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Wonders 4000 ISLANDS

OF THE

ANNAMITE MOUNTAINS FORECASTING SUCCESS Visit Laos' southernmost point

Laos Climate Service for Agriculture

MARCH / APRIL 2021


LIU YIFEI. Tissot Le Locle lady Automatic. TOP WESSELTON DIAMONDS.

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Sabaidee


Hello readers, Welcome to the March-April issue of Champa Meuanglao. In this issue, we are pleased to continue supporting the national Lao Thiao Lao domestic tourism campaign and showcasing new sides of Laos. COVER IMAGE Red-shanked Douc (Pygathrix nemaeus) photographed in its natural habitat Photo: Association Anoulak

Check in for a fabulous stay at Souphattra Serviced Apartments in Vientiane. Also enjoy the mellow vibes and natural beauty of Don Det and Don Khone in the 4000 Islands. See what incredible wildlife can only be found in Laos’ forests and why we should work to conserve them. Interact with Laos’ national animal, the elephant, on a splendid day out in Luang Prabang’s Mandalao. Both easy drives from Vientiane, Khammouan and Vang Vieng are quickly becoming hot spots for long weekends. Finally, see the beauty of the country through the lenses some of Laos’ talented young photographers.

PUBLISHING Editor In Chief Editors

Managing Editor Contributing Editors Creative Director

Happy Reading! The Champa Meuanglao Publishing Team

Assistant Designer Contributing Writers

In light of the current Covid-19 situation throughout the world, please be aware that certain activities, festivals, sites, businesses, and events mentioned in this magazine may not be open and operating as planned. Do exercise good judgment, maintain safety precautions, and follow the directions of Lao authorities at all times.

Head Photographer Contributing Photographers

ADVISORY BOARD

Jason Rolan Cameron Darke Aditta Kittikhoun Duangtavanh Oudomchith Angkhana Vongphukdy Jochen Moravek Thanouphet Maniseng Anita Preston Dr. Camille Coudrat Claire Boobbyer Francis Savankham Vanida Phimphrachanh Phoonsab Thevongsa Monica Petri Julia Zimmermann

Khamla Phommavanh President Somsamay Visounnarath Vice President �– Technical, Operation & Training Rada Sunthorn Vice President – Passenger Service, Cargo & Catering Saleum Tayarath Vice President – Commercial, Tourism

ADVERTISING Sales & Marketing Manager

Prae Phongpipatkul prae.phongpipatkul@rdkgroup.la (856-20) 95646578

Sales & Marketing Executive

Souphaphone Insixiengmay souphaphone.insixiengmay@rdkgroup.la (856-20) 55471337

LAO AIRLINES STATE ENTERPRISE LIMITED Headquarters Wattay International Airport Vientiane Capital, Laos Tel: (856-21) 513243-46, Fax: (856-21) 513247 www.laoairlines.com Follow the official Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/laoairlines to get the latest news and updates from the national carrier of Laos.

RDK GROUP 134 Samsenthai Road, Xiengyeun Village, Chanthabouly District, Vientiane Capital, Laos (856-20) 55731717 info@rdkgroup.la

DISCLAIMER

Champa Meuanglao is published bi-monthly for Lao Airlines State Enterprise by RDK Group. The views and opinions expressed or implied in Champa Meuanglao do not necessarily reflect those of Lao Airlines State Enterprise or its publishing agents. All information in Champa Meuanglao is correct at time of printing. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2021 by Lao Airlines State Enterprise and RDK Group. www.champameuanglao.com


MARCH / APRIL 2021 CONTENTS

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10

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WHAT'S ON

NATURE

INSIGHTS

Our guide to events

Wonders of the Annamite

Laos Climate Service

in Laos

Mountains

for Agriculture

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28

32

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EXPLORE

STAY

ART

SNAPSHOT

Khammouan

The luxurious Souphattra

Every picture tells a story

Vang Vieng

Serviced Apartments

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54

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INTO THE WILD

TRAVEL

ON THE AIR

In the footsteps of giants

4000 islands,

Lao Airlines information

4000 memories

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10

WHAT'S ON

WHAT'S ON?

Laos is full of colorful festivals and celebrations happening all the time. Stay up to date on events going on around the country and join in the fun! Dates and activities may be subject to change during the Covid-19 pandemic situation

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MARCH

1. Throwing water at one another has become an iconic festivity 2. Pouring water over statues of the

VIENTIANE

Buddha represents purification and

VIENTIANE INTERNATIONAL HALF MARATHON

the washing away of both sins and bad luck. 3. The ancestor spirits of Luang Prabang dance in their annual procession 4. People celebrating with traditional Khaen music

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For both casual and serious runners, this half marathon offers 5 km, 10.5 km, and 21 km options. To register or learn more: vientianehalfmarathon.com

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APRIL 2

NATIONWIDE

LAO NEW YEAR (PI MAI LAO) The largest festival in Laos sees the nation devolve into a week-long water fight. Families get together to make merit and visit temples to bring blessings for the coming year. The water throwing brings a nice respite to the intense summer heat. It is exceptionally fascinating to visit Luang Prabang during this time, as there are many more traditional pageants, parades, and customs unique to this festival.

