Take Time to Explore Houaphanh Province
Houaphanh, in the northeast of Laos surrounded to the north, east and south by Vietnam, is the country's most ethnically diverse provinces. This very rural and traditional province is mountainous and thickly forested. Travelling along the winding roads you can enjoy spectacular mountain views. On many of the rivers you will see bamboo waterwheels used to irrigate the rice fields.
Textile weaving in silk and cotton Houaphanh province is famous for its quality and diversity, and you can buy unique pieces as a memory of your visit. Evidence of the area's ancient history can be seen in sites of standing stones. The climate is fresh and it is cool during the winter months.
You can travel to Houaphanh from Vientiane, Phonesavan and Luang Prabang, and cross into Vietnam just 2 hours east of Xamneua at Nam Soi/Nameo.
Xamneua, capital of Houaphanh - Tourist services
Houaphanh Provincial Tourism Information Centre - Airport - Bus Station: Long distance and local bus/songthaew services - Minibus rental - Motorbike rental - Banks - Post Office - Restaurants - Hotels - Guest Houses - Markets - Temples
Xamneua is set beside the Nam Neua river and is surrounded by mountains. In the town centre you can visit the Houaphanh Provincial Tourism Information Centre and find out about accommodation, tours and vehicle rental around Houaphanh. In Xamneua you can exchange currency at banks, and there is a post office, and basic to mid range guest houses and restaurants/cafes serving local meals. You can buy drinks, food, phone cards, clothes and other supplies in the markets, and support traditional craftmakers.
Spend time in Xamneua for an introduction to the province's traditions and culture
- Markets selling stunning Houaphanh textiles and clothes from different ethnic groups, woven bamboo items and traditional foods and animals.
- Nam Sam River Promenade from the town centre.
- Nuoi Geo Monument, the provincial capital's newest feature.
- From the 30-year old Independence Monument on a hill to the north-west you can enjoy a panorama of the town.
- Wat Phoxaysanalam, the best known temple in Xamneua, is home to a Buddha statue dating from 1565.
- Visit weaving houses near the temple to see cotton and silk textiles, for which the province is famous, being made.
Take time to discover Houaphanh Province!
Hintang Archaeological Park (Standing Stones)
The origins of the 1,500 standing stones discovered so far on the mountain sides at Hintang Archaeological Park are still mysterious but they are known to mark grave sites and are older than the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang. Hintang Archaeological Park has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hintang is 36 km south-west of Xamneua and is accessible from the Phonesavan/Xieng Khouang to Xamneua road.
Nam Et - Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA)
This, the largest NPA in Laos, is best known for harbouring one of the most important remaining tiger populations in Indochina and many species of large mammals and birds. Find out about ecotourism activities and wildlife monitoring and protection at the Visitor Centre in Vieng Thong.
Rejuvenating Hot Springs
There are several hot springs in Houaphanh, with one of the best known about 1 km north of Vieng Thong village in the mountains beside the Nam Khao river. You can stay in Vieng Thong, visit the Nam Et - Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA) Visitor Centre there, carry on to the NPA and to Ban Sam Tai/Teu.
The waterfall on the Nam Neua river is about 80m high and is at its most dramatic in September/October, just after the rainy season. A bathing spot in the river and the top of the falls are close to the road between Xamneua and Viengxay – take a regular songthaew and get off at the bridge.
Saleui waterfall is near Saleui Village on the road from Phonesavan to Sam Neua, about 35km from Xamneua. The waterfall is about 100m high. Both are popular picnic spots at Lao New Year in mid-April.
Yao, H'mong and Thai Daeng Villages
Houaphanh province is home to 22 different ethnic groups, among them the H'mong, Thai Daeng and Yao peoples. Ethnic minority villages are dotted along many of the roads through the province and people of the different traditions congregate at Xamneua market buying and selling goods.