Even if someone didn't want to fly to Sam Neua just to get there, I would recommend flying to Sam Neua and back for the photographic opportunities. Currently, Lao Airlines, the main Lao airline, doesn't fly to Sam Neua. They've retired the old Chinese 17 seat Y12 and a new smaller airline that specializes in charter flights, including flights to Sam Neua, now uses a Cessna Caravan. The Caravan is smaller, but more comfortable inside, and for photographers, the great news is that the windows are clear with minimal scratching. The Cessna flies lower than the Y12 did and consequently there are great aerial photographic opportunities.
On the second flight we made into Sam Neua, rather than coming in low into the valley and landing on the runway from east to west, the plane flew in higher, circled round and landed from the west. Since we came in at a higher altitude we had a beautiful shot of the entire city/town of Sam Neua.
You can see how Sam Neua is nestled in the mountains, which in the cold season months of December and January with the accompanying fog/low ground cover, means that often times the flights are canceled because the fog doesn't clear.