Standing 233 feet (71 meters) tall, the Leshan Giant Buddha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, holds the record as the largest Buddha sculpture in the world. A Buddhist monk—hoping to earn divine protection for the local fishermen—carved the massive statue into a cliff, starting in 713. Ninety years later, the carving was finished.
A day tour to the Buddha statue from Chengdu starts with a scenic 2-hour drive, often followed by a guided tour of the statue. The tour also stops at several of the Buddhist temples that surround the statue, including the Grand Buddha Temple located behind the giant Buddha's head and Wuyou Temple, where you'll find some of the best views of the statue.
You can also take a boat ride on the Mingjiang River to see the Buddha from a different perspective. Tours to the statue are frequently combined with a visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and if you have an extra day in your itinerary, it's possible to combine your visit to the statue with a tour of Mount Emei, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains and another UNESCO-listed site.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a must-see for first-time visitors.
Day trips to the statue from Chengdu typically last eight to 10 hours, depending on the option chosen.
Be prepared to climb up and down steps that could be challenging for those with limited mobility.
Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces.
How to Get There
Located 85 miles (137 kilometers) south of Chengdu, the Leshan Buddha is best visited on a day trip from the Sichuan capital. To get there independently, take the long-distance bus from Xinnanmen Bus Station in Chengdu to Leshan Xiaoba Station and then take Bus 13 to the site.
When to Get There
Due to Leshan’s rainy climate, it’s best to visit during the spring or fall when temperatures are warm and relatively dry. The area receives about 80 percent of its annual rainfall during the summer.
Notable Details of the Stone Buddha
To help protect the giant Buddha statue from Leshan’s frequent rainfall, its builders constructed a hidden drainage system—a series of gutters and channels that displace rainwater to help protect the integrity of the statue. Among the other interesting features are 1,012 buns of coiled hair embedded into the carved head of the Buddha.