The Plain of Jars – soon to be nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage inscription

August 31, 2009 by | Filed Under: Hot Topic, Regional News, Responsible Tourism

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The Lao government prepares the nomination dossier to inscribe the Plain of Jars to become the third Lao UNESCO World Heritage site, after the ancient town of Luang Prabang in the north of Laos and the ruined Khmer temple of Vat Phou (Champasak province) in Laos’ South. The Plain of Jars is situated on a vast plateau in the Vietnam bordering province of Xieng Khouang. A province, which was often conquered and fought for in the past because of its strategic importance to the Vietnamese Emperors residing in Hue as well as to the Kings of the Lao Kingdom of Lane Xang.

The jars can be found all over the plateau, scattered in clusters of up to 300 at different spots, and varying in size from one to over three meters in height. However, the most famous jar sites are located in close proximity to the town of Phonsavanh, the provincial capital of Xieng Khouang province.

Some locals belief, that the jars were build as big distilleries for alcoholic drinks, brewed to celebrate various victories and military campaigns won in the past over ancient enemies. More scientific

and archaeological evidence suggests that the jars are used as urns for funerary. They were used by people back in the Bronze Age approximately 2’000 years ago.

In the Second Indochina War, Xieng Khouang once again, played an important role as battle ground in the fights between Pathet Lao revolutionary troops and the Royal Lao government and its American backed Hmong rebels. Many battles and intense aerial bombardments took place. Its legacy, the contamination of the land with unexploded mines and bombs, still takes its toll today amongst the rural villages and farmers.

However, nowadays Xieng Khouang province in central Laos is a peaceful area with a cooler weather then elsewhere in Laos, vast grasslands, ethnic minorities and a developing tourism industry with good hotels and interesting attractions.

The Plain of Jars can be reached either from the Lao side by air from Vientiane or by following the National highway 7 from Phou Khoun or from Vietnam. The Lao government is constructing the National highway 10 from Phonsavan to Pakxan, which will link the province even closer with Vientiane and the Southern Lao provinces.