Xieng Khouang Preps Plain of Jars for UNESCO Inspection


By Khonesavanh Latsaphao

Minister of Informational, Culture and Tourism Dr Bosengkham Vongdara spent two days discussing final preparations for a UNESCO inspection of the Plain of Jars to be held later this month by International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) experts.

This is the final step for UNESCO in evaluating the site as a World Heritage site, which Laos has been working on for 20 years. The Plain of Jars, locally known as Thong Hai Hin, received official UNESCO nomination documentation in May this year.

Dr Bosengkham said that final arrangements were being made for meetings with the ICOMOS experts.

“Thong Hai Hin in Xieng Khouang will become a famous tourist attraction for Laos following World Heritage listing,” he said.

After meeting with the National Heritage Commission in Xieng Khouang this month, the ICOMOS experts will carry out an on-site investigation at the Plain of Jars.

According to a report tabled in the meeting, ICOMOS experts will write a report to be presented at the UNESCO meeting in Azerbaijan of June or July next year to support the Plain of Jars’ elevation to World Heritage status.

An official told Vientiane Times that while many countries are members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Laos only needed the support of five countries for Thong Hai Hin to be added to the list.

He expected China, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, Australia and other countries to vote for Laos.

The Plain of Jars World Heritage proposal contains 11 separate sites located in the province’s four Districts of Paek, Phaxay, Phoukoud and Kham.

Thong Hai Hin actually contains about 80 distinct jar sites, but Laos is including only 11 areas, as they have the highest concentration of jars.

Some sites are also found in Phoukhoun District of Luang Prabang Province that borders Xieng Khouang.

Laos has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with the ancient city of Luang Prabang nominated in 1995 and Vat Phou temple complex in Champasak province, which was nominated in 2001.

The ministry is currently working on a submission to UNESCO for the Hin Namno National Protected Area known as the Stone Forest in Khamouanne Province.

The area is noted for its unique biodiversity and breath-taking views. If successfully nominated, it would become the nation’s fourth World Heritage Site.