After spending almost a week in Vientiane, the vibrant capital of Laos we discovered that visiting a Buddha Park in Vientiane is actually one of the best things to do in Vientiane, Laos. Or at least the most impressive one.
I’m not going to lie saying that Laos was my favorite country to visit, but Vientiane was actually the only city that left a good impression. And Buddha Park is one of the reasons, as it was one of the very few attractions that did not feel fake or staged.
Finding the Buddha Park in Vientiane might not seem the easiest task at first, unless you know the Vientiane bus system well as the park is located 20 km outside the city, just a few minutes after the Laos – Thai border crossing point. So keep reading to find the exact details on how to get to Buddha Park using the Vientiane public bus. It’s super cheap and easy!
▫HOW TO GET TO BUDDHA PARK VIENTIANE BY PUBLIC BUS
As the Buddha Park is located about half an hour to an hour outside Vientiane, you have to look for the right transportation options. You’ll definitely find organized tours or can take a tuk-tuk or taxi, that will most likely try to take a fortune from you, or you can use the public bus.
The cost – only 8000 KIP that’s less than a dollar. So obviously, take the public bus, as it’s really cheap and comfortable option. Plus, you’ll get to experience a bus ride just as locals do, which is always interesting.
You have to look for the bus #14. It leaves every 15-20 minutes from the Talat Sao bus station. If you come from the bus station side, where are the International and long-distance bus stops, just pass those and you’ll find the spot where bus #14 picks up passengers just a few meters further down the street on the corner on the opposite side of the street from the bus station.
If you can’t find it right away, just ask the tuk-tuk drivers. They will point you in the right direction. Once you find the bus, Lao-Thai Border and Buddha Park will be written on the side of the bus. If it’s not, just double check it with the ticket person standing outside the bus.
The bus ride takes 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the traffic. Right before the Buddha Park, there’s a stop at the Thai/Lao border. So this is the same bus you can use later if you’ll want to cross this land border to Thailand. Most people will get off right there, and the bus will continue to the Buddha park and reach it in about 10 minutes.
You will get off the bus right in front of the Buddha Park entrance. Once you’re done with the park and will want to get back to the city, just across the street at the same place and wait for the same bus #14 that’s going in the opposite direction back to the city.
There’s even a wooden sign “Bus stop” in front of the cafe, so you can’t miss it. The bus will stop anywhere though, so you can just flag the bus down wherever you are and it will stop.
▫HOW MUCH IS THE BUDDHA PARK ENTRANCE FEE?
Once you get to the park, which is open from 8 AM to 4 PM, you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee. It’s 15000 KIP which is less than two dollars. They used to have a separate fee to be paid if you want to bring your camera inside the park, but now it seems to be included in the 15000 KIP entrance fee. At ease when we were there in August, the camera fee was 0.
We had a lot of bad experiences in Laos with having to overpay either the trip to a certain attraction or the entrance fee for a supposedly nice attraction which turned out to be a total tourist trap.
While these things are unfortunately common in Laos, a trip to Buddha Park in Vientiane was such a pleasant experience money-wise and in terms of how impressive it was, so I definitely suggest you make a trip there if you have a free day in Vientiane.
▫WHAT TO EXPECT FROM VIENTIANE BUDDHA PARK
Buddha Park is an attraction that you can walk through in 15 minutes or you can end up spending around 2 hours like we did, as there are so many awesome photo spots!
The Vientiane Buddha Park is also called Xieng Kuan by the locals, which means the ‘Spirit City’. This is basically a garden filled with more than 200 different Buddha statues. If you’re a first timer in Southeast Asia, you’ll most likely find it impressive, because it really is.
We, on the other hand, have been traveling across Thailand and now Laos for months, so we’ve been feeling templed out for a while. I really thought that I will not be impressed by this, as you see Buddha statues all across these countries. But wow, I sure was impressed.
Apart from so many interesting Buddha statues, you’ll discover the 390-foot-long reclining Buddha which reminds of the most popular Bangkok attraction Wat Pho, the golden reclining Buddha. Looking at something like this you can’t help but wonder, how something this huge and magnificent can even be built.
The park was created by the Lao spiritual leader in 1958 and most of the statues were constructed right there in the park. Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat was a priest-shaman, myth-maker, mystic and sculpture artist with a large following in Laos and later in Thailand.
The Buddha Park is not only the place of Buddha statues. It also displays many anthropomorphic images, animals, Laotian gods as well as demons. The park reflects on the philosophy of its creator, and closely resembles a south-east Asian interpretation of the mannerist gardens of 1600s Europe.
In the area of the park, you’ll also find a simple restaurant to have a meal. There are also beverages or some snacks such as fried bananas or taro ice cream.
If I had to name one of the best things to do in Laos, a visit to Buddha Park Vientiane would be it.