10 Nov The Big Buddha Temple in Koh Samui
When spending time on Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and best known for palm fringed beaches, mountainous rainforest and luxury resorts, you’re certain to be directed towards the 12 meter high Big Buddha landmark statue.
The Wat Phra Yai, as the Big Buddha Temple is known in Thai, was constructed in 1972 with subsequent additions. On arrival at the grounds you’ll see the large naga or dragon lined staircase to the expansive landing that holds Big Buddha, and note the intricate detail and elements of animism often found in Buddhist architecture.
Once at the top and looking up, you’ll find the large golden Buddha sitting in a state of calm and purity. Having overcome temptation and fear sent to him by Mara, the Lord of Illusion, he has his legs crossed and rests his left hand palm open in his lap, and facing up to the sky. The right hand faces down over the right knee. Behind his head the Buddhist wheel of life and a decorated dragon add to the beauty.
Many travellers visit the Big Buddha as a part of a tour and are often invited to in lighting incense and to pray in front of the sitting Buddha. At sunset the Buddha lights up and gives the appearance of a protecting guardian. There is a second, smaller Buddha statue and a collection of bells behind the temple that you won’t want to miss.
At the base of the Big Buddha you’ll find a meditation centre and a shop that sells amulets and other Buddhist items. Further towards the road are stalls trading in religious souvenirs, clothing, hats and sarongs and there are numerous traditional Thai eateries where you can linger for a meal and something to drink, before heading on to the next attraction, or for some time on the beautiful Big Buddha Beach.
This beach is somewhat quieter than the famous Chaweng beach, although when you’re done with your time here you can easily make your way to Chaweng by scooter, taxi or long tail boat, whichever your preference.
Some Useful Info for Visitors to the Big Buddha
– Like with all temples in Thailand, as much as this is a tourist attractions, it is also a place of worship and you will be asked to respect that by dressing modestly when you visit. As a guideline you’ll need to cover your shoulders and knees, which you can easily do with a scarf or two, something that’s always worth carrying in your day. Look out for the signs that indicate where you should take your shoes off.
– The best time to visit is early in the morning or at sunset, which always promises to be beautiful. Be aware that it can get really hot on the island and the many stairs up to the top may burn your bare feet if you’re visiting around noon.
– We recommend that you get a blessing from the monk on the way out, where you can also buy prayer beads or souvenirs in the gift shop located on the grounds.
– The busiest day of the week is Sundays when many locals and tourists visit to pay respect to Buddha and make offerings while asking for good health, happiness and wealth.
– Nearby there is the newer very impressive Wat Plai Laem that features among much else, an enormous a striking white 18-arm statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. You may consider combining the visits.
– The Big Buddha is located just north of the airport; so do remember to look out for it while arriving or departing Koh Samui.
Where you’ll find the Big Buddha
Big Buddha is found in the north of the island near a small beach town called Bank Rak, which is also home to a lovely beach now mostly known as Big Buddha Beach. In distance it’s about 7,5km northwest of Chaweng and 3 km east of Bophut and found on a small rocky island land known as Koh Fan, which is connected to the main island by causeway. If you’d like to take a Tuk-Tuk to the top of the road, it’s an easy walk down. No visit to Koh Samui would be complete without a visit to his landmark attraction.