One of Koh Samui’s most attractive temples is the Wat Plai Laem. This extremely colorful, fairly new temple was completed in 2004.
Although some of the buildings like the ubosot are in traditional Thai architecture, most of the complex is build in Thai-Chinese style. The Wat Plai Laem temple houses two giant, colorful statues that will immediately catch the eye.
Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy
The first is the huge image of Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy and Compassion who has 18 arms. Guanyin is revered in much of East Asia, in Thailand she is also known as Phra Mae Kuan Im.
Guanyin is very highly revered by Chinese people and is known as the protector of women and children, the sick and the poor. She is said to have so many arms, so she can help many people at one time. In one Buddhist legend, she even has a thousand arms.
On either side of this impressive statue you will find a long shaped building with beautiful mural paintings telling stories from Buddhist mythology.
Statue of fat Chinese Buddha
Another very eye catching statue is that of the fat, laughing Chinese Buddha. In Chinese culture, a fat Buddha represents wealth and prosperity. This very impressive statue is 30 meters high and painted in expressive colors like red, white and gold.
The ubosot building is set in the center of a man made lake. The ubosot is the main prayer room and is also the place where ordinations take place.
In the ubosot you will find a seated Buddha image and beautiful mural paintings telling scenes from the life on the Buddha.
There are several more abundantly decorated buildings in the temple complex, as well as several Buddha statues and images.
Lake with fish waiting to be fed
The two giant statues as well as the ubosot are surrounded by the waters of a large lake full of big fish. The fish are very anxious to be fed, for 10 Baht you can buy some food and feed them, a fun activity for children.
Thai people also release fish or turtles into the water that they bought in the market, which is considered an act of merit.
Active Buddhist temple
The Wat Plai Laem is an active temple, people come here to make merit and prey. This temple is a good place to gain some insight in customs and beliefs of Chinese Buddhism. It is very close to the Big Buddha of Wat Phra Yai. They can easily be visited in one day.
How to get to Wat Plai Laem
The easiest way to get there from Chaweng, Lamai, Bo Phuket or Big Buddha beach is by songthaew, a converted pick up truck with seats in the back that is used as a bus. You can flag one down at any point.
Admission & opening hours
The Wat Plai Laem is open daily during sunlight hours.
Admission to the temple grounds is free, donations are appreciated for maintenance of the complex.
Since this is a Chinese-Thai temple, it gets busy during Chinese festivals and holidays. Please dress appropriately, meaning no short sleeved shirts, no bare shoulders, short pants or beach wear.