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Suan Pheuksa proving an attractive place to relax 

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and
photographs inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of
South-East Asia’s Simply Beautiful Laos.

Sitting in a nice, authentic café with your favourite cup of coffee in a relaxed environment: it sounds that it’s somewhere in a corner of city, however, it’s not!
Looking out from the café, you see a large green garden with large ponds and hundreds of flowers.
This is the flora garden ‘Souan Pheuksa,’ which is about 20 kilometres north of the city to the and about half an hour from Vientiane. It is located in Ban Dan Si, Naxaithong district, Vientiane Capital. 
This flora garden opened to public in April this year. While the garden is incomplete, it continues to improve and it is expected to be finished by the end of this year.
The developer, Mr Phouvong Phamisith said developing the garden was part of his retirement plan. Mr Phouvong is well known for his jewellery business, Phouvong Jewelry or Kham Phouvong. 

A flower at Suan Pheuksa.

“I’m planning to retire and want to live simply in a garden. I started creating a small garden for myself to relax. However, I once traveled to Dubai and I saw very beautiful botanic gardens, even though the country is a desert and lacks water. I thought, our country has good soil and rich of water, why we don’t do it? So I decided to do so.”
Mr Phouvong developed the garden for more than a year and it finally opened to the public in April. “My goal now is to develop it to be a tourist site. Next year is Visit Laos Year and when the railway is finished in 2022 we don’t have things to stop by, so I want to develop it to attract foreign tourists,” he added. 
It currently extends across 17 hectares and he plans to extend more in the future.
From the entrance, there are plants growing on both sides of the path leading to the medium gardens on both sides. The gardens are designed to have different corners with different unique styles, including a small garden decorated with different plants and flowers, a small shady garden and some spots that perfect for a photo selfie. On the right hand side, a small Lao hut can be seen.
There is another entrance with large two statues of dinosaur heads forming an entrance.
When entering, it’s quite shady with some big trees. Up on the left hand side, there is a large pond with a kind of water plant with pink flowers. It becomes a sea of pink flowers, hiding the water beneath. Surrounding the pond are the standard huts for visitors to have their private meals and relax.  
On the other side, there is another pond with wooden huts floating on the pond, which is another good spot to enjoy lunch with family and friends.
Next to the pond there is a shady path which is flanked by different plants and flowers. Many of the plants and flower are odd and rarely seen in general gardens.
Walk further and there is a small steam across the land, which can be crossed by a small white bridge.
On this side, we can see the white tents for growing organic and hydroponic vegetables and fruits, and further away there is a large garden with flowers and plants. In the distance is a waterfall and some status. It is quite far to walk but the garden has small passengers trucks that can take you to every corner of the garden.
Not far across the bridge is a kind of wild fruit tree near the stream and a café is located nearby. The café is a stylistic design and offers a variety of drinks, including different kinds of coffee and cocoa, along with cake and a range of local and western food. It’s good place to stop to relax and have some food while looking through the window and enjoying the view.
“We are developing and we plan to have more and more things and activities in this garden to make it an attractive tourist site for local and foreign visitors.
“We also plan to open a small zoo, which will include rare domestic animals for children to enjoy and learn about. We will also have an organic and hydroponic vegetable garden along with a  melon and strawberry farm for learning activities.
“As we have many ponds, we also plan to have fishing activities, too.”
Mr Phouvong said the garden would host a ‘Boun Kin Chieng’ Hmong festival from December 22 to 24.
“This is to preserve culture and lifestyle of local people. Here, the villagers used to do it every year but lack of funds caused them to stop. I want to recover it. The festival will include an ethnic fashion show, throwing balls to choosing a couple like Hmong traditional practice and other ethnic games and activities.”  
Some villagers are ethnical people and about 70 percent of people who work in the garden are ethnic people.
“In future, I want to add traditional performance and arts and more activities in this garden,” he added. 
“I will make this garden beautiful and attract foreign visitors to come visit here. Tourism has potential for our country as we already have resources.”
Mr Phouvong has been in the jewellery business for 40 years and has been very successful.
“Doing the garden is not like a business. I invested a lot in this and I don’t expect profit from this. As I feel that I am successful with my jewellery business, I do this garden to give back to society.”
The entrance is 15,000 kip. 

By Keoxomphou Sakdavong
(Latest Update October 23, 2017)

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