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4 To list your event here, contact: sales@rdkgroup.la


Wonders

OF THE

ANNAMITE MOUNTAINS Discover the amazing wildlife that Laos has to offer TEXT BY DR. CAMILLE COUDRAT PHOTOGRAPHS BY ASSOCIATION ANOULAK / NAKAI-NAM THEUN NATIONAL PARK


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T

Red-shanked Douc (Pygathrix nemaeus) photographed in its natural habitat

he Annamite Mountains, which extend from northern Vietnam along the border area with Laos and south into the border between Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, is one of the richest regions of the world in terms of its fauna, flora, landscape, and cultural diversity. In Laos, the Annamite Mountains lie to the east of the Mekong River, along the Lao-Vietnam border, from the province of Bolikhamxay in central Laos to the Attapeu in the south. It encompasses landscapes as varied and impressive as karst formations, dense mountainous dry and moist evergreen forests, and coniferous forests. All these habitats are particularly well-represented in Khammouan Province and particularly in the Nakai-Nam Theun National Park, the Hin Namno National Park, and the Phou Hinpoun National Protected Area where several eco-tourism tours are offered. Indeed, Khammouan is a famous tourist destination for Lao nationals as well as foreign visitors in search of outdoor adventures, discoveries, and breathtaking scenery. The Annamite Mountains hold an extraordinary diversity of animal species that are found nowhere else on earth. These species are difficult to observe in the wild and therefore are not well known to the public. But they are highly threatened by extinction; indeed, all the species found in the Annamite Mountains are hunted out from forests due to the high demand for the illegal national and international wildlife trade, destined to bushmeat, traditional medicine, pets, or status symbol trophies. Therefore, they deserve to be put in the spotlight for their singular beauty and intrinsic value: they represent the natural heritage of Laos. The Red-shanked Douc (Pygathrix nemaeus) is a monkey species often referred to as one of the most beautiful in the world due to its bright colors. The species only occurs in the Annamite Mountains and its largest population is found in Laos. The White-cheeked Gibbon (Nomascus siki) is a primate species found only in the Annamite Mountains. It lives in family groups of three to five individuals composed of a yellow-furred mother, a black-furred father with bright white cheeks, and the young ones (their fur coloration changes several times before they reach adulthood). Gibbons are known for their characteristic beautiful and mesmerizing duet songs that members of the family produce every morning at dawn to reinforce their bond and inform neighboring groups of their territory. MARCH / APRIL 2021


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NATURE

The Large-antlered Muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis) is a species of deer that was only discovered by the scientific community in 1994. It owes its name to its particularly large antlers and larger body size compared to other muntjac species. The largest population is found in the Annamite Mountains of Laos. If you travel to the Annamite Mountains, you should also be aware of the Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis). The Saola is a bovid species, closely related to wild cattle, and is one of the most remarkable mammal discoveries of the twentieth century, first discovered by scientists in 1992 in the wet evergreen forests of the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos. Today, very few individuals remain in the wild. Other species found nowhere else on earth is the Annamite Striped Rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi) or the Owston’s Palm Civet (Chrotogale owstoni) both as unique and fascinating as all the others. All of these species provide just a glimpse of the faunal diversity of the Annamite Mountains which many scientists and organizations have dedicated their efforts to protect for future generations.

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3 4 MORE INFO Learn more about Association Anoulak’s conservation work in Laos: conservationlaos.com

Photo: WCS Lao

GETTING THERE To book an ecotour to visit some of these, contact Phosy Thalang Guesthouse in Nakaifacebook.com/ PhosyThalangGuesthouse


Map: Eric Losh

1. Entering the mountainous NakaiNam Theun National Park by boat, along the Nam Xot 2. Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) 3. White-cheeked Gibbon (Nomascus siki) 4. One of the few photographs of Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis). Taken in the wild with a cameratrap in central Laos in 1999 5. Owston's Civet (Chrotogale owstoni) monitored as part of the conservation management strategy

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NATURE


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MARCH / APRIL 2021


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INSIGHTS

FORECASTING

SUCCESS

When the water level falls, the ants eat the fish – when the water level rises, the fish eats the ants TEXT BY FRANCIS SAVANHKHAM PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHOONSAB THEVONGSA / MONICA PETRI

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t's a simple Lao saying packed with metaphorical implications but also serves as a commentary on the cyclical nature of weather, climate, and seasons. The adage may also be a perfect metaphor for the challenges of life for farmers in Laos. No doubt the weather, the conditions, and the climate affect us all. This is also particularly true for farmers, their families, and those rural communities who rely on friendly weather conditions to produce food and fiber for their families and hungry consumers. The hopes and joys of a successful harvest can easily turn to fears and frustrations of extreme droughts and flooding rains. Now, access to more accurate weather forecasts and advice can make all


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the difference between success and failure and prevent losses of life and livelihoods as well as crops, seeds and livestock. Fortunately, with scientific advancements, this information is more readily available than ever before and that, too, at the touch of a button. Laos has made significant progress in making this information available via the easy to use free, online, and mobile-accessible Laos Climate Services for Agriculture (LaCSA) system. Mrs. Outhone Phetluangsy, Director-General of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment leads this initiative supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “LaCSA allows Lao farmers, fishermen, and ranchers to get the latest weather forecasts down even to the provincial and district levels across the country, as the system brings the data from all weather stations in the country together in one database, and then makes it accessible to all,” says Mrs. Outhone. Weather and climate models are used to generate accurate short and medium-term as well as seasonal forecasts using newly collected data and historical information. When combined with agronomic data, the result provides useful additional information for farmers, such as advice for specific crops in their districts. The system generates and delivers these services by combining meteorological and agricultural information on soil, crop, pest, and disease data. Advice and warnings pertinent to farmers and agricultural sector stakeholders can be delivered, offering recommendations for growing the most widely grown crops in Laos, such as rice, cassava, maize, coffee, banana, and cabbage.

