Houaphanh is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Laos. It is home to 27 different ethnic groups, including Mien-Yao, Hmong and Tai Daeng. Ethnic minority villages dot the roads in the province. At the market in Xam Neua and other district towns, they can be seen selling their home-grown fruits and vegetables along with traditional clothes.
Nam Et-Phou Loei, the largest National Protected Area (NPA) in Laos, is best known for harboring one of the most important tiger populations remaining in Indochina. The NPA’s outstanding biodiversity includes over 30 species of large mammals and 300 species of birds making it exceptionally suitable for ecotourism. Information regarding ecotourism activities, such as the Nam Nern River Trip, and ongoing wildlife monitoring and protection efforts can be obtained at the NPA’s visitor center in Viengthong. The Nam Kan NPA, home to several endangered species, offers spectacular views of the meandering Nam Xam River.