#1 Leshan Buddha Statue
Our top selection for the world’s best Buddha statue was constructed during the time of the Tang Dynasty in ancient China. The imposing size of the Leshan Buddha makes it very admirable, indeed it remains as one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. However, it is the intangible aspects behind the statue which embellish its history the most.
The location of the Leshan Buddha statue is at the confluence of three rivers that flow off of the Tibetan Plateau. During the time of the Tang Dynasty the rivers were very important for transportation. Unfortunately, the rivers posed a very dangerous obstacle for ships that used the passageway. Indeed, many thousands of sailors had lost their lives trying to make it through.
However, a very compassionate Buddhist monk named Hai Tong would endeavor to pacify the rivers using a very novel concept. Indeed, he would construct the world’s greatest Buddha statue above the passageway.
The construction of the Leshan Buddha would encounter many challenges. However, the tenacity of Hai Tong was unwavering. As a result, the Leshan Buddha statue was finally completed nearly 100 years after it began.
Unfortunately, Hai Tong would not live to see the finished statue but without his monumental dedication the prolific Leshan Buddha statue surely would never have been completed.
#2 Tian Tan Buddha
Tian Tan Buddha is located in the Ngong Ping highlands on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. In contrast with the iconic Leshan Buddha statue, the Tian Tan Buddha only took three years to complete. Construction began in 1990 and it was completed in 1993. Nonetheless, it is has an imposing presence and locals claim it can be seen all the way from Macau on a clear day.
The Tian Tan Buddha is also known colloquially as the “Big Buddha”. Additionally, it features some modern amenities such as a cable car which carries visitors 10 kilometers over Tung Chung Bay and the very scenic hillside. As a result, the Tian Tan Buddha statue is a little like an amusement park and lacks the austerity and venerable nature of the Leshan Giant Buddha.
Nonetheless, the prolific statue is a must see attraction for visitors to Hong Kong. Indeed, the Tian Tan Buddha looks back towards mainland China as if to offer protection and refuge.
The base of the Buddha statue is modeled on the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Additionally, the Buddha is surrounded by 6 Devas offering him gifts that symbolize the 6 perfections of Buddhism. It is also believed that inside the altar beneath the statue there are some cremated remains from Gautama Buddha.
#3 Ta Cu Reclining Buddha Statue
A list of the world’s best Buddha statues would be incomplete without the inclusion of a reclining Buddha. The Ta Cu Buddha statue was constructed in 1966 on the top of Ta Cu Mountain in Binh Thanh Province, Southern Vietnam. Indeed, at 49 meters in length, it holds the record as “the longest reclining Buddha statue on top of a mountain in Asia”.
The Ta Cu Buddha is surrounded by the magnificent mountain compound of the Linh Son Truong Tho Pagoda. Additionally, there are several other magnificent Buddha statues located there including a stunning display of the Pure Land Trinity. Indeed, the mountain views of the surrounding countryside are excellent.
Similar to other great Buddha monuments, visitors have the option of hiking up and down the mountain. However, there is also a cable car for less vigorous visitors. Ta Cu Mountain is about 45 minutes away from the popular coastal resort town called Mui Ne. We had an excellent time at Ta Cu mountain and also in the surrounding area.
#4 Pakse Golden Buddha Statue
The entire country of Laos is still recovering from the spill over affects of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the entire country was devastated by the carpet bombing campaigns conducted during the “Secret War” of the US Military. After the war finally ended, Laos had to endure further hardship under the rule of the communist Pathet Lao. However, the Lao people remained a Buddhist majority country throughout it all.
Fortunately, economic assistance from the Japanese combined with their own fortitude has resulted in some economic excess. As a result, the city of Pakse completed construction of the Pakse Golden Buddha in 2013.
The statue itself is a stunning depiction of the Buddha in Dhyana Mudra and its idyllic location certainly played a significant role for its inclusion on my list of the world’s best Buddha statues.
The Pakse Golden Buddha is located on the opposite side of the Mekong River from the city of Pakse. Additionally, the giant Buddha statue sits high up on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside. As a result, from Pakse it looks like a golden Buddha gem on the horizon.
Access to the statue is quite simple because it is so visible from within the city. Plus, there are excellent hiking trails leading to the statue from the base of the mountain.
Along the pathway, visitors will find several iconic Buddhist sculptures as they make their way up. Additionally, there are additional monuments and a Buddhist temple to be found at the base of the Pakse Golden Buddha. Last but not least, the views of the Mekong river and city of Pakse from the Buddha are astounding!
#5 Xieng Khuan Reclining Buddha
As with the other iconic statues on this list, the Xieng Khuan reclining Buddha statue benefits from its surroundings. The size of the reclining Buddha statue is 40 meters in length, which is quite impressive. However, this statue is also located inside of the Xieng Khuan Buddha Park in northern Laos. This unique park features avant-garde sculpture design that is within easy commute from the capital city of Laos – Vientiane.
The statues in the park are an eclectic mixture of both Buddhism and Hinduism. This is because the mastermind who conceived the park considered himself to be both Buddhist and Hindu.
Luang Pu was his name and he studied this exotic religion while he was in Vietnam. As a result, the name of the park “Xieng Khuan” is actually Vietnamese even though the park is in Laos. The Vietnamese meaning is “spirit city”.
This collection of over 200 Hindu and Buddhist sculptures is located on the banks of the Mekong river. There are enough monuments in the park to spend at least a half day exploring. One of the most interesting pieces of work is called “Heaven and Hell” which is interactive. However, the most prolific statue in the Xieng Khuan Buddha Park is the giant reclining Buddha statue featured here.