As Steve has previously mentioned in his Laos update, Vientiane is an incredibly small city and does not have that much to offer in terms of sightseeing, therefore one or two nights here would definitely be enough time to see all the main attractions. Although Vientiane has not been our favourite place so far we did come across a very interesting place known locally as Xieng Khuan (Spirit City), or more commonly Buddha Park.
Buddha Park is located about 24km away from Vientiane’s central bus station and although Steve loves to rent a moped everywhere we go, given the state of Vientiane’s roads outside of the main city we decided it would be better to just hop on a local bus. Lonely planet had made it seem pretty easy, head to the Morning Market Bus Station (which was a very short walk from our Hotel), jump on the number 14 bus and its 45 mins to an hour journey. LP had also advised us to head out in the morning of course to avoid the midday sun, so we did as we were told and set off a few minutes before 9am
When we arrived at the Morning Market Station (locally known as Talat Sao) we grabbed a baguette for breakfast and got on the number 14 bus as instructed, it set off pretty quickly and apart from the mosquito’s swarming around me I was pretty happy to chill on the bus for 45 minutes or so to reach our destination. After about 15 minutes we arrived at the border to Thailand, where we had gotten on the bus the day before, here we were told to get off the bus and wait for another bus that would take us directly to Buddha Park.
After a ten or 15 minute wait in the blistering heat our bus finally arrived. Looking pretty old and rickety I wasn’t sure this ride would be as comfortable as the previous 15 minute journey, but hey at least we got to experience the real Laos. As we jumped on the bus the driver told us it would be 5-10 minutes to our destination, yet after 45 minutes we were still sitting on the same bus watching the driver try to dodge all the potholes and rocks on what we have come to know and love as Laos roads.
When we finally reached the infamous Buddha Park the time was now 11.45am! Therefore even after all our efforts we AGAIN arrived during the peak heat!
After paying a 5000 kip (40 pence) entrance fee and an additional 3000 kip each for our cameras we set off to see what the park had to offer. Thanks to Lonely Planet we were already aware that the park was built-in 1958 and housed many Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Bunleua Sulilat was the designer of the park and 20 years after he created the park in Vientiane, he developed a similar park known as Wat Khaek in Nong Khai, Thailand (unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to check this one out).
The park itself was small but pretty amazing. We only spent about an hour there in total but there were some very interesting sculptures, and there was a huge viewing tower in the middle which you got to by climbing through the mouth of one of the aforementioned sculptures, and then through a series of cave like tunnels.
If you only have one day in Vientiane, which was the case with most other people we have met so far, then you may not have a chance to go and see it but if you have some time to kill it’s not a bad place to spend a couple of hours…….
Another couple of great places to kill some time are the Night Market and sunset drinks at Bor Pennyang on the Riverfront!