Photo: Village scenery near Son La.

Things to see and do

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The prison was built in 1908 by the French, and expanded in 1930 and 1940 to accommodate the ever growing number of political prisoners generated by the Viet Minh liberation movement. Nicknamed 'the grinder', it was notorious for being the most miserable place in the country to be incarcerated. One observer described it as 'an open coffin waiting for dying prisoners.' Inmates reached the prison ... Read more about Son La prison .

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There are no services at the top, so bring your own water. You can access it by following the road to the right of the Trade Union Hotel — the first couple of hundred feet can be done on a motorbike in first gear, and once you get to the last house on the road, you'll have to park and you'll find the stairs to the right. Make sure you buy some water at one of the stalls near the Cong Doan ... Read more about Lookout Point .

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Some of the tubs are sunken concrete affairs, big enough for two people. We heard that there was a communal option where you could bathe for free, but on our visit the locals insisted there was no such thing. No worries in any case — one of the owners ran the tap for us to test the water, and it wasn't hot, it was luke warm. Maybe they needed to run the take ... Read more about Hot Springs .

Where to next?

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

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