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…
Located at one of the busier junctions in town, this restaurant features local minority dishes. Try sour mang dang (bamboo shoots) soup with sticky rice dipped in sesame-seed salt.
Next door to the Sao Xanh Hotel, this smart cafe-bar has a relaxing, tree-shaded garden at the front and serves up some of Son La's best coffee.
For an overview of Son La, follow the stone steps to the left of the Trade Union Hotel. Look forward to a 20-minute walk to reach the lookout.
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.