Sainyabuli (Lao ????????; French: ; alternate spellings: Xaignabouri, Xayaboury, Sayabouli, Sayabouri) is a province of Laos, located in the northwest of the country. Sainyabuli Province covers an area of 16,389 square kilometres (6,328 sq mi). The province borders Bokeo Province and Oudomxai Province to the north, Luang Prabang Province and Vientiane Province to the east, and (from the south clockwise) the Thai provinces Loei, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Nan and Phayao. Sainyabuli is the only Laotian province that is completely to the west of the Mekong River (Champasak province also has several districts located west of the Mekong river including Mounlapamok, Soukama and Phontong districts). The province is quite mountainous with the Luang Prabang Range running roughly in a north-south direction and forming a natural border with the Thai highlands. Sainyabuli town is the capital of the province. Sainyabuli has the largest concentration of elephants in Laos.
The province is rich in timber and lignite, and is considered the rice basket of northern Laos, since most other northern provinces are too mountainous to grow enough rice. Other important crops include maize, oranges, cotton, peanuts, sesame, sugarcane and vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage, and beans.
In 1904, the area of the province was ceded from Siam to the French Indochina colony. In 1941, it was annexed by Thailand again under the name Lan Chang Province, but returned to the pre-war status in 1946. The area is allegedly a heartland for military involvement in illegal timber trade.
Since the Mekong isolated Sainuyabuli from other Laotian provinces with Hmong villages, the warfare during the Quiet War that affected other Hmong villages largely did not affect Sainyabuli. Most Hmong villages in Sainyabuli did not see any fighting. Houaysouy was a Hmong village in Sainyabuli. It had no fighting during the Quiet War, and Vang Pao did not recruit any of its men. After the war, Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, said that the village was "tossed into the political melee along with the rest of the country." The occupying Vietnamese soldiers regarded the residents of the village as traitors and for this reason the Vietnamese soldiers persecuted them. In 1979 around 400 members of the Lee, Vang, Xiong, and Yang clans attempted to escape from the village. The family of Lia Lee, the subject of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, originated from Houaysouy.
Sainyabuli Province, one of the provinces of Laos, is in the shape of an upside-down-L. It covers an area of 16,389 square kilometres (6,328 sq mi). The province is located in the northwest of the country, and covers all the area west of the Mekong river. The province borders Bokeo Province and Oudomxai Provinceto the north, Luang Prabang Province and Vientiane Province to the east, and (from the south clockwise) the Thai provinces Loei, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Nan and Phayao.
The province is quite mountainous with the Luang Prabang Range running roughly in a north-south direction and forming a natural border with the Thai highlands. The flattest and most tropical Laotian area is the floodplain which stretches between the provinces of Sainyabuli and Champasak. There are many mountain peaks with more than 1.000 meters elevation. Other features include the Pak Kimin ridge near the Nam Heung stream.
The Sainyabuli province is home to Laos’ majority of domesticated Asian elephants. Approximately 75% of the nations 560 domesticated elephants work in Sainyabuli. Their main work duties are within the logging industry, which causes a loss in both wild and domestic elephant habitat. The area is little patrolled, which makes the enforcement of conservation measures difficult.
The Sainyabuli province is also home to the annual Elephant Festival, organised in Hongsa by the Lao National Tourism Authority in partnership with Elefantasia, provincial and district authorities.