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Vientiane not just a stopover destination

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"Excuseme! How long have you been in Vientiane?”“Well, I've just arrived here this morning and will leave for Luang Prabang this evening.”This is typical of the writer's brief conversations with overseas visitors. The grand That Luang stupa is a perennial favourite among tourists. Some first-time visitors to Vientiane may think the capital is just a stopover destination because it is an arrival point for people from around the globe. But visitors should at least take the time to learn about some of the exciting activities on offer in this rapidly developing city.Before travelling north or south, Vientiane should be your first option for a couple of days of relaxation. It has a wide range of choices that should encourage overseas visitors to spend a few more days in the capital after the long journey from their home country.Vientiane is a city rich in historical and cultural sites. It has several ancient...
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Savannakhet: a land of hidden gems

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While many of us dream of that all elusive holiday overseas, most of us would do well to consider what's right on our doorstep before we start planning a vacation in an exotic land. Turtle Lake is located at Dondaeng village in Champhone district, and contains about 300 turtles. Laos is well known as a country of simple beauty, stunning landscapes, charming traditions and intriguing culture. But how well do we, as citizens, actually know our own country? Savannakhet province is a good place to start an exploration of the many attractions that Laos has to offer.After a recent visit to the area, I came to realise that Savannakhet - our largest province - has many hidden charms and I'd like to share what I discovered with readers.I travelled to Savannakhet on a so-called Fam trip organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA-Asean Lao Pilot Programme Tourism Promotion Component...
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Travelling a different route to Xayaboury

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The road which meanders its way upstream along the Mekong from Vientiane is rapidly becoming a new option for travellers to the northern provinces of Xayaboury, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha.The road starts in Vientiane, before passing through Sangthong, Maed, Meuan and Sanakham districts before reaching Xayaboury and as it is progressively being upgraded it is becoming a short cut compared to Road No. 13 North via Luang Prabang. A section of the freshly sealed Road No. 4 ADB 11 in Xayaboury province. Unlike roads 13 North and 13 South however, this road has no official name. It is known unofficially by locals as Thaangkhaemkhong . Whilst work is currently underway on the road, Thaangkhaemkhong cannot be considered up to standard as yet, for it is currently a dusty red dirt road that becomes slippery when it rains.I travelled it recently and it took me six hours to drive this 400 km...
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Pakxe int'l airport upgrade kicks off

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The government and a Thai contractor on Friday signed a deal for the second phase of an improvement project at Pakxe International Airport in Champassak province, to meet the growing need for air transport and further boost development.The Ministry of Public Works and Transport signed a contract with the Thailand-based Thaiwat Engineering Company, giving the company the green light to build various facilities at the airport. UXO clearance workers transport 72 live bombies they removed in Borikhamxay province, for controlled detonation. The work includes building an airport maintenance workshop and flight information office, which involves enlargement of the control tower. The contractor will also create a parking area, build a boundary wall around the airport, install drainage and improve other existing facilities.The second phase of the improvement project will be financed by a loan from the government of Thailand through Thailand's Neighbouring Development Agency (NEDA), amounting to almost 50 billion kip...
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Lao Airlines expands fleet as business takes off

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   LAOS - National carrier Lao Airlines has purchased more aircraft in response to increasing passenger numbers as Laos becomes more closely integrated with the region and the world. A new Airbus A320 arrived in Vientiane this month, bringing the total number owned by the carrier to four, while a new ATR will join the fleet later this month, Director of Lao Airlines' Commercial Department, Saleum Tayarath, said on Wednesday.Lao Airlines is gearing up to serve the growing number of customers."We will use our Airbus planes on the Vientiane-Luang Prabang route and international routes. We will use the ATRs on domestic flights only," he said.In October this year, Lao Airlines will begin direct flights to Myanmar as part of the provisions for increased air connectivity within the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) countries.Lao Airlines sees the great potential offered by the Myanmar route now that the country has opened its...
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Establishment of a new factory in Laos

