I wanted to share my experience to Buddha Park, which also known as Xieng Khuan, on my third day in Vientiane, Laos. Buddha Park located southeast of Vientiane, around 25 km away from the city center. It is so easy to get to Buddha Park by yourself! Well, it is not that far anyway from the city center. Well, if you like to do a marathon, the super easy way is just to run a marathon to Buddha Park and back to Vientiane city center again. That probably ends up being a marathon++ because it surely is more than 42km. Since the weather in Vientiane is pretty humid and hot, I suggest you to eliminate marathon as an option.
Before we get to the best way to got to Buddha Park, let me tell you a tiny bit about the park. Buddha Park is basically a sculpture park. It is a nice green area with a lot of sculptures (Buddha, human, animals, and much more plus the pumpkin), a temple, and a restaurant overlooking the mekong river. Two things that really caught my attention are; the reclining buddha and the pumpkin. You can enter the giant pumpkin, through its mouth and climb up (3 stories; be careful of the steep stairs) and from the top of it you can enjoy the beautiful view of the entire park and just chill up there. Pretty nice in my opinion!
So if you want to enter the giant pumpkin and enjoy Buddha park, here is the best way to reach it. Buddha Park is located not so far away from the Friendship Bridge (though local tuk-tuk drivers wrote it down as Fendship Bridge, at least they got the bridge correct!), probably 4 km away from the site. To get to the Friendship Bridge you can take a bus.
From the city center, you can walk to the Talat Sao bus station. It is behind the morning market / Talat Sao morning market. From there, you can get bus no. 14 (relax, it is an AC bus so you’ll be fully comfortable) until the final stop, which is the friendship bridge. The bus cost 8,000 kip (one way). From the friendship bridge, you have several choices: (1) go with tuk-tuk driver, normally 50,000 kip round trip (2) go with motorbike taxi, normally 35,000 kip per person round trip, and the last one (3) walk by foot from the friendship brigde to the Buddha Park, it is 4 km away. I didn’t fancy walking because the road was slightly muddy though. I’m glad, because it didn’t seem like a very nice walk.
Alternatively you can rent a motorbike for 60,000 – 70,000 kip per day and drive yourself to Buddha Park. It is not difficult to get to, except the last 4 km before Buddha Park, which is going to be seriously bumpy! You can also get a tuk-tuk straight away from the city center. I think it will costs you around 120,000 – 150,000 kip round trip, from the city center to Buddha Park (one of the tuk-tuk drivers shouted 150,000 kip and I not even tried to bargain). You can also join an organised tour, which is spread around the backpacker area. The tour departs twice a day, at 10 am and 2 pm using a private vehicle for 70,000 kip per person. I dont know what kind of private vehicle it is!
This is one of many of the trips where I think the journey is more enjoyable than the destination itself. Given the fact that the park was built in 1958, everything was made from concrete and some of the sculptures are really bizarre. Still, I enjoyed the day! I can’t forget how helpful a monk was when I was being clueless in the bus station. He greeted me and asked where I wanted to go and he pointed to the correct bus that took us to the friendship bridge. The friendly tuk-tuk driver at the friendship bridge was a super kind person. He made some joke while we were waiting for more people to take to Buddha Park. The most memorable part was when he asked us sincerely after we finished playing around the Buddha park and jumped to the tuk-tuk, a very simple question: “are you happy?”.