Tag Archives: travel

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

Laos Sees 10 Percent Drop in Foreign Tourist Numbers

Foreign Tourists to Laos Down by 10 Percent

While Lao Nationals hit an all time high for travelling abroad in 2016, as previously reported by The Laotian Times, the number of foreign visitors entering Laos has dwindled after several consecutive years of visitor growth.

According to statistics provided by the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Laos reported an average annual growth in foreign tourist arrivals of 10.7 percent over the past five years. However,  in 2016 just over 4.23 million foreign visitors came to the country – a drop of 10 percent since 2015,

Collectively, visitors from the other nine ASEAN member countries dropped by an estimated 14 percent to 3 million people. Tourists from the Asia Pacific region dropped by 11 percent to  about 3.9 million people, and visitors from the Americas dropped by 3 percent to just 86,211 people.

Though the number of tourists from some regions have increased, it is marginal compared to how many visitors the country has lost overall. Visitors from Europe, and Africa and the Middle East, increased by 2 percent and 6 percent last year to 221,952 people and 11,263 people respectively.

Travellers from Thailand and Vietnam, the majority of foreign visitors to Laos, dropped significantly to just over 500,000 visitors.

An official gave several potential reasons for the decline of visitors to the country, explaining that Thailand has been encouraging their citizens to take tours in their own homeland by offering special promotions and incentives.

This includes granting Thai nationals the ability to claim a reduction on their personal income tax, equivalent to what they spent while on holiday if they spend it within the country.

Additionally, the number of foreign tourists entering Laos in previous years was boosted by Vietnamese workers entering the country on tourist visas and finding work illegally.

However, governments within ASEAN, including Laos, have been strictly enforcing measures to regulate foreign workers, which is speculated to have deterred Vietnamese workers from entering Laos, thus reflecting a decrease in the number of Vietnamese in Laos on tourist visas.

The official also brought up that the cost of living in Laos has increased and could also be a contributing factor for the vast reduction in visitors. Living costs in neighbouring countries, for example, Thailand are significantly lower than in Laos.

The official suggested that Laos should attempt to put more effort into attracting tourists from Muslim countries. By providing prayer rooms in public places along with promoting halal restaurants the country would be more welcoming to Muslim visitors if such facilities were provided, especially in the provinces.

Statistics indicate that visitors from Muslim-majority countries like Brunei and Indonesia have dropped by 44 percent and 17 percent to just 484 and 5,010 visitors respectively in 2016.

It is urged for Lao tourist authorities to do more to promote tourism in the country, starting with an official comprehensive website where all tourism-related information can be obtained. The website should include tourist attractions, transportation, accommodation, a calendar that indicates when and where a cultural festival will take place and any other related costs visitors should anticipate.

It was added that  the Tourism Development Department is requesting insight from other departments regarding the decline in tourist entries in order to identify common grounds and take steps to remedy the situation.

Tour facilitators have expressed that a lack of tourist activities, underdeveloped facilities at tourist sites, and the absence of direct flights to many countries seemingly discourage tourists and are factors that need to be addressed.

Statistics Show Lao People Traveling More Than Ever Before

Lao People Traveling More

In 2016, Laos reported that an astonishing 3.05 million outbound travelers crossed its borders to other countries.

According to statistics presented by the Tourism Development Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, the number of Lao nationals traveling by plane was at a record high in 2016 compared to previous years.

Wattay International Airport reported 81,800 outbound Lao nationals in 2016, slightly up from 81,064 people and 76,985 people in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

More than 1.46 million people were recorded leaving the country via the Laos-Thailand Friendship Bridge.

However, according to the department, information regarding the travelers’ spending and length of stay has not been obtained due to funding shortages.

The statistics were collected from 14 international checkpoints across the country and indicate that those Lao provinces sharing borders with Thailand have registered the highest numbers of people crossing their checkpoints when travelling abroad.

The statistics did not specify the destinations of the travelers, however.

Lao officials and tour operators speculate that it is due to the Lao people’s well-being and  increasing incomes that has enabled them to indulge in more vacations abroad.

The government report showed that average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased to US$2,027 (more than 16.2 million kip) in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The figure is expected to further rise to US$2,341 (more than 18.7 million kip) by 2017.

