Top things to do

Museum in Son La

Old French Prison & Museum

Son La’s Old French Prison & Museum was a French penal colony where anticolonial revolutionaries were incarcerated. It was destroyed by the ‘off-loading’ of unused ammunition by US war planes after bombing raids…
Vietnamese in Son La

Hoa Ban

Hoa Ban is one of a strip of restaurants P Hoang Quoc Viet, roughly across from the San Xanh 3 Hotel, that serve Thai dishes. Take a seat on the floor and try a dish of lap, a 'salad' of minced buffalo.
Market in Son La

Thuan Chau Craft Market

Thuan Chau is about 35km northwest of Son La. Take a local bus or xe om here early in the morning, when its daily market is full of colourful hill-tribe women.
Viewpoint in Son La

Lookout Tower

For an overview of Son La, follow the stone steps to the left of the Trade Union Hotel. It's a 20-minute walk to reach the lookout.
Market in Son La


You’ll find woven shoulder bags, scarves, silver buttons and necklaces, and other hill-tribe crafts at Son La’s market.
Cafe in Son La

Trung Nguyen Cafe

This smart cafe-bar has a relaxing, tree-shaded garden at the front and serves up some of Son La's best coffee.