Muang Sui

The quiet little town of Muang Sui is notable for a few reasons. During the American war it was famous for being the last site to be evacuated by the Royal Laos Army and the US CIA backed Air America operation. It was known as Lima Site L-108 and the runway and some of the buildings abandoned are still visable today.

The other reason to visit Muang Sui is for the wealth of Buddhist sites in the local area, including historic temples and caves. As with some of the caves around Sam Neua, some of these were used as shelter during the American War, and evidence of this (in the form of medical debris) can still be seen in some of the caves.

The town sits on the plain, just at the foothills of the mountains which take you westwards toward Luang Prabang and Vientiane. The town is steadily growing, but there is still plenty of space for expansion.

There is a quite scenic lake in town -- the Nong Tang -- with its impressive limestone cliff on one side. If you walk to the back of the cliff you will see a few caves. There is no particular history to be admired, but the cliffs and caves are worth a look for their natural beauty.

Just outside of town, but within walking distance, you'll find Wat Ban Phong -- a ruined temple that is impressive if only because of its resilience to the onslaught of the fighting in the final months of the war. Monks are still using the temple and some restoration work has taken place.

Back in town, at one end of the lake you'll find the only guesthouse in town, with some food vendors operating opposite the lake's silent shores.

On the subject of Muang Sui's culinary scene, 'survival' cuisine is a little strong, but Muang Sui doesn't really offer much in the way of eating. It is the epitome of small town Laos. There are a couple of food shops near the lake, and a few others dotted around, but nothing really catering to the traveller. Prices are cheap, the menus aren't extensive, but you will get some local Laos food cooked for you. Avoid the frogs, snakes and assorted dried rodents.

Muang Sui is probably not a place you want to stay for a long time; however there is enough to do and see to keep you interested for a day.

Having said that, the accommodation is very basic and, as the sights and attractions of Muang Sui can be seen in a day trip from Phonsavan (50 km away), many opt for doing that instead.