Getting to Lushan
The closest town to the Spring Temple Buddha is Lushan (Chinese: 鲁山, Lǔshān). From Lushan, there are regular bus services to the Buddha. As there are no airports nearby, your best option is to take a train from one of the nearest big cities. Not all train lines will take you to Lushan.
Unless you speak Chinese, it is highly recommended that you find and book your train travel well in advance on the internet. This is for two reasons: 1) train are often booked out completely. If you are buying a ticket on the day don’t be surprised to find there are no trains available – possibly for the next 1 or 2 days, and 2) purchasing tickets online can be done using an English website – trying to book a ticket at a Chinese train station can be very difficult as there will be multiple trains/times, different seating classes, and identification documentation rules to understand.
The Lone Traveller recommends using www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains to book the train. This is because travelchinaguide.com is a very easy way to book your tickets, in English, and they will try to get you the best available seat in the class you choose as soon as they become available (usually 20 days in advance). For this they charge a small percentage fee.
As an example let’s say we are travelling from Luoyang, a large close city in Henan province, to Lushan.
Step 1: Find a train
The first thing to note is that from Luoyang you need to take a train from Luoyang train station (not Luoyang Longmen train station – trains from Luoyang Longmen do not go to Lushan). Go to www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains, and enter in Luoyang in the “From” box. In the “To” box, type “Lushan [Henan]” (note that there are other “Lushan” train stations, but these are not the same town.. make sure you choose “Lushan [Henan]”). Select your departure date and search. You will now have a set of train numbers (eg: “K758/K755”).
Step 2: Book the train
You will then be able to book the time and seating class of your choosing. The www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains page also has a lot of useful information about travelling on trains in China, including the different types of trains, seating classes, baggage restrictions etc.
Once train tickets are booked, they can be picked up from a train station in China upon presenting your passport for identification. See www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains for more information.
From Lushan to the Buddha
Catching the bus is the easiest and cheapest way to get to the Spring Temple Buddha. As of November 2017 it costs 13 元 each way, and the bus trip is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours each way. The journey there and back also provides a great view of some of the more rural areas of China as well as some small townships and villages.
Alternatively you could arrange to have a local taxi drive you there and back, waiting for you at the Buddha. However this could cost you 400 元 or more, and you would need to negotiate this price and the details with the taxi driver – if you don’t speak Chinese then it may take some effort. It is strongly advisable to only pay a partial amount upon arriving at the statue and pay the remainder on returning to Lushan – negotiate this with your driver before leaving Lushan. Taxis can be found at Lushan Railway Station.
The Lone Traveller caught the bus and found it very simple, cheap and convenient. The hardest part is finding the bus station, which is hidden in a courtyard behind the buildings on the road leading out of Lushan Railway Station. From the railway station, head South (straight ahead). As you are approaching the main road at the end you will see an entrance to your right between the buildings. There is nothing in English, nor any signage to indicate it is a bus depot. *UPDATE: Thanks to Sean who mentioned as of 2017 there is a new entrance to the bus depot around the corner at the front entrance.
When you arrive at the bus depot, it might be useful to have a picture of the Spring Temple Buddha to show someone. Otherwise say “dafu” (pinyin: dàfú) – literally “Big Buddha”, and you will be pointed to the correct bus. *UPDATE: Thanks to Sean who mentioned as of 2017 bus tickets can now be purchased at a window from the front entrance to the bus depot. As there will surely be no other foreigners on board, the conductor will let you know when you reach the Buddha. In any case, start looking out the window for the statue after 1.5 hours into the journey – you should be able to see the Buddha when approaching it. The bus will drop you off at a very small town (see picture below).
The photo above is where you will be dropped off the bus. Between the shop with the red sign and the glass-windowed building is a small road which leads to the Buddha. Follow this road until you reach the following sign:
Take the left road at the sign and a couple of hundred metres up the road will be the entrance to the Spring Temple Buddha. Congratulations! You have arrived!!
Returning to Lushan
Simply return to the location your bus dropped you off. Regular bus services pass through and go back to Lushan. Just wave one down – you will probably hear it coming as bus drivers in this area make good use of the bus horn! Handy hint: there is also a public toilet on the corner here across the road from the shops.