How do you fancy some Belgian chocolate? What about a German beer or some French biscuits? Then Boten on the Chinese – Laos boarder is the place to visit, but wait, there’s something you should know about Boten….
At the height of its fame Boten played host to nearly 10,000 gamblers and pleasure seekers. Chinese tourists crammed themselves into the hotels and restaurants enjoying comforts from all over the world, a mecca for those seeking a little indulgence.
In 2011 this all came crashing down. Following some high profile kidnappings the Chinese government forbade its citizens from gambling in Boten and encouraged the Laos government to control the countries more salubrious boarder activities.
Now Boten is a ghost town. Its abandoned hotels and luxury apartments stand empty and crumbling, the casinos lifeless. The few people that are dotted about busy themselves with imported goods from China, a couple of little restaurants cater for the local appetite and that’s about it, except of course for the massive Duty Free Mall.
Right in the centre of town the lights are on and the staff are bustling, polishing glass shelves and arranging the displays of luxury goods brought in through China from all over the world. There are few customers to contend with so as someone who detests shopping this is perfect! This place is truly surreal, set against the backdrop of mountains and jungle browsing the Belgian beer selection, this is an odd experience. What makes it even weirder is that you can’t pay in Laos Kip, its Chinese Yuan only, which you can get from the in-house currency exchange. In Laos, buying English chocolate, with Chinese money, brilliant!
Boten is not the place to visit if you’re on a tight schedule, although the journey there is quite spectacular. Boten is the place to visit if you have a spare day and want to experience a post-apocalyptic film set. If you fancy seeing something a little weird then you should go, take your camera and pick up some Cadburys chocolate while you’re there!