Leshan Giant Buddha: the tallest and largest Buddha stone in the World

Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha: the tallest and largest Buddha stone in the World

Location: China

Leshan city is located in the southern Sichuan Province, about 120 km (75 mi) from Chengdu (click here to find out more). Whereas the Leshan Giant Buddha (also known as Dafo) statue is situated at the confluence of the Qingyi, Dadu and Minjiang rivers in the eastern part of Leshan.

Climate

Leshan has a humid and subtropical climate characterized by short winters, that are quite mild and dry (snow is rare, rainfall is light), with temperatures which have an average of 6°C. Summer is long, hot and humid (humidity can reach high levels, rainfall can be heavy), and temperatures can exceed 30°C.

The History

With 71 meters (233 ft) and over 1,300 years old the Leshan Giant Buddha is the tallest and largest Buddha stone in the world. Completely patterned and carved out of a hillside was built to protect the travelers who cut through the river from the turbulent waters that every year plagued that zone. The architecture of this statue is extraordinary, it’s entirely made by stone, save for its ears which were created by wood and covered with clay. Researchers think the statue is “Maitreya”, a disciple of Sakyamuni and maybe the founder of Buddhism. The construction was started during the Tang dynasty by the chinese monk Haitong in 713, and completed after his death by his disciples in 803. Since 1996 the Leshan Giant Buddha scenic Area (included to Mount Emei scenic area) has been included to UNESCO World Heritage Site list.


My Experience

If you are planning to visit Sichuan Province, Leshan Giant Buddha is beyond a doubt a place to visit. This site attracts millions of tourists and Buddhist pilgrims every year, and it’s considered one of the most important sacred destination of China. It’s not a lie if I say that Leshan Giant Buddha is one of the most stunning place I have ever visited during my long journey through this amazing country. A spiritual place in a great scenery where you can feel the real buddhism atmosphere, absolutely a suggestive and exciting experience.

I undertook this 1 day trip with 2 friends I met at Lazy Bones hostel in Chengdu: Moises, my mexican flat mate, and Cora, a nice chinese girl who helped us many times in more than one circumstance.

We woke up at 6.30 am and we went to catch the first bus at the Xianmen Chengdu Bus Station. After having arrived at Leshan bus station after 2 hours and 15 minutes and from there you have 2 options to get Leshan Giant Buddha:

  1. Take a shuttle from the bus station directly to the Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area. Don’t worry to look for the shuttle, at your arrival a horde of chinese people will try to sell you their shuttle services, so no problem 🙂 . It costs 5 yuan and it is the fastest way to get there (recommended).

  2. By Leshan city bus: take number 3 from Central bus Station. If you arrive from other bus stations, you can take number 13. The longest but cheapest way, only 1 yuan.

The smart shuttle drivers are going to leave you 100 meters before the gate, nearness to the stores and restaurants (they have a partnership). At ticket office remember to show your Student Card and Passport, the half price ticket for students is 90 yuan, instead the full price is almost the double.

Leshan Giant Buddha Map utravelshare

Leshan Giant Buddha Map

As you can see from the map, Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area is really huge, so we decided to start our tour from Leshan Giant buddha gardens, close to the main gate. Located at the mountain feet, these wonderful gardens consist of a series of ancient sculptures representing Buddha, monks, and religious symbols in a real journey through the history of buddhism.

Leshan Giant Buddha utravelshare

Main entrance and Gardens

We started the second part climb up through caves digged inside the mountain, realized by monks and converted in a place of worship consecrated to Buddha. If you are lucky you’ll be able to admire buddhist monks praying in the caves, the echo effect is intense and suggestive, something really spectacular.

Haishi caves Leshan Giant Buddha utravelshare

Haishi caves

After passing through the caves we reached the first half of the mountain. We had to climb up an endless staircase which bring us at the first big temple, where you can buy fruit or burn an incense to pay homage to the buddha.

Leshan Giant Buddha utravelshare

After climbing up through other caves we finally arrived at the famous Leshan Giant Buddha, located at the top of the mountain. I can’t explain my astonishment contemplating this masterpiece. From there you are at the same level of Buddha head, so you can take shots from the left and the right side but that’s not the best place. So you have to reach the Buddha feet using the staircase on the right side. I don’t know why but sometime the line of people is too long that you could take literally 3 hours to go down and a good half-hour to come back, so if you want to avoid the tourist groups you should go as soon as possible in the morning. At the moment it is forbidden to touch the buddha’s feet, due to the erosion and pollution first and uncivilized tourist later have caused many damages to the sculpture. Anyway this is the second best part where you can take shots of the Giant Buddha.

