A Laotian magic garden close to Vientiane : Buddha Park / Xieng Khuan

Last updated on September 10th, 2017

Buddha Park you say? What sort of Laotian theme-park attraction is that? If you’re looking for an easy half-day trip from Ventiane, Laos, don’t get scared by something called Buddha Park.

I am a real sucker for anything close to an idea of “garden” and a regular of the park. Set off by bumpy public bus along with the friendly locals. Buddha Park, or Xieng Khuan (Spirit Park), was built under the guidance of a Hindu and Buddhist priest in 1958. It is a pleasant, interesting and sometimes bizarre garden along the Mekong, about 25 km outside Vientiane.

Large concrete sculptures of religious images sit amidst the greenery. As you stroll between the sculptures, look out for familiar details from Hindu and Buddhist mythology and texts. You can’t miss the massive reclining Buddha! I am really intrigued by the huge flattened globe structure (which you can’t miss either…), said to depict Hell-Earth-Heaven. Visitors enter ‘Hell’ through a mouth-shaped door (that reminds me of the Ogre mouth door in the Monster Garden (Il Parco dei Mostri) in Bomarzo, Italy, another amazing garden) and make your way up towards the sunlight at the top of the globe. The Laotian sun sure is hot here in “Heaven”!

So after catching your breath and the view, head back down to a spot of shade for a drink. A garden, the Mekong river, light and shade. Larger than life mythical, mysterious, magic sculptures. Perhaps it is the hot sun getting to me, or perhaps I am under the spell of the genus Loci, the spirit of the place…? Nevertheless, the Buddha Park, however kitsch it might seem, is a peaceful and charming place.