The Plain of Jars is a group of fields containing thousands of stone jars cut out from rock thousands of years ago.

The sites are located around the city of Phonsavan in Xiangkhouang province, North East Laos. While some of the sites contain just a few jars, others contain hundreds many of which are broken or have fallen over.

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The history of the stone jars is shrouded in mystery. The jars are believed to be about 2,000 years old. They come in varying sizes up to three meters high, weighing up to several tons. Most of them were sculpted from sandstone rock.

Very little is known about the people who created the jars. Although their purpose is not known with certainty, archeologists believe they were used as urns in burial rituals. All jars are now empty. During archeological research in the 1930’s glass beads as well as burnt bones and teeth were found inside. Around the jars archeologists found grave goods and bones. The jars were probably originally sealed off with lids. Today only a single jar contains one. A few stone lids have been found between the jars, others might have been made of wood or other perishable material that has long gone. Stone discs between the jars mark the location of a grave.

Signs of the “secret war” are clearly visible at several of the sites, in the form of bomb craters and damaged jars. During the Vietnam war enormous quantities of bombs were dropped on Laos, many of which failed to explode. Although clearing works of unexplored bombs have been carried out at the most visited sites, it is strongly recommended to stay within the marked paths.

How to get to the Plain of Jars

The sites are located in the Phonsavan area in Xiangkhouang province, North East Laos. The easiest way to get there is to book a tour with a Phonsavan travel agent. Prices for transportation will differ depending on how many are with you or your group.

The Plain of Jars have been submitted to the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Opening hours are daily from 9 am until 5 pm.

Entrance fee is 10,000 Kip (US$ 1.30) per person to each site.

Posted by Carrie Dean

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