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THE LACSA SEASONAL BULLETIN CAN HELP FARMERS TO IDENTIFY THE BEST RICE VARIETY TO PLANT IN THE RAINY SEASON IN THEIR DISTRICT left: Weather station in Vientiane 1. Farmers use the LaCSA system to improve their harvest 2. A farmer reading the LaCSA seasonal bulletin

MORE INFO All information is provided free of charge as weekly or monthly bulletins. The demo LaCSA system is available at http://147.46.250.219:8081/ This tool is produced by the Department of Meteorology (DMH). For regular updates go to facebook.com/samisdmh LaCSA is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Strengthening Agro-climatic Modeling and Information Systems (SAMIS) project.

Pest and disease risks and management advice is available, while crop-specific indices such as the estimated number of plant-growing and maturation days (Growing Degree Days, GDD), and crop yield forecasts with respective recommendations. And while access to a smartphone is becoming increasingly common for information-hungry farmers, it is not necessary for them to get this information via phones because at the village level, the forecast bulletins are read on the village’s public announcement system. In fact, an experienced broadcaster from the Lao National Radio has trained village-level officials to read information to farmers fluently and share information effectively. Provincial-level weather forecasts are also featured on television news broadcasts filmed in the department’s very own studio. Mrs. Outhone Phetluangsy, Director-General of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology points out, “the best part is that all of this information is available for free. People working in other sectors and organizations can access high-quality climate information for their own use. Even tourists traveling in Laos can get accurate weather forecasts down to the district they are traveling in.” This is great news for everyone. Like in the Lao proverb when the rain falls, rivers rise, and fish eat ants, humans have the ability to remain safe, dry, and happy. MARCH / APRIL 2021


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INSIGHTS


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MARCH / APRIL 2021


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EXPLORE

KHAMMOUAN TEXT BY JASON ROLAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHOONSAB THEVONGSA

PHA KATAI A steep metal staircase and walkway lead you up to the craggy peaks of a limestone karst, but the view over the Nakai Plateau is astounding.


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ne of Laos’ most photogenic provinces, Khammouan is blessed with stunning mountains, incredible caves, beautiful swimming spots, and interesting cultural sites to visit. The Khammouan Loop, created by the circuit of Routes 13, 12, 1E, and 8, provides a basis to begin exploring the history and beauty that exists here.

MARCH / APRIL 2021


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EXPLORE

THE ROCK VIEWPOINT This adventure destination sports an easy zipline, spider net bridge, and via ferrata course set between stunning limestone karsts. There is also a breezy modern branch of the famous Khop Chai Deu restaurant to enjoy the view.


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KHOUN KONG LENG The limestone mountains of the Phou Hin Boun National Protected Area absorb and filter rainwater, which springs up in clear blue lagoons nearby. Khoun Kong Leng is a beautiful example of this phenomenon.� The innermost section is closed to tourists as villagers consider it a holy site.

GIANT WALL This geological phenomenon was caused by shifts in the earth’s crust, but locals believed it was built by giants in ancient times. The wall looks strong enough to keep out invaders. Local Christians even use the area as an outdoor chapel.

MARCH / APRIL 2021


SPRING RIVER RESORT Nestled in a scenic bend of the Nam Hinboun River, this charming hotel has its own protected lagoon to explore and is a scenic place to relax for a few days.

THAT SIKHOTTABONG The heart of the former Sikhottabong kingdom, the holiest site in the province has long been a place of religious worship and has received several renovations over the centuries. The stupa is said to contain bones of the Buddha and hosts the province’s largest festival during the full moon in February.


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KHOUN XE CAVE One of the most remote caves, Khoun Xe is located near the Vietnamese border. A difficult path to it is impassable in the rainy season. Explorers can kayak in the cave and visit some immense chambers.

MORE INFO Follow the official Lao Thiao Lao Facebook page to see special offers, learn about interesting places to visit, and compete to win prizes!

facebook.com/ laothiaolao

MARCH / APRIL 2021


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STAY

THE MOST

LUXURIOUS & ELEGANT ADDRESS IN VIENTIANE

Check in to Souphattra Serviced Apartments TEXT BY JASON ROLAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHOONSAB THEVONGSA / SOUPHATTRA APARTMENTS


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S

tepping out of the tropical heat in Vientiane’s diplomatic district into the cool marble lobby of Souphattra Serviced Apartments, It feels that I have been transported to a faraway place. I look around to get my bearings and realize this isn’t a dream. With a palette full of clean whites, muted greys, and accented blacks, the lobby décor still contains hints of Laos in the dark wooden furniture with fine woven upholstery. The space is meticulously designed, nay, curated with refined elegant simplicity in mind. A light floral fragrance lingers in the air and soft jazz beckons me to sit in the comfortable café lounge, adjacent. It’s the kind of place I could definitely while away an afternoon, lost in a book over multiple cups of savory Lao coffee, far from the hustle and bustle of life outside. I awe in wonder at this latest addition to the Souphattra portfolio, another masterstroke by an architect and designer, Mr. Sarayut Fongvanaluck. Souphattra Serviced Apartments can fit an entire neighborhood of life into its 52 spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Although, you often would not realize anyone was around, as rooms are soundproofed. Units come fully furnished in the same tasteful décor as seen throughout the property, and contain all of the modern conveniences, like a refrigerator, televisions, kitchenware, a microwave, a stove, and high-speed Wi-Fi. The white marble en-suites contain vigorous rain showers and bathtubs perfect to lounge in. There is also a daily maid service to keep your apartment tidy and pristine.

