VIETNAM - Vientiane's latest tourist attraction, the National Ethnic Culture Park, is set to open next April with work on phase one of the project now more than 80 per cent complete.
Work on the venture began in 2012 with the whole project costing US$30 million (S$37 million), financed by the IP Group.
Group President Ad Phannivong said "We decided to develop 10 hectares of the existing park into a new tourism complex to attract visitors in anticipation of ASEAN integration in 2015."
Ad said the park was left as an undeveloped area for many years before it was taken over for improvement by the company.
"The park is close to the centre of Vientiane and the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, so it can help to boost socio-economic growth and development in the area. That is one of the main reasons the company decided to develop the project at this location," Ad said.
"We plan to convert the park into a popular attraction for both domestic and international tourists," he added.
Under the first phase of the development, the company is constructing a large building that will house a restaurant, coffee shop, swimming pool and other amenities able to cater to around 1,000 visitors.
Ad said the company planned to conduct a feasibility study into the next two phases after the first phase was complete.
For the next phase, the company plans to build a 200 bed hotel, duty-free shop, resort, boating lake and a cultural zone where tourists can take a break and view models of traditional houses so they can learn about the dwellings used by Laos' diverse ethnic groups.
The IP Group plans to build mode ls of the That Luang Stupa and stone jars that resemble the mysterious vessels found at the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province. They will also create models of the Xieng Thong Temple in the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, and Vat Phou, the ruined temple in Champassak p rovince, which has also been declared a World Heritage Site.
The concept of building models of well-known tourist attractions aims to offer visitors the chance to enjoy all the popular landmarks in one place.
Since work began the developers have built a Naga garden and a food and water garden among other features. Other structures currently under construction are set to be completed before Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) in April.
This will enable the developer to hold activities to celebrate Pi Mai Lao such as a Nang Sang Khan (Miss New Year) contest and cultural performance competitions, to create a joyful atmosphere on the festive occasion.
Boat races on the Mekong River will also be included in the attractions.
The National Ethnic Culture Park is located at km 18 on Thadeua Road in Dongphosy village, Hadxaifong district, Vientiane.