Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)
Built in 1972, the statue is visited by both Buddhist devotees and tourists. Worshippers light incense and make offerings, as visitors observe these religious rituals. The temple, souvenir shops, and food stalls and restaurants are clustered at the base of the statue, with ceremonial stairs leading to the top for terrific island views. And Big Buddha Beach (Bang Rak) is nearby, with more places to eat and shop.
Guided sightseeing tours of Koh Samui typically stop by the Big Buddha Temple.
Things to Know Before You Go
As the Big Buddha Temple is a religious site, cover your shoulders and knees before visiting. Monks turn away tourists who aren’t dressed properly.
To greet or thank a monk, offer them a prayerlike hand gesture with a slight bow—known as a higher wai.
If you’re going in the afternoon, take socks (ones with grippy bottoms are best) to protect your feet from the hot stairs.
How to Get There
Near the airport, on Koh Samui’s northeast coast, the Big Buddha Temple sits on a hill at the end of a causeway at the eastern end of Big Buddha Beach. Guided tours normally include round-trip transportation from your hotel. Koh Samui doesn’t have a public bus system, butsongthaews (inexpensive makeshift buses) run along somewhat nebulous routes. Or, take a taxi.
When to Get There
Get there in the early morning to hear the monks chant and watch locals present their offerings—you’ll also beat the afternoon heat. If you don’t like crowds, avoid visiting during Thai festivals. Sunset is a great time to take in the golden views from the top.
The Importance of Buddha’s Mudras
Whether standing, sitting, reclining, or laughing, a Buddha statue reveals the most through its hand mudra. Koh Samui’s Big Buddha Temple depicts the earth-touching mudra (orbhumisparsha), which is a symbol of steadfastness, purity, and enlightenment. It is believed that the Buddha used this gesture after he successfully subdued the temptations presented by the demon Mara.
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