Phonsavan means “hills of paradise” in the Lao language, which refers to the fact that the hills in this destination give a feel of paradise. If you’re searching for the heavenly paradise in Laos, a good recommendation is Phonsavan.
About Phonsavan in Laos
Phonsavan is aprovincial capital of Xieng Khouang Province in Laos, which was established during the 1970s. Regarding the highlights of Phonsavan, it is the stunning countryside with the lush green hills and pine forests. Besides, the area is dotted with lots of wooden houses in the rural villages, which creates the fascinating pictures of Phonsavan. Most of the time, visitors can meet the Hmong cowboys who dress the violet-and-brown attire and wear hats along the sites. In Phonsavan, people celebrate the New Year’s Day with bullfighting. If traveling to Phonsavan, there cannot lack the names of Plain of Jars – the UNESCO World Heritage, Nong Tang Lake, War Memorials, Tham Piu Cave, Muang Kham Hot Springs, etc during such ultimate Laos package tours. Amongst these sites, Plain of Jars is the biggest magnet attracting the fanciers worldwide to discover and evaluate. Mysterious, impressive, and interesting are what people use to describe Phonsavan in Laos.
Eminent Tourist Attractions in Phonsavan
Plain of Jars
On the UNESCO status, Plain of Jars is surely the most favorite destination to see in Phonsavan. This is a collection of gigantic stone jars scattered throughout the highlands.There are more than 1.900 jars in this plain, and they are scattered in 52 locations in Xieng Khuang Province. The three top locations of the jars are in Phonsavan town. The majority of the stone jars are made from sedimentary rock, with the height of 1-3 meters and the weight of 14 tons. The biggest found jar has the height of 3m and the weight of 14 tons, while most of the jars are 1-2m.
The history and origin of the jars remain unknown, but according to archaeologists, the jars are believed to appear 1,500 – 2,000 years ago, but none can make an exact conclusion about its origin. Referring to the function of the jars, it’s theorized that they served as funeral urns or food storage. Interestingly, the local Laotian legend assumes that the jars were made by Khun Cheung, a king of the giants. After the victorious fight, this giant king created the gigantic jars to brew the massive amounts of rice wine for celebration. Besides, there stand out several assumptions around the existence of these giant jars; while some believed they were parts of trade routes, the others said the jars were used to hold monsoon rainwater for caravan travelers. Whatever the uses, Plain of Jars, in fact, looks inspiring and secretive to the visitors. Whenever talking about Phonsavan, people mention Plain of Jars and vice versa.
Phonsavan has some War Memorials to commemorate thousands of the Laos soldiers who sacrificed during the Indochina Wars and to honor the Vietnamese armies who lost their lives for the fights alongside them. Each of the War Memorials in Phonsavan is sacred and spectacular. Come to the meaningful sites, the visitors should show the silent respect. Built on the pretty hills, the War Memorials offer the fascinating views of the whole Phonsavan town as well as the picturesque surroundings.
Nong Tang Lake
The stunning natural lake of Nong Tang is flanked by the high limestone cliffs. The lake is the favorite address for fishing and picnic. Local people also appreciate the tranquil settings of Nong Tang where to find the traditional restaurant, the sacred temple ruins of Wat Xiengna, Wat Pong, Mang Stupa, and Tham Pa Buddha Cave. The attractive surroundings make Nong Tang appealing to visitors worldwide who can later choose to stay overnight in the guesthouses along the riverbanks.
The hot springs of Muang Kham are the natural scenic attraction that Phonsavan is blessed with. Muang Kham is the large springs run by the government. There is a fence covering the pool in which the hot water bubbles up, but the visitors can view this hot springs by taking a short path commencing opposite the Hot Springs Resort. You can go to the resort and enjoy bathing in the warm water, which might cost 5,000 kips. Together with Muang Kham Hot Springs, the significant Baw Nyai Hot Spring is developed as the pretty resort with bungalows, plus indoor bathing equipment. Also, the presence of the spectacular jar site (around 2km away) overlooking the valley is the nice spot for sightseeing.
The first notable waterfall in Phonsavan is Tad Ka Waterfall encompassed by the picturesque limestone karst. The water cascades down impressively and flows all year round. The Tad Ka Waterfall is best to view via a short walk, and a good recommendation for you is to stay overnight at Nong Het guesthouse. More and more people love having a picnic in this scenic sight.
The second must-to-see waterfall is Tad Lang Waterfall. Tad Lang is ideal for viewing from the top to the bottom of the valley, beautifully. On the par with Tad Ka, Tad Lang is the scenic picnic spot. You need to cross a river to arrive at this waterfall.
Ban Mixay Village is the old village which makes mulberry paper umbrellas. Here, the paper is made from the mulberry tree, and the glue is made from the fruit of the wild persimmon tree. There also uses the natural dyes, such as sesame oil, which produces a white color. Apparently, the mulberry paper umbrellas are naturally processed.
Ban Napia Village is the cultural village which produces spoons from aluminum scrap of the Indochina Wars. Travel to this site, it’s interesting to learn about Phuan culture and spoon-making procedure. Besides, hand-woven textiles and Lao food are the eminent products there.
Tai Dam Village is the cultural address being famous for producing good-quality silk and cotton fabrics. This center is run by the locals and welcomes the visitors to learn about the cultural traditions and customs of the minority groups.
How to Get to Phonsavan in Laos
You can take flights from Vientiane to the Xiang Khouang Airport in Phonsavan. The flights take place four days of the week. In the case of starting from Hanoi or Vinh in Vietnam, it takes around 1 hours arriving at Vientiane, and then you take another flight from Vientiane to the Airport in Phonsavan.
It’s possible to drive to Phonsavan on the well-paved roads. You can get visas on arrival at the Nam Ka border to Phonsavan. In particular, if taking a bus from Vinh in Vietnam, the bus journey will take around 12 hours – 18 hours arriving at Phonsavan (around 403km). This bus will commence at 6:00 AM on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, at the price of VND 145,000. In addition, there are buses to Luang Prabang (around 690km) starting at 6:00 AM on Wednesday and Sunday, at the price of VND 325,000. The uses of VIP and local buses from Vinh to Phonsavan running once a week are convenient. And if starting from Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the road trip takes around 8 hours. As usual, you havethe flexibility to travel by car or motorbike to Phonsavan. Otherwise, it is easy to rent a motorbike and use a tuk-tuk service for exploring and sightseeing the town, especially the unique Plain of Jars.