Buddhism, Laos, Laos Trip, Travel

Buddha Park the Spirit City

Buddha Park

I find this place very fascinating, just the name of the place called Buddha Park should give me the feeling of being in a serene oasis, and some comforting feeling because I‘m in a holy place, but yet my feeling is totally the opposite.

According to Wikipedia, a Buddha Park, also known as Xieng Khuan is a sculpture park located 25 km southeast from Vientiane in a meadow by the Mekong River.  Sometimes it’s referred to as Wat Xien Khuan but the park is not a temple, and the name Xieng Khuan means Spirit City.  The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.

The park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a priest-shamn who integrated Hinduism and Buddhism and later fled from Laos to Thailand after the revolution in 1975.

The statues are made of cement and are ornate, and sometimes bizarre, in design. The statues appear to be centuries old, though they are not. There are numerous sculptures of Buddha and characters of Hindu lore. There are also sculptures of humans, gods, animals, and demons.

This notable sculpture resembles a giant pumpkin. It has three stories representing three levels – Hell, Earth and Heaven. Visitors can enter through an opening which is a mouth of a 10 ft tall demon head and climb staircases from hell to heaven. Each story contains sculptures depicting the level. At the top, there is a vantage point where the entire park is visible.  I didn’t enter this one, afraid to go into that demon’s mouth.

demon head

Demon's mouth

This is an enormous 40 m high reclining Buddha, it’s also a park attraction.

reclining Buddha

reclining Buddha

reclining Buddha

This one you might not recognize, it’s a Lao and Thai folklore of the Luna Eclipse, such a bizarre looking thing you might say, and it’s believed that during the Luna Eclipse, the moon is being swallowed by the frog as we called it Kop Kin Deuane, loosely translated as frog eats moon, therefore when we were kid, we had to bang our pots and pans to chase the frog away.

Luna Eclips

According my cousin, he believed that these statues were taken from various places and brought here to be shipped off somewhere, so this was once a warehouse for these statues and that’s why the Buddha park is sitting next to the Mekong River, and across from Laos is Thailand, Nong Kai Province.

Mekong River

I believed I might feel uneasy at the Buddha Park because I could feel the spirits around me, and I can’t say that they’re all good spirits, everywhere I turn there are strange statues that I’m not familiar with, one that would give me nightmares.

More photos.

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

Buddha Park

12 thoughts on “Buddha Park the Spirit City”

  1. I am at awe. These photos are very intriguing. Whenever I see a buddha statue, there is a sense of peace that I feel.

    I’m wondering if you had a chance to take photos of a cemetary that holds the bodies of people who died from the war?

  2. lady0fdarkness, I didn’t get a chance to do that, but I think they’re in the process of building a bigger cemetery, looks real nice from the road, something to look forward to on my next visit to Laos.

    I actually thought of you when I’m at this park, the mysterious darkness is definitely there.

  3. I was there when I was very young, I have pictures but don’t actually remember being there.

    In one picture, the four of us(my mother, father,brother, and I) are standing in front of one of the Buddha statues. I’m holding a toy gun and cheesing like there is no tomorrow. Note, all of my front teeth were missing. HAHA. I could have been 4 or 5.

  4. Ginger, my cousin is goign to Laos in three weeks. She is excited and nervous about traveling over Laos’s countryside. Is there any reason for her to be? Does she have to watch out for any areas? Is it pretty safe? Also, she wants to take her laptop but unsure if there are enough internet connections or cafes to be worth the trouble. Another question she has is: Can she take pics of everything like monuments etc. What advice do you have for her ? Thanks!

  5. Laotian Teacher, we were not nervous, but excited of not knowing what to expect since this was our first time going back, and my dad never thought about going to Laos but only went because of me. As for my own personal experiences, Laos is pretty safe in most area (might not be in certain area of Xiang Khoang, located in the North-east of Laos, it’s was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War). I feel that it’s safe even in the countryside, the people are real nice and lay back, and your cousin might get stared at, but nothing more than that.

    I hope that your cousin got the hepatitis vaccination already, I had 2 rounds (taken 6 months apart), and the typhoid vaccination. Since this is in the cold months, I’d not be too concerned about Malaria, especially if your cousin is not going into the jungle, I didn’t get my Malaria medicine because it is so expensive ($240), and we did fine without it.

    Make sure your cousin brings Imodium for diarrhea, and Pepto Bismol or Tum, wet wipes is also a good idea, I made good use of mine, also carry toilet tissue because there is (almost) none in public places (your cousin can buy it there). My body adjusts well to the food in Laos, and might be because I only eat mostly Lao food at home, but take it easy the first couple of days just to see how your cousin’s body is adjusting, don’t eat everything in sight; most people get sick because of food. I’d advise to drink bottle water.

    There is plenty of Internet Café in tourist area, the price is reasonable, approximately 5,000 kips ($0.59) per hour, there are many in Vang Vieng, Vientiane (near TalatSao, Mekong River near Don Chan Beach), and Luang Prabang. We stayed in Paksan for over a week, and it’s not a tourist town, there is only 1 place that I’ve heard of but didn’t get to visit, and some in Parkse, many people bring their Laptop and it works out great for them, but if your cousin is staying with relatives, then they might not have internet connection. The electrical plug is compatible to here in the US, so no need to buy a converter.

    As for picture taking, even though I feel that it’s safe there, but I would not suggest taking picture of Government places of business because this would appear as if your cousin is spying and might bring harm than good. Also not a good idea to try to spread other religion, such as Christianity because Laos is predominately a Buddhist country. Thief is low, so I was not concerned about people stealing my camera or pick pocket, but I’m always very careful. Overall, I would say that It’s safe to take picture anywhere except for Government buildings, you cousin would be able to tell, they’d have security guards at the front entrance, and it’s gated.

    I hope this answers some questions, but if you’ve more, please let me know.

  6. Lynda, when I was little, my mom had never taken us anywhere that I could remember, I think there are to many of us, 8 girls, and I’m almost the baby, number 6. So, every place here is new to me, but too bad that the stay is too short.

    I like to see that picture of you cheesing. 🙂

  7. Laotian Teacher, you’re welcome, if she has question that’s a bit personal, you or her can email me, I’ll be glad to answer any questions.

  8. When my mother visited Laos a couple of years ago, she visited this same place. My little niece was so scared of some of the statues that she refuse to enter the place. I think I would agree with her and stay behind. But I’m sure it was a memorable experience for you 🙂

  9. Salat, the place looks different, and I don’t blame your niece for being afraid, I’d too if I was little, but I’d be embarrassed to tell people that I’m afraid at my age. I think I like visiting the temple better, it gives me a comforting feeling that this place is lacking.

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