The site of Xieng Khuan, or Buddha Park, is a rather grotesque park located about 25km southeast of Vientiane, Laos. In Xieng Khuan, which is open daily 8am-6pm, visitors will find a big collection of cement and concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu images, approximately 200 Buddhist and religious images dating back over 500 years, most of which were introduced from India. At one end of the park is the Savan where the spirits of good people are known to reside and bring harmony to the land. This collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures created by a mystical monk.
Buddha Park was founded by Bunleua Sunlitat, a priest-shaman to developed a following in Laos and northeastern Thailand by mixing Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Within Buddha park are images of Shiva and Vishnu alongside the Buddha. The place has an air of surrealism that would be more at home in a Salvador Dali museum than here in Vientiane.
Dominating Buddha Park is a gigantic reclining Buddha which has become something of an icon for Vientiane. At least, it has appeared in many travel guidebooks, one would be mistaken to think that this huge Buddha was built a hundred years ago, and not in 1958. There are many strange designs and structures in Buddha Park. One is an oversized pumpkin-type structure of concrete, within which are three levels represnting hell, earth and heaven. A spiral staircase allows us to climb right to the top of the pumpkin, from where we get good views of the park.
To get to the park, either take bus #14 from Vientiane’s main bus station (every 40min), or get a shared tuk-tuk from near the Morning Market to Thadua, from where it’s a three-kilometre walk or a short hop by tuk-tuk.