The tour at Vieng Xay caves was one of the most interesting things i saw in Laos. While the dual pricing is somehow way too much (60000 kip for foreigners while only 10000 for locals), the visit itself provides a deep insight - of course not propaganda-free - of the recent history of Laos and the hard struggle people went through during the "Secret War". Also, some of the caves are stunningly large. Beside the cave tour itself, the area around Vieng Xay is truly beautiful, dotted with limestone peaks and paddy fields. I had the luck to make friend with the teacher of a little english school for local students (hmong and lao), and i really reccommend to go and visit this place if you have one or two hours to spare. Anytime is fine since the school has also a dormitory for the students and there's always people around. The students are always happy to practice their english chatting with foreigners, and the teacher Bronglee is very welcoming and a very interesting person to talk to and gives a lot of information about local culture, both hmong and laos. The school is just a 2 minute walk off road 6, coming from Sam Neua get past the junction to the caves, and take the second little dirt road (going a bit uphill) on the left hand side after the big petrol station.
The visit to the caves (and the school as well) can easily be done as a 1 day trip from sam neua, but there are also plenty of accommodations and possibly better food in Vieng Xay itself.
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