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China-Laos Railway boosts travel, promotes tourism in Laos

Stewardesses of the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC) wait for passengers by a Lane Xang EMU train at the Vientiane Station of China-Laos Railway in Laos on May 24, 2022. (Photo by Yang Yongquan/Xinhua)

The China-Laos Railway is a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub. It has helped revive tourism in Laos as the demand from passengers traveling between Vientiane and the ancient capital of Luang Prabang is growing.

by Chanthaphaphone Mixayboua, Zhang Jianhua

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 9, 2022 shows a crane transporting cross-border goods at Vientiane South Station of China-Laos Railway in Laos. (Photo by Kaikeo Saiyasane/Xinhua)

The latest report issued by the Tourism Development Department under the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism at the end of August showed the outlook for the country's tourism industry is positive.

The full operation of the China-Laos Railway, and the appeal of the scenic Vangvieng, the Luang Prabang World Heritage Site, and the low value of the kip (Lao currency), are among the main attractions for visitors from neighboring countries, said the report.

Deputy Head of Luang Prabang province's Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Chansamone Thipphavanh, told local media recently that in the first 10 months of 2022, 335,794 tourists, comprising 85.27 percent of the total, arrived in Luang Prabang by train.

She added that train travel allows easier connection with neighboring countries.

According to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC), a joint venture based in Vientiane and responsible for the operation of the railway's Lao section, so far, the Lao section of the China-Laos Railway has shipped a total of around 2 million tons of goods, most of which are cross-border goods, and has carried 1.26 million passengers.

The LCRC operation director, Du Zhigang, told Xinhua recently that the amount of freight transportation has been showing an upward trend since its opening.

According to Du, the goods shipped from the Lao side include rubber, barley rice, cassava, coffee, beer, ores and potash, among others, while daily necessities, mechanical parts, auto parts and electronic products are shipped from China.

"The train tickets are quite popular because our passengers are eager to experience our EMUs (electric multiple units), especially those from neighboring countries, like Thailand," said Du.

Stewards of the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC) serve passengers on a Lane Xang EMU train on May 25, 2022. (Photo by Han Jialing/Xinhua)

Thanyart Areeyat, a tour guide from Thailand, is no stranger to the railway and the bullet trains.

"Everyone is interested and excited about the China-Laos railway!" Thanyart told Xinhua at the Vientiane Railway Station recently.

The 28-year-old said that she was deeply impressed by the "cleanliness and smoothness" of the train running on the China-Laos railway.

She said that the most popular destinations for her tour group members are Vangvieng and Luang Prabang.

"Curiosity about the train makes many Thai people decide to travel to the north of Laos and it will be a special experience for them to take a bullet train in Laos," said the tour guide.

"Most of them take photos and videos along the way. But some of them can take a nap easily because the train rides are smooth and seats are comfy," said Thanyart, adding that she hopes to take a train trip from Laos to China in the near future.

"Thai tourists will also be really interested in taking a bullet train directly to China," she said. 

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