Plain of Jars
The mysterious Plain of Jars is one of Laos’ most intriguing sites. The urn-like stone containers, date back thousands of years, estimated to be from Southeast Asia’s Iron Age, from 500 BC to 200 AD. Whilst there are many theories as to the origins and purpose of the jars, no one knows for sure. The thousands of jars scattered seemingly arbitrarily over the countryside is an impressive site.
Some of the jars are a up to a metre wide and three metres tall. The size of many of the jars, as well as the discovery of stone lids and human remains in the area, mean that the main archaeological theory is that the jars were used as part of a burial ritual. There are also several local beliefs, including the jars being used to distil rice wine or whisky for giants!
There are around 2,500 jars across 90 sites throughout the hills. However this area was badly affected by the America-Vietnam war, with thousands of bombs dropped on this stretch of the Laos countryside. Due to a high level of unexploded ordinance, it is only possible to visit less than a dozen of the sites, which have now been cleared and clearly marked.