Deep in the heart of Laos, there is a large open plateau dotted with stone jars that date back to the Iron Age. Some of these jars are immense — the largest is almost 10 feet high!
Nobody is quite sure where these unusual relics came from. According to this post on Environmental Graffiti, local tradition is that the jars were either used to by giants to brew rice wine or were placed on the plain to store water for thirsty travelers.
However, the scientific consensus is that they were used in ancient burial rites. Cremated remains have been found inside some of the jars, though interestingly, unburned bodies have been found buried outside of the jars as well. It seems likely that this is because different burial practices existed for different social classes, with elites being cremated and ordinary people being buried.
According to Wikipedia, some archaeologists have suggested that the largest jars were used originally as “distilling vessels,” where bodies were placed and allowed to decompose for a while before being cremated.
Only three sites on the Plain of Jars are open for tourists. Elsewhere, landmines hamper archaeological exploration and make tours too dangerous, not to mention the terrible toll they take on local people. If you visit, just make sure to stay on the beaten path.
The Plain of Jars is accessible from the nearby village of Phonsavan, which is well worth visiting in its own right. However, Americans traveling to Laos need a Lao visa to enter the country. Tourists staying in Laos for less than 30 days can get a visa on arrival at certain airports and land crossings. If you’re flying in, check with your airline to see if you can get a visa on arrival. If you’d prefer to take care of getting your visa ahead of time, you also have the option to apply before you leave the US.
Here’s what you need to get a Laos visa if you’re visiting as a tourist:
- 2 application forms for a Laos tourist visa
- 3 passport-sized photos
- A copy of your itinerary
RushMyTravelVisa makes it easy to apply for a Laos visa, as well as visas for any other country you plan to visit. We can research your itinerary, then help you with the necessary paperwork and deliver your documents directly to the appropriate embassy or consulate for the fastest possible service.
Apply for your Laos visa today!