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MORE INFO Souphattra Serviced Apartments has one-, two-, and three-bedroom units available on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. souphattraapartments.com left: Souphattra's courtyard 1. The infinity pool 2. The elegant lobby 3. Relax in a wooden steam bath 4. A large master bedroom

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Venturing to the mezzanine between the third and fourth floors lies Souphattra’s recreational area. There awaits a gym, fully-equipped with state-ofthe-art workout machines in front of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool. This cerulean infinity pool is the perfect spot to take a dip and watch the sun go down beyond the Mekong River. It is a spectacular area for guests to rejuvenate after enjoying the gym or adjoining sauna and steam bath. Souphattra’s restaurant, perched above the lobby, operates daily and is also available for room service. The flavorful menu contains largely international dishes, but also with a dash of Lao comfort food. Next door, a cozy, inviting cigar bar is set with the finest selection of whiskeys, cocktails, and cigars, perfect for a pleasurable evening with friends complete with soft jazz and softer lighting. Souphattra Serviced Apartments has such a complete array of facilities that you will rarely need to leave the building. And when living in such a comfortable, convenient, and luxurious place, why would you even want to? MARCH / APRIL 2021


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STAY

ເເລະ


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ART

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

BY VANIDA PHIMPHRACHANH (co-founder of Birds Follow Spring facebook.com/birdsfollowspring and co-curator of the “La Semaine de la Photographie” event in Vientiane)

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he photographic scene in Laos has been booming over the last few years. To celebrate this new avenue of artistic self-expression, a year-long photo contest was held by the French Embassy to the Lao PDR and the Institut Français du Laos for people all over the country, with themes rotating each month, from the Mekong River to connections to life during the lockdown. Over 350 photographers participated and a winner was selected by a panel for each theme. The eight winning shots will be displayed outside the walls of the French Embassy in March. These photos will also be up for one final vote on the French Embassy’s Facebook page, and the top three photos will also be published on a photojournalism website of the Agence France-Presse. These photos are meant to provoke open and free discussion, provide an escape from the ordinary, and promote French involvement in sustainability and resilience in Laos.


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ART

DATE: June 2020 THEME: Lockdown WINNER: Hom3land


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DATE: August 2020 THEME: Connections WINNER: Horse Moving

“THIS ‘OPEN’ PHILOSOPHY WAS ADOPTED TO INCLUDE THE BROADEST AUDIENCE POSSIBLE IN THE DECISION SO THAT THE WINNING PICTURE REFLECTS NOT ONLY OUR PANEL’S MINDS BUT THE INTERESTS AND FEELINGS OF THE LAO PUBLIC.” Mr. Jean-Manuel Duhaut, Executive Director of Institut Français du Laos

MARCH / APRIL 2021


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ART


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MARCH / APRIL 2021


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ART

DATE: November 2020 THEME: Wellness WINNER: Petro Journey


The perfect encounter between primitive and pure


QV305 ວ�ຈັນ-ປາກເຊ 08:00-09:00 |

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VANG VIENG SNAPSHOT

TEXT BY JASON ROLAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHOONSAB THEVONGSA


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he striking limestone karsts flanked by green paddies and the peaceful blue Song river of Vang Vieng present the perfect postcard impression of Laos. Tourism in this charming area has passed through many phases, beginning in the heyday of partying backpackers enjoying tubing the river, and then to throngs of young Koreans exploring the town in dune buggies. Now, with the opening of the Vientiane-Vang Vieng Expressway conveniently reducing travel time to an hour, Lao tourists are rediscovering the scenic wonders of Vang Vieng.

Kayakers on the Song River at dusk


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SNAPSHOT

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1. The bridge over the Song River at Pha Theung about 15km north of Vang Vieng 2. Tourists enjoy kayaking through incredible limestone scenery 3. Vang Vieng evenings are lively at riverside restaurants


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MARCH / APRIL 2021


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SNAPSHOT

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1. At dawn and dusk, hot air balloons take guests high above the area 2. Paddling on the Song River gets visitors closer to nature 3. Local women collect algae during the dry season which is used in cooking 4. A woman washes the algae she has collected

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SNAPSHOT

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1. A new attraction, the Vangvieng Inter Park, has landscaped gardens and dinosaur statues 2. The limestone mountains contain many caves with beautiful formations 3. Angel Cave is one of the caves that are more developed for tourism

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INTO THE WILD

IN THE

FOOTSTEPS OF

GIANTS

The historical symbol of Laos gets a brighter future TEXT BY CLAIRE BOOBBYER PHOTOGRAPHS BY JULIA ZIMMERMANN / MANDALAO MORE INFO MandaLao is located 15km outside of Luang Prabang, but you can make reservations at their office downtown. See their website at mandalaotours.com for more details.

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n a tangled teak forest, a short drive from Luang Prabang, I cross a cold mountain stream behind a giant matriarch elephant and a trailing tot. Majestic Mahn leads the way through trickling water ahead of four-year-old baby Kit. I pinch myself. I can’t believe I’m so close to these jungle-munching creatures as they wander the forest foraging for breakfast. Baby Kit hesitates when he sees the babbling brook, retreats, pushes ahead, and then bumps around for a different route, scattering his human observers while he searches for the confidence to pass. It’s a magical experience to watch this small pachyderm on a learning curve.