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on Thursday, 21 March 2013
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To reinforce digital SLR camera manufacturing organization Nikon Corporation (Makoto Kimura, President) is pleased to announce the establishment of a new factory in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) to reinforce its digital SLR camera manufacturing organization and reduce costs.Operations are scheduled to commence in October 2013.Entry-level and mid-class digital SLR cameras, and some interchangeable lenses are manufactured by Nikon (Thailand) Co., Ltd. in the Ayutthaya province of Thailand. With the establishment of this new factory in Laos, a part of the production for digital SLR cameras which are completed as final products at Nikon (Thailand) will be done in Laos....
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Lao Central Airlines (LCA) Embarking On A Major Expansion

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Lao Central Airline Campaigns Destination Bangkok and Luang Prapang
  Lao Central Airlines (LCA), a privately owned Laotian carrier staffed mostly by Thais, has an ambitious plan that may supersede the position of the flag carrier, state-owned Lao Airlines.Wholly owned by Laos’s influential Phongsavanh business group, LCA is embarking on a major expansion to strengthen its initial target market _ Laos-Thailand _ and extend its reach to various key Asean cities.On the radar screen for the longer term is the debut of intercontinental flights, to Europe, from LCA’s Vientiane hub with the acquisition of Boeing 777 long-range wide-body jets, LCA chief executive Savanhphone Phongsavanh told the Bangkok Post. Setting the stage for the aggressive regional expansion of LCA, which only took to the skies in May 2012, is the roll-in of a fleet of Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100s that commenced last month.The Vientiane-based full-service airline signed a contract with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co in March 2011 for three single-aisle SSJ100s in...
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Insuring Laos

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  The country's reforms have put more cars on the road, highlighting the need for better coverage. Paying for a new car in full used to be a strict requirement for Laotians, but now owning a car here has become easier. The recent easing of restrictions is expected to boost car sales in Laos, and the region’s insurers are preparing to take advantage. It was just a few years ago that a hire purchase system was introduced in Laos, letting consumers put down 30% of a car's value and clear the rest through instalments.No doubt the change will give a boost to car sales and result in heavy traffic in this landlocked country, especially in the capital, Vientiane.While some observers are concerned that busy transport may lead to more road accidents, insurance industry leaders appreciate how strong car sales could eventually benefit their business."By law, all types of vehicles in Laos...
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Energy generation in Laos drives up royalties

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The Lao government received a much larger amount in royalties from the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) dam in 2012 than in the previous year.Electricity developer Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE) reported recently the government received almost 119.3 billion kip (US$14.91 million) in royalties from the project last year. An aeration weir below the powerhouse of the Nam Theun 2 dam. The LHSE was created by the Lao government in February 2005 to facilitate investment in energy generation. Its first investment was in the Nam Theun 2 dam and it holds a 25 percent share in the NT2 Power Company Limited (NTPC).In 2011 the government received about 93.3 billion kip (US$11.66 million) in royalties from the hydro project, the enterprise reported at its annual meeting in Vientiane.An LHSE official said the NTPC had paid out a large amount of money for salary tax, grants for social and economic development, irrigation, important national...
Tags: Business
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Xieng Khuang-Borikhamxay road to open by Lao New Year

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The new 274km Road No. 1D that links Xieng Khuang and Borikhamxay provinces will officially open for use before Lao New Year next month.Talking to Vientiane Times on Friday, Head of the Borikhamxay provincial Administration Office, Mr Vanilay Denphouluang, said the road was in fact already in use. The newly built Road No. 1D linking Xieng Khuang and Borikhamxay provinces. Construction of the road began in 2008, funded by the government through the Ministry of National Defence, at a cost of more than US$141 million.It begins at a bridge in Khoun district in Xieng Khuang province and runs through to Road No. 8B in Khamkeuth district, Borikhamxay province.Khamkeuth district also links with a road to Vietnam, so the people of Xieng Khuang and Borikhamxay provinces will now have better access to markets there, making it easier for them to sell their produce. It is expected that trade will grow markedly between the two...
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Border watch for Lao wildlife smuggler

