The province of Houaphanh (or Houa Phan) is a mysterious, beautiful and abundant land, bordered by Xieng Khouang and Luang Prabang to the West and Viet Nam to the East. The province has a total population of around 280,000 consisting of many ethnic groups, each with their own lifestyle, customs, folkways in wedding and other ceremonies, festivals, folk dances and songs. Huaphanh has six districts: Viengxay, Xamnuea, Xamtai, Viengthong and Huamuang. According to the former times this area had many birds, reptiles and wild animals. The province is also famous for is limestone mountains and caves. In fact, more than one hundred caves are located in the area. During Pathet Lao times, the provincial capital of Sam Neua (also spelt Xam Nua) and the nearby caves at Vieng Xai formed the Pathet Lao capital, and it was here and in equally remote Phongsali, that the Pathet Lao forces regrouped after the Geneva Accord. Hua Phan gets only the most determined travellers passing through, as the going is slow and the delays commen. Neverthless many find it a very rewarding part of the country, certainly one of the least-touristed parts of Laos.