Kit is one of thirteen Asian elephants (and the only youngster) living on the banks of the Nam Khan River who are getting a new and happier lease of life at MandaLao. Set up by American Michael Vogler, and co-founders 5 years ago, MandaLao’s elephants have been rescued from logging camps and are being shown a new future without backbreaking work, and tourists riding on their backs for laughs. MandaLao offers wildlife fans a range of walks and ethical encounters all within easy access to Luang Prabang. Guide Mr. Keum tells our small group at MandaLao’s riverside location that when the Lao government shut down logging camps in 2016, the elephants were out of work. Today they live in a “five-star hotel,” Keum says, while showing us photos of the elephants prior to their welcome at MandaLao. Vogler’s ultimate aim is to send those captive elephants who are able to survive in the wild to a National Biodiversity Con-


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servation Area (NBCA) in Laos in a bid to ensure the species’ survival. Once known as the Land of a Million Elephants, Laos now counts less than 800 wild and captive elephants with numbers declining due to poaching, hunting, illegal wildlife trade and unexploded ordnances. “We can’t bring back one million,” Keum warns, “but we hope to increase the population to six or seven thousand.” After a safety briefing and a tip from Keum: “We can kiss the elephant but not the mahout guide!”, we cross the river on a canoe to meet some of the waiting, and hungry elephants. Thong Khoun, a 47-year-old female, is eager to snaffle the bananas we’ve brought her. When our attention is turned to other stabled elephants in the group, I spy her determination: she draws out her trunk as much as is physically possible and tips over a basket to snatch the last few bananas. I was transfixed. I couldn’t believe she was able to stretch her trunk so much. Our elephants, tails swinging, set off and we trail them, led by guide Mr. Dao who walks us into the “elephant supermarket”, the 200 ha of riverside forest, filled with flitting butterflies, which MandaLao rents from local farmers. The pace is unhurried as the elephants seek out leaves, herbs, and bamboo, stripping the forest like untamed bulldozers. We pad softly over the leaf carpet, so the sound of the forest being ripped up by elephant trunks is intriguing and alarming. Our group sticks to the path, stepping over elephant-sized prints planted in the mud, and piles of turd, but the elephants don’t give a damn about foot-

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left: An elephant marches through the forest 1. Mandalao, set in lush tropical jungle 2. Baby Kit, who will be returned to the wild 3. Elephants require lots of food each day

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paths and wander all over the place farting and looking for their favorite snacks – a time-consuming business: elephants munch 250 kg of plants a day, drink 200 liters of water, and dump 90 kg of poo. Herd matriarch Mahn stopped in her tracks and we watched her scratch the earth with her trunk, suck up the soil, shower herself with dust, then curl up her trunk like a snail shell to yank down a creeper. We’d call it multitasking, I guess. At the end of our trek, we posed with the older females for pictures and boarded our boat back to basecamp. Over lunch of beef, vegetable curry, and fried spring rolls, we shared our favorite bits and pics from the walk. Later I met Vogler to learn more about MandaLao’s particular pachyderm approach. MandaLao’s mahouts use the Human Elephant Learning Program, written by Dr. Andrew McLean, who channeled his equestrian expertise into elephants. “Kit is the first baby raised in Laos that won’t go through the traditional breaking process of putting a three-year-old elephant in a ‘crush’ cage to break its spirit,” Vogler tells me. Kit sure looks happier and bouncier for it. “The development process is similar to humans and Kit has six commands,” Vogler says. “He’s basically a 1200 kg toddler. One minute he is watching a butterfly, the next he is ripping up a forest.” MandaLao’s ultimate goal is to get Kit, fathered by a wild bull, and other elephants in captivity back into the wild. MandaLao works with Prasop Tipprasert, founder of the pioneering Thai Elephant Conservation Center, and with the World Wildlife Fund in Laos, and is developing ideas including a potential new ecotourism product with the aim of ensuring a brighter future for Elephas maximus in Laos. MARCH / APRIL 2021


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INTO THE WILD


53

Artisan

Designer

18k Gold Jewelry Vientiane, Lao PDR


TRAVEL

4000

ISLANDS,

4000

MEMORIES Visiting Laos’ southernmost point TEXT BY ANITA PRESTON PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANITA PRESTON / EVENSONG FILM

GETTING THERE Don Det and Don Khone are accessible from Nakasang Ferry Pier, 140km south of Pakse. Lao Airlines has daily flights to Pakse from Vientiane. above: Li Phi Falls at Don Det left: One of the train engines from the old colonial railway

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n the map, the 4000 Islands looks like a huge knot stuck in the 4350 km pipe of the Mekong, straddling the borders of Laos and Cambodia. The geographical term for this is “archipelago” an extensive group of islands” Travelers’ tales are well established about this southernmost part of Laos, that it’s so beautiful, peaceful, and laid back - a hippie haven. People have been known to get lost here for months. Once you arrive,

you might never leave. One person said, “it’s like Vang Vieng twenty years ago.” With islands spanning the 14km breadth of the Mekong, its lack of development (there are no cars on the islands), friendly locals, spectacular nature, and a variety of cheap accommodations, the appeal is easy to understand. Ironically, for one of the last and least developed places in Laos, the area was one of the first areas visited by explorers. The French-backed Mekong Exploration Commission in the 1860s was the first scientific expedition to chart and survey the length of the Mekong. Their main objective was to find an inland route to China from Saigon. They were stumped before they even began by the treacherous falls at the 4000 Islands. Nature was having none of that.


55

The two main islands on the tourist map to visit are Don Det and Don Khone. At Nakasang, the waterfront is busy with boats of all sizes arriving and departing, bags, packages, water bottles, fishing nets, buckets, and all other essential items are being loaded and unloaded from boats. The Mekong here is a deep sapphire blue and dotted with hundreds of islands ranging in size from a few feet and up, many of them sporting tall exotic grasses. The combination of blue water, colorful wooden houses, weather-worn pirogues, and swaying palms is very picturesque. You can take a log hewn catamaran ferry over to the landing on Don Det. The ride across takes about 10 minutes. In Nakasang, it’s possible to negotiate a tuk-tuk to Khone Phapheng Falls about 20

