The town of Vieng Xai in Laos' Houaphanh Province is sandwiched between rows of limestone peaks and equally impressive caves; some of which were once homes and bases of the Pathet Lao leaders and their followers. The town itself is small and peacefull, and defintely worth a day or two's exploration (for the caves in particular) or just a rest from all that travelling.
Most travellers visit the town to view the Pathet Lao leader's caves. However, it's also a good stopping off point for heading into Vietnam via the seldom-used border at Na Maew in Laos and Nam Xoi in Vietnam.
To visit the caves you'll need to head straight to the Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Tour Cave Office so you can pay the entrance fee (about US$3). You'll also need a guide - these are mandatory, but sure do know their stuff! You should be taken to about 3 or 4 caves, but make sure you get to see the following, which are by far the most interesting:
Same as those celebrated nationally, so check the Laos Events and Festivals
There is a regular Sawngthaew that runs between Sam Neua and Vieng Xai and should only set you back by about $1. The journey should take about an hour. Some guest houses in Sam Neua can also arrange private car transfers if you fancy a bit more comfort and can afford the high prices.
It may be worth catching a tuk-tuk or Sawngthaew to the caves.
Vieng Xai is pretty small, so most sites can be visited on foot.
There are not many options for food in Vieng Xai though the Thavisey Hotel has a decent, cheap restaurant overlooking a man-made lake.
There aren't any bars or clubs in Vieng Xai but most hotels and restaurants can fulfill your Beer Lao needs.
& Thavisay Hotel - $5-7
See also International Telephone Calls
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