Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha Temple)

Wat Phra Yai, or Big Buddha Temple, is located on the small island of Koh Fan in the North East corner of the Koh Samui, not far from Koh Samui Airport. Koh Fan is now joined to Koh Samui by man made causeway with a road running across it. Wat Phra Yai is the most famous landmark on Koh Samui and clearly visible to people arriving on the island by plane. Its free to visit and there are great views from the top of the temple.

About Wat Phra Yai

The main attraction at Wat Phra Yai is the 12 metre tall Buddha statue, which is covered in gold. To reach the Buddha statue you need to climb stairs with a mythical Naga on the balustrades to each side of the staircase. There are a few small temple buildings at the base of the staircase and some other smaller Buddha statues dotted around the temple grounds.

Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui
Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui

The statue at Wat Phra Yai was completed in 1972, although the wheel behind the main statue was installed in 2012. The Buddha statue pose has a particular significance to Thai Buddhists. One of the statue’s hands is in its lap facing upwards and the other resting other his knee. The pose signifies calmness and purity and relates to the Buddha overcoming a challenge from the malevolent deity Mara, the Lord of Illusion.

Facilities at Wat Phra Yai

There are a range of souvenir shops and restaurants near to the entrance of the temple, and stall selling amulets and other religious items within the temple grounds itself. Wat Phra Yai itself has a public toilet but no other real facilities.

Shops near Wat Phra Yai
Shops near Wat Phra Yai

There are drinks and snacks to buy near the temple including ice-creams and fruit shakes. You can also eat here with a variety type of foods at different price ranges in a range of small and medium sized restaurants. Like all tourist attractions, the area around Wat Phra Yai is not the cheapest place to eat out, but its not that expensive either.

Dress Code at Wat Phra Yai

As you enter the temple there are signs stating things that are prohibited within the temple grounds, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. There is also a dress code which you should be aware of as the monks take this very seriously and will deny access to people dressed inappropriately.

Wat Phra Yai is a temple and visitors need to respect the rules
Wat Phra Yai is a temple and visitors need to respect the rules

Shoulders should be covered and trousers or skirts reaching below the knee line should be worn. Vest tops and shorts with a helm line higher than the knee are deemed disrespectful. The monks will supply (free of charge) shirts and trousers if you want to visit the temple but forgot to come appropriately dressed.

Travel to Wat Phra Yai

Wat Phra Yai is easy to get to. The temple is near to the songthaew taxi route which runs from Chaweng to Bangrak Seatran Pier. A songthaew is a converted pick up truck with two long seats installed in the back and a metal cover. Songthaew run fixed routes and charge low prices. To get a ride flag a songthaew down and explain where you want to go. Agree a price before you enter the vehicle to avoid arguments later on. You can also find yellow taxis on most roads in Koh Samui although these tend to be relatively expensive. Taxis in Koh Samui refuse to use their meters so a price needs to be negotiated in advance.

Seatran Ferry to Bangrak Pier near Wat Phra Yai
Seatran Ferry to Bangrak Pier near Wat Phra Yai

If you are travelling from either Koh Phangan to Koh Samui, or Koh Tao to Koh Samui, then the easiest option is to travel on the Seatran Discovery Ferry as it arrives in Koh Samui at Bangrak Pier, which is 850 metres walking distance from Wat Phra Yai.

Location of Wat Phra Yai

  • Wat Phra Yai is in Bo Put, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani.

Google Map of Wat Phra Yai

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