Embarking on An Laotian Adventure: A Journey through Time and Scenic Rails

November 28, 2023

Attuned to the demand for more comfortable and sustainable travel, railway journeys have long been a favoured means of exploring Asian and American destinations in style. While more established countries ride the tracks of a bygone era, seamlessly integrating into the demands of modern society, one nation has recently embraced the immersion of rail travel: Laos. 

Laos has undoubtedly set a new standard for offering alternative means of comfort and value, aligning with the ongoing push to stay ahead in creating awareness of blending comfort, exploration, and sustainability. Those familiar with Laos understand that its natural magnificence is unparalleled, making it a highly underrated destination in our Discova portfolio. Nestled along the banks of the Mighty Mekong, with dominating mountain ranges revealing an authentic side of the country, Laos deserves attention as much as any other destination when seeking that distinctive Asian flair. A favourite among Indochina explorers, it’s a place where the sands of time seem to slow down at their own pace, creating a soothing, laid-back atmosphere that encapsulates Laotian culture. 

Since December 2021, this enchanting and picturesque destination has witnessed a surge in railway travel options connecting three of the People’s Democratic Republic’s most sought-after destinations – Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. Previously accessible only by road or short domestic flights, the introduction of a high-speed connection marks a new era for exploring these fabulous destinations, each possessing its own unique character and charm. 

The Boten (South Yunnan) – Vientiane railway project is part of an extensive network linking southern China down to the little red dot in South-East Asia known as Singapore. Funded by Chinese investments, the Boten – Vientiane railway is a small but significant segment of the high-speed train puzzle, leaving an indelible mark on the trajectory of Laotian tourism. 

Featuring over 75 tunnels, nearly 170 bridges and viaducts, and providing a fresh perspective of the country, it’s the time-saving aspect that has enticed many travellers to opt for the comfort of either the 1st or 2nd class compartments. With speeds reaching up to 160 kilometres per hour, passengers traverse the ever-changing landscape of rolling mountain ranges, diverse architectural regions, and picturesque views over villages and settlements.

Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong
Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong

Undoubtedly, Luang Prabang stands out as Laos’ shining star. Infused with Buddhism at every corner of its walkable town centre and still resonating with that French colonial atmosphere, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site deserving praise beyond its borders. Hugging the river banks of the Mekong, Luang Prabang serves as the gateway to hiking and trekking opportunities, river cruises, and a plethora of social enterprises keen on preserving Laotian tradition. For the true adventurer moving north, Asia’s most dramatic landscapes unfold, often with hardly any soul in sight. 

Sunset over green rice fields and mountains in Vang Vieng, Laos

With the Boten – Vientiane high-speed train effortlessly traversing the towering landscape via Vang Vieng – the unofficial adventure capital of Laos – to Vientiane, the charming capital, exploring Laos along these three awe-inspiring destinations has never been easier. While Vientiane may not offer a lively entertainment scene upon arrival, its French-styled boulevards guide visitors to the country’s most revered temples and the dominant Patuxai Victory Gate. 

The demand for more conscientious travel options to explore Laos’ breathtaking destinations is on the rise. If contributing to a better world is woven into your Laos travel agenda, do consider taking the train. 

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