Good weather, Plain of Jars among top attractions in Xieng Khuang
Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

Xieng Khuang province was once known to some as the land of unexploded ordnance because of the prevalence of cluster bombs dropped by US warplanes during the Indochina War of 1964-1973. 
The ethnically diverse province is now emerging as a favourite destination for domestic and foreign tourists. 
Many bombs dropped on Xieng Khuang and in other Lao provinces did not explode and they are still being removed so that areas can be developed safely.
During a recent visit to Xieng Khuang, I stayed at a guesthouse in the provincial town of Phonsavanh in Paek district.
The surroundings of the guesthouse were verdant and the air was fresh.
From the guesthouse, I could not see all parts of the town because some tall buildings blocked the view.
However, the weather during the first week of September was delightful and everything was glistening in the early morning light.
The days turned quite hot, while the nights were cooler.

A giant Buddha statue sits amid the ruins of the temple of Phiavat damaged by American bombers during the Indochina War several decades ago.

The town is located in a relatively low-lying basin ringed by mountains. The large Nam Ngam Park and the new provincial stadium, that will host the National Games next year, are visible within the city limits. 
The region has good climatic conditions from November to January. During this time, the province drops a few degrees and many foreigners arrive to visit, provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department director Mr Vongsa Duangthongla told Vientiane Times.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Xieng Khuang has been increasing, but Mr Vongsa could not give a percentage for the increase.
He said the province had attracted 75,000 foreign visitors last year. 
“This year is Visit Laos Year 2018 and we estimated about 10,000 more foreigners will come to see destinations in our province. This figure is quite high but we believe we will achieve our goal,” he told Vientiane Times via telephone.
In addition to the excellent weather towards the end of the year, Xieng Khuang has attractions such as the traditional Kinchieng festival and the New Year of the Hmong ethnic group, and historic sites such as old temples and the Plain of Jars (Hai Hin).
Plain of Jars
There are several sites with ancient jars in the province, but three sites in Paek district are most popular with visitors. These three sites have also been cleared of unexploded ordnance.
The first site is 15 km southwest of Phonsavanh in Paek district, and has about 300 jars. The second site is 25 km south of Phonsavanh and contains about 90 jars spread over two hills. The third site is 35 km southeast of Phonsavanh and has about 150 jars.
The mysterious Jars were carved from sandstone and granite, and their size ranges from very small to about 3.5 metres high. They are thought to be more than 2,000 years old.
Old temple of Phiavat
The temple remains in ruins as a testament after damage was inflicted when American military aircraft dropped numerous bombs on the area from 1964 to 1973. The site is located in Khoun district, 36 km from Phonsavanh.
Hot spring
The big hot spring is located in Kham district, along route No 7 and 67 km from Phonsavanh.
It has been developed as a resort and has a swimming pool that uses water from the reservoir of the hot spring. 
Visitors can walk through the forest to find the hot spring’s source.
For safety, bathing is confined to the spring-water charged pool at the resort.
The road to Xieng Khuang province
Many people in Vientiane and the southern provinces have switched to using the road through Borikhamxay as it is much shorter than travelling via the winding and mountainous Road 13 North through Phoukhoun.
A 29-km section of the road in Borikhamxay province that links to two northern provinces is currently being rebuilt.
At Thasy village, vehicles can turn left on to Road No 1D towards Xieng Khuang.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 20, 2018)

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