Plain of Jars

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Jars
Photo: Plain of Jars

Xieng Khouang's main attraction is the Plain of Jars.

In the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century, Xieng Khouang was the center of a kingdom of the Hmong (Meo). In 1832, it was conquered by the Vietnamese, annexing the entire region.

The town of Xieng Khouang was totally destroyed during the Vietnam War. Even though it has been rebuilt in 1975, the name Xieng Khouang is now primarily used in reference to the province of the same name.

The provincial capital is Muang Kham. The most important place near the Plain of Jars is Phonsavan with a small airport serving the region.

The Plain of Jars is some 10 kilometres southeast of Phonsavan, at about 1,000 metres above sea level. Scattered over the plain are hundreds of enormous clay jars, each about 1 to 2.5 metres high, with a diameter of about 1 meter.

There is still no explanation as to how the clay jars found their way onto the plain, nor what purpose they served. Archaeologists have come up with the wildest theories, among them a claim declaring them brewery cauldrons. More likely, the jars are enormous urns.

Many jars have been destroyed or damaged during the Vietnam War, when American planes bombed positions of the communist Pathet Lao.

Please also see the following related reports from Travel-Asia magazine.
(Stories will open in a new browser window.)

  • Sannya: What Laos wants (April 12, 1996)
  • Flying, Laotian style (March 1, 1996)