Plain of Jars
In Xieng Khuang province in north eastern Laos you can find the Plain of Jars. A wonderful attraction and one of high cultural and historical value.
The Plain of Jars is a megalithic archaeological landscape and it consists of thousands of stone jars. The jars are to be found in different sites and some of the sites excist of just one jar, some of them contain hundreds of them. The Plain of Jars is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the whole of Southeast Asia and absolutely worth a visit. The jars are dated to the Iron Age (500 BC to AD 500) and there are still debates about the use of the jars in the Iron Age.
Jar sites and recent history
The easiest and most accessible site is also the biggest one. On this site you can also find a cave in which many people took refuge during the ‘Secret War’. Between 1964 and 1973, the Plain of Jars was heavily bombed by the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Air Force was fighting the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao communist forces and as a result of the tragedy the U.S. Air Force dropped more bombs on Laos, than it dropped during the whole of World War II. The Plain of Jars was very heavely hit by the bombing campaigns of the Americans and a large quantity of unexploded bombs (UXO) is still to be found in the area, especially cluster munitions. Some evidence of the bombing raids can be seen in the form of broken jars and bomb craters. Stay on the marked pathways while visiting the different sites of the Plain of Jars for your own (and others) safety.
UXO – Safety
MAG (The Mines Advisory Group), a non-governmental organization (NGO), funded by the government of New Zealand and in collaboration with UNESCO, cleared unexploded bombs from the three most visited sites from July 2004 until July 2005. A second phase of bomb clearance at the sites also funded by NZAID was undertaken in 2007; four more jar sites were made safe. (source: Wikipedia). Again: please be careful visiting the sites and stay on the paths. Do not walk around in areas that are not marked safe.
The Lao government and NZAID (New Zealand Aid) built a visitors centre that was opened on 13 August 2013 at the Plain of Jars Site 1.