alexametrics Houaphanh
View of little town in Houaphanh
View of little town in Houaphanh
Houaphanh

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Houaphanh

Houaphanh Province is the birthplace of the Lao PDR. It borders Vietnam to the East and Luang Prabang to the West.

As yet, it is one of the least visited provinces in the country and offers an authentic and varied experience for visitors. You can enjoy a pristine natural environment of mountains, rivers, waterfalls and forests; visit the caves at Viengxay for a unique insight into the history of the country; and discover the mysterious standing stones of Hintang Archaeological Park which date back more than 2,000 years.

Houaphanh is home to 22 different ethnic groups, including Hmong, Thai Deng, and Yao. Ethnic minority villages are dotted along many of the roads around the province and people of the different minorities are often seen buying and selling goods at the market in Xamneua District.

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Revolutionary Story of Viengxay

Limestone peaks form a beautiful landscape around Viengxay. But hidden in these rocky crags are networks of caves which were at the center of a vital period in Lao and World history - caves through which we can learn much about the Lao national struggle for independence and the international communist movement.

During the second half of the 20th Century, political developments in Laos were influential in the future of the whole region. In the 1960s, the United States believed that Laos was a crucial area to stop communist expansion, thereby dragging Laos into the war between the US and Vietnamese communists. In 1964, the US began intensive bombing of the Lao communist movement - Pathet Lao - base area in Xieng Khouang.

The Pathet Lao moved East to Viengxay and their headquarters were nestled within these limestone karst cave networks during their struggle with the American-backed Royal Lao Government. In these caves, the Pathet Lao established a ‘hidden city’ which supported a population of around 20,000 people.

For nine years of almost constant bombardment, the population sought shelter in the caves and surrounding jungle, and had to carry out much of their daily lives under cover of darkness. The caves had essential services such as school, hospital, and markets as well as government ministries, a radio station and military barracks.

 

 

Some of the hundreds of caves used have been preserved and are open to visitors. The daily struggle for survival and diplomatic exchanges between Pathet Lao and communist party leaders worldwide are evident in photographs and mementos that can be seen in the caves and in the Viengxay Caves visitor center. A stop audio tour is available from the Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Cave Office.

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Brief History

In the early 14th century, Houaphanh was home to the Bon Man Kingdom. However, it was invaded by the Vietnamese in 1478 and became the Tran Ninh Territory of the Dai Viet Kingdom whose capital is located at current-day Xam Neua. This territory was returned to Laos by the French colonial authorities in 1893. In the 1900s, an extensive network was formed in the Viengxay cave by the Pathet Lao, insightful glimpses of the Indochinese Wars’ history can be found in the cave.

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Overall Weather

Houaphanh has three seasons:

- Cool-dry (November to February). During this time of the year, the average temperature hovers around 20C. The temperature may drop as low as 11C especially in the months of December and January. The temperature may also soar as high as 27C as it approaches the hot-dry season. It is advisable to bring along warm clothing to wear during the cool-dry season. One should also take note that temperature drops rapidly especially after sunset. However, this is the best period to visit Houaphanh due to its cool and comfortable temperature. One could also visit Viengthong hot springs to warm up during this season.

- Hot-dry (March to April). During this period, the average temperature hovers around 27C. The temperature may drop as low as 15C especially at the beginning of the hot-dry season and may soar as high as 33C as it approaches the rainy season. One should stay hydrated and under shade to stay healthy in this hot period.

- Rainy-season (May to October). During this season, the average temperature hovers around 24C. The temperature may soar as high as 33C especially in the beginning of the season but cools down as it approaches cool-dry season. The temperature may drop as low as 16C as it approaches the end of the rainy season. Rainfall is heaviest in the month of July and August. It is advisable to bring along an umbrella or raincoat to shelter against the rain.

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Public Bus details in Houaphanh

Transportation from other Provinces to Houanphanh

Departure

Destination

Kind of Bus

Distance

Departure Time

price*

Remark

Vientiane

Sam Neua

Local bus

850 Km

09:00am

110,000 Kip

About 30 hours

Express

18:30pm

130,000 Kip

About 28 hours

Xieng Khouang, Northern Bus Station

Sam Neua

 

 

09:00am

80,000 Kip

 

 

 

19:30pm

100,000 Kip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation from Houanphanh to other Provinces                     

Departure

Destination

Kind of Bus

Distance

Departure Time

price*

Remark

Houanphanh

Bokeo

   

10:00am

250,000 Kip

 

Luang Nam Tha

 

 

10:00am

210,000 Kip

 

Luang Prabang

VIP Bus

 

07:30am

150,000 Kip

Takes around 14 hours

Minivan

 

07:45am

130,000 Kip

Takes around 13 hours

Muang Hiem (Vienthong)

 

 

07:20am

50,000 Kip

 

15:30pm

60,000 Kip

Pakmong

VIP Bus

 

07:30am

140,000 Kip

Same bus to Luang Prabang

Minivan

07:45am

120,000 Kip

VIP bus

16:00pm

140,000 Kip

 

Udomxai

 

 

10:00am

180,000 Kip

 

Vientiane

Sleeping bus

 

15:00pm

210,000 Kip

Via Phonsavan

Regular bus

 

10:00am

13:00pm

190,000 Kip

 

 

07:30am

17:00pm

190,000 Kip

Via Luang Prabang

Xieng Khouang (Phonsavan)

 

 

08:30am

80,000 Kip

Takes around 7 hours

Vieng Xai

 

 

09:30am

20,000 Kip

Takes 1 hour

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Getting Around in Houaphanh

Getting around Houaphanh

A good way to travel around the province is through Sawng taew (Pickup trucks with benches) which can be hired in district centres. Another way is to rent bicycles which costs $1 to $2 a day. Motorbikes can also be rented but only in Xam Neua.

A schedule can be seen below for more information on transportation.

Departure

Destination

Vehicle

Distance

Departure Time

price*

Viengxay

Xam Neua

Sawng taew

30 Km

07:00am

09:00am

20,000 Kip

Nam Nua

22 Km

Ongoing

15,000 Kip

Sop Hao

60 Km

07:00am

22,000 Kip

Sop Bao

Local bus

83 Km

07:30am

22,000 Kip

Xieng Khor

112 Km

08:00am

30,000 Kip

Muang Et

131 Km

08:30am

35,000 Kip

Xam Tai

144 Km

09:00am

40,000 Kip