Plain of Jars

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"Ancient Giant Stone Jars"

Plain of Jars Tourism

The Plain of Jars is an archaeological site located in the central plain of the Xiangkhoang Plateau in Phonsavan area. It is in the mountain range of Indochina in North East Laos. It is known for the megalithic or giant stone jars belonging to the Iron age over 2000 years ago. Thousands of massive stone jars of all shapes and sizes lie scattered, many of them still undiscovered amidst deep jungles. This site, discovered in 1930, is one of the most popular attractions for tourists visiting Laos who come to explore these mysterious jars.

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The Plain of Jars Sites - Open To Tourists

The archaeologists have excavated more than 90 jar sites within Xiangkhouang Province, and each of them has between 1 to 400 stone jars varying in height and weight. All of these jars are cylindrical with a wider bottom than the top. These sites are considered dangerous because of the thousands of unexploded bombs and UXOs that have been dropped her during the war years.

Seven out of these 90 jar sites have been cleared of these bombs are open to tourists.

  • The most popular and one of the biggest sites is Site 1 or Thong Hai Hin, located close to the town of Phonsavan. This site is home to more than 400 jars scattered over a small hill. The only decorated jar is found in this site, which consists of a Chinese stone painting depicting a human figure.A burial cave with human remains was discovered close to site 1, indicating that it might have been one of the vital crematorium sites.

  • The other sites are 2 and 3 located near Xieng Khouang.

  • Site 52 is the site with the most significant number of jars, located near a traditional Hmong village, which can be reached only on foot.

  • Near the hot spring in Muang Kham is site 23 and site 25 is located in Phou Kout District.

History & Significance of The Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars are believed to be at least 2000 years old. But some historians claim that they belong to much ancient period, mostly the Iron Age between 500 BC to 500 AD. These sites consist of more than 3000 stone jars some 3 meter high and weighing many tonnes. Many more are estimated to be hidden within the surrounding forests. Most of them are made of sandstone, but there are some also made of granite and limestone.

Based on the structure, it is believed that all of these jars had lids, as some covers were found during excavation. But historians assume that these lids might have been made of wood. The precision in the parameters and materials indicate that people who made these had excellent knowledge and technology. They might have used iron chisels to make these, although very little evidence exists about the making of these large containers or the people of these times itself.

The Burial Pits at The Plain of Jars

Earlier studies led to the conclusion that these might have been storage jars, but that was dismissed when historians discovered human remains, ceramics and burial goods near these jars. It is concluded that people built these enormous jars for partial funerals. It was a tradition in Thailand and Laos to put the deceased in these jars to allow decomposition of soft body tissue. After the body was free of tissue, they were cremated on the grounds nearby, after which the ashes were placed in sacred sites.

Tips While Visiting The Plain of Jars

  • If you plan to rent a bike to explore the Plain of Jars site on your own, make sure you have sufficient fuel as there are no stations on the road once you go out of Phonsavan town.

  • There are very few options for food and drinks near these sites. So carry your food and water.

  • There are no public toilets.

  • It is strongly suggested to stay in the marked trails while visiting the sites. Venturing out of these paths can be dangerous as the places are still home to undiffused bombs dropped during the Vietnam war.

  • Carry sunscreen, umbrella or a hat as it can get scorching in the afternoon.

  • Also, it is recommended to wear good hiking shoes as it involves a lot of walking around.

Plain of Jars Photos

Plain of Jars

FAQs on Plain of Jars

Who should visit The Plain of Jars?

The Plain of Jars is an ideal place to visit for all kinds of travellers. People interested in ancient history or archaeology will like visiting these sites.

What's great about The Plain of Jars?

An archaeological site with over 2000 years of history, much of it is still in mystery would be an exciting place to visit for travellers.

What's not so great about The Plain of Jars?

The remote location of these sites and the travel time might not favour those travelers short on time. Since there isn't any much apart from the plain of jars, it might not be worth visiting if you are in a hurry. Also, exploring the Plain of Jar sites may not be comfortable in the hot and humid weather. And people who don't enjoy history or architecture much might find this boring.

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