Before to come back at the main gate and reach the best place for your shot, you can visit the buddhist monastery and the Lingbao Pagoda just behind the Buddha’s head…yes, once again you have to climb up another staircase, but don’t worry, it’s not so long.

Lingbao Pagoda Leshan Giant Buddha utravelshare

Once you come back at the main entrance, turn left and go ahead until you’ll be able to see a little harbor river. From there you can catch the boat (the price is 70 yuan) that brings you exactly in front of the Giant Buddha, and this one is absolutely the best view to take the best pictures, where you’ll be able to enjoy the sight of the entire statue.

I want to give you some advice:

  • The boat ride is only 10 minutes and you have more or less 5 minutes to take pictures, so don’t waste your time.

  • When you’re on the boat, remember to take place on the right side, in this way you’ll be in the front row, the best place to take an entire picture of the Leshan Giant Buddha.

I hope this post can help you to have a perfect day at Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area.

How to get there, best time and cost

There are many ways to reach Leshan, here you are a list considering the price and the means of transport.

By Bus

  • From the Central Station of Chengdu “XinNanMen Chengdu Bus Station” to the Leshan “Xiaoba” Station, the cost is around 45 and 55 Yuan one way (approximately from 6,5  to 8 €, 7 to 9 $) . Of course it depends on the time you intend to catch the bus. So have a look to an updated timetable before to take a decision. If you catch the bus from the Central Chengdu Station you’ll arrive at Central Leshan bus station.

By High Speed Train

  • It takes just 1 hour and 12 minutes and the cost is about 55 yuan; you can catch it from Chengdu South Railway Station (you can get there by Chengdu subway blue line 1) and Chengdu East Railway Station 成都东站 (Chengdu Subway red line 2) to Leshan Railway station.

Best time to go

Spring is surely the best time and I recommend to to visit Leshan and Leshan Giant Buddha in April. Not as hot as May or June and just before the high season.

uTips

  1. You can visit Leshan city and Leshan Giant Buddha scenic area in just 1 full day. Don’t worry about accommodations there, travelers use to stay in Chengdu, where you can reach every place in Sichuan Province.

  2. Avoid weekends and festivity days, especially during High Season. Imagine thousands of chinese people queue up at the same time, and 3 hours to take a picture. If you’ve ever visited China you know what I mean.

  3. Take your Student Card and Passport if you want to enjoy the half price discount for students.

  4. Water and food inside the Leshan Giant Buddha scenery is much more expensive. Buy your supplies in Leshan City or Chengdu.

  5. It’s highly recommended to go there with locals or chinese people in general. They can help you with simultaneous translations especially at the ticket office, and trust me you need it. Many times occurs they don’t speak english and don’t make the half price ticket if you are older than 24.

  6. First of all check the weather conditions before to plan your visit to Leshan Giant Buddha. In my opinion is better a cloudy or a sunny day to get awesome photos, more scenic 😉 .

  7. In conclusion, don’t trust hostel offers since most of the time the price is too expensive. Just buy their special offers if you have not too much time to spend in Sichuan. A good itinerary si when you can visit Chengdu Giant Panda Base (click here to see my post) and Leshan Giant Buddha on the same day.

Stefano Mura

Stefano Mura

27 Comments

  • John

    What’s up, I log on to your blogs on a regular basis.
    Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

    December 28, 2016 at 11:34 am
  • Christine | The Traveloguer

    This is such an informative guide, Stefan! It must be so cool to see such a giant Budda statue. 🙂 I have to get back to China!

    December 21, 2016 at 10:05 am
  • Brown Gal Trekker

    Your post made me a bit sad – I missed out on going to Leshan as I ran out of time in Sichuan. I agree that you can easily do this independently without booking via hostel or tours. Of course, you’re gonna have to figure out how best to avoid the crowds….as is the case all over China.

    December 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm
  • Jure

    That sure is one huge statue! Made me remember those intricate Buddha statues that were blown up in Afghanistan by the Taliban. They looked huge as well, but I don’t know how tall exactly they were.

    December 20, 2016 at 10:33 am
  • Indrani

    Whoa! That is really gigantic! Huger than the ones I saw in Shukhothai, Thailand!
    Great tips on getting best pics there, particularly the seating in the boat! I wonder if tourists scramble for those seats.

    December 20, 2016 at 1:33 am
  • Jitaditya Narzary

    What a mindblowing monument. There is always something about giant Buddhas. It has to do with the stature of Buddha himself and teh sheer physcal size of these statues.

