Xieng Khouang (also known as Phonsavan) was completely destroyed in the war. Nothing in town is much more than 40 years old.
At this point it's a rapidly growing town that is very short on tourist facilities. For someone interested in seeing how people actually live in today's Laos, it's fascinating. For someone seeking charm and atmosphere, it will be a major disappointment. The "jars" that give the Plain of Jars its name are worth a visit, and the Hmong New Year celebration (November and December) is colorful and enjoyable. Otherwise, unless you enjoy just walking around in a new and unfamiliar place (as I do), there probably is no reason to stay longer than a couple of days.
I already did this in the other section about the hotel area, but I will repeat that Xieng Khouang is pleasant, friendly and interesting.
Best restaurant to eat at was Bamboozels....Tour of the Jars Site was Excellent...also visit UXO Centre very interesting but sad
The town of Phonsavan itself is not much to look at, and there's not a huge amount to just stroll around and see, though it's a good base for seeing the Plain of Jars sites, the old city of Muang Khoun, and various other significant sites related to the Second IndoChina war.
Mostly an interesting place to learn a little bit about the tragic history of Lao - the MAG and QLA centres (on the main strip, two doors apart from each other) are definitely worth visiting as well.
The town itself has a lot of rubbish laying around and that stood out a lot from having left Luang Probang where the streets were clean.
The only thing going for the town is that the Plane of Jars are nearby, but personally they seem to be over rated. Access to the town is by a very winding rough road where the mini van could only average 40Km/H so be prepared for a long drive in and out.
A typical "passing-through" town if you are not interested in visiting the Plain of Jars. There is nothing special about this town aka Phonsovanh.
The city is new since it had been destroyed by U.S. bombs during the Vietnam War. There are many worthwhile sites within easy reach of the city.
It is a friendly place, but the rain can be intense.
Phonsavan is a small town, Plain of Jars and the war memorials are located on the outskirts of town so you will need a tuk tuk or car to get there.
Several markets scattered around town that provide local food. Limited places to grab snacks or water. Several places to eat but mostly just serve soups or noodles. Found great restaurant called "Bamboozle" on main road, in Phonsavan Market area. Great food, great staff, and great prices...western food available, which was a nice treat!
Xiengkhoung area is really nice, not just plain of jars. u can enjoy hill side area with beautiful sceneary.
Basically there is nothing much in Phonsavanh unless visiting the "Plain of Jars" and "Hmong Village".
It's a laid back town and a bit bored at night as there is no night markets or pubs around. Spending 1 night there will be just nice. Do drop by at Mines Advisory Group (MAG) - an UXO information center and do a little donations to help out the locals who are still suffering from the bombies during the second Indochina wars.
Xiengkhoung scenery is very nice. It is not just plain of jars areas, other tourist attractions are also very nice.
Recommend to stay on the hill.
Main attraction is the Plain of Jars (mysterious, though about its history). Visit MAG to know more about the UXO & the life of people there.
Overall, great place for the fresh cool air & superb scenery. Very relax environment, with almost no traffic except for nights where buses & lorries pass by the main road.
It reminds me of the 60's, an outback mining town with a single main street. Almost expected the theme music from " the good, the bad and the ugly" to be playing in the background as we arrived and Clint to be on a horse at the other end of the street.
However, as one of the most bombed places on the planet it survives and visiting the"Plain of Jars" was one of the highlights of our trip to Laos Due to UXB, wandering off the beaten track is not recommended. Truly worth visiting if you have the opportunity.
Plain of Jars - worth seeing at least 2 sites with an English speaking guide. Tuk-Tuks not easy to come by.
Restaurants not easily found and the food was somewhat average at best. In general, the lack of willingness to assist tourists was what really let this place down. Used a mini bus to leave Phonsovahn as recommended by our guide to Vang Vieng, never again. Recommend the coach service instead! We stopped so that the driver could pick up his overnight bag and stopped to get fuel for the mini-van and stopped a further four times for him to do his grocery shopping along the way, all before our designated meal stop. The driver left the van and motioned for everyone to get out he had a meal and a beer. We were not told how long or what reason there was for the stop. Very glad to get to Vang Vieng in one piece.
