In the next six to eight years people will see a new face of Vientiane as Don Chan Island along the Mekong River develops into a modern urban area complete with a pedestrian zone.
CAMCE, the Lao-Chinese joint venture developing the area, plans to invest over US$600 million to turn 42 hectares of Don Chan Island along the Mekong River in Vientiane into the first international residence area, the first international business centre, as well as an international cultural and tourist centre where Lao people can take their family, friends and loved ones to shop, dine and enjoy local and international movies.
The company will create for the public a shopping paradise, a food paradise, an entertainment paradise, as well as a travelling paradise. The shopping mall will be built alongside a pedestrian street and will accommodate Vientiane’s first international-standard cinema. All of these facilities will show the glory of Laos.
The mega real estate development project will give Vientiane a new face. For the first time in hundreds of years the Lao capital will have modern and tall buildings as in many other cities such as Bangkok, Singapore and even New York.
It is the aspiration of Lao people to see a capital city that is as modern as those in other countries. Many of the younger generation choose to work in Thailand, not only because they want jobs and money, but also because they consider the Thai capital to be modern and wish that Laos was as modern as foreign cities.
Thousands of Lao people cross the Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge to Thailand every day, not only because they want to go shopping but also because they want to enjoy a modern lifestyle.
They want to spend time in air conditioned shopping malls, eat Japanese hotpot, pizza or a McDonald’s hamburger at lunchtime and spend the rest of the afternoon in a movie theatre before returning home in the evening.
One of the main reasons that Lao people like to cross the border to Thailand is because Laos cannot offer them modern shopping and dining facilities. CAMCE, a Lao-Chinese joint venture, has realised this need and wants to offer Lao people modern tourism facilities in their own country, to prevent the outflow of foreign currency.
Vientiane will become a unique city and give people both a traditional and modern lifestyle which, while providing a real contrast of the two differences, will retain harmony. It will be good for high class tourists to stay in international modern facilities while having the chance to learn about the history and culture of the past from Buddhist temples in Vientiane, explains Mr Yao, Managing Director of CAMCE Investment.
There are more than 20 temples in the city centre. Vat Sisaket, which holds a treasure trove of Lao art and architecture, tells stories of the golden era of the Lane Xang Kingdom. Hor Phakeo shows tourists what Laos lost in times of foreign invasion.
The That Luang stupa is one of the top tourist destinations in Vientiane where visitors can explore this revered national symbol.
Mr Viengvilay Volavong, an engineer from an architectural design company in Vientiane, says “I hope the project finishes early because I, as well as other Lao people, look forward to seeing this gorgeous city and parkland. In addition, we will be able to shop in air conditioned malls, eat food and drink in luxury restaurants, and watch movies in an international standard cinema.”
“As I am a local resident” explains Ms Malyphone, “I want to see more changes in terms of the economy, modernisation and globalisation. Laos has opened up to the world and I am sure that infrastructure, including this park, will create a new face and attraction for the country. It has an ideal location on the Mekong River, where people can gather to socialise, and sell and buy things.
“I expect there will be a lot of positive changes in this area, not only in terms of the economy, but also for tourism. I am positive that the park will enrich our lives as well as the country. This will help to build the reputation of the country and its citizens.”