GDP per capita is projected to reach US$3,100 (more than 24.8 million kip) in 2020 when the Lao population is expected to increase to 7.3 million. In turn the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is predicted to reach US$2,450 (more than 19.6 million kip).

A local tour agency has shared that package tours to South Korea, Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia, and Japan have been popular destinations for Lao outbound tourists, and they are customizing more packages for their clientele every day.

Vientiane Sightseeing Bus Hits the Road

Vientiane Sightseeing Bus

The Hop-on Hop-off Vientiane Sightseeing Bus has caught the attention of Vientiane residents as it makes its rounds through the city.

The hop-on hop-off tourist bus is the brainchild of Mr Vilaysone Louangaphay, operator of Xang Lao Travel.  Mr Vilaysone said he wanted to offer this service to tourists in Laos as a new way to experience the city.

The sightseeing bus is an open top bus with two levels of seating affording passengers a view of the city as they drive around.  It was fully designed and customized in Laos.

Xang Lao Travel has also brought a ‘trolley bus’ into service. The trolley bus is a smaller open top vehicle which makes the same rounds as the sightseeing bus.

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One trip on the Vientiane Sightseeing Bus runs for approximately two hours. It travels every day, making two rounds per day, from 8:30 – 9:00 in the morning, and 1:30PM to 3:30PM in the afternoon. The trip is currently free of charge as the company is promoting the service and wishes to receive feedback from the public.

The bus travels from Inpeng Temple to Ho Phra Keo Temple, then travels the length of Thadeua Rd to the clock tower at KM8. From there the bus travels toward the US Embassy, turns at T4 Road and travels toward ITECC on its way to the That Luang Stupa. From That Luang the bus makes a stop at Patuxay Park, turns up Samsenthai Rd and passes the Lao Plaza Hotel on its way back to the final destination back at Inpeng Temple.

The sightseeing bus is also available for bridal parades, wedding receptions, or can be reserved for private tours.

More information can be found at the Xang Lao Travel website here.

Laos Visas Explained

Laos Visa Explained

By RDK Group
Most foreigners require a visa before entering the territory of Laos. Generally speaking, obtaining a visa to Laos is a relatively simple process, although specific information is not always easy to find. This guide explains each type of visa available, as well as the application process for each:

Tourist Visa (T-B3)

While tourist visas can be obtained at a Lao embassy or consulate abroad, tourists from many countries are offered a tourist visa on arrival in Laos. Obtaining a visa on arrival is a simple process, requiring only filling out a few forms and paying a visa fee at a land border crossing or at airport immigration. The standard fee for a visa is $30 USD, although fees may vary from country to country.

Visas on arrival are available at:

  • Lao international airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savannakhet.
  • Thanaleng Railway Station in Vientiane Capital
  • International land border crossings including Lao-Thai Friendship bridges in Vientiane, Thakhek and Savannakhet, and land borders with other countries.

Citizens of some countries, including Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, and Luxembourg may enter and remain in Laos without a visa for 15 days. To see a full list of countries with bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreements, view this list by MOFA.

Citizens of the following countries are not eligible for visas on arrival:

Afghanistan Nauru
Algeria Niger
Bangladesh Nigeria
Burundi Pakistan
Cameroon Senegal
Cote d’Ivoire Sierra Leone
Congo Sri Lanka
Ghana Suriname
Guinea Syria
Guinea Bissau Swaziland
Jordan Tonga
Lesotho Turkey
Liberia Zambia
Libya Zimbabwe
Mozambique

 

Tourist Visa Fees by Country:

Country          Price (US Dollar)
Australia          30
Canada            42
China               20
India                40
Sweden           31
USA                35
UK                  35
Others             30+-

Tourist Visa Extension:
If you are having a great time in Laos and want to stay longer, your visa can be extended at the Immigration Department, Ministry of Public Security, in Vientiane Capital (off Lane Xang Avenue, here). The extension cost is $2 per day if you apply before your original visa expires, although there is a fine of US $10 per day for each day you overstay your original visa. You’ll need your passport, one passport photo, and the correct amount of money for fees.