minutes away along a decent road. Khone Phapheng is a must-see in the 4000 Islands and is extremely popular with Asian tourists as it is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia being almost 11,000 meters wide. From the viewpoint about 200 yards away, you can hear the roar and thunder of the water jetting through the rocks like some giant power washer. Brave locals were ignoring the warning signs and fences and clambering over rocks for that all impressive selfie. Returning to Don Det for the night, motorbike rental for the next day was arranged very cheaply. There aren’t many travelers these days on the islands, though most places are open and there are a few resident foreigners stuck there since COVID-19 canceled their travel plans. I stayed in Houa Don Det (the head of Don Det) at the northern tip of the island close to the ferry. It seems most people either stay on the east side for sunrise, the west side for sunset, or the southern part for peace and quiet. The next day, I followed the concrete path until it turned into a dirt road, carefully negotiating a couple of wooden bridges for fear the frail planks might collapse. Mainly the route was along a small track dotted with palms and small villages with chickens and ducks running about and women sitting in small shops selling bottles of pink gasoline, though motorbike traffic was next to nonexistent. In the middle of the island, parched rice fields surrounded the trail which followed the old railway to the French bridge that connects Don Det with Don Khone. The railway was built in 1894 as portage for boats coming up the Mekong from Saigon as Khone Phapheng Falls would not allow vessels further despite several bold attempts to drive up the falls. At the other side of the French bridge on a plinth stands Eloise, one of the original locomotives saved for posterity.

MARCH / APRIL 2021


56

TRAVEL

1

I headed left after the bridge down a dirt track through some palm-lined villages dotted with old French colonial buildings including a school and the heritage house at Sala Done Khone. Now a hotel, Sala Done Khone affords a great view of the bridge and channel. I ended up driving a remote track following the river. On this part of the island, you can see the massive concrete splitters offshore left by the French who would prepare the logs for transit. Heading to Khone Pa Soy I heard many fishermen could be found selling their catch but I ended up at a dilapidated suspension bridge across a chasm with a turbulent river below. Not daring to risk it on the bridge I continued to Hang Khone, the southernmost tip of Don Khone and the jumping-off point for viewing the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Looking out to Cambodia across the water this is the last stop in Laos. Expecting to be approached for a boat trip to see the dolphins the only person around was a teenage boy sleeping on a hammock. Going back on the track I

1. A fishing boat plies the Mekong at dusk 2. The ferry boat traveling to Don Det

headed to Li Phi Falls, 2 normally there is an entrance fee but they just waved me in. The Falls were well signposted and mapped and I walked the whole viewing route to the end of the path and back. Here the falls might not be as wide as Khone Phapheng but the many cascades were stronger and formed misty clouds. Butterflies and insects were abundant and I watched a pair of white egrets nesting amongst the rocks. Heading back to my guesthouse after a fantastic sunset, I had to prepare to leave. My trip was much too short. I could have done with a few more weeks, nay months. The 4000 Islands area is a very special place. It’s the last trick up the sleeve of Laos before you reach Cambodia. It’s as if she’s saying “wait a minute you haven’t seen everything, look at this” and she shows you a royal flush.


58

TRAVEL


59

MARCH / APRIL 2021


ສດ

ທິພິເ ດ ິ ສ ະ ລ �ດຫຼູ ແ ສ ກ ັ ພ ີ ່ ທ ິ + ນ

ປ�ເຮືອບ

020 55 503 502


Lao Airlines Updates

LAO AIRLINES NEWS | AIRLINE PARTNERS FLIGHT ROUTES | OFFICES


62

LAO AIRLINES NEWS

LAO AIRLINES SALES AGENTS FIRST ANNUAL MEETING

A general meeting was held for Lao Airlines sales agents in Vientiane Capital on 21 January. The meeting provided an opportunity for sales agents to meet and exchange ideas. Mr. Khamla Phommavanh, President of Lao Airlines, chaired the meeting and delivered a speech before opening the floor for discussion on various topics. Sales agents expressed that the sale of air tickets has become increasingly difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the meeting discussed strategies to overcome such challenges. To assist in boosting domestic tourism, Lao Airlines has become a key sponsor of the Lao Thiao Lao domestic tourism campaign, and is pleased to support its sales agents in their domestic tourism promotional activities. The meeting closed with participants resolved to continue promoting domestic tourism to help the sector recover.


63

LAO AIRLINES PLANS TO IMPROVE AND DEVELOP TO OVERCOME THE COVID-19 CRISIS

At the end of 2020, Lao Airlines directors focused their energy and intellect to revise the Business Recovery Plan by adapting to rapidly changing local, regional, and international environments. In the Business Recovery Plan 2021–2025, there are six core tasks that are ready to be implemented: - Provide customers with quality service with increased levels of safety according to international aviation guidelines. - Build a unified image and renown of Lao Airlines to be of value and to create excellent travel experiences for all of our passengers. - Service that is sincere, smiling, warm, and impressive. - Expanding the aviation network to facilitate and connect distant transportation, which means partnering with the world's leading airlines. - Build professionalism in all employees in the organization, establish qualifications to be institutionalized in our work, as well as provide instruction, training, and build a competent and knowledgeable staff for the air transport industry. - Manage the business more efficiently for the advancement of the organization Lao Airlines hopes that these core tasks will be able to better meet the needs of our clients. Finally, in the near future, we will continue to supplement, promote, and revitalize domestic and international tourism in order to contribute to society as we have done in the past.

MARCH / APRIL 2021


64

TIMETABLE

Timetable 2021 DOMESTIC ROUTES/ເສັ້ນທາງພາຍໃນປະເທດ DAY

VIENTIANE

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

A/C

S.

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

> LUANGPRABANG Daily

12:30

-

13:10

QV101

A320

F Su

16:00

-

16:40

QV103

M T W Th S

16:00

-

16:50

QV103

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

A/C

S.

