Jar Site 3 is the least visited of the three jar sites near to Phonsavan, which is the main town in Xiangkhouang Province, better known as the Plain of Jars.
Jar Site 3 has fewer jars (150) than Jar Site 1 (331) and the views across the countryside are less good than those at Jar Site 2. However, the major reason for Jar Site 3 being less visited is that visitors need to walk about 10 minutes across often water logged fields to get there. Jar Site 3 is a prime example of how a small amount of inconvenience is enough to deter a large number of tourists.
About Jar Site 3
The ticket office for Jar Site 3 is 550 metres walking distance from Jar Site 3 itself. Whatever form of transport you take to reach Jar Site 3 you will need to park it by the ticket office and continue your journey on foot as this is as far as the road goes. There is a small restaurant and a toilet by the ticket office as well as a temple.
The first part of the walk from the ticket office to Jar Site 3 is over a short bridge. The supports of the bridge are concrete but the surface you walk on is planks of wood which, surprisingly, are not nailed or fixed securely to the structure of the bridge with anything other than gravity. It’s not particularly dangerous but we recommend that you go carefully to avoid any accidents.
Once you cross over the bridge follow the well trodden path across the fields to get to Jar Site 3. There are no sign posts so the only indicator of where you need to go is to look for the track that is most used and follow that.
Most of the path to Jar Site 3 follows levees between the rice fields. In rainy season your shoes will definitely get covered in mud and if it has been raining heavily you may have to walk through some small stretches which are completely submerged up to ankle level.
After you have made your way through the rice fields you then start to ascend to get to Jar Site 3. Like other jar sites in the area, the jars at Jar Site 3 are located in position slightly elevated from the surrounding countryside.
Jar Site 3 is a compact rectangular area bordered by a fence on all four sides. To enter you need to open a gate which is kept shut by being attached by a length of rope to the top of a bamboo pole.
One of the striking things about Jar Site 3 is the dense clustering of smaller stone jars. The reason for this is unclear and the answer most likely related to what it was they used for. The prevailing theory is that the jars were used in a burial ritual. The jars are believed to be around 2,000 to 2,500 years old, and used by persons unknown who left no written record and very little in the way of markings on the outside of any of the jars to give any clues away.
All of the three main jar sites have jars of different sizes which presumably were used for different parts of whatever process they were used. If the jars are part of a burial ritual then the large number of small jars closely packed together may mean these jars were used towards the end of the burial process when the bodies had shrunk in size. The larger jars at Jar Site 3 are more spaced and clustered around the edges of the mass of smaller jars. Possibly the larger jars were used at the start of the process when the bodies were bigger and gave off strong odours.
Location of Jar Site 3
Jar Site 3 is located 26.9 km by road from Xiengkhouang Bus Station.