Approximately 30 km from Sam Neua town are the fascinating caves of the former Pathet Lao Headquarters.
Vieng Xai was home to the leaders of the Communist led revolution during their struggle against the French Colonial regime and later the American government. Deemed an almost impregnable hideout because of their inaccessibility and natural protection from bombing, they were used from around 1964 until the mid 1980s. Kept a closely guarded military secret by the Laos Government until the late 90s, they are now being promoted as a glimpse into the secret history of the Laos Communist regime's rise to power.
Set in a strikingly narrow limestone valley, they housed conference rooms, a library, planning rooms, bedrooms, weaving mills and hospitals. One cave was home to Prince Souphanouvong, the Red Prince, a member of the Royal Family but an avowed nationalist who took up arms with the Pathet Lao to fight the French occupiers.
The setting, the history and the sheer impressiveness of the caves themselves all combine to make this a day trip well worth making.
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