Phu Keng Jar Quarry site, also known as Keng Mountain. Phonsavan Jars with steps.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, May 30, 2014.

  1. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    Phu Keng Jar Quarry site, also known as Keng Mountain. Plain of jars on a big hill.

    This Jar site is a little different to most, as the jars are located on the side on a very steep mountain.
    Apart from the Quarry and the jars, there’s Secret tunnels with a hidden room that was used during the Vietnam war at the very top, as well as a cave.

    I think this site has only been opened for about 8 months, but not sure. The Lao government 2 million dollars to make this an assessable tourist attraction.

    I’ve read that there’s over 1000 steps from the bottom to the top, I would say there would be at least 2000-2500 steps… it’s a long way to the top, but well worth it.

    Hot Tips. Take a torch, carry plenty of water, and don’t attempt the climb with a hangover.

    The site is about 14kms from the centre of Phonsavan.



    Once you have paid the 5000kip at the entrance gate, you can ride right up the start of the climb.

    Looks like a walk in the park…don’t be fooled.

    1200 metres, and all up hill.

    The first of many stairs.

    The first jar you come across is about 200 metres from the start.

    Then some more stairs.

    It’s a very peaceful place, I didn’t see anybody till I reached the top.


    Oh yes..some more stairs.

    One of the quarry sites where the Jars were made.

    Tree growing out of one of the Jars.

    Did I mention the stairs? I thought about turning back 3 times, the steps just went on forever.
    1000 steps….pigs arrse.


    I eventually came to this T intersection, and decided to head to the “Secret Tunnel” first.

    No more steps, just a steep path lead my towards the Tunnel.

    Hardly a “Secret/Scret Tunnel” with all these signs.

    The entrance to the Tunnel. You can see the wire that was suppose to give power to a light, but there was no light on the end of it.

    The flash of the camera showed what it was like. There is a room further on that the Vietnamese used during the Vietnam war, but as I didn’t have a light, I didn’t go in. It was pitch black only a few feet in.

    The Secret Tunnel had 2 entrances, and you can get to this one by walking around to the other side on the mountain.

    The view from the top.





    The crater is under the growth.

    I walked back to the T intersection and headed to the natural cave which was up these steps.

    The cave entrance in only about 3 feet high, and went through the mountain to a back a entrance around 25 metres away.

    There was no light in this cave, but you could see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it wasn’t a problem walking through.


    View down towards Phonsavan.

    So after checking out the not so Secret Tunnel, and Natural cave, it was time to head back down the mountain.





    After a big day of steps, steps, and more steps, I made back down to the bottom of the big hill, where my trusty KLX was waiting.

    Up and back took me around 4 hours, it was pretty hard going. In that time I only seen 4 people and that was at the very top.
    While getting on my bike for the ride back to Phonsavan, these people walked past to start the climb.
    Couldn’t help thinking do they know what there in for.


    She’s not going to get to far in those shoes.

    This is really a beautiful place, and will do it again, and Ill count the steps next time....1000..Yeh right.

    Only a few kms away on the road back to Phonsavan it looks like a big stadium is to be built.

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  3. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Nice one Rexy... Great little find.
    Will check it out next time in Phonsavan.

    I remember you love steps ;-)

    Cheers and thanks for sharing.

  4. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Phil and I turned back after about 20 steps when we visited there in February,would have been a hard slog in motorcross boots!
    Impressive views from the top though,perhaps another day.
  5. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    I'm glad you posted that Rex for two reasons;
    1. because I have never seen that site. It looks interesting. I recall that when I first saw the jars about 15 years ago, they told me that they had no idea where the stone came from as there was no evidence of it in the area.
    2. because now that I have seen your post, it's as close as I ever intend getting to get to that place!
    I commend you for your mountaineering/step climbing efforts.
  6. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Thanks Rex. I never heard of that site before. I 'second' what Ron Webb said. ;)
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Rex,

    Found this link about the highlights in this area

    1. Sneak through a Secret Tunnel

    Scale more than 1,000 steps to reach a secret passageway slicing through the summit of the Phu Kheng Jar Quarry Site that played a strategic role for Pathet Lao forces during the Indochina war (1964-1973). The hardy climb passes an odd mix of bomb craters and unfinished or broken jars destined for Jar Site 1. The steps get steeper, but the reward is a magnificent view of the valley around Phonsavanh and the hidden entrance to a narrow 70-metre-long, 1.6-metre-high tunnel chiselled through rock that winds past re- inforced concrete bunkers and sleeping quarters before exiting to a panorama of the Phoukoud Valley.

    Location: From Phonsavanh, follow Route 7 west past the Mulberry Farm and across a river. Turn left after 8 km at the “Phu Kheng Jar Quarry Site” sign and continue 7 km to the visitor centre.
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Well done Rex. That was a good find you made there alright. PLUS the effort in completing your mission. Bravo.
  9. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    Thanks for that info Brian. I did have some literature that I picked up in Phonsavan, but a big downpour turned it into paper mache.

    "More than 1000 steps" Yes..a lot more. I'm sticking to my estimate of 2000-2500 steps. In fact, when I think about, its 1200 metres to the top, there has to be an average of 2.5 steps per metre, and that equals 3000. Maybe I under estimated the number.

  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The mystery will be revealed?....

    Australia-Lao collaboration to unlock Plain of Jars secrets

  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Looking for something a bit different to do in Phonsavan..

    Having been a few times already and visited the main sites

    Remembered Rex did a report from an out of the way place.. So made contact and decided to give the Jars on the hill a go.

    Chris and the guys were going to visit a friend out in the mud some where.
    I decided to have a rest day and visit the jars on the hill..

    Remembering what Rex said about being a hard slog.. I dressed for a trek and hike.
    No riding gear at all and just rode out slowly with helmet and gloves.

    Here is the turn off.


    Then about 4km from the site you come to this.. Hmmm why is there a mountain of red dirt on the road.
    Wearing trainers and long pants etc.. Not keen for the slippery mud and push on..


    Next hurdle.. A narrow slippery track.. I walked part of it.. Hmmm.. Not dressed like this.. I fractured an ankle once before and not ready to do it again in a hurry...


    Back to the dirt road turn off.. Doesn't look too tricky and while I was at the point that I turned back.. Spotted a car use this route to go around..

    So start down and then it turns to mud...


    Hmmmm.. Not today I guess..

    I could go back and get my boots etc.. But then check my good camera to realise that I have left the battery in the charger.. Right that is it.. I will be back next trip.

    The fellas went in and said there is a place where you pay and most likely could leave your gear there.
    They wished they had.. Bloody hard climb.. ended up leaving gear at various places on the way up and collecting it on the way back down.. Chris said he was destroyed..

    So not a day out for a chain smoker by the sounds of it.


    Attached Files:

  12. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    So we need someone else to count the steps then?


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