Set about 15 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of Vientiane, Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is a quirky giant sculpture garden devoted to Buddhist and Hindu mythology. Enormous cement statues, from reclining Buddhas to a giant pumpkin with a demon’s-head entrance, pay tribute to the outsider aesthetic of its creator, a Thai mystic.
There is a small charge to enter Buddha Park, with additional small fees for camera usage and parking. While you don’t need a guide to visit, a Buddha Park tour can bring you straight to the most selfie-worthy structures while eliminating the public transport hassles. Buddha Park is a popular addition to full-day Vientiane tours, which typically also cover more conventional religious structures such as Haw Phra Kaew, Pha That Luang, and Wat Si Saket.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Buddha Park is a must for photographers, Instagrammers, and lovers of outsider art. Most children will also appreciate the giant sculptures.
- The park has a small restaurant, which sells simple Lao dishes and Beer Lao.
- The dress code for Buddha Park is less strict than at historic religious sites.
How to Get There
Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is around 15 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of Vientiane on the banks of the Mekong. To get there, catch bus 14 from Talat Sao bus station; it leaves every 20 minutes throughout the day. Organized tours, which include door-to-door round-trip transfers, can streamline the travel process.
When to Get There
Buddha Park is open daily from morning until late afternoon and is at its liveliest over the weekend, when it’s a popular stop for local families. If driving, be sure to leave early in the afternoon rather than staying for a Mekong sunset, as driving back to Vientiane after dark can be a dangerous and frightening experience.
The Man Behind Buddha Park
A Thai-born mystic named Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat created Buddha Park in 1958, naming it Xieng Khuan (“Spirit City”). His aim was to unite Hinduism and Buddhism. After the Lao revolution in 1975, Sulilat fled across the Mekong to Thailand, where he created a second giant sculpture park in Nong Khai.