Leshan is home to Leshan Giant Buddha. The Buddha is a 71-metre tall stone Buddha and built between 713 and 803 to help curb the water demons plaguing the local fishermen and boatmen travelling along the river. The water demons were forever banished. For those scientifically inclined, the construction of the Buddha led to large amounts of rock being deposited into the river. These rocks obstructed the flow of the river and could have made the river safer with slower currents. The Buddha now makes a good 1 day side trip from nearby Chengdu.
Getting to Leshan from Chengu
The easiest way to get to Leshan is via the Inter City Express connecting Chengdu, Mianyang and Leshan. There are trains running from Chengdu East Railway Station and from Chengdu South Railway Station to Leshan Railway Station. Alternatively, prior to the ICE, there are long distance buses from Xinnanmen Bus Station or from Chadianzi Bus Terminal to Leshan. Buses take twice as long (approx 2 hours compared with trains). Once you are in Leshan, you can either take a local bus or a taxi to the Gain Buddha. Buses are affordable in China at 2-3 RMB per ride. If you understand the Chinese language, buses arguably offer an easy to use experience since the buses typically have automated announcement systems announcing what the next stop is.
Pro-Tip: There aren’t many restaurants near the Giant Buddha so it may be better (especially if you are taking a local bus since the fares are cheap) to just get off midway in town for a quick lunch. The options there are more varied. You can then continue your journey to the Giant Buddha.
Leshan Giant Buddha
Once you get there, follow the signs to bring you to the main entrance with the ticketing booth. There may be local guides offering their services but if you are like me and are just in for the sights, you can give them a miss. Once you clear the main gate, you will be making your way up a hill to where the temple complex is. The complex is on your left. The path down to the Buddha’s feet is on your right. My suggestion is to go visit the temple first as you will be too breathless after your descent and ascent to want to go anywhere else later.
Depending on your timing, there may be a long queue of tourists waiting for their turn to go down to the Buddha’s feet. If so, join queue. If not, count yourself lucky to have avoided the queue. The descent is manageable for an average person. The ascent is worse >< Check out our photos for this trip:
If you have knee problems or are an elderly, another option is to skip the actual site and take a ferry that will bring you right to the edge of the Buddha for your pictures. The only flaw is you don’t have as much time to take in the sights and/or pose with the Buddha since you are on the ferry.
Have you visited Leshan? Let me know in the comments.
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