LUANGPRABANG >

0

Daily

13:50

-

14:30

QV102

A320

A320

0

F Su

17:20

-

18:00

QV104

A320

0

AT7

0

M T W Th S

17:20

-

11:10

QV104

AT7

0

ຫຼວງນ�ຳທາ

> LUANGNAMTHA

DAY

ຫຼວງນ�ຳທາ

LUANGNAMTHA >

Daily

11:00

-

11:55

QV603

AT7

0

Daily

12:25

-

13:20

QV604

AT7

0

Daily

14:00

-

14:45

QV601

AT7

0

Daily

15:25

-

16:20

QV602

AT7

0

ຊຽງຂວາງ

> XIENGKHUANG M W F Su

10:00

-

10:30

QV401

AT7

-

13:05

QV501

AT7

QV305

A320

ອຸດົມໄຊ

> OUDOMXAY Daily

12:15

0

ປາກເຊ

> PAKSE MW

08:00

-

09:00

T Th F S Su

08:00

-

09:30

QV305

F S Su

16:00

-

17:30

QV303

-

09:00

QV223

08:00

M W F Su

11:00

-

11:30

QV402

13:35

-

14:25

QV502

AT7

10:50

QV306

A320

ອຸດົມໄຊ Daily

AT7

0

OUDOMXAY >

ປາກເຊ

0

PAKSE >

MW

09:50

-

AT7

0

T Th F S Su

10:00

-

11:30

QV306

AT7

0

AT7

0

F S Su

18:00

-

19:30

QV304

AT7

0

09:30

-

10:30

QV224

AT7

0

Remark : All times are local times UTC+9 = Korea UTC+8 = China, Singapore UTC+7 = Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia * QV4570/ QV4571/ QV4574/ QV4575 Operated by THAI AIRWAYS * QV4920/ QV4921/ QV4930/ QV4931 Operated by VIETNAM AIRLINES

Valid Untill 30 Oct 2021

XIENGKHUANG >

ຊຽງຂວາງ

0

ສະຫວັນນະເຂດ

> SAVANNAKHET M W F Su

0

ສະຫວັນນະເຂດ M W F Su

VIENTIANE

0

0

SAVANNAKHET > AT7

0

All schedules/types of aircraft and information are subject to change without prior notice and to government approval. For more information, please contact any Lao Airlines reservation office.


HOT LINE


66

FLIGHT ROUTES

WIN INTERNATIONAL ROUTE / ເສັ້ນທາງລະຫວ�າງປະເທດ DAY

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

A/C

ຊຽງຮຸ�ງ

LUANGPRABANG > JINGHONG Th Su

10:30

-

12:30

QV811

07:40

-

Transit (VTE) Arr. 08:25

PAKSE

13:25

QV535

09:25

09:45

1

-

10:55

QV223

AT7

0

ໂຮຈີມິນ -

11:20

D

ຊຽງຮຸ�ງ Th Su

1

ສິງກະໂປ W F Su

ບາງກອກ

QV515

AT7

DOMESTIC ROUTES

0

ສຽມຣຽບ

> SIEMREAP

SAVANNAKHET

A320

DAY

14

Transit (VTE) Arr

> HO CHI MINH T Th S

0

Dep. 09:30

> BANGKOK M W F S Su

AT7

ສິງກະໂປ

> SINGAPORE W F Su

S.

ບາງກອກ M W F S Su

11

ໂຮຈີມິນ T Th S

12

ສຽມຣຽບ

Daily

13:00

-

14:00

QV513

AT7

0

Daily

14

T Th

08:55

-

09:55

QV511

AT7

0

T Th

10

ບາງກອກ

> BANGKOK M W F S Su

08:25

-

Transit (PKZ) Arr. 08:55

10:55

QV223

AT7

1

Dep. 09:25

ບາງກອກ M W F S Su

1

Transit (PKZ) Arr

DOMESTIC ROUTE / ເສັ້ນທາງພາຍໃນປະເທດ DAY

VIENTIANE

Charter flights

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

A/C

S.

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

> LUANGPRABANG

DAY

D

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

Daily

09:10

-

10:00

QV111

AT7

0

M T Th S

07

Daily

11:30

-

12:15

QV101

A320

0

W F Su

07

T W Th S Su 13:00

-

13:45

QV105

A320

0

Daily

13

T W Th S Su

14

M T Th S

17:00

-

17:45

QV103

A320

0

M W F Su

18

W F Su

17:00

-

17:45

QV536

A320

0

T Th S

18

ຫຼວງນ�້າທາ

> LUANGNAMTHA Daily

11:50

-

13:05

QV601

AT7

0

ຫຼວງນ�້າທາ Daily

13


LAO AIRLINES OFFICES

INTERNATIONAL OFFICES

DOMESTIC OFFICES

Bangkok

Vientiane (VTE)

Town Office 491/17 ground Fl, Silom Plaza, Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand Tel: (66-2) 236 9822 / (66-2) 236 9823 / (66-2) 237 8044 Fax: (66-2) 236 9821 Email: bkkrrqv@ksc.th.com Suvarnabhumi Airport 2nd Floor of AOB building, Room No. Z010 Tel: (66-2) 134 2006 to 2008 Fax: (66-2) 134 2009

Chiangmai

2/107 Ratchaphruek, Huaykaew Road, Amphoe Muang, Chiangmai 50300, Thailand Tel: (66-53) 223 401, Fax: (66-53) 223 400 Email: qvcnx@loxinfo.co.th

Hanoi

03 Lieu Giai Str, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: (84-4) 394 25362, Fax: (84-4) 394 25363 Email: laoairlines.han@fpt.vn / qvhan@laoairlines.com

Hochiminh

11A Song Da, Dist Tan Binh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Tel: (84) 912 070 045 Email: qvsgn@laoairlines.com

