Phonsavan, Laos

Phonsavan is the capital of Xiangkhoang Province. The name stands for “hills of paradise”. Phonsavan is the provincial capital of Xiangkhouang Province. The countryside is dominated by green hills and pine forests.

It may not be the prettiest of Laos’ provincial capitals, but urban charm isn’t what brings tourists to Xieng Khuang’s largest city. They arrive in droves to visit the Plain of Jars and other sights in the area. Most congregate in the central crisscross of streets, peppered with none-too-appealing buildings and a hodge podge of new and old guesthouses. But Phonsavan sprawls itself over a much larger distance, and the human milieu of tourists and locals, combined with the undulating backdrop, holds a bucolic charm.

Traditionally, the area surrounding Phonsavan and the former capital of Xieng Khuang has been a centre of Phuan language and culture (part of the Thai-Kadai family, like Lao, Siamese and Thai tribal). The local Vietnamese presence continues to increase and you’ll hear the Vietnamese language in the streets almost as frequently as Lao and Phuan. Outside the province most Lao (including Lao Airlines) still call the capital ‘Xieng Khuang’.

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