Xiengkhouang Province is home to Plain of Jars and part of Laos Northern Heritage Route (together with Luang Prabang, Houapan and Sayabouri). With its pine forests and much cooler climate it the plateau is different to other regions in Laos or South East Asia. The Jars are Iron Age cemetery sites with a beautiful minimalistic aesthetics that due to their ubiquitousness could also be considered land art. More recently the province took most of the burden of the so-called Secret War. Many of the sites can be visited. The province can be explored individually by motorbike or by booking one of many tours on offer in Vientiane, Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng. Standard tours visit the major jar sites and the once magnificent capital of Muang Khoun. There are also much more interesting ecotourism and culture tours that have been developed together with UNESCO, Helvetas or DED such as a two day trek to the remote Hmong village Ban Phakeo or a one day trek to Ban Napia and Ban Namka to learn about sustainable energy and the making of “War Spoons” from UXO war scrap. Refer to Phonsavan for detailed information about what to do and how to get there.
In many Lao provinces you can get off the beaten track and book package tours from local agencies or the tourism offices. You can experience the real village life or do elephant trekking among other things. The best places for trekking are Luang Namtha and Phongsaly. For a combination of history and village culture go trekking around Phonsavan.