Wat Phra Yai, the Big Buddha Temple is the one of the most impressive landmark in Koh Samui, Thailand and it is the landmark that you are hard to miss as it can be seen from far away and it is often the first landmark you see when you get to the Koh Samui by plane. When you fly to the island from the north, you will definitely see the massive golden Buddha statue through the window overlooking the sea. If you are coming from nearby Koh Phangan by boat, the 12-meter high seated Buddha image on top of a rock is coming into your sight slowly.
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12-meter high golden Buddha statue
Situated on Koh Faan, there is a causeway connecting the main island leading you to the Big Buddha temple. The 12-meter high seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and set inside the grounds of Wat Phra Yai. He sits in the Mara posture, with his left palm up putting on the lap and his right hand facing down with the fingers hanging over the knee. This posture symbolizes the steadfastness, purity and enlightenment and it describes a time during the Buddha's journey to enlightenment, where he successfully overcame the temptation and dangers imposed on him by the demonic image of Mara through meditation and remaining calm.
A stairway with a colorful, mythological serpent called Naga leads up to the viewing platform on which the Buddha sits. From the platform you will get amazing views of the surrounding beaches and Koh Phangan to the north. By night, the Buddha is lit up by spotlight which gives its profile a holy appearance against the sky.
Buddhist followers come to the temple every day to make offerings of flowers and fruit and light incense sticks at the base of the Buddha image, while curious tourists come here to admire the big Buddha and observe these graceful daily religious rituals.
As all other temples in Thailand, the Big Buddha Temple serves as a major center for cultural festivals as well. During the important festivals as Songkran or Loi Kratong, the temple becomes very lively and crowded with people praying, making merit and enjoying the entertainment, food and markets set up in celebration.
All over Thailand the wat serves as a major centre for cultural festivals and Big Buddha temple in Koh Samui is no exception. During such festivals as Loi Kratong or Songkran the temple becomes crowded with people making merit and enjoying the entertainment, food and markets set up in celebration.
There is a pavilion on the other side of the stairs with some smaller Buddha images inside. A newly Dhamma wheel was set in it a few years ago representing the Buddha's teachings leading to enlightenment.
A beach besides the temple was originally called Bang Rak, but now, everyone calls it Big Buddha Beach because the reputation of the temple. There are a number of hotels along its sandy shoreline with plenty of places to shop and eat. It is a very good choice to stay in this area.
There is a fortune telling area in the temple. If you like to have your fortune predicted, you can go there and learn about your future.
How to get to the Big Buddha Temple
The Big Buddha Temple is located on Big Buddha beach on the north east tip of Koh Samui which is not very far from Chaweng beach and close to the airport on road 4171. Visitor can take songthaew to there from Chaweng and Lamai beach.
A few hundred meters away from the temple lies another awesome temple, the Wat Plai Laem: a temple with Chinese Buddha statues.
The Wat Phra Yai is open daily, including evening.
Tips for visiting
The temple complex can get busy, especially on Sundays. For those who want some peace and quiet, or those who hope to catch a true cultural experience, it is best to go there in the early morning, when locals bring their offerings to the temple while monks are doing their morning chanting.
Since the temple is a sacred place, visitors should dress respectfully, which means no bare shoulders, no sleeved shirts, short pants, and short skirt.
Admission is free, small donations for maintenance and renovation of the temple will be highly appreciated.
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Temples in Thailand