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Border checkpoints have been ordered to watch for a Lao woman believed to be part of an international wildlife smuggling syndicate, the chief of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division said on Thursday. Norasak Hemnithi told the ''Inside Thailand'' radio talk show broadcast on FM97 that it is believed Loy Chanthawongsa, who lives in Laos, had been shown by immigration records to have frequently entered Thailand through northeastern provinces. Pol Sgt Maj Jakkapan Panprasert, left, and Pol Sgt Phetcharit Panthaisong of Suvarnabhumi Police Station are two of the three officers charged with wildlife trafficking on Wednesday. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka Na Sakolnakorn) Ms Loy, 35, is wanted in connection with three policemen at Suvarnabhumi Airport who were charged on Wednesday with the trafficking of rhinoceros horns into Thailand on Jan 6.Pol Sgt Maj Samai Ratchjangvang, Pol Sgt Jakkapan Panprasert and Pol Sgt Phetcharit Panthaisong were summonsed on Wednesday to hear...
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Laos trumpets transport success

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Vientiane Times,  Asia News Network 'Considerable progress' made on infrastructure, trade Laos has made considerable progress in its efforts to develop connectivity and trade facilitation, a senior government official told the meeting of Asian-European Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) in Vientiane on Tuesday.LLDC representatives from Asia and Europe convened their three-day final regional review meeting, which ends today, to review the progress made over the past decade in carrying out the Almaty Programme of Action (APA), which is designed to address the special needs of LLDCs.Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alounkeo Kittikhoun said that Laos had incorporated all five APA priority areas into its national development strategy, especially in the area of infrastructure development, trade regulations and transit systems."Throughout its implementation, we have made considerable progress," he told the meeting. Regarding infrastructure development, the Lao government adopted and introduced a new policy with the aim of converting the country from being landlocked to...
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Govt Orders Drop In Fuel Prices

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Fuel Traders Project Fuel Price Stability This Year
  The government has announced a reduction in the fuel price around the country following three price hikes at the pump this year.Based on the current price of fuel on the world market and in line with market mechanisms, all petrol stations run by the Lao Petroleum and Gas Group Association are to drop the price of premium and regular petrol by 200 kip a litre, and diesel by 210 kip per litre.From yesterday, petrol stations in Vientiane should sell premium grade petrol for 11,750 kip a litre, with regular petrol to cost 10,610 kip and diesel to sell for 9,400 kip. In Khammuan province, premium is set at 11,740 kip, regular at 10,650 kip, and diesel at 9,450kip.In Savannakhet and Champassak prices should be 11,860 kip a litre for premium, 10,660 kip for regular and 9,450 kip for diesel, while in Bokeo they will be 10,730 kip for regular, 9,510 kip...
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Deal Inked For Main Road In Vientiane Province’s New Capital

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Deal inked for main road in Vientiane province's new capital
  Construction of a 9.3km road that will be the main transport route through the heart of Vientiane province’s new capital will begin soon. The road will run from Thaxan village in Keo-oudom district to Nanin village in Viengkham district.The province’s Public Works and Transport Department as the project owner on Friday agreed that the Sekko Construction Company would undertake the project at a cost of 150 billion kip.The road will be built in accordance with the town plan drawn up by a Japanese company.President of the Sekko Construction Company, Mr Sekko Phommasanh, said the road will be 23 metres wide, of which 19 metres will be actual traffic lanes, along with a 1 metre median strip, as well as lighting, sidewalks, and drainage.Mr Sekko said his company is fully prepared in terms of equipment, financing and labour, and plans to finish the project within three years.The company will invest the required...
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Wattay Airport Struggling To Handle Increased Passenger Traffic

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Wattay Airport To Be Upgraded
  As the international and domestic terminals at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane become increasingly crowded, the government is planning to revamp both facilities in the interests of passenger comfort.The existing facilities were built some time ago and are unable to comfortably accommodate the growing number of passengers and aircraft passing through the airport.The domestic terminal was built before 1966, while the international terminal was built around 1998, Lao Airports Authority Director General, Mr Kongkham Norlaphoum, told Vientiane Times on Monday.To accommodate more passengers and provide a larger waiting area, the government is planning to expand the international terminal and demolish the domestic terminal.With the rapid expansion of the Lao economy and increasing investment, the number of tourists and overseas businesspeople coming to Laos is growing, and it has become necessary to upgrade the airport to cater to the increasing traffic.In 2010, Lao Airlines recorded a total of only 500,000 passengers on their flights,...
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Automated Fee Payment System Rolled Out At Vientiane-Nong Khai Bridge

