Scattered over hundreds of square kilometres, Laos’ mysterious stone jars have baffled archaeologists for years. Estimated to have been created between 500BC and 200AD the unknown origins of the jars has led to a number of interesting local legends - from funerary urns to making whiskey. There are 90 recorded jar sites all set in a spectacular scene of high mountain peaks.
The provincial capital of Xieng Khouang, Phonsavan is the gateway to the Plain of Jars. 260 kilometres from Luang Prabang and strategically placed in Central Laos, the town and its surroundings were heavily bombed during the Vietnam War – you can easily find evidence of this bombardment in the form of craters and relics– it is said this area is the most heavily bombed in the world. Caves used as shelters during the war as well as ethnic minority villages; lakes, hot springs and waterfalls are easily explorable from the town. In the town itself browse the local food market to see the regional produce.
More than two million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973 and estimated that 30% of them did not detonate. MAG, the Mines Advisory Group, works to clear UXO, to train locals to clear UXO and to educate local children on UXO. Visit the MAG Information Centre in Phonsavan to learn more about their incredible work with the help of displays and a free film.
These three sites have some of the most impressive jars as well as being the most accessible. Site 1 is considered to be the most impressive of the lot and includes a jar that is over 2.5 metres tall. The jars here are spread across a bare hilly landscape. At site 2, trees create an atmosphere whilst the position of some of the jars on a grassy mound affords beautiful views over undulating landscapes and paddy fields. It takes an easy stroll through the paddy fields to reach site 3 where jars and jar fragments are spread across a hillside and throughout scenic woodland. Other sites are also visitable.
Set on top of a hill just behind Phonsavan, with lovely views over the surrounding mountainous landscapes, the Vansana offers bright and airy rooms that are simply but comfortably furnished. Just a mile from Phonsavan market you can make use of the shuttle bus service to hit the town in the evening or dine in the hotel's restaurant on Thai or local Laos food.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.