Oudomxai (also spelled Oudômxai or Oudomxay) is a province in northwestern Laos that has not yet received many tourists. The local Provincial Tourist Office (in Oudomxay City) has been offering since November 2006 some very nice hiking including nightstays in khamu family houses (not guest houses, as in other more touristy hike places, which makes the experience very special and intimate). Although not as colorful as other ethnic groups of Laos, the khamu people are very nice and happy to have foreigners visiting their villages.
UdomXay City is easily accessible by bus, or by airplane from Vientiane. In fact, it might be the best bet from Vientiane if one wishes to go to the northwest of the counrty, as the Luang Nam Tha airport will be closed for many months (major improvement to the airstrip). From there, it is an easy bus ride to Luang Nam Tha (northwest), or to the east and toward Luang Prabang.
Souphailin restaurant, turn right before the Post-Office, has very tasty lao-food
There are buses to northern Lao, China (Jinghong), Pakbeng, Louang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, etc., but many of those leave only in the morning, and very few or even none later in the afternoon.