XIENG KHOUANG OVERVIEW
By virtue of the Franco-Siamese treaty of 3 October 1893, signed in Bangkok and ratified by the French Parliament in January 1894, Laos became the fifth province of French Indochina. Laos was a protectorate like Tonkin (north Vietnam), Annam (central Vietnam) and Cambodia, but Cochin-china (south Vietnam) was the only province with the status of colony. Laos entered the Union of French Indochina from a position of disadvantage, with no defined status of its own but often thought of as an extension of Vietnam.
Located 400 kilometers northeast of Vientiane Capital, Xieng Khouang Province has a population of 249,000 spread over an approximate area of 15,000 square kilometers. It is one of the 17 provinces of Lao PDR, located in the north-central area of the country, on the mountainous Tran-ninh plateau. Xieng Khouang includes eight districts: Paek, Phaxay, Phoukoot, Kham, Nong Hét, Khoun, Thathom and Mokmai.
It is set at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres above sea level and enjoys mild temperatures for most of the year, although winters can be surprisingly cold. Kham District is a low-laying basin set at around 600 meters above sea level.
Xieng Khouang enjoys a remarkable geographical location, surrounded by mountain ranges, with Phou Bia (2,700 meters) the highest peak in Lao PDR. The province sits at the crossroads of traffic from central Vietnam and northeast Thailand. Historically, these two powerful neighbours-Siam and Vietnam have vied for control of its soil.
The province shares borders with Houaphanh, Luang Prabang, Vientiane and Bolikhamxay provinces, as well as an international border with Vietnam’s Nghe An Province. Xieng Khouang has a long and rich history and is home to numerous ethnic groups, including Thai Phuan, Hmong, Khmu and Tai Dam.
Xieng Khouang is home to the Plain of Jars, the prehistoric stone megaliths which attract thousands of tourists to the province each year. The Lao government is currently finalising an application for the World Heritage Committee to consider listing the Plain of Jars as a World Heritage Monument. The area is of significant archaeological importance on account also of the standing stones in nearby Houaphanh Province.
Until briefly after World War II, the French used Xieng Khouang Town, present-day Muang Khoun town, as their provincial capital. A few ruinous colonial public buildings remain to this day, such as the governor’s residence, church and French school.
A total of 63 tourist sites were recorded in Xieng Khouang in 2010, consisting of 32 natural sites, 18 cultural sites and 13 historical sites (2010 Statistical Report on Tourism in Laos, published by the LNTA, the Lao National Tourism Administration). The same publication reports that visitors to the province increased from 5,062 in 2003 to 21,631 in 2010 and that the total number of hotels, guesthouses, resorts, restaurants and entertainment establishments in the province grew from 98 in 2009 to 140 in 2010.
Phonsavanh, the new provincial capital, is located in Paek District and caters to increasing numbers of national and international tourists, eager to experience Xieng Khouang’s natural, historical and archaeological attractions. The new airport in Phonsavanh is served by regular flights from Vientiane Capital by Lao Airlines.
The Provincial Tourist Information Centre is located 2,5 kilometers from Phonsavanh town, next to Talat Nam Ngum (Nam Ngum Market). The office is open daily from 08:00am-04:00pm and the English-speaking staff can be contacted on +856-61-312217 or +856-20-22340201.
XIENG KHOUANG, XIENG KHOUANG TRAVEL GUIDE, XIENG KHOUANG LAOS
Xieng Khouang is located in the Xieng Khouang Plateau in the north-east of Laos. Xieng Khouang in Laos language means 'Horizontal city'. It is quite small province with the total area of 15,880 square kilometers and population of about 230,000 people. Mountains make up largely part of the total area, however, Xieng Khouang is still one of the main producing areas of Laos thanks to the fertile floodplain.
- Location: Northeastern Laos, bordering Luang Prabang Province to the northwest, Houaphan Province to the northeast, Vietnam to the East
- Population: 299,512 people (2005)
- Area: 15,881 square kilometers
- Most attractive: the Plain of Jars
- High level of biodiversity and a number of endangered species such as tiger, clouded leopard, black bear, etc.
Xieng Khouang is most famous for the intriguing “Plain of Jars”. Stepping in this place, tourists may feel like stepping into a little boy getting lost in the world of giants. You will continue asking questions such as “How long have these jars presented here? Who made it? What did they use for?” You will be crazily excited about discovering hundreds of giant stone jars, some as large as 3.25 meters high are strewn all over the plateau –carved out of solid hunks of rock from surrounding mountains. Just coming there and watching, you may find the answer for yourself.
Besides “Plain of Jars”, Xieng Khouang has a variety of attractive destinations. One of them is Mulberries Organic Silk Farm where visitors can view all the silk making process. Mulberries gift shop features beautiful plain silk scarves in a variety of rich colors, patterned throws and cushion covers and fabrics by the meter. Another place is Muang Khoun - the 14th century ancient Phuan Kingdom capital. It is accessed southeast of Phonsavanh. Destroyed in the Indochina War, ruins of a stone wall with brick archways, relics of France’s colonial rule, a large size Buddha, pillars and short wall sections of Wat Piawat temple (built in 1564) are visible. And many other worth-visiting places such as Muang Sui, Tham Pa, That Foun, War Memorials surely makes visitors want to come there once.
Coming to Xieng Khouang is absolutely an interesting and joyful journey for tourists. When life gets boring with repetitive rhythm everyday, a journey to Xieng Khouang is like a way to get back the interest of exploring and experiencing the mysterious part of the world.