Xam Neua

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Xam Neua
Sam Neua, Samneua
Sam Neua - town overview.jpg
Xam Neua is located in Laos
Xam Neua
Xam Neua
Location in Laos
Coordinates: 20°24′48″N 104°02′53″E / 20.4133°N 104.0481°E / 20.4133; 104.0481Coordinates: 20°24′48″N 104°02′53″E / 20.4133°N 104.0481°E / 20.4133; 104.0481
Country Laos
Admin. division Houaphan Province
Population (2002)
 • Total 46,800
 • Religions Buddhism
Time zone ICT (UTC+7)

Xam Neua (ຊຳເໜືອ [sám nɨ̌ə], Vietnamese: Xâm Neua or Sầm Nưa, sometimes transcribed as Sam Neua or Samneua, literally "northern swamp", is the capital city of Houaphan Province, Laos, in the northeast of the country. Xam Neua is one of the country's least visited provincial capitals by Western tourists.


Residents are mostly Lao, Vietnamese, and Hmong, with some Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, and Tai Lu. The predominant language is Lao with minorities of Vietnamese and Hmong. French is spoken by a minority of people as a legacy of the French colonial era. It is taught in schools and used in public works and government.


Several guesthouses are in Xam Neua.

There are irregular flights into/from Vientiane to Xam Neua operated by Lao Skyway, flying a small Cessna Caravan EX.

Sam Neua's main street
Wat Pho Xai

Daily life[edit]

Xam Neua is in a valley in Houaphan Province. In the early morning hours women wash clothes in the river flowing through the city. An elementary school is near the main bridge crossing this river. At 05:45 and 17:45 each day there are public addresses from loudspeakers atop a tower on the school playground, expounding on communist life and philosophy. These addresses are usually accompanied by Lao music.

It is reputed there is a Communist re-education camp in Xam Neua and that it was the Pathet Lao capital during the Laotian Civil War Battle of Lima Site 85 (LS-85), 11 March 1968. It is near the Pathet Lao refuges in the Viengxay caves, which the Lao government hopes to promote as a tourism destination similar to the Củ Chi tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and the Killing Fields Memorial near Phnom Penh in Cambodia. It is near Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (pronounced "naam et poo loo-ee").[1]

Government building, Xam Neua