The Buddha Park in Vientiane is also known as the “Sala Xieng Khuan” to the local people. Located about 25 kilometers from the capital city, the park is around ten acres wide and is found along the banks of the Mekong River. As the name suggests, the park is filled with all kinds of Buddha statues.
With the idea of Luang Pu Bunleua Soulilat, the park was built in 1958. He was a monk who devoted his entire life to the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism. During the 1970s, he moved to Thailand and established a similar Buddha Park in Nong Khai. The Thailand counterpart is identified as “Sala Keoku”. The word Sala means a place where you can meditate and recover in both Lao and Thai languages. Today, the park still stays true to its original name and meaning.
According to Buddhism and Hinduism, human beings were brought to the world to serve life sentences here. The world is our ultimate prison. Although there are no walls, locks or guards, there is no means to escape. Everyone will suffer in the human world depending on how greedy they are. The more you need, the more you will want, and the more you will suffer.
Therefore, the devoted priest built these two “sala” to remind people about the reality they face with such endless suffering. It also aims to teach people that if they want to attain happiness and peace of mind, they must forego greed and reflect on the reality of life.
This is the reason why you will come cross many bizarre looking Buddha statues at the park. From gods, to humans, animals, demons and huge Buddha sculptures, all are found together in the park. There are about 200 religious statues in the park including a 40-meter high reclining Buddha image. These statues are made of cement and were designed in way to reflect the Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. Some of the most outstanding ones include Indra, who is the king of the Hindu gods seen riding a three-headed elephant, an artistic deity with 12 faces and many hands that hold different objects, and a four-armed deity that sits on a horse. Many are equally impressive not only because of their enormous size but because of their intricate and interesting details and motifs.
Apart from such strange statues, a giant pumpkin sculpture can be seen as well. The pumpkin has three stories that represent the three levels of hell, earth and heaven. By entering the mouth of the demon head, you climb up the staircase from hell to heaven in order to see the real scenario of your life in each level. This is the most visited site in the park as many claim that the basics of Buddhism and Hinduism are found here. The view from the top of the pumpkin is the best place for photography shots as the scenery overlooks all the other interesting statues.
To get to the Buddha Park, tourists can hire a tuk-tuk that will take them to and from the park. Most fares cost about USD 10 but make sure to negotiate the price before riding. When going to the Buddha Park, make sure to bring a curious mind to be able to appreciate the park, its statues and what it stands for.