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Buddha Park, Vientiane

Overall view of the Buddha Park from the top of the 'pumpkin'
View of the giant 'pumpkin' in the Buddha Park
The huge, albeit flat, reclining Buddha in the Buddha Park
A giant walking figure in the Buddha Park
A statue with multiple faces and arms, in front of a Reclining Buddha

East of town, past the Friendship Bridge, is perhaps Vientiane's quirkiest sights, the Buddha Park. The name is fitting. Scattered around a large grassy yard on the banks of the river are dozens of concrete statues. There are Buddha images, as would expect, but also depictions of many deities from the Hindu-Buddhist pantheon, as well as many mythical creatures.

The Buddha Park is the creation of Luang Pou Bounlua Soulilat, who claimed to have been the disciple of a Hindu holy man in Vietnam. He began the sculpture garden on his return to Laos in the late 1950s. After the revolution in 1975, he was forced into exile across the river in Nong Khai, where he built an even more elaborate version of his vision.

The park's signature piece is a large but very flat reclining Buddha. However, the most unusual of the structures is best described as a "giant pumpkin with a dead tree sticking out its top" (Rough Guide). You can enter this three-story structure, through the mouth of a demon. There's an outer gallery with inner chambers on each floor. The inner chambers are full of sculptures, but no lights were on when I visited. You can make your way all the way up to the roof, which affords a view of the entire park.

Admission Fees to the Buddha Park

Admission to the Buddha Park is 5,000 Kip (0.60 USD). There's another 2,000 Kip fee for a camera.

You can get to the Buddha Park by tuk-tuk. Most of the drivers around town soliciting tourists can take you there. Expect to pay around 700 Baht (21.35 USD).