Laos puts Plain of Jars forward for Unesco recognition

Laos is preparing to submit its request to have its famous Plain of Jars considered a world heritage site by the UN's cultural body Unesco.

Plain of Jars, Laos

Plain of Jars, Laos Image by Nick Hubbard

The Plain of Jars consists of a field that contains the ruins of close to 3000 enormous jars or urns. The origin and purpose of so many jars remains a mystery, but despite that the field has become a popular visitors' destination. It's theorised that the jars could've been used by travelling caravans as a repository for monsoon water, or that they were originally used to store rice wine. Local folklore tells the story of the giant Khun Cheung who used the jars to preserve is rice wine after having won a battle.

Dr Bounthieng Siripaphanh, the head of heritage at the Laos Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism, has said: “Through good implementation and management the Plain of Jars will become an even more important heritage tourism site for domestic and foreign visitors.”

The application has been under way for almost 20 years, since 1998, and there are high hopes for next year's application.

If it were to be granted world heritage status the Plain of Jars would be the third site in Laos to have received the honour, following the town of Luang Prabang and the cultural site of Vat Phou, Champasak province.

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