Any prolonged travel in the north will eventually involve a stop at the rather charmless town of OUDOMXAI, sitting at the junction of routes 1 and 4. However, with good facilities, a few decent places to stay and excellent transport connections, it’s not a bad place to spend the night.

The best way to spend your time in Oudomxai is with a visit to the Red Cross Herbal Sauna and Massage – the perfect way to relax after a bone-numbing bus journey. The money goes towards supporting the Red Cross’s work in helping and educating local people. To get here, bear left off the main road (if coming from the bus station) and follow the signs.

Head up Phou Sai Hill, just southeast of the centre, for a good view over the town; the hill is crowned by a white stupa with a golden spire. The tourist office runs a number of interesting tours and treks in the area, including a walking tour of the town, a one-day visit to beautiful Muang La, stopping at hot springs along the way, and a three-day trek to Khmu villages.

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