Ranked as one of China’s most-liveable cities, Chengdu – the capital of Sichuan Province – is a great starting point from which to explore Sichuan. Although the city centre has scores of cars thronging its streets, the bustling side streets are chock-full of gingko trees and hibiscus flowers.
Emei Shan – a cool mountainside sanctuary that presents a sharp contrast to Sichuan basin’s sweltering heat – is located 130 kilometres southwest of Chengdu.
Leshan – home to the world’s tallest Buddha statue – is a tranquil riverside town not far from Emei Shan; it’s not a bad place to hang around for a day or two – the riverfront along Binhe Lu is especially beautiful at night.
Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan is a good spot to explore for a few days. Its pride and joy is the impressive Grand Buddha engraved into a cliff face overlooking the Dadu and the Min rivers.
Leshan is situated not far from Emei Shan – is best known for the Grand Buddha carving. Erected by Buddhist monk Haitong in the hopes that it would stave off lethal currents, protect boatmen and calm the swift rivers, this statue is showing signs of age but remains an impressive sight. Located on the south-western fringe of the Red Basin in southern Sichuan, Leshan is also noted for the many temples scattered throughout the area; visitors often stopover at the Mahaoya Tombs Museum and the Wuyou Temple.
Highlights and Features
- Mahaoya Tomb Museum: This museum has an unpretentious collection of tombs and burial artefacts dating from the Eastern Han Dynasty.
- Wuyou Temple: This monastery dates back to the Tang Dynasty and contains an assortment of calligraphy, painting and historical artefacts.
- Opening Hours: April – October 07:30 – 18:30; October – March 08:00 – 17:30
Emei Shan (Mount Emei)
Emei Shan, one of the Middle Kingdom’s four famous Buddhist Mountains, is a smorgasbord of luxuriant mountain greenery, cheeky thieving macaques and lots of temples. The sunrise views from atop the sacred mountains are truly jaw-dropping. The mountains west of it are known as Daxiangling while the large surrounding area of countryside is known as the Permian Emeishan Large Igneous Province.
The many temples throughout Emei Shan are not the original structures dating from the advent of Buddhism in China – most of the originals were destroyed or looted during the war with Japan and the Cultural Revolution. This mountainside is frequented by visitors who stop over for a day or two at the monasteries that dot the area but still this nature reserve remains an isolated locale lined with cedar, fir and pine trees and towering cliffs, cloud-kissing crags and gorgeous flora and fauna.
Emei Shan is situated 130 kilometres south of Chengdu and is the perfect place to give your hiking boots a good workout. This cool misty retreat is best known for its fantastic sunrises as well as the Jingding Temple, Fuhu Monastery, Baoguo Temple and Qinying Pavillion.
Highlights and Features
- Baoguo Temple: Erected in the 16th century, this Mahayana Buddhist temple is famous as the oldest surviving wooden structure in southern China. The main hall of the temple dates back to 1013 in the Northern Song dynasty; featuring beautiful gardens as well as a 3.5 metre-high porcelain Buddha dating back to 1415, it is a popular tourist attraction.
- Fuhu Monastery: Located not far from Baoguo Temple, Fuhu Monastery is tucked away within lush forest greenery and is noteworthy for its seven-metre-high copper pagoda with Buddhist etchings.
- Jingding Temple: The magnificent 1695sqm Jingding Temple is covered with glossy tiles and is quite a striking sight. It’s the best spot to catch the sunrise on Mount Emei but the fog sometimes obstructs the view.
- Qinying Pavillion: Built on an outcrop in the middle of a swift-flowing brook, this temple is aptly named ‘Pure Sound Pavilion’ because of the soothing sounds of the waters coursing around its rock formations.
- Grand Buddha: This giant serene and sacred statue is carved into a cliff face overlooking two rivers.
Good to Know and What Not to Miss
- Plan to spend at least half a day exploring Mount Emei and try to spend at least a night in Leshan so you can tour the main attractions at leisure.
- Emei Shan is located south-west of Chengdu and Leshan is situated along the way.
Emei Shan (Mount Emei)
- Price Range: Emei Shan Entrance fee: CNY 150 – adult; CNY 80 – student - Bus ticket: CNY 70
Leshan Grand Buddha entrance fee: CNY 70
- How to get there: Baoguo village is at the base of Mount Emei; the bus station is located here and you can buy Mount Emei entrance tickets and get mountainside information. Buses from Baoguo travel to three main points on the mountain – Wuxiangang, Wannian and Leidongping; each of these destinations can access Mount Emei attractions quite easily. The Baoguo temple can be reached by bus 332 from Ningbo city – the journey takes more or less 35 minutes. Leshan is located on the way to Emei Shan; there is a passenger rail line that serves the Mianyang–Chengdu–Leshan intercity area but there are no trains that go directly into the Leshan area.