Vieng Xai (also Vieng Xay, Vieng Sai) is a district and town in Hua Phan Province. The town is located on Route 6, 30 Km from Sam Neua (Province capital) and 55 km from the Vietnam/Laos border in Na Meo.
The biggest attraction of the town are the caves. The former Pathet Lao headquarters of Vieng Xai sit in a striking valley of fertile hills and limestone cliffs riddled with caves, several of which were used to shelterthr Pathet Lao officers during the second indo-china war.
During the 1960s, political developments in Laos were influential in the future of this whole region. The United States believed that Laos was crucial in the prevention of communist expansion, so this small country became caught up in the conflict between the US and the north Vietnamese.
In 1964, the US began what became nine years of extremely intensive bombing of the country, many bombs were haphazardly dropped simply to get rid of them following cancelled missions over Vietnam.
The Pathet Lao moved east to Vieng Xay and these limestone karst cave networks sheltered their headquarters during their struggle with the American-backed Royal Lao Government. In these caves the Pathet Lao established a “Hidden City” which supported around 20,000 people. During nine years of almost constant bombing, they sheltered in caves and surrounding jungle. Most of their daily lives were led under cover of darkness. Schools, hospitals and markets as well as government ministries, a radio station, a theatre and military barracks were all hidden in the caves.
In 1973 a ceasefire stopped the bombing and the new town of ViengXay was established as the capital of the liberated zone. When the Lao People's Democratic Republic was declared on 2 December 1975, the capital city was transferred to Vientiane.
Songthaew run regularly between Sam Neua and Vieng Xai. The songthaew departs from the local bus station in Sam Neua – about 4 km north from the center of town (1-2 km after the airport). The journey takes 0.5–1 hr.
You can hire a bicycle from the caves' visitor centre.
Standard bicycle: 10,000 kip / tour or 20,000 kip / Day
Mountain bike: 15,000 kip / tour or 30,000 kip / Day
Discover the “Hidden City”
There are tours to the caves in english every day starting at 9:00 and 13:00, the cost is 60,000 kip. You can also take a tour at other times during visitor centre open hours for an extra 50,000 kip per group.
The tour lasts about 2.5 hr and includes a local guide and a well narrated audio book. A bike is needed as the tour covers a large area, and the centre provides them for an additional fee.
Vieng Xai Caves visitor centre (open 08:00-12:00, 13:30-16:30 all week - +856 64 314321) also has tourist information for the town and region. The centre is deserted except for the 09:00 & 13:00 tours.
Thavisay hotel (+856 20 5665026) - a two storey hotel, all rooms have private hot-water bathroom, a fan and a double bed with a mosquito net. Simple but the setting is pleasant, and the owners are very friendly. (50,000 – 60,000 kip)
Xailomyen G.H – A large timber guest house on stilts over a small lake. All rooms have a mosquito net, there is also a restaurant and beer. (50,000 – 60,000 kip)
Naxay G.H – the cute wooden bungalows have mosquito net, hot water bathroom and a fan. Located near the Caves Visitor center. (50,000 – 70,000 Kip)
Thongnakay G.H – a new building, all the six rooms have a fan, double bed with a mosquito net and private hot-water bathroom. (50,000 – 60,000 kip), 030 99907206, 9120250
Tontavan G.H -
Phathao G.H -
Sam Neua – many songthaews a day (05:40, 06:40, 07:30, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 15:00), costs 15,000 or 20,000 Kip, takes 0.5–1 hr. Departs from the market.
Update/Note (October 2011): The fare is 15,000 or 20,000 kip for locals. Foreigners are charged an extra 5,000 kip.
Na Meo (Lao/Vietnam border) - 07:15 approximately - a songthaew that departs from SamNeua at 06:45. You should wait on the main road from Sam Neua to Na Meo (approximately 1 km from the town centre). 2.5 – 3 hours, 22,000 kip