    December 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm
  • Emily

    Such a helpful post, especially with regards to the transport to Leshan. I’d heard of the great Buddha but didn’t know about all the other things around it. It looks like a wonderful day out and I will definitely head here when I visit China.

    December 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm
  • Adam, Bite of Iceland

    Thanks for great tips! I would love to go there on the day, I haven’t been in China. Budda statue looks really amazing. Fantastic pictures 🙂

    December 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm
  • Ami

    Now that is an interesting place. Am quite intrigued by those carvings in the cave, I think I would need a complete day to absorb the entire place and its history. Loved the way you have added tips on getting there and what to expect.

    December 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm
  • Travelpeppy

    Looks like a nice place. Beautiful post. This is going on our list for 2017

    December 19, 2016 at 7:51 am
  • Jane

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided
    to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait
    to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone
    .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing blog!

    December 19, 2016 at 2:21 am
  • Christina

    Great uTips as always! Your pictures captured such details in the buddhas. Really enjoying reading your experience. I had no idea this place existed and will be sure to add it to our list. It looks and sounds incredible!

    December 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm
  • Chantal @ Translating Traveler

    Wow, that Giant Buddha really does justice to its name! That should definitely be on anyone’s to-do-list when visiting the Sichuan region! As I’m not a big fan of crowds, it’s good to know when it’s the best time to avoid them.

    December 18, 2016 at 9:26 pm
  • Sridhar @InterludJourney

    This big statue reminded me Phuket big Buddha from my recent trips. I must say this one of the best guide/information I have come across which includes everything to plan once trip. I’ve never gone there before. Noted it!

    December 18, 2016 at 1:44 pm
  • Abhinav Singh

    Wow, this looks grand. The tallest Buddha statue I have seen was in Thimphu, Bhutan.

    December 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm
  • Wanderlust Vegans

    Holy! I would love to see Leshan! I have a small Buddha in my living room. It would be cool to see one that big! It looks like you went on an awesome tour. I must get myself to China asap!

    December 17, 2016 at 9:25 pm
  • Sandy N Vyjay

    Leshan looks so beautiful and enigmatic. The giant Buddha is really one reason that I would love to get there someday. This one is really unique because of its size. Hope to get there sooner than later.

    December 17, 2016 at 3:40 pm
  • Mike

    Great advice! Good to know that I’ve gotta be ready and will only have about 5 minutes to snap my photo. Its such a shame when I go somewhere and think I’ll have all day to take the perfect shot but then get rushed through and miss it!

    December 16, 2016 at 1:40 am
  • Claire Summers

    What a cool place to visit! I really want to go to China and I’m slightly obsessed with Buddhas. After spending 3 weeks in Thailand I came back with a bag full of them. Really like how much detail you ahve gone into with the information on how to get there too. I always find thats the most helpful things about travel advice from other bloggers.

    December 14, 2016 at 3:11 pm
  • Dane

    The photos are amazing! I cant believe places like this exist some times. The amount of effort that must have gone into making that in the middle of a jungle is crazy.

    December 14, 2016 at 11:36 am
  • Jesper, The Biveros Effect

    China is on top of my list of countries I want to travel to. There seems to be so many amazing sights. I have only seen documentaries about this statue previously, it really looks like a place that is a must to visit. 🙂

    December 14, 2016 at 11:15 am
  • Sandy N Vyjay

    The place looks so peaceful. China is an incredible place to visit , with so many great places to explore. The Buddha temples are so famous there , would love to visit someday.

    December 14, 2016 at 8:34 am
  • FS

    The photos are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    November 24, 2016 at 5:31 pm
  • Barry

    Great stuff – I haven’t visited this part of China. Would love to go back one day as there’s so much to explore and it would be good to brush up on my Mandarin. The giant Budda looks cool.

    November 24, 2016 at 9:59 am
    • Stefano Mura
      Stefano Mura

      Thanks Barry 🙂 , China is extremely huge and even if I was living there for 6 months I couldn’t se the nother part ( I mean the desert and Inner Mongolia)…and a little part of south!!So I suggest you to take at least one or better two months if you wish to discover this amazing country.

      November 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm
  • Katie

    We visited the Leshan Buddha on our trip and wow! isn’t it amazing!! standing at the base of the Buddha is just incredible!

    November 23, 2016 at 12:26 am
    • Stefano Mura
      Stefano Mura

      Stand at the base of Buddha’s feet is amazing Katie…but is much better from the boat, you can entirely contemplate the magnificent of this statue.

      November 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm
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