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the Province Plain of Jars, Laos  
   
   
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Xieng Khuang -The Province Plain of Jars, Laos
Welcome to XiengKhouang the Province Plain of Jars, Laos
Xieng Khuang Info

Individual Activities around Phonsavan- Xiengkhouang the Province Plain of Jars in Laos
Scenery and Landscape


Nong Tang Lake
Nong Tang is a large picturesque natural lake flanked by high limestone cliffs. Locals use it for fishing and it is a favorite picnic site. Enjoy the peaceful setting in the local restaurant. Around Nong Tang there are several temple ruins of Wat Pong, Wat Xiengna and Mang Stupa. All date from the Phuan Kingdom. The Tham Pa Buddha cave is also located nearby. Overnight stay is available in a guesthouse along the shore. Nongtang is located 48 km from Phonsavan on Route 7 going to Phou Khoun.

 

Hot Springs
Hot Springs can be visited in the vicinity of Muang Kham off Route 7. The big hot spring Baw Nyai is 67 km from Phonsavan, has been developed as a (simple) resort with bungalows and indoor bathing facilities. The hot springs themselves are very hot and not suitable for swimming. For swimming you would have to go to the resort or walk down to the river. There is also a scenic jar site just 2 km away overlooking the valley.

 

Tad Ka Waterfall in Nong Het
This impressive waterfall is surrounded by spectacular limestone karst. The water runs down in cascading steps alternating with steep areas for more than 100 meters and flows all year round. To get to the falls follow Route 7 to Nong Het, at Khang Phaniane Village turn left into a graveled road (100 km from Phonsavan) and drive for about 3 km; take the trail to the left and walk about 30 minutes to get to the waterfall. Taking a guide is recommended. Best ask at the local tourist information, or if that is closed at the Nong Het guest house.

 

Tad Ka Waterfall in Tajok
The waterfall is located near Tajok village, 32 km north of Phonsavan. The water flows over several tiers. A spectacular jungle trail winds its way up the waterfall crossing it several times. Tad Kha is a popular picnic spot for locals, especially during the Lao New Year holidays. To get there turn right at the end of Tajok village; follow the road until you see a building to the right. Walk along the ridge and take the right trail down. Local tour companies offer day tours including a picnic lunch and a hike up the waterfall.

 

Tad Lang Waterfall
Tad Lang is located near Jar Site 3 just 700 meters off the road to Ban Nakang cascading down ca. 800 meters. To enjoy its whole beauty follow the trail down to the bottom of the valley. It is a good picnic spot, but because you must cross a river to reach it, access is difficult in the rainy season.

 

Thathom
Traveling to Thathom, located 130 km south of Phonsavan, is still an adventure. Driving mainly on dirt roads you pass thick deciduous forests, stands of bamboo, remote villages and cross rivers several times. Thathom offers a gorgeous karst landscape with plenty of rivers, caves and historical sites, but so far, tourist services are scarce. Song thaews (pick-up trucks) leave Phonsavan daily, but there are no regular trips in the rainy season. Boat services are available once you reach the Nam Xan River going to Paksan in Bolikhamxay province.

 

History
Muang Khoun is the old capital of the Phuan Kingdom and was the provincial capital during French colonialism. This rural centre of faded glory was heavily bombed at the end of the 1960s and bears testimony to centuries of aggression. Once the town rivaled Luang Prabang in glory but today only few ruins remain, such as Wat Piawat. The Phuan village of Ban Nasi is nearby and a good opportunity to cross a suspension bridge with a splendid view of lush fields and creeks. The villagers do basketry and weaving.

The Tham Pa Buddha Cave is located nearby Lake Nong Tang, about 3 km away from the highway. In its large network of caverns hundreds of Buddha statues were stashed away to protect them from Chinese Haw invaders in the second half of the 19th century. In the main entrance a large Buddha that is said to be over 1200 years old can be admired. During the last war the upper cave had been used by the Vietnamese army as a hospital. The cave has basic infrastructure, such as lights, toilets and steps and very knowledgeable Lao guide. Within walking distance are "Water Cave" and "Stupa Cave", which contains the ruins of an old stupa.

Muang Si (contemporary Ban Nuang Tang) was once known for its vast Buddhist temples and quaint provincial architecture, but the destruction during the last war had been total. Muang Si was the headquarters of the Neutralist faction in the 1960s and served as a base for US war planes. After 1975 it briefly was the revolutionary capital of the Pathet Lao.

Ban Tajok village is a Hmong village along Route 7. It is an excellent example of how war remains are integrated into daily lives. Take a walk to the village and discover bomb fences and herbs growing in bomb casings. Every Sunday morning from 4 am to about 9 am (sic!) there is a popular "Hmong morning market" worth a visit.
 

Indochina War Sites
Evidence of the intense fighting can be seen in the cratered landscape in in war relics such as bomb shells, tanks and military positions. The resourceful locals refashion war scrap into items for everyday use, e.g. spoons in Ban Napia village, vegetable planters, fences, tools, pumps and barbecue fireplaces.

The extent of the bombardment is in particular evident at Ban Khai, 36 km northeast of Phonsavan and Plain of Jars sites 1 and 3; here the landscape is pockmarked with craters. Driving north along Route 7 plenty of creatively modified war scrap used in local architecture catches your eye. In Tajok, a Hmong village along Route 7 (30 km northeast of Phonsavan), you can discover lots of bomb casings reused as barn pillars, fences and for other uses.

Craters at Ban Khai The landscape around Khai village is pockmarked with craters and shows the impact of the immense aerial bombardment during the Second Indochina War.

The wreck of a Russian Tank can be found off Route 7 on the way to Ban Mixay- The mulberry umbrella village.
 

Caves-Refuges for thousands of people
During the war thousands of local residents took shelter in caves and set up hospitals and schools; the army used the caves as well to store weapons and medical supplies. Two major caves are open to the public:

Tham Piu Cave is located 6 km north of Muang Kham. It is one of the tragedies of the so-called Secret War. In 1969 a single rocket fired from an aircraft caused the death of an estimated 374 people who had taken refuge in the cave. Their bones are still buried in the rubble. Directions: Take Route 5 towards Nam Nguen and turn left 3 km from Muang Kham; the paved road ends at the cave.

The Tham Xang Caves are located in a scenic karst area, the caves were used by the revolutionary fighters. Inside the cave complex they set up a hospital, an arsenal and a medicine depot. Evidence can still be seen. Besides its war history the illuminated residential cave is worth visiting to see its natural beauty. The Hmong community of Ban Ta takes care off the caves and offers a local tour guide service.

Directions: The caves are 36 km northwest of Phonsavan. Take Route 7, pass Nong Pet, then in Nam Ka village turn left into a dirt road; follow the signs to Tham Xang until you reach Ban Ta.
 


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