A glimpse of Sam Neua

I returned to Sam Neua township, Houaphanh province, Laos on the occasion of the Son La - Houaphanh Tourism-Culture Festival 2024. Sam Neua today has a new face with wide streets and many vehicles; plentiful goods in stores and commercial areas; and constantly improving people's lives.

Sam Neua township, Houaphanh province.

In Sam Neua today, new buildings have sprung up on both sides of the Nam Xam River, busy enough but not too noisy. The streets in the township are asphalted or concreted, with street lights and high voltage electricity systems.

The Lao Hung Friendship Park.

Located right in front of Houaphanh’s Friendship Guest House, the Lao Hung Friendship Park is the venue for many major political, economic, cultural and social activities of the province. The park was built on a spacious area next to the main traffic route of Sam Neua township and designed with unique Lao cultural features with a wall on the stage that vividly recreates the beauty of Lao people in daily life, working and production.

Leaders of Son La and Houaphanh provinces visit the beautiful photo exhibition area at the Lao Hung Friendship Park.

During the Son La - Houaphanh Tourism-Culture Festival 2024, the Lao Hung Friendship Park hosted the opening ceremonies and exhibitions of cultural and tourism products; culinary culture; products and specialties of each locality; and cultural products and tourism of the two provinces.

Ong Tu Pagoda in Sam Neua township.

The Tay Ethnic Museum and Ong Tu Pagoda are must-visit places when coming to Sam Neua, where visitors are blessed by a monk with the ritual of tying thread on the wrist, along with wishes for peace and good luck. These are messages that each person here gives to everyone around and international friends.

Tourists enjoy specialties at Sam Neua market.

In Sam Neua, there are no toad markets. Trading activities take place in a market located on the banks of Nam Xam River, with one side selling general goods and the other side selling food and foodstuffs. Sam Neua market does not display many goods but mainly traditional Lao handicraft products, while the rest are imported from Thailand, China and Vietnam.

Tourists visit a stall selling brocade items at Sam Neua market.

The stalls selling brocade items at Sam Neua market always attract a large number of indigenous people and tourists. According to local people, Houaphanh is the province with the most famous brocade weaving craft in Laos, with sophisticated, high-quality products. Along with the brocade products, the unique dishes at Sam Neua market also attract the curiosity of tourists, such as cham cheo (a type of spice), dried meat, smoked meat, sausages, dried buffalo and cow bile, dried mice and green frogs.

Sam Neua township’s center today.

During our days in Houaphanh, we also experienced the uniqueness of the cuisine here. In addition to other traditional Lao dishes, there are always two dishes served in the banquet: sticky rice and sausage. The beautiful little sticky rice container is made of sedge or bamboo, skillfully woven to keep the scent of the sticky rice.

The working trip to Sam Neua left me with an impression of the peaceful pace of life here. Saying goodbye to Sam Neua, the images of stilt houses looming along the hills; the gentle and simple people; beautiful and gentle Lao girls and the captivating Lam Vong dance still linger in me. See you again one day soon, Sam Neua.


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