Myanmar-Laos border gate receives international status
THE border gate between Myanmar and Laos has been upgraded and given international status, according to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.
The ministry has upgraded the Wan Pong check point in Tachilek, Shan State, making it an international border entry point for Myanmar and Laos. It has also opened the Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge since September, under a border cooperation agreement with the Laotians.
The Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge links Kyainglap (Kenglap) in Tachileik district and Xieng Kok in Luang Namtha, Laos.
The border agreement will allow citizens of the two countries and third country national travelers to cross the border between Myanmar and Laos through Wan Pong with the necessary visas or passports.
The Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge was actually completed during the previous government’s term, however negotiations between both sides on third country national entry and border issues has taken more than three years, U Naung Naung Han, general secretary of Union of Myanmar Travel Association told The Myanmar Times.
The Wan Pong check point is the seventh international border gate where third country national travelers with passports and visas can pass through after Myawaddy, Kawthaung, Htee Khee, Tachileik, Tamu and Rikhawdar.
Before the upgrade, citizens from the two countries crossed the Myanmar-Laos border with limited access.
There are also no direct flights between Myanmar and Laos so third country travelers have to pass Thailand either by air or land to enter Myanmar. “Now we can arrange trips for travelers from the two countries without passing through a third country and tourists can also depart through Myanmar at the new international gate,” U Naung Naung Han said.
Notably, Russian travelers have shown interest in this new Myanmar-Laos market and a lot of enquiries for tour groups to pass through the Wan Pong gate have been made recently, he said.
“We are planning two-week travel itineraries for tourists passing through the two countries,” he said.
The new route will provide new opportunities for caravan tour operators in Myanmar because they can now directly drive to Cambodia and Vietnam from Myanmar through Laos via the Wan Pong checkpoint, U Kyaw Min Oo, managing director of Equal Link Tours told The Myanmar Times.
“We had to go through the Thai border before. But now we are able to go where we want without passing through Thailand. That will be very effective for tourism,” he said. Each entry into Thailand is US$250.
The tour company is already planning to land tours to six countries including Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in 2019 as well as new itineraries for Laos-Myanmar caravan tours.
U Aung Pyi Phyo, managing director of Marvellous Memory Travel and Tours said “there are now more opportunities for tourism to be developed at the border areas with the opening of new border gates and more job opportunities are also created. We can easily travel to neighboring countries over land which will also improve trade relations.”