Biggest bronze Buddha image to be built in Bokeo

Manichanh Pansivongxay

BOKEO (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Authorities in Bokeo province are planning the construction of the largest bronze Buddha image in Laos hoping to create a major tourist attraction and draw more visitors northwards.   

The total cost of the project, including the building of the image and associated temple, is expected to be more than 30 billion kip, over 10 billion of which will be spent on the construction of the statue alone.

Provincial Deputy Governor Chomsy Lattanapan told Vientiane Times on Friday that a company is currently preparing a design of the statue and has come up with three models.  The first model places the statue at over 30 metres high and almost 19 metres in diameter. This makes it over 30 times bigger than the Saenxae Buddha image in Sibounheuang temple, Tonpheung district, Bokeo province.

The second one is designed at 23.7 metres high while the diameter is pegged at almost 14 metres. This model will be 25 times bigger than the Saenxae Buddha. The third one is 19 metres high, 11 metres in diameter and will be 20 times bigger than Saenxae.

Two names have already been suggested for the statue: Yodphouxayhuakhongbalamee and Phouxayhuakhongbalamee.

Chomsy, who is in charge of the project, said that last week the design company brought the final design for the consideration of local authorities and monks. During the meeting all parties agreed in principle to the design.

It is expected that the company will send the design to the provincial authority next week who will then hold a final discussion with standing Party committee members at a meeting to be held at the end of the month.

The meeting will select the model and consider the name of the image, the deputy governor said. The statue will be erected on Hoihok Mountain in Houayxai district, in an urban area. More than 10 hectares of land will be reserved for the project.

Authorities say they will raise funds through devotees to build the place of worship and will not use money from the state budget.

An official said preparation of the site has already begun, in particular the place where the statue will be erected. Its eyes will look out over the Mekong River and the Mekong Friendship Bridge linking Laos to Thailand.

Construction is expected to begin in May while estimates say it will take 3 to 4 years to complete the whole project.

Authorities have already spent almost one year on the preparation stage, including plans to discuss the supply of materials with the Sepon copper mine in Savannakhet province.

According to the province’s strategic development plans for 2025-2030, the authorities will focus on tourism development to boost services and the local economy.

One of the most attractive tourism sites in this area is the ‘golden triangle’ region between Laos, Thailand and Myanmar while a lot of foreign visitors also travel through Bokeo to other northern destinations such as Oudomxay and Luang Prabang provinces.

In the past, tourists arriving in Bokeo from the northern provinces of Thailand and Myanmar came by boat. But with the recent opening of the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong, linking Bokeo with Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, tourists arrive by road.

In 2015, the number of tourists visiting the province was recorded at more than 260,000. Thais were the largest group with more than 64,000 people visiting Bokeo province.