Silk Air makes Laos a little bit more accessible for Australians
SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, recently announced it will launch services from Singapore to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos, from November 2016.
According to Asia travel specialists Insider Journeys, which have been operating regular tours in Laos since 1996, the services will positively impact visitor numbers to the country, which has traditionally been more difficult to access than its neighbours.
Unlike Vietnam and Cambodia, both of which have seen strong tourism arrivals in the last 10 years, aided by iconic tourist drawcards such as UNESCO-listed Halong Bay and Angkor Wat, Laos has remained somewhat of an intrepid destination for travellers seeking an 'off the beaten path' experience. This is despite having two UNESCO listings of its own: Luang Prabang town set on the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape.
"Without a doubt, the majority of our clients who have travelled to Laos with us rave about the place after they've been there," says Paul Hole, Managing Director of Insider Journeys.
"Luang Prabang is the country's standout destination, which is not surprising given its numerous attractions such as the atmospheric night-market, the fantastic dining options, and the many Buddhist temples filled with saffron-robed monks. Travellers are particularly entranced witnessing the monks make their pilgrimage through the village streets each morning to collect alms from devotees in the ancient ceremony called takbat."
The low number of Australian visitors, compared with Vietnam and Cambodia, can be partly attributed to the fact there are no direct flights from Australia to Laos.
"We've noticed that access has historically made it harder for Australians wanting to visit Laos," says Mark Lee, Laos Product Manager at Insider Journeys.
"The absence of direct flights or same-day connections by major airlines, especially to Luang Prabang, has been a deterrent for Australian travellers.
"While we encourage our clients to visit Indochina in one trip whenever possible to experience the diversity and beauty of Indochina, the logistics of flying in and out of Laos, and the need to sometimes backtrack overnight to Hanoi or Vientiane has discouraged travellers who are time-poor. We're really excited about this agreement between Silk Air and Lao Airlines, and think it will definitely strengthen the country's tourism arrival numbers."
Insider Journeys offer three standalone Laos small group journey itineraries, as well as a number of Indochina cross-border trips that include Vietnam and Cambodia. The new flights into Laos by SilkAir are ideal for the 6 day Highlights of Laos, 19 day Indochina Explorer and 15 day Vietnam & Laos Explorer small group journey itineraries.
Insider Journeys is offering 15% off any Indochina Small Group Journey booked and deposited by 30 September 2016, for travel prior to 31 December 2016.
Normally from $6,395* per person twin share, save over $1,000 AUD per person, twin share on select departures of the 19 day Indochina Explorer Small Group Journey.
For details, visit: http://www.insiderjourneys.com.au/promos/indochina/index.html
* From prices per person twin share. Subject to availability and subject to change. Prices may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Amounts payable to third parties not included. Airfares not included unless otherwise specified.