With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on the horizon, Thailand and Lao PDR have jointly opened a new bus route, linking both countries.
The two countries have already opened four bridges along their transportation routes. The new bus route offers a new way of traveling to some of the most fascinating destinations in Southeast Asia.
It was launched by Thailand’s Transport Company and Lao PDR’s Naluang Company in January 2014, from Loei in northeastern Thailand to Sainyabuli and Luang Prabang in Laos. The route covers a distance of about 395 km, and the trip takes about nine hours.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a one-way trip between Loei and Luang Prabang costs 700 baht, or 175,000 Lao kip, and a one-way trip between Loei and Sainyabuli is priced at 500 baht, or 125,000 kip.
About 520 kilometers from Bangkok, Loei offers unique natural beauty and has many high hills and mountains. Its tourist spots in the highlands are well worth exploring, especially during the cool season. Sainyabuli is a mountainous province and home to domesticated elephants. Luang Prabang is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding cultural, historic, and architectural values. By linking these historic and picturesque regions, tourists and travelers will have a new, affordable way of exploring some of ASEAN’s cultural gems.
The Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, said, “This bus route will provide seamless border travel and enhance trade and transportation between the people of Thailand and the citizens of Lao PDR. It will also give international tourists more options for travelling by providing a new border crossing between the two nations.”
There are currently various ways that travelers can pass between Thailand and Lao PDR, including by plane from Bangkok or Sukhothai in Thailand to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet or Pakse in Lao PDR.
Travelers coming by car or bus can use any of the four Thai-Lao Friendship Bridges across the Mekong River to go through border checkpoints. The First Friendship Bridge links Nong Khai in northeastern Thailand with the Lao capital of Vientiane. The Second Friendship Bridge links Mukdahan, also in northeastern Thailand, with the central Lao province of Savannakhet.
The Third Friendship Bridge connects the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom in Thailand with Khammouan province in central Laos, and the Fourth Friendship Bridge links Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand with Houayxay of Bokeo province in Laos.
All routes and the bridges between the two countries will facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and people and help boost ASEAN tourism and regional connectivity.