Vientiane’s treasures: Buddha Park and That Luang Stupa
If you fancy some unconventional Buddhist craziness in Laos and the idea of entering an overdimensional pumpkin through a wide-open mouth in order to transcend from hell to earth to heaven, doesn’t scare you – you are the right candidate for Vientiane’s Buddha Park.
Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is located a 40 minute drive from Vientiane, about 24km south of the capital. The park is an open air space (bring an umbrella/sun protection) with many sculptures and statues from Buddhist and Hindu tradition.
Built in 1958 by philosopher and shaman priest Bunleua Sulilat who constructed religious and mythological icons out of reinforced concrete, it is considered one of the major sights of Vientiane, despite the distant location. Sadly Bunleua Sulilat fled the country to Thailand due to communist repression. The park is now state owned. Sulilat has made another park on the Thai side of the Mekong.
You can walk through a field towards the river and see Thailand.
We paid 35USD for a van for the ride to/from the park. It was cheap as we split the price among five people. The ride was incredibly bumpy with a muddy and sandy road to the park. Admission was 5.000 kip per person (I think).
It was well worth it!
Enter the round construction through a mouth!
A little light comes in through cube shaped openings all around the structure.
Manage some steep stairs.
Walk with demonic creatures.
I am not quite sure if this is earth.
Up to heaven, to the top of the concrete construction.
Top of the pumpkin with a good view over Buddha Park! With our travel companions Ross and Chili.
Figurehead of the park – the reclining Buddha.
There is enough to make your eyes go sore:
The other treasure not to miss in Vientiane is That Luang. We visited this amazing stupa on our way back from Buddha Park but the stupa is actually not very far from the centre of Vientiane.
That Luang is the symbol of the Lao nation and the most sacred Buddhist monument in the country. It is depicted on the 1.000 kip bills.
That Luang was built in the 16th century under the rule of King Setthathirat.
I am golden!
Many people visit That Luang to make offerings and light incredibly thin yellow candles.
The inappropriately dressed get a cover up.
Right next to That Luang is another Wat which is looking rather new. Many temples date back to the 16/17th century but were destroyed in 1828-1829 during the Thai sacking of Vientiane. Since then numerous renovations have taken place and most temples look fairly new.
More relaxing Lao wat and palace posts ahead!