Leshan (乐山; Lèshān) is a city near in Sichuan Province. Sitting on the confluence of the Dadu, Mín and Qingyi rivers it is most famous for its huge riverside cliff-carving of Buddha and nearby Mount Emei; which together are a World Heritage Site.
The Chengdu - Leshan - Emeishan Intercity High Speed Railway provides service from Chengdu East Railway Station, Chengdu South Station, and Shuangliu Airport Station to Leshan Station (and at the end of the line Emeishan Station). Depending on train, it takes between 52 minutes to about 1 hour, 20 minutes to get between Chengdu East to Leshan (RMB 54).
- 1 Leshan Railway Station (乐山站, Leshan Station), Baolian Road, Shizhong District (市中区宝莲路) (Bus routes 1, 12, 21, 22, 304, 601, 605, 701, Circle Route 1, Leshan H1, and Night Bus 1). From Leshan Station the trip by bus K1 via Leshan City to the Giant Buddha (RMB 2) with stops along the way in the city takes 30 minutes. Departure for the bus K1 is in the bus station building, across the street to the right side of the train station on exiting. The bus K1 can be taken back to Leshan Station before 18:00 but afterwards bus 3 is available to go back, taking 45 minutes.
In early 2021, a new station, Leshan North (乐山北站), was opened. This is located in the neighbouring Jiajiang area, around 30-40 minutes' drive from the main sites of Leshan.
- 2 Leshan Central Bus Station (乐山汽车客运中心站 Lèshān Qìchē Kèyùn Zhōngxīn Zhàn), Zhile Road, Shizhong District (市中区至乐路) (Local bus routes serving the station include routes 1, 12, 21, 22, 304, 308, 601, 605, Circle Route 1 and Leshan H1. The bus station is just a few hundred metres north of the Leshan Railway Station), ☏ . Buses are available to/from Chengdu, Emei, Jiajiang, Kangding, Meishan, Pengshan, Shawan, Ya'an, Yibin, and Zigong. Also long-distance buses to/from Dujiangyan, Guanghan, Jiuzhaigou, Mianyang, Nanchong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
- 3 Leshan Lianyun Bus Station (乐山联运汽车站 Lèshān Liányùn Qìchēzhàn), 526 Longyou Road East Section, Shizhong District (市中区龙游路东段526号) (Local bus routes serving the station include routes 1, 1a, 2, 21, 205, 701, Circle Route 1 and Leshan H1), ☏ . Has buses to/from Emei, Qianwei, and Wutongqiao.
- 4 Xiaoba Tourist Bus Station (肖坝旅游车站 Xiàobà Lǚyóu Chēzhàn), 451 Xiaoba Road, Shizhong District (市中区肖坝路451号) (Local bus routes serving the station include routes 1, 1a, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13 and 701), ☏ . Buses are available to/from Mount Emei (Baoguo Si), Chengdu (Xinnanmen), and Emei.
Leshan city has a history of over 3000 years.
Maps of the city are: available for ¥4 from street kiosks, printed on every bus stop and online.
- Pedicab - Leshan has many pedicabs that are cheap and convenient for short journeys.
- Public bus - Buses are regular and uncrowded in Leshan. Most are fairly modern and charge ¥1 per journey which you normally pay to the conductor. You may have to request your stop.
- Taxi - During the day the first 2 km are charged at ¥3, and after at the rate of ¥0.70/km. A fuel surcharge of ¥0.50 is added at the end of the journey and is explained by a white sticker in front of the front passenger seat.
- 1 Leshan Ebony Museum (乐山乌木文化博览苑), 768 Le'e Road West Section, Suji Town, Shizhong District (市中区苏稽镇乐峨路西段768号) (Bus routes 209 and 601. Route 601 runs past the Grand Buddha and the Leshan Railway Station), ☏ . 08:30-18:00. This is well worth a visit if you are not familiar with ebony and the amazing carvings that can be made from it. Some of the displays are a bit tacky but there are some spectacular carvings of famous Chinese literary and legendary scenes. ¥90.