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Automated Fee Payment System Rolled Out At Vientiane-Nong Khai Bridge
  The international border crossing at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Vientiane and Nong Khai province, Thailand, has begun using electronic machines to collect fees from travellers.The head of the checkpoint issued an announcement dated February 28, saying the payment of fees involved in passing through the checkpoint would be made through an automated open-close gate starting on March 1.This means that people who regularly cross the bridge will have their own electronic Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card which contains their personal information.“This card contains a SIM similar to a prepaid phone SIM and the holder will have to recharge it before use,” said checkpoint official Mr Thavixay Thammavong.RFID cards can be issued to holders of passports, border passes, and temporary border passes. To receive the card a person has to pay 75,000 kip as a guarantee.Cardholders have to recharge their card regularly to ensure they contain not less than the amount...
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Laos To Adopt New Air Traffic Control Systems

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Laos To Adopt New Air Traffic Control Systems
  Laos will officially adopt the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS-84) to improve GPS navigation in the aviation industry, aiming to ensure effective air traffic management and passenger safety as air traffic volumes continue to grow.The numerous World Geodetic Systems have implemented a universal standard used in navigation, mapping, cartography and geological measurement of the Earth.Originally developed for military purposes but now crucial for all modern aviation and navigation, geodetic systems allow for precise navigation by incorporating comparative measures that unify different data sets.They allow a standard coordinate frame for the Earth’s surface, a standard global reference surface for raw altitude data, and establish a gravitational equipotential surface that defines the nominal sea level excepting for tidal and weather variations.A team of Japanese experts helped conduct the World Geodetic Systems 1984 standard data survey in Laos recently. The results were handed over to Lao officials this week at the Department of Civil...
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Tourism Complex Soon To Open On Nam Ngum Riverbank

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Tourism complex soon to open on Nam Ngum riverbank
  A one-kilometre section of the Nam Ngum riverbank in Vientiane province, which has traditionally been the site of the annual boat races, is being turned into a recreational complex for use by tourists.“We are building a place where visitors can stay and enjoy various recreational activities with modern facilities,” said the President of Maliny Group Company, Mr Phoutsadou Inthavong, when talking to the local press this week about the project.Mr Phoutsadou said the company will invest US$4.8 million to build the complex in Bankeun village, Thoulakhom district. The strip will include a hotel, guesthouses, restaurants, entertainment venues, and water sports activities.The development, to be called Hadxaykhao (White Sand Beach), has been authorised by the government. There are no other buildings on this section of the riverbank as it was an empty plot that until now has been the site of the annual boat races.The new facilities will include a small hotel...
Tags: Tourism
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Borikhamxay-Xieng Khuang Road Cuts Travel Times In Half

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Borikhamxay-Xieng Khuang Road Cuts Travel Times In Half
  Passengers now have more options regarding potential routes for traveling between Vientiane and Xieng Khuang after the construction of the Borikhamxay-Xieng Khuang road reached completion. The completion of the 278km road linking Xieng Khuang and Borikhamxay provinces has seen some Vientiane-Xieng Khuang passenger buses change their routes as the road is shorter, faster and smoother, allowing them to save time and money. In comparison, travel from Vientiane to Xieng Khuang on the route via National Road No13 North takes around 12 hours because it is mountainous, windy and steep. Taking the new road via National Road No 13South through Borikhamxay province can cut travel times in half, such is the improvement in road conditions. Having changed their route, the buses have also changed their departure points from the northern station to the southern one. This has caused a dispute between the bus companies and the station owners as the Northern Bus...
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Construction Of New Vientiane Provincial Capital On Track

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Construction Of New Vientiane Provincial Capital On Track
The construction of the new town capital for Vientiane province is back on track despite the project being slowed because of delays to community resettlement, according to a project secretariat official. “Almost all the roads are now laid out according to plan. There are only a few places left where communities have not yet been relocated,” said the head of the secretariat responsible for the construction of the provincial capital, Mr Thavone Phengsengxay. Construction began in 2011 and will be done in two separate phases. The first covers the period from 2011 to 2015, at a cost of more than 1,100 billion kip (US$99 million). The second phase will extend from 2015 to 2020. The town will cover a total area at 8,000 ha with an area of 750 ha specially designated as a town centre precinct. According to Mr Thavone, all the roads in the town have been surveyed,...
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