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Phonsavan: general information

Valley of pitchers (Phonsavan)

Phonsavan (Ponsavan, Phonsavan, also Muang Pek and Xieng Khouang) – a city in Laos, a famous tourist destination. It is located in northern Laos near the border with Vietnam, at an altitude of 1100 meters (Luang Prabang on the map of Laos). Phonsavan is a very small city (population about 35 thousand people), although it is the capital of Xiang Khouang province. The city is very young, was founded in 1975 to replace the provincial capital completely destroyed during the war – the city of Xieng Khouang.

Among tourists, Phonsavan is known primarily for the fact that it is located in the center of the "Valley of pitchers". If not for this circumstance, this city would hardly have attracted at least one tourist. Places around the city also witness the so-called "Secret War" in Laos, which took place between 1960 and 1973, and this is like another attraction of the city. The city itself and its surroundings are also known as the residence of many traditional tribes. There are several natural attractions: lakes, waterfalls, hot springs and caves.

Well, one more circumstance leads tourists to Phonsavan: the city is on the way from Luang Prabang to the Vietnamese city of Vinh, and through it there are also buses from Luang Prabang to Hanoi.

The city has a dozen or two hotels, several cafes and restaurants. There is no entertainment here.

Weather, seasons in Phonsavan

The weather in Ponsavan is warm all year round, but due to the fact that the city is located at an altitude of 1100 meters, it is cooler and more comfortable than in other cities of Laos.

Rainy season takes place in Phonsavan from April to September. It is a very rainy time and it is best to avoid visiting during this period.

Dry season October to march is the best time to visit.

Tourist seasons in Phonsavan by month, when is the best time to go

Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov. Dec

* best time to visit;
acceptable time to visit;
not recommended time to visit

Current weather in Phonsavan and forecast for the near future:

How to get to Phonsavan

First of all, it should be noted that in various schedules and booking systems, the city may still occur under its second name Xieng Khouang or Xieng Khouang. You can get to the city only by plane or bus.

By plane to Phonsavan

Near Phonsavan is Xiang Khouang Airport (airport search code XKH). As of December 2012, the airport is operated by the airline Lao Airlines daily flights only from Vientiane. Departure from Vientiane 13:40 arrival 14:10, return flight at 14:40.

In the low season (from May to September), the number of flights can be reduced to 4 per week.

You can buy tickets from Vientiane and other cities with transfers to Phonsavan using the search form:

Prices for flights from Moscow to Luang Prabang:

Купить от 84987 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 04.12.2023 11.12.2023
Купить от 92932 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 16.01.2024 26.01.2024
Купить от 83656 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 04.02.2024 19.02.2024
Купить от 83203 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 02.03.2024 15.03.2024
Купить от 85095 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 13.04.2024 27.04.2024
Купить от 85669 ₽ 2 пересадки Лого авиакомпании 07.05.2024 14.05.2024

Minimum prices for flights from Russia to Luang Prabang:

Купить от 84075 ₽ Москва ⇄ Луангпхабанг 2
Купить от 123783 ₽ Санкт-Петербург ⇄ Луангпхабанг 3
Купить от 244203 ₽ Екатеринбург ⇄ Луангпхабанг 2

Phonsavan bus

The best and cheapest way to get to Ponsavan is by bus. True, you should prepare for long and uncomfortable trips on local buses. Despite the short distances between cities, the journey by bus can take considerable time, as it passes through winding mountain roads. All buses except those from Vientiane leave for and from Phonsavan in the early morning.

The main bus station is located in the western part of the city (see map of Phonsavan). There is another new bus station that serves flights only to Pakse, as well as a minivan bus station from where you can go to Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.

Approximate schedule and directions:

  • From Luang Prabang. There is a daily bus service from Luang Prabang to Phonsavan and back with Luang Prabang North Bus Station. You can buy tickets for it at a travel agency on the street for 120 thousand kip (money of Laos) or for 95 thousand at the station. Departs at 8:30, travel time 8 hours.
  • From Vientiane. Daily recover several buses to 06:30 , 07:30 , 09:30 , 16:00, 18:40, 20:00. Travel time 10 hours, cost 110 thousand Kip.
  • From Sam Neua. Departs at 08:00, 10 hours on the way, the cost of 80 thousand Kip.
  • From Vang Vieng. Departs at 8:00, 6 hours on the way, cost 110 thousand Kip.
  • From Vinh (Vinh, Vietnam). There is a bus connection to the Vietnamese city of Vinh, which, in turn, can be reached from other cities in Vietnam by train or bus. This bus service is not regular and varies from season to season: sometimes buses leave daily, sometimes four times a week (from Vinh on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; from Phonsavan on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday). From Vinh and from Phonsavan, these buses leave at the same time in the early morning (in 2017 at 06:00). The cost is 18-20 dollars.
    When entering Laos at the border crossing, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival.
  • From Hanoi. There is an irregular seasonal bus service from Hanoi to Phonsavan. Costs about $ 50, departs on Mondays.

Schedule information is collected from different sources for different times and can change significantly, so it should only be taken as a guide.

