeklong business fundamentals boot camp, five months of customized coaching by industry experts, and MIST pitch competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and ITB-Asia’s Mekong Travel Startup Forum in Singapore.”


Bangkok Beats

From electro-folk to gritty blues, the live music scene in Bangkok is one of the best in South East Asia…with a song for everyone to sing.

Sawai Kaewsombat has his hands wrapped around his khaen – the tips of his fingers dancing over the bamboo pipes as his cheeks fill with air. The sound the 76-year-old makes on the traditional mouth organ is trance-like. It’s accompanied by the equally hypnotic plucking of the phin (Asian lute). It’s the kind of music that has been performed for centuries in the heart of Laos, but this evening it’s being played in a dimly lit bar full of 70s furniture in Bangkok. Before long, the traditional instruments are joined by modern bass, drums and percussion, leaving the audience of beat-loving expats and Gen Z Thais with no choice but to dance… welcome to Studio Lam​…


The Molam revival

Back in 2009 DJs Maft Sai and Chris Menist decided they wanted to share their vintage collection of molam – a traditional style of music – with their friends. They had no idea that this desire would lead to a music revival and the birth of one of Thailand’s most successful music exports – The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – fronted by Kaewsombat on his khaen. The band has performed sell-out shows from Bucharest to Berlin and played festivals like Glastonbury in the UK. They’ve also given a new generation of Thais and foreigners a reason to fall in love with a style of music that was dying out the region.
These days, Studio Lam is known as one of the most inspiring live music venues in the Thai capital – where, on any given night of the week, you can hear DJs mixing the reggae beats of Kingston in Jamaica with the sounds of Korat in northeastern Thailand, the folk songs of Aceh in Indonesia with the rhythms of Accra in Ghana.

3/1 Sukhumvit 51, Klongton-Nua, Wattana


Still got the blues

Saxophone Pub

From beats to blues, ​the Saxophone Pub​ is a Bangkok institution that has been offering tourists and Thais quality live music since 1987. The stage is at the centre of this cosy pub, allowing the audience to sit in a semi-circle around the performers, creating an atmosphere of intimacy. With walls covered in music paraphernalia, a menu consisting of delicious western and Thai food, and world-class musicians on stage each night, it’s no wonder this bar, which is located near the Victory Monument, has reached legendary status. Some of Thailand’s most popular artists perform regularly at the establishment, including Koh Mr. Saxman, the ska-reggae outfit known as T-Bone Band and Bangkok’s version of B.B. King – Chai and The Blues Maniacs.

3/8 Phayathai Road, Victory Monument


Adhere The 13th Blues-Bar

Across town, you’ll find the unusually named ​Adhere 13th​ Blues Bar​ – a hole-in-the-wall venue where you have to squeeze past the band to get to the bar. If you’re looking for a music experience that’s gritty and real, this is the place for you. With its honky-tonk vibe and friendly staff, Adhere is always packed with musicians and backpackers, as well as the sounds of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. Most nights end in a free-for-all jam, and on weekends the audience tends to be pushed out onto the street due to the popularity of the place, so be sure to go early if you want a seat!

13 Samsen Road, Bangkok


Rockin’ in the Free World

The Rock Pub

From thrash to black, funk to death, if you’re in need of a heavy metal hit while in the City of Angels, then be sure to stop by​ The Rock Pub​, ​near Ratchathewi BTS Station. It’s quite possibly the loudest live music venue in the city. If you have a tattoo and like to wear black, you’ll fit in just fine. ​But it’s not all hardcore rock; the venue also hosts 80s and 90s themed nights, as well as tributes to popular bands like Nirvana.

93/26-28 Hollywood Street Building,Payathia Rd


Despite its name, the​ Hard Rock Café​ caters more for fans of soft rock. Here you can listen to Thai cover bands singing the songs of The Beatles and Elvis Presley whilst eating a big juicy burger with fries. If you’re a fan of this chain of restaurants, Bangkok’s Hard Rock Café won’t disappoint.

424/3-6 Siam Square SOI 11 Siam Square 7 Alley Pathum Wan


All that jazz

Brown Sugar

If Louis Armstrong was alive today and happened to be living in Bangkok, you’d find him tooting his trumpet at ​Brown Sugar​. A larger-than-life portrait of the jazz great can be found on the walls of this much-loved club and his music is played there often – along with the works of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. From Tuesday to Sunday, you can enjoy some of the country’s coolest cats performing everything from experimental jazz to big-band standards. The venue is open as a restaurant and café during the day.

469 Phrasumen Road, Banglumpoo


For a more upmarket experience, there’s the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s ​Bamboo Bar​ with its sophisticated dark wood, marble interiors and elegant mirrored ceiling. Here, international artists perform the songs of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday as members of Bangkok’s high society sip their cocktails.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, ​Oriental Ave, Khwaeng Bang Rak






Word: Ange Takats
Photos: Graham Meyer

Originally Published in: Champa Meuanglao

48 Hours in PAKSE

Got 48 hours in Pakse to Eat, See, and Do? Use this guide courtesy of Champa Meuanglao magazine, the official inflight magazine of Lao Airlines.

Laos Tops Guardian Hotlist of 2018 Travel Destinations

Laos Travel The Guardian

Laos has topped a hotlist of 2018 travel destinations released by The Guardian, published on its website in the Asia section last week.

The Guardian published the travel hotlist detailing where to go on holiday in 2018. The list is divided by continent, with Laos mentioned ahead of Korea, India, Mongolia, and Taiwan.

In the article, Laos is described as a country more suited to seasoned travelers, although the writer states that the country is working hard to improve its tourism industry.

“Road travel is better than it used to be and new domestic air routes and river cruises have opened,” writes The Guardian.

It continues to mention 18 events that will be held around the country in line with the Visit Laos Year 2018 initiative, including festivals and events in Luang Prabang and Oudomxay.

“Explore the dramatic Bolaven plateau, then join a Mekong cruise, stopping at the ancient temple of Vat Phou,” the article suggests, among other interesting options.

Visit Laos Year 2018 is a Lao government initiative to attract more tourists to the country. The initiative was officially launched last October, and includes a range of special attractions and festivals across Laos, including traditional festivals held by various ethnic minorities. 

In a bid to attract tourism, and as part of Visit Laos Year 2018, the government of Laos waived visas for a number of countries, including four Scandinavian countries, whose citizens are now visa exempt until the end of 2018.

View the full travel hotlist by The Guardian here: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/ng-interactive/2018/jan/06/where-to-go-on-holiday-in-2018-the-hotlist#Asia

Photo: Laotian Times Photographer