The large gold Seated Buddha, known affectionately as Big Buddha sits on the island of Koh Faan in the Bophut area of Koh Samui, Thailand.
The Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai) is a well known attraction on the island of Koh Samui, so much so that the local beach (Bangrak) is also known affectionately as Big Buddha beach. Ferry and tour companies have also named a wooden jetty, ‘The Big Buddha Pier’. Located in the centre of the Bangrak area, this pier transports passengers between Koh Samui and Koh Phangan and is especially popular during the Full Moon Parties held monthly in Haad Rin, Koh Phangan.
Building began on the Big Buddha in 1972 and took over 2 years to complete. The causeway linking Koh Faan to the mainland was built later, in the early 1980s. Before this a small sand spit linked the two at low tide, with locals using boats to access the wat at other times.
At the base of the temple a courtyard contains stalls and small shops selling religious items, souvenirs and clothes. Food stalls are available for snacks or a meal, with a new addition of a swanky Movenpick ice cream shop on the road into Koh Faan.
Sat in the ‘Buddha defying Mara’ posture, The Big Buddha is positioned with left hand in lap, with the palm up and the right hand facing down, resting on his right knee. It signifies a time on Buddha’s journey to enlightenment, when he successfully resisted the temptations and dangers thrust at him by the devil-figure Mara.
During festivals like Songkran or Loy Kratong, the temple is very crowded with locals enjoying the food, entertainment and markets set up for such celebrations – a must if you are in Koh Samui during these festivals.
An early morning visit is advised, when you can observe the monks at prayer and chanting, along with locals bringing offerings of food and drink. By visiting in the morning, you can also avoid the midday sun and the hoards of tourists on day excursions.
Remember to be respectful when visiting temples: dress appropriately (ladies, it is advised to keep your shoulders covered) and remove your shoes before ascending the stairs to The Big Buddha. When sitting or kneeling do not to point your feet at Buddha or worshippers.
Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai),