Photo: Terrific scenery.

Muang Kham and Tham Piew Cave

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A quiet town 52 kilometres northeast of Phonsavan on Highway 7, Muang Kham is known for Tham Piew Cave, site of a war-time massacre where almost 400 civilians were killed.

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On 24 November 1968, at the height of the Secret War, a US fighter plane fired rockets into a cave used by farmers from the surrounding villages for shelter. The first three rockets missed, but the fourth hit, killing all 374 men, women and children who were sheltering within the cave.

A statue says 1000 words. Photo taken in or around Muang Kham and Tham Piew Cave, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

A statue says 1000 words. Photo: Cindy Fan

At the base of the rocky hill is a statue of a man bravely holding a dead child in his arms. The small museum contains a few raw, graphic and confronting photos from the war and UXO accidents. Displays like this are highly unusual in Laos, and unfortunately when we visited in 2018, the photos were very faded with no information given.

Heading up the hillside, the paved path passes a memorial shrine and signs marking the mass graves before a set of stairs lead to the cave entrance. Inside, the rock is still blackened with scorch marks. People come and build rock stupas on the ground, placing incense in them. Imagining the civilians cowering and holding each other at the arrival of those bombers is a sobering thought. To explore the cave past 20 metres you will need to bring a torch.

The cave itself. Photo taken in or around Muang Kham and Tham Piew Cave, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

The cave itself. Photo: Cindy Fan

Tham Piew Cave is about six kilometres from Muang Kham: at Muang Kham’s main intersection (at the market), turn off of Highway 7 and head north for 3.5 kilometres, then turn left and continue for two kilometres. The cave is open daily from 08:00 to 17:00 and admission is 10,000 kip. There’s a handful of noodle soup/snack/souvenir stands and locals also like to come picnic/cool off in the stream.

If travelling on by motorbike/bicycle between Sam Neua and Phonsavan, Muang Kham is definitely worth the stop. It can also be done as a scenic daytrip from Phonsavan, either hiring a songthaew or renting a motorbike. Here’s some minor sights along the way to pad ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Muang Kham and Tham Piew Cave
52 km northeast of Phonsavan
Admission: 10,000 kip

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