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We love discovering unique, quirky places on our travels and Asia is full of them, often creative interpretations of Buddhism like the extravagant White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand and the playful Otagi Nenbutsuji in Kyoto, Japan. On a recent visa run from Chiang Mai to Lao’s capital city Vientiane we discovered another weird and wonderful place.
The Buddha Park or Xieng Khuan is a sculpture park 25km from Vientiane in a meadow next to the Mekong River. It isn’t a temple but it does contain over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues created in 1958 by monk Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat who studied both religions.
The weathered concrete sculptures scattered throughout the park seem older than they are and include many Buddhas and characters from Hindu mythology, as well as animals, humans and demons. Most are larger than life and carved with intricate and often bizarre details.
The focal point of the Buddha Park is a pumpkin-like structure that you can enter through a demon’s mouth and climb up the three stories that represent heaven, earth and hell. From the top there are views over the entire park.
The other major sculpture is the huge 120m long reclining Buddha that dominates the park.
On a weekday it was very peaceful and it’s easy to spend an hour or two wandering amongst the statues and taking photos. We were travelling ultra light to Laos so all these photos were taken with our iPhone 5.
Buddha Park Details
- Entrance is 5000 kip ($0.62) per person, plus 3000 kip ($0.37) to park a motorbike.
- The park is 25km from Vientiane but only 6km from the Friendship Bridge border crossing to Thailand so you could visit on your way to/from Thailand.
- We hired an automatic scooter for 70,000 kip ($8.71) for the day (plus we spent 10,000 kip ($1.24) on petrol). It took about an hour to drive there from Vientiane. It was easy to find our way—we just followed Rue Thadeua out of town until we got to the Friendship Bridge then continued on the dirt road next to the river until we saw the park. The last section is very bumpy, potholed and dusty—we enjoyed the taste of rural Laos but it’s not a good idea to drive yourself without motorbike experience.
- You could also hire a tuktuk from Vientiane or take the no 14 bus to the Friendship Bridge and then take a tuktuk from there.
There’s not a huge amount to do in Vientiane and although we enjoyed our few days wandering along the Mekong and lazing in cafes, if you enjoy a taste of the whimsical like we do then it’s definitely worth taking a half day trip out to the Buddha Park.
I visited Buddha Park
several times during my stay’s in Laos , 1972 -1973. Also, met many interesting people including the number one Monk .
We loved the week we spent in Laos last summer! It was rainy season though, so the couple of days we spent in Vientiane were really wet. That’s why we didn’t make it to Buddha Park. But we’re glad to have seen it through your photos!
We missed this one also. We were only in Vientiane for 2 nights, 1 day for our Cambodia visa. Your photos are awesome again Erin. :) We might be popping back into Laos in the future so we will have to put this one on the cards if we go near there.
Thanks Lesh, I’m always impressed with the iPhone 5 camera. It’s nice to have a decent backup when I don’t want to lug my big camera around.
The Buddha Park is well worth doing if you pass back through Vientiane.
Really enjoy the photography with your writing! Thanks for the vivid look into Laos. I am just getting started myself, with traveling and blogging, and appreciate the inspiration!
Looks awesome.. and ugh. I spent a whole year living in Kyoto, so I had ample opportunity to seek out cool, unknown places but I didn’t. I guess because I was exchange studying it felt more like “just living” so I had an excuse to sit inside all day, haha. Should definitely have visited that temple. But then again I’ll probably go back in the somewhat near future, so I’ll just stop by then.
Buddha everywhere! I like to see this place after I visit Thailand. Thanks
What an amazing place! Thanks for sharing!
Well, you know I love a quirky attraction, so even though I can’t really seem to get excited about visiting Laos (I am not averse to the possibility, I just can’t seem to find anything about the country that really makes me on fire to visit), this does certainly appeal. I remember reading about it in our guidebook and thinking it sounded really cool and fun, but you know how guidebooks have the tendency to mislead, so I’m happy to hear that it is indeed as cool in real life as it sounded on paper. I’m sure that whenever we make it to Laos we’ll pass through Vientiane, and when we do, this is definitely something we’ll make the time to go see!
Wonderful pictures! We actually went there by bicycle (from Vientiane) – it felt very far, but I never realized that it was 25 km from the city centre! Now I know why I took a tuk-tuk on the way back (with the bike on the roof)….
That was ambitious! Especially on the last stretch of bumpy road.
Greats pictures about Buddha Park Vientiane. The last one with a chidren is wonderful !!!
Wow! Fantastic photos for an iphone! I can’t believe how many people miss the park when visiting Vientiane, even though it was quite a mission to get there. I also visited the park during a visa run and it made my trip so much better! Have a look here (I only got a few shots using a small camera, but it was still a great experience): http://marketofeden.blogspot.com/2013/06/laos-visa-run-1.html.
I actually looked at your post before our visa run! A trip to the park definitely makes a visa run feel more than just a practical trip.
Oh boy, I am SO bummed we missed this! Thanks for the great pictures, I’ll make sure to stop next time through.