A wonderful journey to Laos cannot complete without calling on Xieng Khouang, which is awesome with not only to the Plain of Jars but also varying other things to make the explorations.
Below are some best things to do in Xieng Khouang that you should place on your list to have an amazing tour to this country.
1. Dropping in the Plain of Jars
Whether you are interested in history and archeology or not, Plain of Jars, located in Phonsavan, is still the must-visit destination if you plan to travel to Laos. This is a group of fields including thousands of stone jars of various sizes. Who created these jars and how they are made has still remained mysterious theories. The locals believe that a race of giants made them to drink rice wine while the others argue the jars were used to store water for the dry season. However, some bones, teeth, and human skeletons were found in the jars, so it is now said the jars functioned as urns in burial rites
Plain of Jars suffered from intense battles as well as US bombing. Indeed, the US Air Force dropped more bombs on Laos, primarily the Plain of Jars, than it dropped the whole of World War II (Wikipedia)
It is highly recommended to visit Thong Hai Hin, also called site 1, since it is one of the largest sites of the plain with more than 300 jars and has the only one decorated with human images.
Ban Phakeo or widely known as Plain of Jars site 52, which comprises for 392 jars, is a great place for trekking and adventure tours in Laos. During the tours to site 52, you will have a chance to admire stunning spectacles in Phonsavan including lesser-known waterfalls, primitive forests and idyllic H’mong villages, which can be only accessible by foot.
Opening hours: Plain of Jars opens from 9 am to 5 pm and each visitor has to pay the entrance fee of 10,000 Kip (US$1.5)
Note: You will find there are “secret war” signs at many sites on the ground that a large number of bombs were dropped on the plain during the Vietnam War. Despite clearing works of unexploded bombs, you should visit within the marked areas to ensure your safety.
2. Wandering around Mulberries Organic Silk Farm
Remember to take a trip to Mulberries Organic Silk Farm in Xieng Khouang, one of the best things to do in Xieng Khouang, which will answer all your questions about yarn or fabric. Established in1991, the farm aims at reviving and encouraging Laos traditional yarn production by providing the training and support in silk worm rearing, art, and craft practices of weaving. Here, you will have chance to observe or even participate in one stage of the whole silk-making products. Additionally, the mulberries shop sells many silk products coming in a variety of colors, sizes, and patterns. You can order patterns, fabrics, and colors to have suitable souvenirs for your friends and family members. If lucky, you may meet Miss Kommaly, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize due to her tireless try to help the local women and ethnic minorities raise their income through weaving. She would tell you how she began this environmental-friendly cooperative 20 years ago.
3. Paying a visit to Muang Khoun
Muong Khoun, situated 30 kilometers away from Phonsavan, used to be the capital of Phuan Kingdom and the provincial capital under the French colonialism. To save time, it is advisable to combine the trip to the Plain of Jars with a quick visit to Muong Khoun. The town brings you a chance to see Buddha images and stupas to help you experience Lao culture in Xieng Khouang more. For example, many tourists rarely reach Muang Khoun without taking a visit to That Foun. What makes this 30-metre stupa made of brick special is a hole right through it. Or another ruin of temple suggested for you is Wat Piawat, the highlight of the town. There is a large Buddha image sitting on the grounds, at the end of a column of brick pillars. Especially, there is a jar site near Ban Phai village comprising jars made from granite, not stone like the ones in the Plain of Jars.
4. Visiting War Memorials
If you have enough time, you should visit the two major war memorials on a hill in the south of Phonosavan. During the Indochina war, Vietnam and Laos always support each other to win the independence, so they have maintained a very faithful friendship for many years. Although each is the embodiment of the Vietnamese and the Lao losses, both are built in Lao traditional style. When seeing two monuments, you will find the slogan “The nation remembers your sacrifices” and “Lao – Vietnamese solidarity and generosity forever” on the Lao and Vietnamese one respectively. Nearby is the granite slab consisting of the names of the soldiers lost in the war on its surface.
One tip is that you should visit these memorials in the late afternoon to see the stunning sunset combining with the beautiful view of the countryside below.
5. Back in the Time at UXO Visitor Information Center
You may not know that Laos is the most heavily bombed country on earth. Although the war ended 40 years ago, there are lots of unexploded ordnances remaining in Laos, endangering people’ lives. A visit UXO Visitor Information Center operated by British organization MAG will tell you about Laos’ another story of the hard period of time the country went through in the war and how UXO affects people today. Actually, many Lao people, both adults and children, have collected UXO with cheap metal detectors then sold them for scrap metal, which is very dangerous for their life. There are examples of UXO on display and documentaries showing all the trauma which you ought to watch right at the center. Donation is welcomed, or you can buy a T-shirt at the souvenir shop to support the process of clearing the UXO in Laos.
Address: Main Street, next to Bamboozle Restaurant and Bar, Phonsavan 009, Laos
Tel: 00 856 61 211 010
6. Relaxing at Hot prings
After a day full of physical activities, your muscles may become tired. How about diving into warm water and relaxing at hot springs in Xieng Khouang? But those springs are very hot making swimming impossible, so you have to go to the resorts in Ban Nyai that is about 67 km from Phonsavan or walk down the river. The resort has bungalows equipped with bathing facilities. Near the resort is the Ban Nam Hom which is very convenient to visit after the swim. Another destination is hot springs in Ban Xang located 3 kilometers east of Muang Kham. Before take a swim, you can wander around the village to get a brief view of the local’s life. You may see Tai Dam women make and sell beautiful textile products which you can buy directly as souvenirs. Or making some conversations with the villagers to know more about their culture is not a bad idea.