Xieng Khuan: The Weird And Wonderful Buddha Park Of Laos

with 27 Comments

 

Xieng Khuan or more commonly known as Buddha Park, is a site located about 25 km from the capital city of Vientiane. Set along the mystical Mekong River, Buddha Park is home to several concrete sculptures ranging from the weird to the wonderful.

 

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Buddha Park was founded in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a priest-shaman who practiced his very own self-improvised mix of Hinduism and Buddhism; his belief system is reflected superbly in the bizarre sculptures scattered around the site. Starting with a dome structure made up of three floors representing the three stages of the evolution of life: Hell, Earth and Heaven. The entrance is an open mouth of a demon inviting you in; you find yourself surrounded by scenes of bliss (Earth) to then be taken aback by evil-doers depicting barbaric scenes of torture and death (Hell). Up a narrow, spiral staircase takes you to the top (Heaven) of the dome where you can see the entirety of Buddha Park splayed out in all its crazy glory.

 

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The park isn’t very big but it still manages to instantly capture you by taking you on a journey through its collection of weird and wonderful sculptures of demons and deities; you’re left wondering wtf  is this all about. The ornate details and elaborate carvings embellish even the creepiest of these concrete wonders.

From googly-eyed giants to serpent-wrapped goddesses to multi-headed ghouls, I was in awe the whole time! This was definitely my kind of place (not to mention it was basically empty).

 

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Among the brow-raising weirdness is a much more familiar image: a huge, beautiful lying Buddha obviously representing the founding priest-shaman’s Buddhist faith. Buddha is probably the only recognizable image in all the sculptures. There aren’t any descriptions of any of the sculptures; your imagination is your only guide.

Xieng Khuan Buddha Park was most definitely weird and wonderful. I highly recommend a visit if ever you’re in Vientiane!

 

How to get there: Take bus #14 from the Central bus station (the one in front of Talat Sao Morning Market) in Vientiane. It only costs a few kips. On the way, the bus will make a stop at the Laos/Thailand border for those wanting to cross into either country but you can just stay in the bus.

 

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Have you been to Buddha Park? Is it somewhere you’d like to visit?

 

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  • stephaniestraveldiary

    I was at Buddha Park last summer and thought it was beautiful.
    However I had imagined it much bigger, so I was a little bit dissapointed by the size.
    x

  • Wanderers Hub

    These pictures look stunning – not like the buddha place we saw in Bhutan. Putting Laos on our list for sure!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Was the Buddha place in Bhutan not interesting?

  • Hair to There

    I’ve never been, but I would certainly pay it a visit if I find myself in Laos! So cool to see these this park without hoards of other tourists!

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      It really is a great place to visit – hope you get to go one day!

  • Sridhar Salian

    Last time we had a plans to visit Thailand and Laos together but because of time we dropped Laos. This time we are planning to Laos and this places notes in my list.. this Buddha park looks unlike anything i have seen before. definitely weird yet wonderful sculptures of demons and deities..

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Yay – have fun in Laos! It’s a country with immense natural beauty.

  • Lisa

    This looks very interesting especially if it’s not touristy. I wonder want some of the local folklore is surrounding it since there are no descriptions.Even the sculptures look intriguing not to mention huge. Hope to visit one day thanks for sharing.

  • This place looks incredible! I need to visit Laos this year and will deffo head here, the sculptures look awesome! 🙂

  • A friend told me about this park recently. Great to see pictures of it now. It looks absolutely incredible!!

  • Milena D

    Amazing!! I would love to visit Laos and then I would definitely add that place on my list. Especially, I like how they present three stages of the evolution of life. And your pictures are beautiful!

  • Lynne Sarao

    Oh my goodness, I had no idea this place even existed, but now I want to go! I’m excited to visit more of Southeast Asia and when I do Laos is definitely going to be on my list!

  • Jenni Sheldon

    Looks so interesting I love visiting places like this. I haven’t my been to Laos before but looks a cool place to visit

  • Claire Summers

    Oh wow how amazing is this?! and how have a never heard of it before! I’m just sad that I won’t be back in the SEA area for a year or two! But I’ve pinned it for later, this looks too good to miss!

  • I love all the photos you took and how interesting that none of the sculptures had descriptions. I’ve never been to Laos, but have heard from friends that it’s an amazing place to visit.

  • Girlswanderlust

    Whoa, this park looks so interesting! Just like you say: weird, but also wonderful. Will definitely keep this in mind for when I’m travelling to Laos. 🙂

  • M@thewanderlusteur.com

    You got me at weird and wonderful. As a fashion designer, I also love to immerse myself in design around the world. I’ve pinned this for when I visit Laos! Excited!!

  • Chantell Collins

    Oh I went here last year and absolutely adored it! I know that a lot of people don’t spend much time in Vientianne but I enjoyed my two days there including the visit to Buddha Park – well worth the trip :).

  • Frank Thomae

    Great photos! Did you see the one just outside Nong Khai by the same man? http://bbqboy.net/visiting-amazing-sala-keoku-nong-khai-thailand/.
    Just so weird isn’t it? One of the weirdest places we’ve been

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      I just loved the outright weirdness of this sculptural park! I didn’t go to the one in Thailand though.

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Hi Marina! Yes all the statues are open air (and the park lines the Mekong River which makes it even more whimsical). It’s really a great place to visit – I loved it!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    I was uttering a few WTF’s at some of the sculptures but they also made me smile a lot!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Hi Ty! I didn’t quite understand the meaning of all those sculptures but I just loved how different it was from anything else we had seen in Laos. It’s a great place to visit!

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    This park was so fascinating! I didn’t expect such weirdness in a country that’s mostly very conservative. Laos is definitely an interesting country known for its natural beauty. Put it on your list of places to see! 😉

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Hi Ivy! Thank you so much – that means a lot to me! I always wonder if what I share is interesting and you just put a huge smile on my face. 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Hi JM! This park was one of my favorite things in Laos because it was so different and it was empty. Laos is a wonderful country and it’s very easy to travel to/from Cambodia.

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    Hi Sheri! It does look much bigger but there’s a lot packed in a small area. It’s a great park – hope you make it there one day!