Inside Vietnam: Cambodia Laos

The Plain of Jars

Xieng Khouang in Northern Laos is home to the Plain of Jars: one of the archaeological world's great unanswered mysteries.

Xieng Khouang, also known as Phonsavan, is home to the remarkable Plain of Jars. Here, over 2,500 giant stone jars and jar fragments lie scattered across 90 separate sites.

Various theories have been proposed to explain their original function. The first archaeologists to study them in the 1930s thought that they formed part of primitive burial practices, and evidence does seem to support this theory as human remains, beads, and crafted metal objects have been found in close proximity to the jars. Other theorists have suggested that they played a role as giant water butts, providing fresh water to nomadic peoples who crossed the central plains. Local legend, meanwhile, holds that the jars were used by a race of giants to store rice wine. The age of the jars is also unknown, although they're thought by most to date from the Iron Age.

During the Vietnam War, central Laos suffered under one of the most intensive bombing campaigns in history, and many of the jars were damaged. Still more areas have yet to be cleared of unexploded ordnance, but Laos's recent bid for UNESCO World Heritage status for the jars, if successful, will help raise funds for demining.

When to go:

The Plain of Jars

located in Xieng Khouang

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Interested in this Experience? It is included in this tour:

  • Eco lodges, night safaris, hidden cities and ancient mysteries this is the ultimate adventurous traveller's introduction to Laos.

    Northern Laos Explorer

    The lush landscapes of northern Laos form the backdrop for an overland exploration of northern Laos. Venture beyond the great cities of Luang Prabang and Vientiane to discover Laos' wild jungle regions, its mysterious Plain of Jars, and its hidden limestone caves.

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    Eco lodges, night safaris, hidden cities and ancient mysteries  this is the ultimate adventurous traveller's introduction to Laos.

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