More of a bus rest stop than a destination, Boun Neua is a small town more memorable as being the site of the airport for Phongsali rather than any tourist activity. The town is small, comprising of half a dozen shops, a small market and two guest houses. There are a few houses located around the central junction, but that is about it for this town.
The nearby airport makes this place noteworthy, but travellers who stop here may find the lack of activities hinder their enjoyment. The town is interesting enough and the people are certainly welcoming, however that is the extent of the interest. Travellers may find the isolation a change, but the same isolation feel is on offer all throughout Phongsali Province.
There are two places to stay in Boun Neua, with the Sivienkham Guesthouse being by far the better of the two. Adjoining the bus station/market, it offers clean, large and surprisingly comfortable rooms. While the owners are eager to please, little English is spoken. Double rooms here cost 50,000 kip. The other option, the Ban Neua Guesthouse is a pretty dire affair with bamboo walled rooms with shared facilities going for 20,000 kip -- it's only worth considering if the other is full.
There are several noodle shops in town, all centred around the market, so while the culinary delights aren't great, you won't starve..
Two buses a day pass through Boun Neua, one heading to Phongsali in the late afternoon, the other heading to Udomxai in the early morning. The buses leave from the market. Pay the bus driver as there is no ticket seller.
By Stuart McDonald.