Photo: Within Tham Pha Buddha Cave.

Muang Soui/Nong Tang

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During the Secret War, the nondescript village of Muang Soui was intensely fought over by the communist Pathet Lao and the People’s Army of Vietnam against the neutralists, the Royal Lao Army and the US CIA-backed operation that included Hmong fighters. The airfield was known as Lima Site 108 (LS108), the location of the runway still obvious today.

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Located at the edge of the area known to the military as the Plaine des Jarres, the high plateau airfield was strategically important to the Lao government. As recounted in the book Tragic Mountains by Jane Hamilton-Merritt, Hmong commander General Vang Pao grew zealous in trying to retake it, even if it meant sacrificing the life of legendary pilot Ly Lue.

Watch out for slow moving objects. Photo taken in or around Muang Soui/Nong Tang, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Watch out for slow moving objects. Photo: Cindy Fan

Today Muang Soui (also Sui, Souy) is called Nong Tang—look for this name on road signs. There’s little visible evidence of the war, but the main draw should be the scenery along the way and a cave. Whether by tuk tuk or motorbike, it’s an excellent day trip from Phonsavan, especially when combined with Phou Khout. If travelling independently by bicycle/motorbike between Phonsavan and Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng, both are worth checking out en route and a good way to break up the journey.

It’s a straightforward 50 kilometre drive on Route 7 in the direction of Phoukhoun/Route 13. Nong Tang lake, a pretty little body of water surrounded by limestone rock, announces the arrival into town.

Nong Tang’s waters are not all that tempting. Photo taken in or around Muang Soui/Nong Tang, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Nong Tang’s waters are not all that tempting. Photo: Cindy Fan

At the sharp bend in the road, instead of following the road right, go straight on the dirt road for two kilometres to reach Tham Pha Buddha Cave. In the 19th Century, while under invasion by the Haw Chinese bandits, locals hid hundreds of Buddha statues inside. There’s no longer hundreds but there is one large golden Buddha at the entrance of the labyrinthian cave, which was used during the war as a hospital ... Travelfish members only (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Muang Soui/Nong Tang
Around 50km from Phonsavan

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Phonsavan? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.

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