Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam agree to expand cooperation

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

The leaders of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam signed a joint declaration at the 10th Development Triangle Area Summit in Hanoi last month committing the three countries to fully expand cooperation beyond their border provinces.
Vietnam and Cambodia share borders with Laos, and this link facilitates trade, investment, tourism and transport in the region.
The three countries have agreed to gradually extend their cooperation so that it is no longer restricted to the 13 border areas of the development triangle, according to Vietnam News.

Samakhixay district in Attapeu province, adjacent to Vietnam, photographed from a drone. (File photo)

“We will improve institutional and legal connectivity for the sake of the people and enterprises, (as well as) infrastructure connectivity to facilitate transport, energy, trade and tourism together with social infrastructure (to make it) most favourable for development,” Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told a news conference.
The leaders approved a Master Plan on Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Economic Connectivity, which outlines steps for infrastructure, institutional and economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
Currently, visitors travelling from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Champassak province in Laos can take a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Gia Lai province in Vietnam, which borders Attapeu province in Laos. They change buses after crossing into Attapeu.
Director of Attapeu’s Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mrs Bounnan Bounnaseng, told Vientiane Times “We have many places of interest here but it’s the waterfalls that command people’s attention.”
Xae Pha and Xae Ponglay waterfalls are popular with visitors from neighbouring countries. They are located in Hinlad village, Sanamxay district, 68km from the provincial capital. They are situated along unpaved Road 18A and take about two hours to reach.
On the way to Xae Ponglay, visitors pass many ethnic villages and the Xe Pian Bridge. There are rice fields on both sides of the road, a large lake called Nong Lom, historical sites, and people boating on the Xe Pian River.
Elsewhere, Nong Fa or Sky Lake, located high on a hilltop has clear water that reflects the blue sky and resembles the sea in colour. It is believed the lake formed after a meteor crashed into the ground hundreds of years ago.
The lake is accessed by a dirt road that runs for 175km from Sammakhixay district, the provincial capital. One 70-km section of this road is especially tough to navigate in the wet season.
About 245km from Attapeu, travellers can take a bus to Pakxe district in Champassak province via Xekong and Saravan provinces. Don Det island, situated in an idyllic spot on the Mekong River as part of the Four Thousand Islands (Siphandone) area, is popular with visitors in this region.
This small island is a rural retreat, giving travellers a break from the rigours of the road and enabling them to find solace in a laidback lifestyle amid restful surroundings. The river has shaped this island, giving locals an abundance of fish, coconut palms and fertile land, and sustaining a critically endangered population of freshwater dolphins.
It was the river that encouraged the French to consider creating a trade and supply route when they ruled Laos, and visitors are always fascinated by the dilapidated vestiges of this ill-fated venture. An iron locomotive lies rusting in a glade, the remains of a wharf are evident on the riverbank, and the old narrow railway bridge that links Don Det to Don Khone is a magnet for those wanting to immerse themselves in a bit of history.
This being Visit Laos Year 2018, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism hopes to attract about 5 million tourists to Laos. Attapeu is hoping to receive its fair share of this number.
Another way to get to Champassak province is from Ho Chi Minh City through Cambodia, which is a short route. Vietnam and Cambodia share a border at Mocbai, located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. Travellers take a bus from the Cambodian side of the border at Trapeang Kriel in Stung Treng province and cross to Nongnokheane in Khong district, Champassak province.
Laos and Cambodia plan to build a bridge across the Xe Lam Phao River in Mounlapamok district, Champassak province, to connect to northern Cambodia.
To strengthen friendship and cooperation, the two countries have opened consulate offices. The Lao consulate is located in Stung Treng province, Cambodia, and the Cambodian consulate is in Champassak.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update April 07, 2018)

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