One of Koh Samui’s most impressive landmarks and one that is difficult to miss is the Big Buddha.
Approaching Koh Samui by plane from the North you will see the massive golden colored Buddha image overlooking the sea. If you are coming from neighboring Koh Pha Ngan by boat arriving at Bo Phut pier or Big Buddha pier, you will see the enormous image on top of a rock slowly coming into sight.
12 Meter tall golden Buddha image
The 12 meters tall image that was built in 1972 is located inside the temple grounds of the Wat Phra Yai, meaning Big Buddha temple.
The temple complex is built on a small island named Koh Farn, connected to mainland Koh Samui with a causeway.
A stairway flanked by the mythological serpent called Naga leads up to the viewing platform, where you can see the huge image from up close. From the platform you will also have great views of the surrounding beaches and the island of Koh Pha Ngan to the North.
On either side of the stairs there is a pavilion, housing smaller Buddha images. Only a few years ago a Dhamma wheel that represents the Buddha’s teachings of the path leading to Enlightenment, was added to the image.
Subduing Mara posture
The Buddha is in the subduing Mara posture, which symbolizes the Buddha not giving in to temptations presented by the Mara, a demon trying to tempt the Buddha with beautiful women. At night the Buddha is lit up by spotlights, giving its silhouette a mystical appearance against the sky.
The Wat Phra Yai temple grounds
At the grounds in front of the stairs are a number of souvenir stands, selling items like clothing, silverware, all kinds of souvenirs and Buddhist amulets as well as shops selling drinks, snacks and food.
There is also a meditation centre on the temple grounds. For a small donation you can gong a number of large gongs with a wooden stick.
If you like to have your fortune predicted and you know what day of the week you were born, go to the fortune telling area and learn about your future.
Buddhist people come to the temple to pay respect to the Buddha and wish for things as good health, happiness and wealth, by making offerings of fruit, flowers and food or burning incense sticks.
A few hundred meters away from Big Buddha temple lies another magnificent temple, the Wat Plai Laem.
How to get to the Big Buddha temple
The Wat Phra Yai with the Big Buddha is located on Big Buddha beach, which used to be called Bang Rak beach before on the North Eastern tip of Koh Samui island.
It is not far from busy Chaweng beach and very close to the airport on road 4171. From Chaweng or Lamai beach you can get there by songthaew, a converted pick up truck serving as a bus, often in red color.
Admission & opening hours
The Wat Phra Yai is open daily, including evenings. The temple complex can get busy, especially on Sundays. If you want some peace and quiet, go there early morning or in the evening. The Wat Phra Yai can get very busy during festivals as Loy Krathong, Songkran and New Year.
Admission is free, donations for upkeep and renovations of the temple will be greatly appreciated.
As in any Thai temple, please dress appropriately.