Situated on the small island of Ko Phan, 3km north of the Samui International Airport, is the Big Buddha Temple (or the Wat Phra Yai as the locals call it). Connected to the mainland by a short causeway, the Big Buddha Temple has long been one of the most popular cultural attractions and major landmarks since being built in 1972. Often considered the heart of Buddhist prayer in the country, the temple is also site to a number of Buddhist festivals throughout the year, and extends a warm welcome to visitors who wish to submerge in its serene atmosphere. Consider staying at a Koh Samui resort such as InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort which makes an ideal base for your travels.
One of the best times to visit the temple is early morning when travellers can catch the sunrise and surround themselves in the glistening glow of the golden Buddha towering 12 meters above the ground. It is also at this time that monks perform their daily prayers and chants and locals adorn the Buddha’s feet with offerings of fruit and colourful flowers. If you’re looking for some quiet meditation time, head to the island in the evening, when then crowds dissipate, and the island transforms from day to night with the golden statue surrounded by dimmed lights, creating a picturesque yet contemplative scene.
The temple itself has a lot of little nooks and corners to explore, including a smaller Buddha statue depicting the future reincarnation of Buddha (or the Maitreya of the Future), the intricate details of the nāga (or serpent deity) statues that line the staircase, and a collection of bells which can be rung for good luck by using special pieces of wood found at the top of the stairs. The temple grounds is also host to a bazaar which sells a number of tourist items, amulets and other Buddhism related trinkets. In the surrounding area known as Big Buddha Beach (or Bang Rak) there are a number of restaurants and shops as well.
Tip – At the top of the temple stairs is a great spot for getting some fab photos of the island and the surrounding sea. Just be sure to dress politely as this is a religious site – clothing should ideally cover the shoulders and long pants are preferable.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.