Who wouldn't want to see the World Largest Stone Buddha Statue - Leshan Giant Buddha, Sichuan - China


Chengdu was one of the highlights of our China tour. It is a major city in Western China and the provincial capital of Sichuan province known as the "Country of Heaven". Yes! it is absolutely true. Chengdu is the most attractive and most beautiful city we visited in China.  Our kids had many interesting reasons to visit there. Because Chengdu’s most famous residents aren’t human, they’re pandas.

The other main reason is visit Giant Buddha statue called Leshan Giant Buddha. As first, we intended to visit this Buddha statue as part of our visit to Chengdu. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province about 126km(78miles) from Chengdu.

High speed Bullet Train Tour

Currently, you can take a high speed train, long-distance bus or use local agency's private tour to visit Leshan Giant Buddha.We thought to book high speed train journey because we haven't traveled a high speed bullet train before. It was easy to get there from Chengdu. We took express bullet train from Chengdu East Railway Station to Leshan railway Station in Leshan.This takes about 1 hour and cost is 54 RMB each way. You can book this online or at the station before you travel or buy it on the day. There are more than 30 daily intercity fast and comfortable bullet trains for travelers to transfer to Leshan within 1 hour.  

Chengdu Railway Station

High Speed Bullet Train
Leshan Railway Station

From Leshan Railway station, local Bus 605 and Bus 3 can also take you to Leshan Giant Buddha directly. It is about 13km. We took a taxi from the station. It passed many beautiful flowery areas and an ancient cultural city before reaching the ticket counter in 30 minutes.
We were dropped off at the main gate and paid to get in. It cost 90RMB to get in and is well worth the price as it is indeed special. There is a lot of climbing of stairs up the hill, then you can start to view the beautiful scenery of the river from the hillside. Along the side walking, you can see the history and story telling of the carves and stones.  

Caves along side the entrance

Story telling caves along side the entrance

We walked and climbed all over the mountain amazed by all the carvings. After 100-150 steps you can see the unmistakable outline of a head peeping over the rock. At this stage we realized this Buddha statue is not just big, it's GIGANTIC!!! 

 Right side view from top level

WOW! Unbelievable

Wow! The view from the top is breathtaking. You have a couple of options, you can hover at Buddha's head and look down on, or you can climb the single file stairs all the way to the bottom. Its best to go straight across to the far side of the statue first and then you reach the top of the statute. Believe me, It's unbelievable!!! Eventually,  Looking down over the cliff gives a good idea of just how big it is.

Left side view from top level


River and city view from top level

We also opted out for the walk down to the Buddha's feet by staircase as it was a weekday. We were there on not a particularly busy day, but still had to queue for ages to take the steps down, so we could take amazing shots of the Buddha as we walked down the stairs. When you climb down the steps with the Buddha on your left, You can see how amaze it is. 

Adventurous zig-zag nine bends staircase going down

 Zig-Zag Nine Bends Road

Climbing down the steep zigzag nine bends staircase was good except there were people behind us so we couldn't stop. That steep and narrow climb down , even though it wasn't crowded at the top the stairway became quite slow. Lots of people stopping for photos and blocking the path.Railing is strong and safe though. The steps are steep, narrow, uneven and you march single file down there, surrounded by thousands of other people. It was  an unforgettable and joyful experience to my son.He was thrilling heaps while climbing down. It was really impressed by not only the Giant Buddha,  but also if you took the time to look round while you stood in line, the small Buddhas carved into the side of the cliff by the staircase.


Small Buddhas carved into the side of the cliff by the staircase
View from the zig-zag staircase

A Wonder of the World

The best part is when you arrive at the bottom side, at the toenail of this colossal statue. As we reached the bottom we realized that the entire span of this amazing giant statue is very difficult to capture in a conventional camera. 

View from the bottom

Bottom view while climbing down

When you first time see up this colossal Buddha from the bottom level you are feeling like an ant in front of elephant. The picture will never tell you how small you are. You will only know how small you are when you happen to be there. But I can only describe what I noticed.....the height of any person is just lower than the giant Buddha's toe. I am not sure if you can imagine how big this Buddha statue is now. This should be just another wonder of the world. Amazing sight.It was exceeding our expectations.

The Buddha is magnificent and really wonder how the sculptor can carved that so symmetry in those days. It is the miracle of the world. I have seen a lot of Buddha statues in various countries and some claim to be big , but this one is huge and very impressive.

Temple at the top

Largest Stone Buddha Statue in the World   

It’s been carved out of the side of Lingyuan mountain to the east of Leshan in Sichuan Province, located at the joint of Minjiang River, Dadu River and Qingyi River. Giant Buddha is sitting in the open air and facing Leshan City across the river and it’s the red rock carving Maitreya Buddha statue. This Giant Buddha, also named the Lingyun Giant Buddha, is the largest stone Buddha in the world.  


How BIG is the Leshan Giant Buddha?