Ticketing and Reservation Office Tel: (856-21) 212051-54 or 1626 Email: vtersqv@laoairlines.com / vtessqv@laoairlines.com onlinebooking@laoairlines.com Airport Offices Tel: (856-21) 513032

Luang Prabang (LPQ)

Town Office Tel: (856-71) 212172, Fax: (856-71) 212406 Email: lpqssqv@laoairlines.com Airport Office Tel: (856-71) 212173, Fax: (856-71) 252264 Email: lpa@laoairlines.com

Xiengkhouang (XKH)

Town Office Tel: (856-61) 312027, Fax: (856-61) 312487 Email: xkh@laoairlines.com Airport Office Tel: (856-61) 312177

Luang Namtha (LXG)

Phnompenh

58 B Sihanouk Avenue, Phnompenh, Cambodia Tel: (855-23) 222956 / (855-23) 216 563, Fax: (855-23) 216 563 Email: laoairlines.qvpnh@online.com.kh

Town Office Luangnamtha rd., Nongbouavieng Village, Luangnamtha Province Tel: (856-86) 212072 / 212186, Fax: (856-86) 212073 Email: lxg@laoairlines.com Airport Office Tel: (856-86) 312180, 312053

Siem Reap

Oudomsay (ODY)

N.C10,C12, Angkor Shopping Acade National Road 6, Kruos Village, Svay Dangkum Commune, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia Tel: (855-63) 963169, Fax: (855-63) 963 283 | Skype ID: helpdesk_qvrep Email: qvreptkt@laoairlines.com

Kunming

No52 East Dong Feng Road, Kunming Yunnan, China Tel: (86-871) 63125748 / (86)-13987182913 Email: Kunming@laoairlines.com

Guangzhou

Room 1208,12 floor, Main tower, Guangdong International Building, 339 Huanshi Dong Road, Guangzhou, China P.C: 510098 Tel: (8620) 838 840 85, Fax: (8620) 838 840 95 Email: canqv@laoairlines.com

Jing Hong

Ground Floor King Land Hotel, 6 Jing De Road, Jing Hong Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China Tel: (86-692) 12199515 / (0086) 13988136962 Fax: (86-692) 12199515 Email: qvjhg@laoairlines.com

Seoul

Gwang Hwa Mun Centre Point Building 5F31SaeMunAn-Ro 5-gil (Doryum-dong 65) Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea Tel: (82-2) 6262-0808,0809,0810 / (82-2) 6262-0800,0811,0822 / (82-2) 6262-0819 Fax: (82-2) 6262-0844 Email: ticketing.sel@laoairlines.com

Tel: (856-81) 312047, 312146, Fax: (856-81) 212229 Email: ody@laoairlines.com

Savannakhet (ZVK)

Dongdamdouan Village, Khaysonephomvihane District, Savannakhet Province Tel: (856-41) 212140, 252198, Fax: (856-41) 251060 Email: zvk@laoairlines.com

Pakse (PKZ)

11 Road, Phatthana Lakmueng Village, Pakse District, Champasak Province Tel: (856-31) 212252, Fax: (856-31) 212751 Email: pkz@laoairlines.com

67


68

LAO AIRLINES PARTNERS

WIN INTERNATIONAL ROUTE / ເສັ້ນທາງລະຫວ�າງປະເທດ DAY

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

A/C

ຊຽງຮຸ�ງ

LUANGPRABANG > JINGHONG Th Su

10:30

-

12:30

QV811

07:40

-

Transit (VTE) Arr. 08:25

PAKSE

13:25

QV535

09:25

09:45

1

ບາງກອກ -

10:55

QV223

AT7

0

ໂຮຈີມິນ -

11:20

QV515

AT7

0

ສຽມຣຽບ

> SIEMREAP

SAVANNAKHET

A320

DAY

D

ຊຽງຮຸ�ງ Th Su

1

ສິງກະໂປ W F Su

14

Transit (VTE) Arr

> HO CHI MINH T Th S

0

Dep. 09:30

> BANGKOK M W F S Su

AT7

ສິງກະໂປ

> SINGAPORE W F Su

S.

ບາງກອກ M W F S Su

11

ໂຮຈີມິນ T Th S

12

ສຽມຣຽບ

Daily

13:00

-

14:00

QV513

AT7

0

Daily

14

T Th

08:55

-

09:55

QV511

AT7

0

T Th

10

ບາງກອກ

> BANGKOK M W F S Su

08:25

-

Transit (PKZ) Arr. 08:55

10:55

QV223

AT7

1

Dep. 09:25

ບາງກອກ M W F S Su

1

Transit (PKZ) Arr

DOMESTIC ROUTE / ເສັ້ນທາງພາຍໃນປະເທດ DAY

VIENTIANE

DEP.

ARR.

FLIGHT NO.

A/C

S.

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

> LUANGPRABANG

DAY

D

ຫຼວງພະບາງ

Daily

09:10

-

10:00

QV111

AT7

0

M T Th S

07

Daily

11:30

-

12:15

QV101

A320

0

W F Su

07

T W Th S Su 13:00

-

13:45

QV105

A320

0

Daily

13

T W Th S Su

14

M T Th S

17:00

-

17:45

QV103

A320

0

M W F Su

18

W F Su

17:00

-

17:45

QV536

A320

0

T Th S

18

> LUANGNAMTHA

ຫຼວງນ�້າທາ

ຫຼວງນ�້າທາ


ຍງ່ິບນ ິ ຫາຼຍ, ຍງ່ິມສ ີ ດ ິ ທພ ິ ເິສດຫາຼຍ

*:

*

6


Profile for Champa Meuanglao

Champa Meuanglao: March / April 2021  

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