There is a lot more to see here than you will find on the internet, the only thing being advertised is the Plain of Jars, I have started to document some of the sights we saw on another travel sight as well, there are tour groups available in town and there is a choice of what to see & do.
A very quiet town with plenty of places to eat and drink. there are many different local tours on offer to keep you busy for many days.
we went in April which is very hot and dry but the 'Plain of jars' is not awash with other tourists so you can get a much better feel of the place.
Phonsavan is a very dusty town , I think the only reason to go there is to visit. The plain of jars.
Which we really enjoyed, but was a long drive from Luang Prabang. It took us 6hoursof winding roads to get there, very tiring,then 6hours back ..
A small town and a place which has nothing to do. If not for 'Plain of Jars', there is nothing to do in this town.
As it is not comfortably accessible except for an arduous journey through the mountains, not worth visiting unless you are transiting this place.
In our experience, the only reason you would visit this city was to see the Plain of Jars. We found the people rude to foreigners, especially women.
I had shorts on when we arrived and no one would speak to us, even if we said hello. They didn't become any friendlier wihen I wore a long skirt either. Having travelled in the south of Laos for a week prior to arriving in Xieng Khouang this surpised us as we had no issues with this regardless of what I was wearing (within limits of course). We ate all of our meals in Crater's as the family who runs it is extremely friendly and the prices and food were great too. We attempted to eat at other resturants however we were unable to get served at them so always headed back to Craters!! On our last day, while filling in time before our flight, we went to Mulberry's. It was interesting to see how the silk was made. The scarves were a bit more here than in other cities but having seen them being made, it was not a bitg issue.
It's really boring, but the Jars are interesting. Ask to skip the Russian Tank - there's nothing to see.
The only reason brought me there might be the plain of jars, and I liked the trip and I still like it.
And I saw relics of war there. It gives me a chance to think more about meaning of life.
The Plain of Jars is fascinating, but it is the current and recent history of the area that is most powerful in my opinion.
How resilient are the local people of this region! To have withstood, and then continued to thrive after the carpet bombing of the late 60s and early 70s is both humbling and inspiring to see and experience. It is well worth the time to visit the MAG place, the other one 2 doors down from it, and the cafe to the left of the Orchid Guest House that shows nightly screenings of the heart wrenching, mind boggling, documentary on the CIA bombing of Laos. The locals of this area are to be admired and are very worthy of whatever support we wealthy tourists can offer to them.
The only reason to go to Xieng Khouang (also known as Phonsavan) is to go to the Plain of Jars and ethnic villages and Vietnam war associated sites, the town itself is rather dull looking.
The trip from Luang Prabang took 8 hours by minivan, but it is a short plane trip to Vientiane.
Xieng Khouang (Phonsavanh)is a dusty little town with not a lot to entice the visitor other than the heart-wrenching stories of the bombing of Laos (must visit the Mines Advisory Group shop in the main street).
However, around Phonsavanh there are many interesting places - the old city of Muang Khoun, the Hmong villages and the amazing Plain of Jars.
Not a lot to see & do apart from the Plain of Jars World Heritage site. With good timing one day there should be enough.
We weren't sure either to make the journey to Phonsavan, to be honest the town has a strange feel about it and the only things to do are the tours to the jars, villages, caves etc.
in hindsight we would give it a miss, it's 5-6hrs to get there from Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang and the tours are not worth what you have to pay, you spend most of the time in the minivan, the jars are no better than other sites/ruins, the "villages" are no different to others and the hot springs are nothing remarkable. Phonsavan appears to be trying to put itself on the backpacker map but for us it wasn't value for money. The real reason to go is if you're interested in learning about the work being done to clear unexplored bombs dropped during the war.
We went to Plains of Jars Site 1 only but we were told the rest of the sites are approximately the same.
Try to do some trekking into the forest and villages and the waterfalls are beautiful but beware of leeches.