Your total guide to Koh Samui's Big Buddha
In terms of sight-seeing, Big Buddha is Koh Samui's star attraction. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit.
How to Visit Koh Samui's Big Buddha
You’ll be on intimate terms with Big Buddha before you’ve ever met. If arriving on Koh Samui by plane, you’ll likely fly straight over the top of him just before landing. Be sure to make a return visit on foot – when the tables turn and he looms above you. Here's what to know before you visit:
Dress code for visiting Big Buddha?
Tourists are definitely encouraged to visit Big Buddha but do remember that this is first and foremost a religious site. All temples in Thailand, including Big Buddha, have a basic dress code. Before you go, find out:
Despite an enormous sign about Big Buddha's dress code, many tourists still – literally – miss the memo. Monks at Big Buddha routinely turn away tourists who are dressed improperly. Please take the time to bring the right clothing – a little respect goes a long way. Signs tell you where to take your shoes off, so you can't get it wrong.
Why visit Koh Samui's Big Buddha?
In terms of sight-seeing, Big Buddha is Koh Samui's star attraction. Sometimes things need to be big and shiny – especially when born in the seventies. Besides photo opportunities, there’s great detail up close and plenty to get your attention. While it's possible to get a little “templed-out” in Southeast Asia, for many, Big Buddha is a novel spot.
Where is Big Buddha?
You’ll find Big Buddha to the north-east of Koh Samui (between Bophut/Bang Rak, and Choeng Mon), though it’s technically on its own island: Koh Fan (‘koh’ means island). In the nineties, the island was attached to Koh Samui by a causeway, which has recently been paved. You can easily walk there (or park in a small parking area in the temple grounds).
Big Buddha is 12 metres (almost 40 feet) tall.
What’s a wat?
Big Buddha sits within Wat Phra Yai (‘wat’ means temple), which comprises larger grounds with outbuildings, quiet areas for contemplation and a selection of tourist shops.
How old is Big Buddha?
Built in 1972, Big Buddha acquired a large wheel a few years ago – the Buddhist wheel of life – and dragon decoration behind his head.
How to visit Big Buddha on Koh Samui
How long is a visit to Big Buddha?
We’ve been asked if it’s a full day’s outing. Not at all! Visit Big Buddha and the surrounding temple without expectations and browse until satiated – whether that's for half an hour, or much longer. (You’ll enjoy a slower-paced visit if you’re introspective, like to window-show or enjoy photography).
Big Buddha is beautiful at sunset, but the stairs get hot in noon sun!
When’s the best time to visit Big Buddha?
It’s especially beautiful at sunset. Otherwise, go early! It gets very hot – an uncomfortable state that detracts from anything cultural. If you're visiting in the middle of a sunny day, bring a pair of ankle socks (ideally barre socks that have a grippy surface underneath) to protect your feet from very hot, slippery tiled stairs.
Is there a bad time to visit?
Noon – the stairs get very hot. We'd advise against going on a rainy day as we imagine those tiled stairs would be mighty slippery. Out of respect, maybe avoid visiting on a Thai religious holiday.
Visiting Big Buddha with small children?
With younger children this visit might be a stretch – there’s a steep flight of stairs and, as a religious site, you’ll need to convince them not to race up and down. However, a short visit could suit everyone and there's ice cream right at the temple gates.“It was so calm and Thai and happy”
With older children?
A recent visit with a teenager was a total surprise – it was THE highlight of her trip. In her words: “It was so calm and Thai and happy”. We expected to stay just a few minutes and instead stayed nearly an hour.
Construction is ongoing at the surrounding temple (recap: Wat Phra Yai) and, if you’d like, you can donate a brick inscribed with your name for a token cost. It makes a great 'gift in lieu' token for friends (or find a huge variety of gift shops outside the temple grounds – it's great browsing).
Discover so many ways to enjoy yourself on Samui, that you'll need to come back. The Koh Samui Guide has activities and day-trips for all interests. Get our best tips, helpful maps and fifteen years of island experience, to explore Big Buddha's many nearby hidden treasures and beyond. Enjoy!