Leshan Giant Buddha is famous for its incredible size. At 71 meters (233 ft) tall and 28 meters (46ft) wide at the shoulders. The statue depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees.The head of Buddha is 14.7 meters (48ft) high. Each eye measures 3 meters (10ft) long and each ear is 7 meters (23ft). The middle finger of Buddha’s hand is 8 meters (26ft) long. 1021 small spiral hair curls rolled up to adorn the head. The head reaches to the mountaintop and its feet stands next to the river. His smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person. Buddha’s body is placed in a symmetrical posture. There is a local saying: "The mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain"

View from the staircase

History of Leshan Giant Buddha

Carved in the 8th century during the Tang Dynasty, the Leshan Giant Buddha was built during a peak period of Buddhist culture in ancient China.Many people traveling by boat in the area were always capsized boats and killed by the turbulent waters each year before the Leshan Giant Buddha was created. To slow down the water flow, Monk Haitong recruited artisans to carve a statue of Buddha beside the river and believed that this sculpture would appease the river gods and keep the locals safe.
It was first carved from AD 713, and when carving the shoulder of the Buddha, Haitong passed away.After that,due to insufficient funding, the construction was suspended. About 70 years later, Wei Gao, one of the apprentices of Hai Tong, decided to sponsor the project.The project was suspended again when the knees were just completed. 40 years later, the project was continued again, and after the efforts of three generations, the Giant Buddha was finally completed in AD 803. So, this huge project totally took about 90 years to complete.


UNESCO World Heritage Site 

Leshan Giant Buddha is the main attraction in Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area. This remarkable historic site was listed as a World Natural & Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996

UNESCO World Heritage site

Fun Facts about the Leshan Giant Buddha

  • The Giant Buddha is the largest in the world before the 20th century and the highest statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva.Maitreya will be the next Buddha to come when the Dharma, or the World in the current religions, will have disappeared.

  • The tallest building in Leshan stands at 68 meters, which is lower than the 71meter Buddha statue, showing the local people’s respect for Buddha.

  • On the Buddha’s head, there are 18 layers, and the 4th layer, 9th layer, and 18th layer have one cross drainage. In fact, the drainage from the left side in front of the chest is connecting to the back drainage of the right arm and a cave on the backside connects the two ears. These caves and drainage have composed the scientific drainage that is a moisture-proof and ventilation system.

  • The Leshan Great Buddha is the largest symmetrical Maitreya Buddha sculpture in the world today.

  • Statues of 'Maitreya' are the only Buddhist sculptures depicted seated in a chair. In comparison, other Buddhist sculptures are depicted reclining, standing, walking or in different variations of the lotus pose.As mentioned in the prophecy, 'Maitreya' is depicted sitting on his throne waiting in 'Tusita' Heaven.   

  • Instep is big enough for accommodate more than 100 people sitting together.

Two Ways to visit

You have two ways to go to visit the Giant Buddha. One is hiking up on Lingyun Mountain and watching the Buddha from a very close distance. In this way, traveler will enter into the scenic area, and walk to the mountain top, get to the Buddha's head, hike downstairs to feet through zigzag nine bends Plank Road.

Zig-zag stair case from the bottom


If you want to avoid the crowded walking on the mountain, in a tight schedule or like to see the panoramic view of the Buddha, travelers can take a boat tour to see the Giant Buddha from the river. We did not have time to go on the river trip but you can see this from the river by boat which might be a good option.

Scenic Area has many other wonderful attractions

If you have good and strong knees, consider hiking down next to the Buddha to pay respect to him or simply see him smiling down on us from the river bank area, and then you leave via a tunnel up the other direction and then you cannot see it again When you follow the path, you will come to a museum and some tombs. 


Ancient stone tomb


Some tomb keep & protect inside caves

There is no entry charges for that. Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area has many other wonderful attractions. Travelers can also visit Lingyun Temple, Lingbao Pagoda, Mahao Cliff-tomb on the mountain.  


Beautiful architectural design everywhere


Traditional Chinese buildings

There is also a 1400 year old pagoda sitting on top of a hill that you may wish to go up about 100 steps, or take pictures from down below. There are many trails in this monastery/park area that you should explore by entering from the main gate and exiting on the west gate.


Wuyou temple


Travel Tips

  • There are not many English speaking people here, so if you plan to visit here, make sure your hotel writes out directions in Chinese exactly where you want to go or use a language translate app.
  • If you have bad knees or bad legs, don't even attempt to climb to the bottom.
  • The best option and convenient way is  take a high-speed train from Chengdu to Leshan.
  • The floor is very slippery so avoid high heels for girls and would recommend sport shoes for all.
  • I would recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds of tourists.
This place is difficult to describe in words. What an absolutely amazing man made creation. The Leshan Giant Buddha is a once in a life time experience. We really enjoyed the whole area as there was so much to see. Well worth spending a day trip here .The area is very picturesque. You MUST see the statue from both the top of the hill and the feet of the statue.
The Leshan Giant Buddha Statue is number1 on my list of the world’s best Buddha statues. It's a site we will always remember and be glad I got to see in my lifetime.

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