Phonsavan is a gateway to the Plain of Jars in northern Laos, a high plateau littered with heavy stone pots thought to be Iron Age funeral urns. Visitors come to explore these UNESCO-protected archeological wonders, which are scattered across grassy plains backed by hills, pine forests and waterfalls. This landscape is inhabited by ethnic communities like the H’mong people, who live in colourful cottages, dress in cowboy hats and like to celebrate their new year with bull fights.
The enigmatic jars sit beside bomb craters and war memorials, the scars of a secretive American war that has left Laos the most bombed country, per capita, in the world. Today, NGOs scour the plains of this bomb-scarred province for unexploded ordnance (UXO) and resourceful locals make a living by crafting war scrap into spoons and vegetable planters. In the dusty, one-street town of Phonsavan, shell casings decorate the walls of Craters Café and you can buy handicrafts made by bomb victims at the UXO Survival Centre.
Due to the prevalence of UXO in Xieng Khouang province, the Plain of Jars is best visited with a local guide, talk to our Laos experts about arranging your Phonsavan tour.