Buddhism may embrace simplicity and reject worldly goods in
principle, but that doesn't stop its adherents from constructing
lavish symbols of their faith. The three tallest statues in the world
are actually all depictions of Buddha, and many of the world's other
tallest statues are also representations of Buddhism.
Spring Temple Buddha
The three tallest Buddha statues don't technically depict the same person, since in the Buddhist tradition a person can reach buddhahood by attaining enlightenment, but they all symbolize similar religious ideals. The tallest statue in the world is the Spring Temple Buddha, which sits in the Fodushan Scenic Area in Henan, China. A nearby hot spring believed to have restorative properties gave the statue its name, according to Smarter Travel. The Spring Temple Buddha, which depicts Vairocana Buddha, who represents the concept of Emptiness, measures a massive 128 meters tall, including a 20-meter-high pedestal shaped like a lotus flower. If you also include the hill on which the statue stands, which is being reshaped to look like a lotus, the entire monument reaches a staggering 208 meters.
At 116 meters tall, plus a 13.5-meter base, the Laykyun Setkyar is the world's second-tallest statue, depicting Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist faith. The giant statue took 11 years to build. Located in Khatakan Taung, Myanmar, the Laykyun Setkyar stands behind another, known as the Reclining Buddha, which depicts the religious figure lying down. According to Silicon India, visitors can ascend the inside of the statue via a staircase. The statue's base also contains more than 7,000 holy relics.
Measuring 110 meters tall and standing on a 10-meter pedestal, the Ushiku Daibatsu depicts Amida Nyorai, known as the Buddha of Infinite Light, the founder of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism. The statue is located in Ushiku, Japan, and its name translates to Buddha of Ushiku. This statue was actually the tallest in the world when it was completed in 1995, but the Spring Temple Buddha claimed the title in 2002, according to Atlas Obscura. Since then, the Laykyun Setkyar knocked the Ushiku Daibatsu down to third place. Like the Laykyun Setkyar, the Ushiku Daibatsu contains an observation room, but this one is reachable by an elevator.
Buddhas across Asia
While a continent-spanning Asia travel tour to see the three tallest statues in the world may be enough for some people, there are even more giant Buddha statues in Asia. They're located all over the continent, so a vacation to many countries throughout Asia could potentially include a trip to see one of these gigantic depictions of Buddhist religious figures.
The Tian Tan Buddha, in Hong Kong, and the Guanyin of the South Sea of Sanya, in Hainan, China, were built by the same company, CNN reported, which announced plans to build 10 more giant Buddha statues in China alone in 2014. Even at 34 meters tall, the Tian Tan Buddha is dwarfed by the 108-meter Guanyin.
Bhutan and Bangkok are also home to gigantic Buddha statues, according to CNN. Located in the Wat Pho temple complex, the reclining Buddha statue in Bangkok, like the one in Myanmar, is actually on its side. Still, it measures 15 meters high and 43 meters long. This statue is lined with 108 bronze bowls, into which visitors are invited to place a coin as they make a wish for each one. The money collected helps to maintain the Wat Pho temple.
The Aerosun Corporation of China is paying for construction of the Buddha Dordenma statue in Bhutan. This hollow, 51-meter-tall statue will contain 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha and a meditation chamber when it's completed. The statue was originally slated to be finished in 2010, and is now expected to be done in 2015.