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Phonsavan (Plain of Jars)

Located in the eastern province of Xieng Khouang, Phonsavan is mostly known for being home to the mysterious ‘Plain of Jars’. Recently listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this area sits on the outskirts of the town and consists of a number of elevated plains on which many virtually identical large stone jars lie scattered around.

It is one of Southeast Asia's most mysterious sights, and historians remain uncertain of where the jars came from, how they got to the plain or what they were for. So far, the most popular theory is that they were enormous burial urns for an ancient civilisation. The landscape in this region is quite unique in Laos partly due to its elevated height, which means that the weather is much cooler than the rest of the country.

As Phonsavan is so remote, the accommodation found here is relatively simple. The town has some interesting local markets and a number of restaurants specialising in local delicacies to explore.

Due to its close proximity to Vietnam, this region of Laos was sadly bombed during the American offensive against Vietnam. In fact, it was affected so much so that Laos is the most heavily bombed country ever. This is evident today in various ways, from the scarred landscape with giant craters peppering the land, to the UXO (unexploded ordinance) clear-up operations that are underway by a number of NGOs. Furthermore, it doesn’t take much looking around to see that locals have ingeniously used some of the left-over bomb casings as everyday articles - plant pots, ashtrays, and even stilts for grain-houses as the mice cannot climb the shiny metal!

Phonsavan is best reached by road from Luang Prabang. It is a long journey, but the serpentine mountain roads make for a beautifully scenic drive, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and soak in the phenomenal views. It is also possible to fly from the Lao capital, Vientiane. We recommend incorporating Phonsavan into your tailor-made holiday to Laos in combination with a visit to the charming town of Luang Prabang, and a relaxing boat ride along the Mekong river to the Thai border.

 

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