Sala Kaew Ku (Wat Khaek)
This 'sculpture park' is one of the most bizarre places you are likely to visit during your time in Thailand. Many tourists are so impressed that they come back again and again to see these utterly unique, amazing sculptures that are all the work of one Lao man, Boun Leua Sulilat. Sulilat spent much of his early years studying mystical knowledge with an ascetic hermit who lived in a cave in Laos. The hermit's name was Kaew Ku, hence the name of the park. He made it his life's work to bring the essence of his mystical knowledge to life through his sculptures. The striking images draw from a wide range of ancient beliefs, including animist folklore, Hindu mythology and Buddhist traditionalism. Set in well-kept gardens with a large pond, the hundred or so sculptures range from quite modest in size to absolutely gigantic. With the tallest ones over 25m tall, they will truly take your breath away. There are endless sculptures of grinning Buddhas, animated Hindu Gods, along with characters from the Ramayana epic and many nagas (mythical serpents). The elaborate figures depict the "wheel of life" in accordance to Theravada Buddhism. The final piece shows a grown man crossing a threshold and emerging as a fully enlightened Buddha. A large building houses relics from Sulilat's life together with his mummified body, which is visible under a glass dome on the upper floor. If you go at around 4:00pm the light will be ideal for photography, make sure there is plenty of room on your memory card! Entry: 20B Open 7:00am - 6:00pm Getting Here: Sala Kaew Ku (Sala Keoku) is located off the southern side of Route 212 on the far southeastern side of Nong Khai town and is reachable by bicycle, motorbike or tuk-tuk. The park is clearly marked by signs on Route 212. If heading out by bicycle it's nice to ride out east along the riverfront before turning right down one of the sidestreets and then take a left onto Mi Chai Alley which runs parallel to the riverfront. Turn right just after the 7-Eleven. After 100m head down the road that forks to the left. Head down here past Wat Samakkhi for 1km until you get to the main Route 212. Cross straight over that road and Sala Kaew Ku is 500m along on the left. Alternatively, a round-trip tuk-tuk fare from the riverfront should be around 150B, including waiting time.