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From/to Northern Laos, especially from Luang Prabang area

For Visit Laos-China Year 2019, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images promoting the two countries’ collaboration in tourism and hoping to inspire more people, especially from China, to experience the nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, the jewel of the Mekong.

The battle of Dien Bien Phu in central Vietnam was a much celebrated turning point in Vietnam’s struggle to defeat French troops and throw off the yoke of foreign domination.
It was the power of unyielding national unity, loyal combatants, the solidarity of the Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian armies and ordinary people, together with the support of friendly foreign countries that won the day and forced the French to surrender.
Victory was secured on May 7, 1954, a day that people around the world celebrated and are doing so again now as the 65th anniversary of this astonishing feat is recalled.
The Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian people especially celebrate this event, as the heroic battle ended French domination in Indochina.

Foreigners often come to Laos after having visited the famous battleground in Dien Bien province, with many entering at the Panghok-Taichang border crossing. Most of them bypass Oudomxay and Phongsaly provinces and travel on to Luang Prabang province and Vientiane.
Deputy Director of the Luang Prabang provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mrs Soudaphone Khomthavong, told Vientiane Times that many people tour the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang in combination with a visit to Dien Bien Phu.
“The road link between these two places is very good because it is paved with asphalt,” she said.
In the other direction, it’s a distance of about 240km between Luang Prabang and Oudomxay provinces, then another 160km to the Vietnamese border via Khua district in Phongsaly province. Another popular route is to travel by boat on the Ou River to Khua district and then take a bus to the border and on to Dien Bien Phu.
While the road from Luang Prabang to Dien Bien Phu is good in the dry season, it’s not in good condition in the rainy season.
But a 104.7km road between the Phouthipheuang and Nasone areas in Luang Prabang province to the border with Vietnam’s Dien Bien province is currently being upgraded in a bid to restore the Luang Prabang-Vietnam road link.
About 655,000 tourists of all nationalities visited Luang Prabang province last year, with tourism officials hoping to boost the number to 700,000 by 2020.
The town of Luang Prabang can accept up to about 10,000 tourists a day, but some worry about the sustainable future of tourism if visitor numbers rise further during peak times.
But Phongsaly province on the other hand is suffering from a dearth of foreign visitors, even though the 200-km road that connects it to the Vietnamese border is full of great mountain views. Phongsaly is Laos’ northernmost province and its majestic scenery is deserving of more visitors.
The province is now more regionally connected through better road networks, tourism and regional trade and has much to offer visitors looking for somewhere off the beaten track and a bit of an adventure.
Phongsaly borders on Yunnan province in China and Vietnam’s Dien Bien province.
Chinese and Lao people travel regularly across the Lantouy-Sobhun border in Phongsaly, but few foreign visitors spend time in Phongsaly after entering Laos from Dien Bien province.
Some people believe that foreign tourists are put off by the province’s perceived remoteness.
Tourism in general is on the rise, with more than 4.1 million people coming to Laos during Visit Laos Year 2018, an 8.2 percent increase over 2017.
This year, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is hoping that the number of foreign tourists will rise to about 4.5 million.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(On Vientiane Times, Latest Update May 14, 2019)

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