- 2 [dead link] Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛), 2435 Lingyun Road Central Section, Shizhong District (市中区凌云路中段2435号) (Bus routes 13, 601, 605 and K1), ☏ . 07:30-18:30 (April 1st to October 7th), 08:00-17:30. One of the main attraction to see is the Leshan Giant Buddha. The Giant Buddha is a 71 m (230 feet) high sculpture carved into one of the large cliffs by the river. In addition to the Giant Buddha, there are also numerous smaller carvings of various Buddhas on the Grand Buddha Cliff Road. Other than carvings, there are also various temples and shrines scattered about, the beautiful Haoshang bridge, and some wonderful small waterfalls. The Buddha was carved into the mountain face to watch over a part of the river that while very busy for transport was claiming the lives and stock of many boats. Upon completion of the now largest Buddha in the world the river became safe, and thus Buddha saved "us all". Modern scientists will point out the rock displacement to the river bed would have changed the currents, and killed off the eddies that were pulling boats down. If you go late in the day, you will not have to compete with many Chinese tour groups who seem to go in the morning. There are two ways to see the giant Buddha: on foot and by river ferry. To see the giant Buddha Statue by ferry you can take one of the ferries from the dock for ¥70. The ferry will cross the river and stop in front of the statue for 10 minutes for everyone to go to the top deck and take pictures and then return to the dock. Ferry fare does not include admission to the park. Taking the ferry allows you to view the two guards carved into the cliff face which are not visible by foot. The total trip will take around 40 minutes. The view from the ferry is not much different from the view at the base of the statue, which would make it unnecessary unless you're dead set on having a photo taken of yourself with the Buddha. An alternative is take a taxi or bus (#13 from downtown) to the statue and climb up and down on the cliff surrounding the Buddha. There is a staircase next to the Buddha to take you down to its feet. In the mornings, long lines develop to walk down the cliff to the base of the Buddha and you can expect to wait for around 2 hours. Arrive very early or in the late afternoon to avoid the lines. There are several other (newer) things to see on site, so perhaps seeing them first and saving the Buddha for last is a smart strategy. In winter, when the water level of the 3 rivers is low, there appears a rubble island on which you can walk towards the Buddha. The island ends maybe 200 m in front of the statue, but it's a nice panorama from there. You can get to the island with a ferry from the south bank of the city (¥1 per passage) and walk about 2 km from there. Student or Seniors discounts are available, though a quick grasp of Chinese is useful. Food in this locality is very expensive and is best avoided unless you are very hungry in which case any of the cafes nearby will do. Given that you will pay through the nose anyway, it's best to choose the one with air con if you are visiting in the summer. For more information see: UNESCO . ¥80 (standard fee), ¥40 (children aged between 6 and 18). Free admission is granted to children under 6 and adults over 65. Adults aged between 60 and 65 can normally get in free as well, but are required to pay ¥40 if visiting on a public holiday.
- 3 Leshan Giant Buddha Museum (乐山大佛博物馆, 乐山博物馆 Leshan Museum), 2345 Lingyun Road, Shizhong District (市中区凌云路2435号) (Take bus no. 18 to the Shanlong Intersection (山龙路口) or catch bus no. 4, 13, or 602 and get off at the Minjiang No. 1 Bridge East Station (岷江一桥东站). The museum is about 2km north of the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area.), ☏ . 09:30-18:00 (low season), 09:30-20:00 (high season), 09:00-20:00 (during the Spring Festival and National Day holidays). Free.
- Old City Walls (古城墙, 嘉州古城墙 Jiazhou Old City Walls). Leshan's old city walls were originally built during the Northern Zhou Dynasty and rebuilt during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The surviving remnants of the wall can be found in and around the city centre.
- 4 Tieniu Gate (铁牛门 Tiěniúmén, lit. 'Iron Bull Gate'), 148 Binhe Road, 滨河路148号 (On the river bank in front of the Leshan City Government building). One of eleven city gates that still survive. Tieniu Gate was originally built during the Song Dynasty and rebuilt in 1394. It was historically known as Lizheng Gate (丽正门).
- 5 Oriental Buddha Park (东方佛都), 362 Lingyun Road, Shizhong District (市中区凌云路362号) (A short distance south of the Giant Buddha. You will find signs pointing toward the park after you leave the vicinity of the Buddha), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-18:00. A Buddhist theme park. ¥80.
- 6 Wuyou Temple (乌尤寺), Shizhong District (市中区) (On a small island southwest of the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Oriental Buddha Park. The island is accessible on foot via a walk bridge), ☏ . 07:30-18:30 (April 1st to October 7th), 08:00-17:30 (October 8th to March 31st). Free.
