Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Traveling on the East-West Economic Corridor


14:43' 17/07/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – The East-West Economic Corridor, in reality a 1,450-kilonieter-long road, connects Danang City in Vietnam with large cities of Laos and Thailand. The corridor has potentials in historical, cultural, and ecological tourism. Nowadays, a traveler has only to buy a packaged tour along the corridor to explore natural beauties of many countries, or even design a trip by himself.

A view of Mukdahan City in Thailand. ( www.thaiwebsites.com)

Tourists are suggested to begin the journey in Danang City in the early morning, go through Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri provinces, and reach Lao Bao Border Gate at noon.

It takes only 15 minutes to finish procedures for entering Laos with just VND20,000 for a tourist and VND5,000 for a trader. Then, they are already on the way to Savanakhet, the second largest province of the neighboring country after Vientiane Capital.

Along the way are forests of many old trees and green rice fields, giving passengers cool and fresh feelings quite different from the hot climate in the summer. Some peaceful villages with traditional stilt houses come in sight along the road.

The bus arrives in Savanakhet Province late in the afternoon. This is one of six busiest commercial localities along the corridor besides Mawlamyine in Myanmar, Phitsanulok and Khon Kaen in Thailand, and Hue and Danang in Vietnam.

A Vietnamese resident there says that locals there have benefited much more in business from the corridor. "A direct airline from Savanakhet to Bangkok will be launched soon, and hopefully an air route from Savanakhet to Vietnam will also be opened soon after," says the resident.

From the province, travelers could see crowded streets of the Mukdahan City in Thailand beyond a river and easily enter the Buddhist country through the Mukdahan Border Gate.

There are many hopping centers in the city with all kinds of products such as building materials, clothes, and souvenirs. Tourists will also be pleased with accommodation services with many hotels costing just US$10-30 a room each night.

After taking a rest, travelers will take time for their own pleasure, possibly by taking a walk around peaceful streets, watching twilight landscapes on the Mekong Rever, or traveling on a tuktuk three-wheeled taxi. In addition, some local specialties like grilled chicken, sticky rice, or Mekong fish will wash away their tiredness after a long journey.

In the following morning, tourists can still prolong their trip to other attractions in Thailand such as Bankok, Pattaya, and Phuket.

The SK Tourism Co. has arranged caravan tours with the itinerary from Singapore, through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos to Vietnam since 1994. Visitors can contact the company's Vietnamese partner named Hoian Travel at 10 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province, telephone: (0510) 910911, website: www.hoiantravel.com