Muang Khoun

Located 30 km southeast of Phonsavan. This town was once the Royal Capital and the centre of the Phuan Kingdom. Some might describe it as a shadow of its former self and they would be quite accurate in doing so. A few French colonial buildings still remain in the town centre alongside Watt Is Phum- home to a sitting Buddha. On the outskirts the ancient stupas tower over the city and the vistas surrounding the structures are well worth the hike. A few kilometers beyond the old capital, near the village of Ban Phai, lies a jar site; the jars are located just off an old dirt road and, unlike the jars at the three main sites, strangely enough they’re built from granite. That Foun is the first monument that most people will visit when they arrive in Muang Khoun it’s located on the left in the middle of town and a sign points the direction to head. Up on the hill, That Foun is an old brick stupa built in 1576 which is seemingly cracked down the middle and has a tunnel through it created by Chinese robbers. It’s an impressive 30-metre-tall structure which is completely different from the golden stupas that you see throughout Laos and Thailand. Further up the dirt path from That Foun is That Chom Phet which is overgrown and a bit busted. Go up, grab a photo and move on.

The enormous seated Buddha at Wat Piawat has a bullet shot through its forehead and sits at the end of a row of towering brick pillars. It’s worth swinging by when in town. It’s located a couple of kilometres along the main road from That Foun in the opposite direction of Phonsavan. Muang Khoun doesn’t have much in the way of accommodation and the only restaurants are basic, mostly serving noodle soup.Best visited as a day trip from Phonsavan, it can be attached to a visit to the nearby Jars for an extra fee. There are songtheaws which will take you to Muang Khoun leaving from Phonsavan but the departure times are unreliable and leaving only when there are enough passengers. Buses from Phonsavan swing through here in the early morning enroute to Paksan.

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