Chinese top visits to Laos


VIENTIANE, 31 August 2015: Chinese visitors represent the third largest segment of foreign visitors to Lao PDR, following visitors from Thailand and Vietnam.

In the not-so-distant future it is very likely that China will surpass  Thailand and Vietnam as the top supply market for travel.

Lao News Agency quoted Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Chaleun Warinthrasak, saying more than 420,000 Chinese tourists visited Laos in 2014, representing an increase of 72% from 2013.

The number of Chinese visitors has increased annually from 199,000 in 2012, to 145,000 in 2013, and 422,000 last year.

inside no 4The increase was attributed to the opening of several direct flights between Laos and China including Vientiane-Shantou, Vientiane-Kunming, Vientiane-Changzhou, Vientiane-Guangzhou, and Luang Prabang-Xieng Houng.

Lao Airlines recently opened an office in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province in China. It will operate twice weekly flights on Monday and Friday connecting Vientiane to Changsha starting the end of September.

“Relations and cooperation between the two countries of Laos and China have grown continuously and  created favourable conditions for people-to-people exchanges between the two countries,” he said.

Last year, the country attracted more than 4.1 million international tourist arrivals increasing 10% from 2013.


  1. Given that most major Lao cities border Thailand and that most major Thai cities (not to mention Vietnamese cities) are much closer to Laos than any major Chinese cities are, it is weird to consider the possibility that there may soon be more Chinese visitors to Laos than either Vietnamese or Thais. Since neither Vietnamese nor Thai visitors to Laos need visas (they each receive a 30 day exemption) while at least in the case of short-term Thai visitors (and probably Vietnamese too) they can even avail themselves of a border pass for a short period if they only travel within a limited radius of the border, I would find it hard to believe that hordes of Chinese from much further away would descend on Laos in higher numbers. Maybe it could also be that Thais are just not that interested in going to Laos, because if they were, there would easily be 10 million Thais heading to Laos every year and not just a measly 1 million – ditto for Vietnam. Maybe a sign of things to come, but it’s just a little weird. But not unprecedented. After all, it was the Chinese who knocked Malaysian visitors to Thailand off the pedestal not too long ago – there are now 4-5 million (and climbing) Chinese visitors to Thailand every year, but only 2.5 million Malaysians, which is bizarre given the close proximity of Malaysia to Thailand one should expect 10 million a year but the reality is not like that at all. More Malaysians travel to Singapore every year than to Thailand.

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