Big Buddha – Koh Samui’s Famous Attraction
The Big Buddha is the most famous landmark of Koh Samui. It is an intricate golden Buddha statue that stands at 12 meters in the grounds of the Wat Phra Yai temple. The Buddha statue is located on the small Koh Fan Island, right off the north east coast of Koh Samui. It can easily be seen from several kilometers away due to its large size, and can even be spotted from flights heading toward the island.
You can go to Wat Phra Yai on Koh Fan through Koh Samui by simply traveling along the road that connects Koh Samui to Koh Fan – it’s a short journey. The Big Buddha temple is home to several different shrines and houses a variety of intricate and delicate Buddhas. You will also finds bars and restaurants around the temple, as well as souvenir and gift shops to take the memories home with you.
The golden Big Buddha statue is in the Mara position; the right hand hangs over the knee with the fingers hanging loosely, barely touching the ground, while the left hand rests in the lap with palm facing upwards. This posture of purity, steadfastness, and enlightenment is a nod to a time when Buddha was tempted by Mara – the devil – during his journey, but he came out strong in the face of temptations and dangers and continued meditating calmly.
There is also a courtyard around the base of the statue; you will find vendors selling clothing, souvenirs, religious artifacts, and amulets there. You will also find two images of Buddha set deep in the pavilions. Small restaurants and food stalls are also there so you can enjoy a light snack or a full meal during your trip. The stairs leading up to the platform of the sitting Buddha statue have an intricate and stunning dragon design.
A regular sight at the temple is that of devoted Buddhists who visit the temple to make offerings of fruits and flowers and light incense sticks at the base of the tall statue; tourists and visitors, on the other hand, observe these acts and rituals with fascination and reverence. Moreover, the temple has an excellent view of the beach and the sea, and, at night, the statue is lit up with spotlights, standing tall and looking stunning, glowing golden, visible from a distance.
Wat Phra Yai is Thailand’s hub for cultural festivals, and the Big Buddha Temple of Koh Samui is no exception. People throng to the temple to enjoy and celebrate during the festivals, like the Loy Kratong or Songkran; markets are all set, and the area is ready for celebrations with food and entertainment. Such is the influence of the Big Buddha temple that the nearby beach, formerly the Bang Rak beach, is now commonly referred to as the Big Buddha beach; you’ll find hotels, restaurants, and ships along the shoreline.
To go to the Big Buddha Temple from Koh Samui, take the route 4169 up to the northeast region of the island, and then turn off on route 4171. The Big Buddha temple is situated at a distance of 3 kilometers north of the Samui International Airport, 3 kilometers east of Bophut Beach, and 7.4 kilometers away from the Chaweng Beach. Although the temple is open to visitors throughout the day, to experience its true essence, you should visit it early in the morning; that’s the time when the locals head there to make their offerings and the monks do their morning chanting.
The Big Buddha Temple is a sacred place, so the visitors are advised to dress appropriately. Make sure that you wear shirts or scarves that cover your shoulders, along with trousers or long shorts; do not wear any beachwear when visiting the temple.