 

Transit Visa (TR-B3)

A Transit Visa is for tourists that will transit through Laos to another destination. This type of visa allows a seven day stay in Laos, and it cannot be extended. When applying for this visa, it may be necessary to provide evidence of an onward trip, such as an air ticket or entry visa for the next destination.

 

Visitor Visa (B3)

Visitor Visas are for citizens of foreign countries that wish to enter Laos for the purpose of visiting relatives living in Laos. This type of visa can be obtained from Lao embassies or consulates abroad. The visa allows visitors a stay of 30 days in Laos, and it may be extended twice. It may also be necessary to provide a letter from a guarantor in Laos, certified by MOFA, Laos.

 

Labor Visa (LA-B2)

The LA-B2 Labor Visa is the most common type of visa held by foreigners living and working in Laos. This visa may be for a 3 month, 6 month, or 12 month duration, and is a multiple entry visa, meaning the bearer may exit and re-enter the country as many times as they wish. In order to apply for this visa, the applicant must be legally employed and sponsored by a registered enterprise in Laos which holds a quota for foreign employees. The visa is normally accompanied by a Work Permit, and Stay Permit, and spouse visas are available under this visa.

RDK Group
If you do not have a company to sponsor you, or need assistance in processing a B2 visa, RDK Group can help facilitate this for you. Either visit our website, or complete this form.

 

Expert Visa (E-B2)

The expert visa is a visa issued to foreign experts, usually working for international organizations or non-government organizations. The conditions and processes are similar to that of the LA-B2 visa. The visa is normally accompanied by a Stay Permit and Work Permit, and spouse visas are available under this visa.

 

Investor Visa (NI-B2)

The NI-B2 Investor Visa is available to foreign citizens who have invested in an enterprise registered in Laos. This includes foreign investors, stockholders, directors, deputy directors, and technical officers. The visa is normally accompanied by a Stay Permit and Work Permit, and spouse visas are available under this visa.

 

Media Visa (M-B2)

The Media Visa is a special visa issued to registered foreign journalists who cover events in Laos.

 

Student Visa (ST-B2)

Student Visas are issued to foreign students that will study in Laos for one to five years. It is a 12 month visa that can be extended every year.

 

Spouse Visa (SP-B3)

The spouse visa is issued to husbands or wives of other types of visa holders. The spouse visa will normally be for the same duration as that of the original visa holder. A spouse visa holder may not undertake any work while in Laos.

 

Diplomatic Visa (D-A1)

This type of visa is only available to diplomatic passport holders, including consular officers, heads of international organizations and United Nations agencies, and their families. The visa is a 12 month multiple entry visa, and can be extended every year.

 

Official Visa (S-A2)

The Official Visa is similar to the A2 visa, and is for the staff members of diplomatic missions, consulates, United Nations agencies, and their families. It can is a 12 month visa which can be extended each year.

 

Courtesy Visa (C-B1)

The courtesy visa is a visa issued to foreign experts and their families, who perform assignments under bilateral cooperation or grant assistance projects for the government of Laos. The Courtesy Visa is exempt from visa fees and allows multiple entry for 6 months, or until assignment completion.

 

This article supplied by RDK GROUP.

RDK Group

 

Laotians Travel to Great Falls to Learn About Non-Profits

GREAT FALLS – This week, nine people from Laos traveled more than 7,000 miles to Great Falls in order to learn more about Montana Special Olympics.

The Laotians came to learn about how non-profit organizations are run in the U.S.

Special Olympics Montana organized a bowling event at Little’s Lanes so the guests could learn about marketing an event as well as community involvement.

They also got to meet with Great Falls civic leaders to talk about American business and non-profits.

“Hopefully in Laos they will be able to help their people with disabilities to come out and be a part of their community as much as we value all members of our community here in Montana,” said LeAnn Dolly-Powell of Special Olympics Montana.

Thong Chanh “TC” Intsahska volunteers with Special Olympics in Laos, and says even though Montana is much colder than what he’s used to, he’s having a great time.

“It’s great fun and a great experience to bring back to Laos,” said TC.

As part of the welcome for these Laotian guests, October 25th was proclaimed Sports United-Special Olympics Unified Diplomacy Day in Great Falls.

Source: KRTV.com