Xieng Khouan (Buddha Park)
Buddha Park © Preetam Rai
The site known as Buddha Park is a bizarre collection of Buddhist and Hindu statues scattered around a riverside meadow, dominated by a gigantic reclining Buddha. Hundreds of huge concrete structures that combine Buddhist and Hindu philosophies are spread around representing a variety of deity forms. Fashioned by a purported holy man, the sculpture park was created to spread his beliefs and to reveal to mankind his ideas about the universe. This odd attraction is popular and has many unexpected treasures. There is amazing detail on many of the statues, which are not the run-of-the-mill kind you see all over Laos but in many cases quite unique. There is fun to be had climbing and exploring: don't miss the giant pumpkin-like statue which you enter through the gaping mouth and ascend via steep internal steps to reach a viewing platform and a beautiful Tree of Life sculpture on the top. It is a pretty area and visitors are free to touch, take photos and explore without much restriction which is refreshing. There is a restaurant at the park which serves decent food. Getting there takes a while but the rural scenery that you pass along the way makes the journey interesting in itself.
Address: 15 miles (24km) south of Vientiane