Carved in a sitting position into the cliff face over the course of 90 years, the Giant Buddha of Leshan is a mind-boggling 71 metres tall (its ears alone measure seven metres high) and nearly ten metres wide. It is the size of a three story building and over three times the size of the heads of Mount Rushmore. Also known as Dafo, it was finally completed in 803, at the confluence of three major rivers and looking out towards the sacred Mount Emei. Visitors can take boat rides along the river and walk from its huge toes, past its three metres long fingers, all the way up to its eye-line. From here it is possible to appreciate the astonishing detail of the sculpture, with over 1,000 separate coils on its head.
The nearby Mount Emei (Emeishan) is one of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. Spread throughout are many elaborately decorated monasteries, pavilions and temples, connected via a combination of cable cars and picturesque (though steep) walks. The mountain is a cultural monument, brought to life by a local expert guide, who will share with you the fascinating tales hidden here and help fend off any overly eager monkeys of course.
The Golden Summit, reachable in a day via buses and cable cars, stands over 3,000 metres above sea level, which means that upon reaching it, you are often rewarded with a mesmerizing (and disorientating) view over the sea of clouds below.