At the Plain of Jars i rather thoughtlessly jumped in a jar to get my foto taken but the Lao official quite rightly told me to get out, "you have no respect". I was rather embarrassed and when leaving the site i did notice a sign forbidding climbing in the jars
There are still thousand of cluster bombs lying around the area from the Vietnam war.
The area is being cleared extensively, but a lot of work still needs to be done and if an area is not cleared then you should never walk in there.
It's very clearly stated which areas are not cleared so you don't need to worry.
you just need to follow the signs.
Even though the risk is quite low for the average traveller you must be aware of UXO. Laos is the most bombed country per capita in world history, with more than two million tons of ordnance, including 80 million cluster bombs or "bombies," dropped during the Indochina War especially between 1964-1973. An estimated 10 to 30 percent of this ordnance failed to explode, leaving up to 25 million bombies still on the ground. Laos is also contaminated with heavy bombs, rockets, grenades, artillery munitions, mortars and landmines. Clearance teams have found at least 120 different types of ordnance scattered across Laos, including 13 types of cluster bombs, some of which can kill people up to 200 meters away. A survey done by Handicap International (HI) in early 2000 stated that from 1973-1996, there were 1,171 casualties from landmine accidents and 9,473 victims of UXO accidents.
How do you avoid becoming a casualty?
- Follow well worn paths. Never take a short cut as it isn't worth losing a leg or worse over a couple of seconds.
- Don't handle UXO. Never touch it on the ground as it is not a toy. Don't buy it from anybody as not only may it be dangerous but it is illegal to buy it.
So be aware and don't be stupid. Enjoy your trip to the region and try to donate to the local Red Cross if you can to support the victims.
This is a very, very real danger. Please do not underestimate the dangers, especially if you are travelling with young children.
Up to 30% of all the mobs dropped in Laos did not explode on impact, and remain lethal.
Areas that are cleared and safe are known by villagers, but it is possible for cleared areas to become unsafe again, especially where bamboo is growing., and even in villages.
Stick rigidly to the dusty, earth part of *regularly* used paths *everywhere* (especially in towns). Take care not to take short-cuts, especially if it looks as if others don't take short-cuts (If there is an obvious short-cut across the corner of an open grass field or space, be extremely suspicious about why there is NOT a worn path!!!!!)
Do not buy any ordinance from villagers or market stalls. Other than being illegal, there is an extremely high chance that the ordinance is actually live and could go off at any point. Do not even think about taking ordinance you consider to be safe onto aircraft. Unless you are a munitions expert, how do you actually know that the hand-grenade or small bomb has been defused?
UXO is a very real danger to your life if you do not carefully follow the advice posted in hotels, shops and cafes.