- 7 Guo Moruo's Former Residence (郭沫若故居), 353 Wenhao Road Central Section, Shawan District (沙湾区文豪路中段353号) (Take a bus to Shawan from either the Central Bus Station or Lianyun Bus Station, then transfer to bus no. 1. The bus stops just outside the residence), ☏ , . 09:00-17:30, closed on Mondays. Guo Moruo (1892-1978) was a famous writer, historian and archaeologist who was born in Shawan. He lived here during his youth and some of his family members lived here until their deaths, including his estranged wife Zhang Jinghua. The building dates from the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor (1796-1820) and is built in a classical Chinese style. A museum built next to the residence tells the story of Guo's life. Entry to the museum is free but there is a ¥39 fee to visit the residence. Persons under 18 or aged between 60 and 70 pay half price, and those over 70 can visit the residence for free.
- 8 Meinü Peak National Forest Park (美女峰国家森林公园, Beauty Peak National Forest Park), Shawan District (沙湾区) (Take a bus to Shawan from either the Central Bus Station or Lianyun Bus Station, then transfer to bus no. 1 and get off at the final stop), ☏ . 08:30-18:00. Meinü Peak (or Beauty Peak) is a 2027-metre high peak that derives its name from its shape, which is said to resemble a woman lying on her back. The famous writer Guo Morou, who wrote poems about the peak, referred to it as 'the sleeping beauty'. Other notable features of the park include Shawan Stone Forest (沙湾石林), a geological formation somewhat similar to the stone forest at Shilin and Lancanggou (澜仓沟), a valley filled with Alsophila spinulosa trees. ¥5.
- 9 Luocheng Ancient Town (罗城古镇, Luocheng Old Town), Qianwei County (犍为县) (Frequent buses to Luocheng are available from the Lianyun Bus Station. The bus fare is ¥16 and the journey time is about one and a half hours. There are also direct buses to Luocheng from Chengdu's Shiyang Bus Station), ☏ (tourism enquiries). Open all day. Founded in the Ming Dynasty, the town is fairly well-known in China, having been the setting for several Chinese films and TV series. The town preserves many old buildings that date from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Its best known feature is its boat-shaped main street known as Liangting Street. Free.
- 10 Qianwei County Confucian Temple (犍为县文庙, 犍为县文庙博物馆 Qianwei County Confucian Temple Museum), 297 South Street, Yujin Town, Qianwei County (犍为县玉津镇南街297号) (Take a bus to Qianwei County from Leshan's Central Bus Station. It should take less than an hour to get there. The temple is just a few hundred metres east of the Qianwei County Central Bus Station), ☏ . 09:00-18:00. This temple, which is on China's national heritage list, was originally founded during the Northern Song Dynasty and rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. It is the fourth largest Confucian temple in China and the largest one in Sichuan Province. ¥30.
Other outlying districts and counties
- 11 Dafo Lake (大佛湖), Jingyan County (井研县) (About 56km by road from the city. Take a bus from Leshan's Central Bus Station to Jingyan County, then hire a taxi. The lake is about 18km north of the county seat). Open all day. Dafo Lake is a manmade lake. It features a 531-metre long dam, which is the longest dam in Sichuan Province. The lake is also a haven for water birds. 13 species of water birds are believed to live on the lake, including several protected species. Free.
- 12 Jinkouhe Grand Canyon (金口河大峡谷, 金口大峡谷景区 Jinkou Grand Canyon Scenic Area), Binhe Road Section Three, Jinkouhe District (金口河区滨河路三段) (Take a bus to Jinkouhe from any one of Leshan's long-distance bus stations. The journey will take around 2.5 hours. Upon arrival in Jinkouhe, take bus no. 9 and get off at the final stop). Open all day. Foreigners require special permission to visit the area. Check with the Leshan Public Security Bureau for details. Free.
- 13 Pingqiang Little Three Gorges (平羌小三峡), Shizhong District (市中区) and Qingshen County (青神县) (Probably best visited on a cruise boat. The nearest town is Yuelai (悦来), which can be reached by bus from Lianyun Bus Station). The gorges may be seen along a 12-kilometre stretch of the Minjiang River (岷江) north of the city.
- Browse the markets at wùyān jiē (婺嫣街) and xīngfā jiē (兴发街).
- 1 Haitang Park (海棠公园 Hǎitáng Gōngyuán), Shizhong District (市中区) (Bounded by Xian Street (县街) on the west, Fu Street (府街) on the south and Dingdong Street on the east (叮咚街). There is a bus stop of the same name on the eastern side of the park, which is served by bus routes 8 and 9). 08:00-20:00. Free.
