Vieng Xai - "The Hidden City"

Right: Vieng Xai

Vieng Xai in remote Hua Phan Province is a pictuesque village surrounded by man made lakes and karst formations similar to those found around Vang Vieng and Nong Khiaw. The surrounding hills are dotted with caves which were the hideout of the Pathet Lao (Lao Communist Party) and some 23,000 people during the second Indochina War in the face of intense bombing by America. The caves housed hospitals, bakeries, banks and even a theatre where visiting troupes from Vietnam, China and Cuba entertained during the war.

Vieng Xai

During the 1960's Laos got caught up in the between the U.S. and the North Vietnamese. The Americans backed the Lao Royalists and oposed the Pathet Lao who were then based in Xieng Khuang Province. During 1964 Xieng Khuang cameunder someintense bombing so the Pathet Lao relocated to relative safety of the caves around Vieng Xai in Hua Phan for the duration of the war. The area was bombed continuously in violation of existing treaties and conventions and all behind the backs of the American people.

oxygen generator

Some of the caves contained an "emergency room" with oxygen generating machines in case of chemical attacks. There however weren't ever required.

Left: Oxygen generator in Kaysone Pomvinhane's cave

Kaysone Pomvihane was the General-Secretary of the Pathet Lao and later president of Laos from 1975 until his death in 1992. His cave was the central meeting place of the politburo.

Lenin

Left: Bust of Lenin in Kaysone Pomvihane's Cave, a gift from the Soviets

Other caves open to the public include those of Nouhak Phoumsavan, Minister of Finance and President of Laos from 1992-1998; The "Red Prince" Souphannouvong who trained as a civil engineer in Vietnam before returning to Laos as a revolutionary; Phoumi Vongvichid, Minister of Education and Public Health; Sithan Kommadam, representative of Lao Theung people who was believed to be immune to bullets; and Kamtay Siphandone, the current president who was a politburo member with responsibility for military and defence.

After the ceasefire in 1973 the Pathet Laos established Vieng Xai as the capital of the liberated zone, later in 1975 moving the capital to Vientiane as the Lao People's Democratic Republic was declared.

Right: Old bombshell used as seed planter, Sop Hao, Hua Phan Province

Vieng Xai Caves Vistor Centre

hours: 8am-12.00 1:30pm-4:30
phone: 064 314321
English tours: daily 9am and 1pm
price: 30,000kip

seed planter