Sam Neua is the capital city of Huaphan province in the northeast of Laos. Sometimes the name of this city is transcribed as Xam Neua or Samneua, this is one of the country’s least visited provincial capital by Western people.
Sam Neua is located on a valley in Huaphan province. The residents of the city mostly are mostly Lao, Vietnamese, Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, and Tai Lu. The official language using in this city is the Lao language, while the minorities of Vietnamese, Hmong, etc speak their own languages. French is still spoken here and it is taught in schools and used in public works and government. The rhythm of people’s daily living here is quite slow and peaceful, in the early morning the local women wash clothes on the banks of the rivers and children go to school. There is an elementary school near the main bridge crossing the river.
There is a Communist re-education camp in Sam Neua, it used to be the Pathet Lao capital during the Laotian Civil War Battle of Lima Site 85. Near the Pathet Lao refuges, the Viengxay caves were where the Lao government hopes to promote as a tourist destination like the Cu Chi tunnel of Vietnam and the Killing Fields Memorial of Cambodia. It is near to Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area.
Tourism in Sam Neua is developing so fast, so there are several guesthouses in Sam Neua to meet the increasing needs of tourists. There are irregular flights from Vientiane to Sam Neua that is operated by Lao Skyway. From Vietnam, tourists can go to visit Sam Neua via the international gate in Nghe An province in the north-central coast of Vietnam.