How to travel in Phonsavan

To move around Phonsavan itself, transport is not needed. The town is quite small, and all of it can be bypassed on foot. Even from the airport or from the bus station to the city center will not be a problem to walk with light luggage. If necessary,you can use a tuk-tuk for 1-1.5 dollars per trip to move around the city.

For a trip out of town, you can use rented transport or hire a transport with a driver. In the city there are several rental offices where you can rent a bicycle (20 thousand Kip per day), a motorcycle (for 100 thousand Kip), and in travel agencies even a car with a driver (500 thousand Kip).

What to see and do in Phonsavan

In Phonsavan itself, there is practically nothing to see and do, at least for now. There are not even any interesting temples here, because the city is completely new (built in 1975). Of the "entertainment" it has only cafes, restaurants, as well as local exotic markets.

Outside the city, visit, first of all, the Valley of pitchers, places-evidence of The "Secret War", traditional villages and natural attractions.

Even if you decide to visit the sights yourself on rented transport, it is better to hire a guide with you for the trip (it will cost about the same as renting a motorcycle). Without a guide, it will be very difficult to visit the sights outside the city, since there are practically no maps of the area, the population does not speak English at all, and there are almost no signs.

Valley of pitchers

Valley of pitchers

The valley of pitchers is one of the most famous attractions in Laos. UNESCO is currently considering whether to take this place under protection.

The valley of the jugs is a huge field on which there are huge stone jugs from 2500 to 3000 years old. There are many mysteries connected with these jugs, and so far there are far fewer answers than questions. The jars are made of stone, which is not found in the area, i.e. they were brought from somewhere. It is not clear how it was possible to make such huge jugs (the largest of them is 3.5 meters high) in such a huge number (there are thousands of them here). Well, the purpose of these jugs is still unclear. According to various versions, they were used for making drinks, for storing rice, for cremation and burial.

During the Civil War (secret war), active bombing took place in these places, many jugs were damaged. There are still a lot of unexploded shells in the fields and work is constantly being done to clear the fields of them. For this reason, only certain sites are open to tourists, but even they are not recommended to leave the designated trails. The most affordable and popular are sites 1, 2 and 3.

Strive to visit all sites, if you have limited time and finances, it is not necessary to understand the scale, it is enough to visit only one.

🚶 How to get there: you can visit the Valley of pitchers yourself (by rented transport) or by buying a guided tour at one of the travel agencies in the city. The cost of the tour with a visit to all three sites is on average 150 thousand Kip. per person for a group tour. However, you should be ready to fork out and pay for the entire tour about 500 thousand Kip, since Full groups are rarely recruited here.

The first site can be reached by bicycle, if you master 15 kilometers there and back.

💵 Entrance fee / tickets price: entrance to each of the sites costs 10 thousand Kip.

Traditional villages

There are several traditional villages around Phonsavan. These are not places that most tourists are used to seeing. These villages are not tourist attractions at all, in which tourists are immediately met at the threshold by souvenir sellers, and you have to pay for photographing. So far, these are the most real, not spoiled by the tourist influence of places that are very interesting to visit. But do it better with a local guide. The excursion to the valley of pitchers of your choice may include a visit to some villages.

Evidence of The "Secret War"

During the civil war from 1960 to 1973, very intense fighting took place in these places. As a result, even the former provincial capital, Xiang Khouang, was completely razed to the ground. Now tourists are taken to various attractions that testify to those battles. These are bomb craters in the fields; caves in which refugees were hiding; the remains of an old Soviet tank. It should be honestly said that these are sights for an amateur, since there is practically nothing to look at.

Nam Horn hot spring (also Baw Nyai and Baw Yai)

This place is located 70 kilometers east of the city on Highway 7 near the town of Muang Kham. In fact, there are two sources and they are called Baw Nyai and Baw Yai. They are located nearby. But you can not swim in them, they are not equipped for this, you can only look at them, and this is not a particularly magnificent sight. But there is an opportunity to stay in one of the two hotels where you can take a hot bath from the spring.

Hotels in Phonsavan

There are plenty of hotels in Phonsavan. To date, there is a clear surplus of hotels and a lack of tourists in these parts, so even in the highest season you can find a hotel for an incredibly modest amount, from $ 10. Booking in advance doesn't make much sense. Upon arrival in the city by bus or at the airport you will certainly be met with offers to go and check into one of the hotels. It makes sense to settle not in the cheapest hotel, but a little more expensive, while the level of the hotel will be an order of magnitude higher.

If you decide to look for a hotel yourself, then the bulk of hotels are located along the main street of the city Saisana Road, which is also Highway No. 7. A number of hotels are located outside the city.

You can find and book accommodation in Phonsavan on these sites or through the search form from Agoda:

Hotels in Phonsavan on the map

You can download ⤓ points of interest, important transport points (bus stations, airports, etc.), districts and beaches from our map in KMZ/KML format. These files can be downloaded to the navigator or smartphone for use with offline or online Google Maps applications, Organic Maps and others that support this format, and use them to navigate and explore resorts.

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