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HIGHLIGHTS IN HOUAPHANH
The Hidden City
Vieng Xay is home to the “Hidden City”, a network of caves used by the Pathet Lao (Lao revolutionary movement) as their military headquarters during the Indochina war. The caves sheltered over 20,000 people, including its leaders, for an important, but little known episode in world history. In addition to the caves used by Central Committee members, there were caves housing foreign embassies, hospitals, factories, markets, schools and more. Vieng Xay is now referred to as the “Birthplace of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic”. An 18-stop guided audio tour and a one-day guided walking tour tell the story.
   
Ethnic Minority Culture
Houaphanh is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Laos. It is home to 27 different ethnic groups, including Mien-Yao, Hmong and Tai Daeng. Ethnic minority villages dot the roads in the province. At the market in Xam Neua and other district towns, they can be seen selling their home-grown fruits and vegetables along with traditional clothes.
   
Wildlife Sanctuares
Nam Et-Phou Loei, the largest National Protected Area (NPA) in Laos, is best known for harboring one of the most important tiger populations remaining in Indochina. The NPA’s outstanding biodiversity includes over 30 species of large mammals and 300 species of birds making it exceptionally suitable for ecotourism. Information regarding ecotourism activities, such as the Nam Nern River Trip, and ongoing wildlife monitoring and protection efforts can be obtained at the NPA’s visitor center in Viengthong. The Nam Kan NPA, home to several endangered species, offers spectacular views of the meandering Nam Xam River.
   
Vibrant Waterfalls
The two best known among the province’s numerous waterfalls are Nam Noua, located just off the road between Xam Neua and Vieng Xay, and Phonxay-Saleuy on the road from Phonesavanh to Xam Neua. Phonxay-Saleuy Waterfall is a popular picnic spot for local people, especially during the Lao New Year. A trail alongside the falls takes the adventurous to the top.
   
Unique Textiles
Houaphanh, and particularly Xam Tai District, is renowned for producing high quality silk and cotton goods. Visitors can observe the process of making natural dyes and hand weaving complex traditional designs, which are unique to the province, and purchase pieces to take home.
 
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