Asia's Most Amazing Buddhas

From the bespectacled to the bubbly, the daunting to the daring, Asia's Buddhas are among its most extraordinary cultural, artistic, and of course, spiritual attractions. With this in mind, the members of travel website offer their favorite places to pay homage.
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From the bespectacled to the bubbly, the daunting to the daring, Asia's Buddhas are among its most extraordinary cultural, artistic, and of course, spiritual attractions. With this in mind, the members of travel website offer their favorite places to pay homage.

Did we miss one of your favorite Buddhas? Let us know on!

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1. Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Emei Scenic Area; Sichuan, China

Talk about looking good for your age. The unofficial granddaddy of the Buddha world, this statue was carved in the 8th century and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At an amazing 233 ft. tall he's currently the largest Buddha on the planet.

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2. Shwemyethman Paya; Shwedaung, Myanmar

If you thought Harry Potter was the first to wear oversized round glasses, think again. Known as the "Buddha with the Golden Spectacles," this Buddha has been wearing these glasses from some time between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Not surprisingly, he is thought to have special optical healing powers.

Photo credit: Bernhard Huber

3. Sehtatgyi Buddha; Pyay, Myanmar

Known for his extraordinary height, this Buddha is known locally as "Ten-Story Buddha". For an up close and personal view of this imposing figure, visit the nearby Shwesandaw Pagoda, famed for housing one of Buddha's actual hairs.

Photo credit: Nigel Pendse

4. Akauk Taung Buddha Cliff Carvings; Pyay, Mynamar

If you want to see these 2,000 Buddha carvings the best way to do it is by boat but you might want to hurry. These amazing figures are sadly under serious threat of destruction thanks to weather and landslides. Once the site of the customs office where traveling merchants would pay their taxes, the mountain into which these statues are carved is appropriately known as "Akauk Taung" or "Tax Mountain".

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5. Man Fat Tsz (Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery); Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Interestingly, this 20th-century Buddhist monument happens to be situated right across the street from another 20th-century shrine: Ikea. Having taken over 10 years to complete, this complex actually contains closer to 13,000 Buddha statues, all known for their unusually human-like expressions.

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6. Maitreya Buddha, Thikse Monastery; Ladakh, India

Added to the monastery in which it resides in 1970, this colorful, artsy Buddha reflects the time in which was constructed. Built as a tribute to His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, this beauty is two stories tall.

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7. Tian Tan Buddha; Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Having taken over ten years to complete, this Buddha's design and expression were created as an amalgam of Buddha images thought to be exemplary of the icon.

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8. Buddha Head in Bodhi Tree, Wat Phra Maha That; Ayutthaya, Thailand

There are as many theories about how this iconic Buddha got himself tangled up in these tree roots as there are Buddhas, but it's generally agreed that he was a victim of the Burmese invasions of a nearby temple in the 1700s. Local lore says a looter scouring the area some time in the 1900s either placed or left him here.

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9. Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park); Vientiane, Laos

Built by a monk who was the Walt Disney of Buddhist parks (his other park is in bordering Thailand), this 1950s complex was meant to incorporate both Hindu and Buddhist deities, thus its somewhat unconventional look. If a day of idol worshipping has you parched, you can actually grab a beer at the park's nearby café.

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10. Yungang Grottoes; Datong, China

The word extraordinary doesn't do justice to the grottoes' Buddhas or their surrounding statues. With over 51,000 figures carved into the area's 252 caves, you could spend days exploring the site and still not see everything in this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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11. Dazu Rock Carvings; Dazu China

Thought to have been created over a four-century span, these carvings contain a vivid record not only of the evolution of local spiritual thought but of daily life as well. In fact, many of these colorful sculptures were actually commissioned by refugees of the Chinese civil war who thought the figures might aid in the safety of missing family members.

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12. Phra Achana, Wat Si Chum; Sukhothai, Thailand

Although this Buddha can only observe the outside world through a small slit in a thick stone wall, don't feel bad for him. His name translates to "unperturbed".

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13. Buddha Maitreya; Cam Mountain, An Giang, Vietnam

With his jolly eyes, wide smile and deep dimples it's no surprise that this 10-year-old Buddha is known as the "Happy Buddha".

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14. Amitabha Buddha, Jingang Jing She (Enlightened Heart Temple); Tambun, Malaysia

Colorful, eclectic and even playful, this temple is certainly among Asia's most unconventional. At almost 80 feet the Buddha statue that overlooks the complex is the area's tallest.

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15. Golden Temple of Dambulla; Dambulla, Sri Lanka

It's hard to believe that the extraordinary cave in which this Buddha reclines was once used as a storage room. In use for 22 centuries, this temple has taken great care to see that its Buddhas and statues, which number in the hundreds, have been repainted throughout their lives.

Did we miss one of your favorite Buddhas? Let us know on!