Just 25 kilometres from downtown Vientiane along the great Mekong river in Laos is an unassuming-looking garden that hides a wonderful bounty of treasure within: 200 religious statues, chief amongst which is a 40-metre-high reclining Buddha watching over the park.
A few kilometres past the famous Friendship Bridge, Buddha Park is the perfect place for a day trip. While the sculptures found within the park look to be centuries old, one of the attraction’s many secrets is that it was actually only built in 1958. Its founder was a monk who studied both Buddhism and Hinduism, and as a result there are statues that combine aspects of both beliefs standing here at Buddha Park.
One of the main attractions here is an intriguing statue that resembles a giant pumpkin. The detailed sculpture tells the story of Hell, Earth and Heaven through three stories, and visitors can actually climb through an opening in the mouth of the demon head and up into the three-metre-tall structure. The sculpture acts as a fantastic vantage point looking out onto the rest of the garden and really allows you to appreciate the rest of the masterpieces in all their glory.
The must-see statue that everyone comes to admire at Buddha Park, though, is the one that gives its name to the park: the reclining Buddha. The enormous sculpture is a detailed masterpiece, and if you manage to get it all in shot on a photo, it will amaze your friends and family back home! Standing at the base and looking up at all its different colour shades, you really appreciate all the time and skill which went into creating it.
Other outstanding sculptures in the park include the Buddhist deity Indra riding a three-headed elephant, a deity which has twelve faces and hands (all holding interesting detailed objects) and a four-armed deity which sits high on top of a horse. It is the sheer size of these statues that really draws you in as you stroll around the park.
Buddha Park is not short on picturesque spots where you can stop for a rest as you make your way around. Found within the park is a small restaurant where you can quietly sit and appreciate your surroundings and look out over the river. Handily, a local bus stops just outside the park for those who will be taking public transport. If, as many choose to do here, you have hired motorbikes, there is a pleasant route meandering alongside roads that take you through villages and picture-postcard rice paddies.