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Lao Travelling Guide - Xieng Khouang Highlands

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Laos Travel Guide

The Xieng Khuang Highlands, which is 435 kilometers southwest of Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is home to numerous well-known landscapes. You have arrived at Xieng Khuang by car after traveling Highway 7 from Vinh City (Nghe An) through the Muong Xen border crossing. Let's travelling to Lao and discover this highland with Threeland Travel !

The Mystery of the Plain of Jars

The Plain of Jars relic, which was named a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2019, is the most well-known in Xieng Khuang. At Xieng Khuang, there are more than 2,000 stone jars of all sizes and forms dispersed around the area.

Unfortunately, only 3 locations around the town of Phonsavan have been declared tourist attractions. There are around 250 jars at the first location, 100 jars at the second location, and more than 100 jars at the third location. As many mines have not yet been completely cleaned, research is currently being done in the remaining regions.

Average jar height is 1-2 meters, but some may reach heights of 3.5 meters and weigh tens of tons. The majority of the jars lack lids, some are elevated above ground, some are partially buried, and their mouths might be elliptical, square, or circular. The absence of any stony mountains in the vicinity is peculiar. Unknown is where and how these enormous jars were created by ancient humans and carried to Xieng Khuang.

The jars were used to contain wine to commemorate the triumph under King Khun Cheung, according to several theories. According to one theory, the ancients built these enormous jars to preserve water because there was a severe water scarcity in Xieng Khuang during the dry season. Nevertheless, the theory put up by French archaeologist Mrs. Madeleine Colani, who was dispatched by the School of the Far East to Laos to excavate on the Plain of Jars in 1930, that each jar is a coffin housing the remains of the deceased appears more plausible.

She discovered bones, teeth, brass bracelets, glass beads, and onyx all around the jar. Also, she found a cave nearby that was likely the location of the cremation given the presence of a black smoke stain on the roof. The archaeological data also establishes the site's origin and existence between 500 BC and 500 AD.

Later research by Professor Eiji Nitta (Kagoshima University, Japan), 2 Lao archaeologists (Thoongsa Sayavongkhamdy and Thonglith Luangkhoth), and UNESCO archaeologists on the Plain of Jars essentially agreed that the artifacts discovered in the pits dug around the stone jars were from the same period as the remains, burial pots, and remains found in the pits. The stone jars serve only as symbolic markers for the nearby burial site.

The Mekong and Red river systems converge at the field of jars, creating ideal circumstances for commerce and cross-cultural interaction. The most prominent indication of Iron Age civilization is overland commerce and trade, respectively.

Visitors to Xieng Khouang have grown since the Plain of Jars was included to UNESCO's list of World Cultural Heritage sites. The majority are still Vietnam War veterans who travel to the former battlegrounds and American and European visitors who are interested in experiencing Laotian culture and learning more about its turbulent past.

Explore the ancient kingdom of Tai Phuan

It is hard to discuss the former Tai Phuan kingdom without mentioning Khoun, a town located 36 kilometers southeast of Phonsavan. Tai Phuan, a bustling economic hub in the region in the fourteenth century, eventually belonged to the kingdom of Laos Lane Xang. Since then, Wat Phia Wat's seated Buddha statue and several more temples have been constructed all across Tai Phuan, making it the center of Buddhist architectural art. Then the French arrived and incorporated their culture into this country's architecture.

The greatest and oldest temple in the Tai Phuan Kingdom, Wat Phia Wat was constructed during King Chao Lankhamkong's most affluent reign. When the Tai Phuan Kingdom was overthrown in 1874, Wat Phia Wat was also severely damaged. The pagoda was continuously devastated by French-American bombings in the 1950s and 1970s of the previous century, leaving only a sizable Buddha statue in the main hall. The right face and lip of the statue of the Buddha are disfigured, and one of his eyes is gone.

This, however, is evidence of the populace's tenacity and capacity to persevere in the face of practically complete disaster. Possibly for this reason, the majority of passing visitors stop at the ruins, kneel before the Buddha, pray, and beg the Buddha for blessings as they take solace in the serene and respectful environment. Imagine one of Laos' wealthiest regions in its heyday.

At the nearby town of Siphom, tourists may also see the stupas That Foun and That Chomephet, which are regarded cultural icons of the formerly advanced and dominant Muang Phuan ethnic group. That Foun is a religious architectural creation made of bricks, larger and taller than That Dam in Vientiane, with a mixture of ornamental sandstone lotus petals in the center of the tower. The Buddha's relics were kept in the stupa when he attained nirvana. The stupa sustained significant damage during the conflict and was overrun by people who stole several items. The tower was returned to its former state following Laos' freedom.

Built atop a tall mound was the stupa. You can comfortably view the surrounding countryside from here, which has vast rice fields and affluent Lao communities. Due to its elevation of 1,200 meters above sea level, Xieng Khuang has a cool temperature all year long. On the walk to the stupa, there are poinsettias, and across the campus, wild sunflower hedges bloom like fire against the blue sky and white clouds. Visitors may capture lovely images as keepsakes for a vacation with just one click. You may also stop by the shops close to the tower to buy some trinkets, see some Lao women embroider, and hear them describe the stupa's characteristics and the local festivities that are hosted there.

The nearby That Chomphet may also be accessed by visitors. Early in the 14th century, this structure was constructed. According to legend, the top is fastened with a diamond. The diamond and other costly stones were stolen away during the conflict, though.

In an effort to retain the positive traditional culture of a nation with which the majority of people are familiar, the Lao people continue to perform the Buddha bathing festival at these monuments on the occasion of the traditional New Year, Boun Pimay. is a Buddhist.

As well as having hot mineral springs, Xieng Khuang is known for its exquisite delicacies such bamboo shoots, mushrooms, vermicelli, glutinous rice, wild honey, beef, and many more delectable foods.

Xieng Khuang is a beautiful highland and waiting to discover. Contact Threeland Travel for Lao travelling and Xieng Khuang tour !