While there are traditional religions in parts of Laos, the Country is a Buddhist Country and this is evident with one of the tourist attractions in the Capital, Vientiane, Buddha Park or Xieng Khuan as it is known more formally. People on holiday in Laos will inevitably visit Vientiane so the Park is an obvious inclusion in Laos tour packages. It is 25 km outside the city and is full of sculptures, over 200 of them but despite the name it is not a religious site as such. It is close to the Mekong River and has been intentionally developed with tourism in mind.
The Laotian name means ‘’Spirit City’’ and the project was begun in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat who was a priest-shaman who linked Buddhism and Hinduism. He fled from Laos in 1975 fearing the Pathet Lao leadership and built another Park in Thailand at Nong Khal. Those on Indochina tour packages may well get the chance to see both. Indeed Xieng Khuan is visible from the Thai side of the border.
How to get there
Vientiane has an international airport with many flights within the region and further afield. Some visitors come overland as well or on the Mekong though it is not navigable throughout its full length even if border controls were to permit it.
Best time to visit
The monsoon season in Laos lasts from May to October so high season in Laos is outside these months due to the difficulty of road travel at times during the rains. As a capital city that does not apply so much to Vientiane so Buddha Park does receive tourists and locals all year round.
Much depends on what other areas are on the itinerary a visitor has prepared which may include places fairly difficult to reach during the rains.
The statues are made in various sizes and designs, some quite strange it has to be said. They are made from reinforced concrete and look fairly old though of course they are not. Several different themes have been used; animals, demons, gods and humans. There are images that relate to Hindu characters as well as Buddhas.
One highlight is a giant pumpkin on three levels representing Hell, Earth and Heaven and a staircase takes you to Heaven on the top level. That is the best place to get a good view across the Park. Another one to specifically mention is the 40 metre long reclining Buddha.
Indra the king of the Hindus on a three headed elephant, a four armed god and a twelve faced one will also catch the eye.
There is plenty of accommodation in Vientiane for those wishing to stay for a day or two, see Buddha Park and the City’s sights. Those on Laos travel packages will be able to decide on accommodation that will be included within their holiday. This Laos travel guide hopefully helps to provide ideas of places to visit to enrich the experience within this increasingly popular country.