Wandering through the sleepy but picturesque town of Vieng Xai it is hard to imagine the events that took place here some forty odd years ago but delve a little deeper and the story unfolds. During the 1960's and 70's Vieng Xai was the base of the Pathet Lao, the left wing insurgency which, with help from the North Vietnamese, took control of Laos. Within the spectacular limestone karsts that dot the landscape are numerous cave systems from which the Pathet Lao directed it's operations. At it's height some 20,000 people lived, worked and defended this administrative and military base.
Several of these cave systems around the town have been restored and are open as a "museum". Starting from the Visitors centre, accompanied by a guide and equipped with a truly excellent audio tour, you can walk or cycle from cave to cave and travel back in time. Awesome, inspiring, educational, a real eye-opener. Any trip to Laos should include a visit to Vieng Xai.
To/From: Route 6 runs from Sam Neua to the Vietnamese border along a stunning river valley, some of the most beautiful scenery in Laos. Vieng Xai lies just off route 6 about 45 minutes from Sam Neua.
Stay: at the Naxay Guesthouse, opposite the Vieng Xai Cave Visitor Centre.