The main reason why I went to Phonsavahn was to see the plain of jars, although it was definitely an added bonus to learn so much about the history of Laos at the same time.
A couple from New Zealand and two girls from Germany that I met on the minivan (I'm surprised they even talked to me after being such a mess on the ride) and I decided to book a minivan to go to the plain of jars at 8am, a bit earlier than the usual 9am start that other tours organize.
It was an amazing day - we were completely alone at the three sites that we visited.
There are actually 16 sites, but about 6 have been cleared of unexplored ordinance and only three are open to the public.
They are a real-life Easter Island-style mystery: nobody really knows who made these huge stone jars or why they were made.
The going theory is that they were for cremation purposes, and archaeologists have found human remains around the base of some of them.
Either way, it was quite an impressive sight. Site 1 has the largest of all the jars, weighing approximately 60 tonnes. That's like 60 elephants. For reals.
You can climb up onto a hill and also see a line of bomb craters from the war. Pretty crazy.
En route to site 2, our van driver stopped at a random village. 'Laolao rice whiskey village'.
Sure, I guess we could taste some whiskey at 9am.
A big bucket of fermenting rice. Yum.
The cutest lady ever came out and have us a shot. She seemed pretty disappointed when it took all five of us to finish. That stuff is potent! 'Only 30%' 'Then why can we light it on fire?' 'Okay fineee maybe 40%'.
Cows on da road.
Site 2 was split by a road, with smaller jars. I was thankful that we decided to take a minivan after meeting some girls who had rented scooters and braved the crazy roads but got a flat tire. They waited for someone to come fix it for a long while.
Site 3 was my fave. We walked through some dried rice fields covered in cows. I'll give it to those cows, they don't give a what.
They regularly just stand right in the middle of the road and don't really move even when cars honk incessantly.
The site itself had smaller jars clustered close together. 'Take the best pictures here, yes?'
If you have an extra couple of days to spare, I would def suggest going to the plain of jars. It's a bit off the beaten backpacker route, full of history (and mystery!) and the people are really lovely.
Overall, a great experience!