Oudomxay, also referred to as Muang Xay, is the capital city of Oudomxay Province in Northern Laos


Legend has it that in the year 1323, the inhabitants of the village Ban Luang Cheng in "Takka Sila" town were in the forest to cut bamboo. While they were making some fishing utensils out of it, they saw a monk coming from the forest walking towards them. He had gone to the forest long before to meditate. The monk asked the villagers what they were doing and they replied that they were making a fishing basket. They offered him food. Because of that experience, the villagers changed the town's name from "Takka Sila" to "Muang Xay", as the monk's name was Paxay.

In 1987, Muang Xay became the capital of Oudomxai Province instead of Ban Nahin.

Tourist attractions

Most of the town’s highlights are within walking distance from one another. For some years, efforts have been made to encourage tourism in Muang Xay in order to ameliorate the region's poverty. Since 1997 there has been a tourism office in Muang Xay, supported by the German Development Service (DED) since 2005. The support of DED aims to raise the incomes of the rural population and small-scale enterprises via tourism and thereby protect natural resources. In August 2007 the tourism office was upgraded to a Provincial Tourism Department.

Oudomxay Museum

Unless in the Museum there are just few items to look at, the view you have from the top of "Phou Sebey" mountain is very nice. Go there early in the morning, when the sun is still low - you may watch the town centre waking up and enjoy the morning light as it starts caressing the roofs before the day gets too hot.


Just opposite of the stairs to the museum there are similar stairs to climb, leading to an 18 meters high Stupa. The stupa was built in 14th century to allow all people of the region to come together, to celebrate religious festivals. When under French control, the area of the stupa was made into a war camp. During the first Vietnamese war the stupa was destroyed and only bricks were left. Reconstruction started in 1994 and was completed 3 years later. Religious celebrations are held at the stupa during the day of each full. Since April 2010 there is also a golden, 15m-high Buddha statue watching over Oudomxay from the top of Phou That, seeming to spur Oudomxay people to new religiousness. Enjoy the view over the town and see the stupa and Buddha shining in the sunset. The monks at the nearby temple are always happy to practice their English with foreigners.

Chom Ong Cave

Located 45 km from Muang Xay, Chom Ong Cave gives the visitor a dazzling feeling of entering Tolkien's Mines of Moria. The biggest cave in Northern Laos is a recently discovered system of more than 16 km natural tunnels, adorned with pretty sparkling sinter formations, huge stalagmites and stalagtites. Passages have ceiling heights up to 50m and there is a stream course flowing in the cave. The natural attraction is accessible in a 50min walk from the village "Ban Chom Ong".

Ban Chom Ong 

This is is an outstandingly beautiful village of about 500 people of the ethnic group Khmu. It is starting point to the biggest cave in Northern Laos. Surrounded by paddy rice fields, locked by mountains, it is still largely untouched by modern influences. There is no electricity nor mobile phone signal in the village, but as a compensation you'll get the chance to observe authentic village life as for example handicraft production - most of the people still wear their traditional Khmu clothes. For their scarce visitors, the villagers have a basic bamboo guesthouse with an outside Lao style bathroom, and they will be happy to cook meals for you. There is very little English spoken in the village, so prepare for communication problems or take a translator with you. If you decide to go on your own, you can rent a motorbike or a car to go on the (very difficult) 40 km dirt road from Muang Xay to the village.

Nam Heeng

If you're very adventurous, it is also possible to reach Ban Chom Ong going to a village called Ban Nam Heeng first. The village itself is not particularly interesting, but from it is a 16km walk to Chom Ong village, where the cave is located. So called "Packing" cars leave from a public transport station near the normal bus station. The challenging hike from Nam Heeng to Chom Ong takes approximately 5 hours. It is advisable to ask the villagers for directions to Ban Chom Ong.

Nam Kad Waterfall and Pristine Forest

While visiting Nam Kad Waterfall you can not only swim in the ice cold basin under the waterfall but also see one of the most untouched and beautiful pristine forests in Laos. Rent a motorbike and follow the sign which says "Nam Kad". At a village called "Ban Faen", turn right, and then just follow the road. You'll have to cross the winding river 5 or 6 times, which might be slightly difficult in the rainy season. When the road ends, it is a 30min walk to the waterfall in a wonderful jungle atmosphere. The distance from Muang Xay to Nam Kad is 23km

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