Plain of Jars to become Laos’ third World Heritage Site

|     Khonesavanh Lathsaphao     |

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – Laos has been working for 20 years to have the Plain of Jars, known locally as Thong Hai Hin, listed as a World Heritage Site. When UNESCO announces the site’s inscription, it will be the third such site in Laos.

Director General of the Heritage Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism Thongbay Phothisane, said on Facebook on May 14 that Thong Hai Hin has been accepted as a World Heritage Site and its listing is expected to be officially announced at the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) meeting in Azerbaijan.

The Plain of Jars World Heritage proposal involves 11 separate places where the ancient stone jars are located in the province’s districts of Paek, Phaxay, Phoukoud and Kham.

The mysterious jars were carved from sandstone and granite, and their size ranges from very small to about 3.5 metres in height. They are thought to be more than 2,000 years old.

The Plain of Jars comprises about 80 distinct sites but only 11 are included in the listed area as they have the highest concentration of stone jars.

A site on the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province. – VIENTIANE TIMES/ANN

Some jars are also found in Phoukhoun district of Luang Prabang province, which borders with Xieng Khuang.

Three large sites in Paek district are particularly popular with visitors.

The first site is 15km southwest of the provincial capital Phonsavanh, and has about 300 jars. The second site is 25km south of Phonsavanh and contains about 90 jars spread over two hills. The third site is 35km southeast of Phonsavanh and has about 150 jars.

Laos achieved UNESCO recognition of its first World Heritage Site in 1995 when Luang Prabang’s old town was nominated for listing. The second followed in 2001 when the Vat Phou temple complex in Champassak province was declared a World Heritage Site. The ministry is currently working on a submission to UNESCO with regard to the Hin Namno National Protected Area, otherwise known as the Stone Formation Forest Karst, in Khammuan province.