- 2 Laoxiaoding (老霄顶), Shizhong District (市中区) (About 200 metres southwest of the intersection of Dingdong Street (叮咚街) and Haitang Road (海棠路). From Moruo Square take the road heading north to its end and then along the winding uphill path. The park gate will be to your right. The nearest bus stop is the Gas Company (煤气公司) bus stop, which is servd by bus routes 6, 8, 10 and 13). 09:00-17:00. The tallest hill within Leshan's old city limits. Now it is a pleasant park with pavilions and tea houses. Free.
As people from across China visit Chengdu for its culinary delights, every weekend thousands of Chengdu natives take the trip to Leshan to engorge themselves on some of the best food in China. Some popular local dishes include:
- Tian Pi Ya / You Tang Ya (甜皮鸭 / 油烫鸭) - roast duck, similar to Beijing Duck, with a crispier, sweeter skin. You can buy this is air-tight bags and is a common treat shared with friends of family within a couple of days of visiting.
- Dou Fu Nao (豆腐脑) - Literally 'Tofu Brain', this bean curd mixed with nuts and spices - a delicious option for traditional, local breakfast
- Ka Bing (卡饼 / 咔饼) - Usually ordered together with Tou Fu Nao, ground beef in bread with a local mix of salt and spice
- Shao Kao (烧烤) - Barbequed skewers with meat and vegetables. Available all day, but commonly eaten sitting outside with friends and local beers
- You Zha (油炸) - Similar to shao kao, but fried in oil
- Qiao Jiao Niu Rou (翘脚牛肉) - Multiple dishes of beef, varying between boiled, fried and grilled. The dishes can cover everything from slices of traditional beef, to cow's bone marrow or stomach
- Bo Bo Ji (钵钵鸡) - Chicken and root vegetables marianated in a spicy sesame broth, often on skewers
- Bing Fen (冰粉) - Popular across China but originating in the region, 'iced jelly' is a slightly sweet dessert
- Saqima (沙琪玛)- a sweet rice cake, made with bean curd
Whilst many of the best restaurants are across the city, the majority of food downtown, near the riverside offers great variety of all local and sichuan dishes.
- Zhanggongqiao Jie (张公桥街)- A fun and busy place to eat and drink at night.
There are hundreds of teahouses in Leshan. The best are those outdoors; especially those along the banks of the Dadu and Min rivers and in Leshan's parks. All great places to play Majiang or Leshan's unique erqishi card game.
- 杨家老宅茶馆 (yángjiā lǎozhái cháguǎn) - 52 gǔlóu jiē (鼓楼街52号). 0833-2115000. Open Monday to Sunday. An atmospheric teahouse set within a cluster of old buildings and decorated with old photographs of Leshan and the Grand Buddha.
- Banana Club. Don't expect much, 1 of 2 night clubs in Leshan. Busy on Saturdays, but will die down by 11PM on weekdays. Try Zero Beer (brewed for a good time). ~¥30/bottle
- 1 Jintaoyuan Hotel (金桃源宾馆 Jīntáoyuán bīnguǎn,), 136 Binjiang Road South, Shizhong District (市中区滨江南路136号) (Next to Leshan Port), ☏ . Probably the most convenient hotel for most travellers especially since it's across the street from where the Leshan Buddha tourist boats start their 30-min cruise. Room rates start from ¥132.
- 2 Jinhaitang Hotel (金海棠大酒店 jīnhǎitángdàjiǔdiàn,), 512 Haitang Road (海棠路512号) (next to Fish Bay Park), ☏ . Leshan's only four-star hotel.
Possible destinations after Leshan include the following.
- Chengdu(成都) - Travel north on the ChengLe Expressway to the capital of Sichuan making stops at Meishan and Huanglongxi.
- Chongqing (重庆)
- Dafengding - Dafengding is a China National Nature Preservation Zone.
- Emei (峨眉) - Make the short journey west to see the famous Emei Shan and then take the train south towards Kunming or north towards Chengdu.
- Jiajiang - Visit the Thousand Buddha Cliff and then take the train south towards Kunming or north towards Chengdu.
- Kangding - Start your visit to western Sichuan from its capital.
- Shawan - Former Residence of Guo Morou and Meinufeng Stone Forest.
- Yibin (宜宾) - Famous for its distilleries.
- Zigong (自贡) - Salt mines and a dinosaur museum.