Having family and friends come to visit me in China is a great excuse for me to go out and do some of the more touristy things that I seem to forget about when I’m going about my daily life here. This June, the weather in Chengdu was fantastic (blue skies and everything!) which made travelling around all the more enjoyable. On one particularly hot day, we decided to take a day trip to the Leshan Giant Buddha, only a couple of hours from Chengdu.
Getting to Leshan
We arrived at Xinnanmen bus station in the morning, bought our tickets and before 10am we were on our way to see the man himself. Actually, I’ve been once before and although both times at the bus station were pretty straightforward, this time I confirmed we were going to Leshan dafo (the giant buddha). We were then given our tickets and hurried away into a seven seater minivan which dropped us off at the Leshan Giant Buddha site. The time previously I had only specified Leshan, that bus dropped us off at the bus station in Leshan where we then had to take a local bus to the main site. I am, however, led to believe that the minivan going directly to the Buddha site is only available sometimes whereas the main bus is available very regularly. Both tickets were approximately the same price (around 50元), and both pretty convenient ways to travel, but given the choice I’d definitely aim to get the minivan again next time!
Once we arrived we were dropped off by a little restaurant, just past the entrance to the park. The people here sold bus tickets back to Chengdu* from the Buddha site, rather than the main bus station in town. Being a lover of convenience, we booked our return tickets then (for the same price as we paid on the way) and were kindly driven back down the hill to see the giant himself. The people we booked the tickets from also gave us a number to call if we wanted to get picked up by the Buddha and brought back up the hill to catch our return bus (that’s where my Chinese came in handy, but don’t worry, if you don’t speak Chinese the walk back up isn’t far at all!).
*They also sold tickets to Emei Mountain, about a 45min – 1 hour ride away. If you have a few days to spare, I’d definitely recommend combining the two into one trip.
Seeing the Buddha
First we went to the boat stop, where a boat takes you out and gives you a chance to see the whole Buddha in one shot. Don’t underestimate the size of him. People standing next to him do not even reach his toe, so to really take him in I’d recommend taking the boat. The tickets for the boat trip are 70元 per person. The boat takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the Buddha, I’d say we hovered around him for 10 minutes or so, and then, of course, a 10 minute ride back to the ticket counter. Also, on a hot day, the breeze from the boat ride is very much appreciated!
After we got off the boat, we decided against entering the Buddha park and walking to see him too. I’ve not yet done this, but as we were on a bit of a tight time schedule (and were sweating buckets even before walking!) we decided a leisurely lunch in one of the surrounding restaurants and a walk back up to the bus was what we’d rather do. If entering the park, tickets cost 90元 per person, and I’m lead to believe that the walk take about 2-3 hours.
There is a lot of delicious food in Leshan and there are plenty of restaurants lining the streets by the Buddha entrance, and most menus are (partially) translated into English. I found the prices to be slightly higher than eating at a similar restaurant in town, and the portion sizes to be slightly smaller – but still delicious, nonetheless.
We caught our return bus back in the afternoon, this time we were on a big bus. The ride was… an experience, to say the least. There wasn’t much chance of sleeping as he was slamming his horn every 5 seconds, and swerving left, right and centre. I’ve been in China a while now, so I’m no stranger to the style of driving over here, but this was something else!
Luckily, we all made it home in one piece and in time to hit up our local restaurant downstairs.