The 12m tall Big Buddha statue that sits on a small island at the north-eastern tip of Koh Samui is usually the first thing you see as you are about to land at the tropical islands tiny but beautiful airport.I lived on the island for nearly a year & it was always a comforting sight to see, as it meant that I was home!.
Koh Samui island is famous for its pristine beaches & crystal clear seas but of equal fame is the islands huge golden statue of the Lord Buddha. Just ask any local directions around the island & its guaranteed the Big Buddha statue will feature in the instructions somewhere!.
Built in 1972 the enormous sitting statue of Lord Buddha is housed at the Phra Yai Temple situated on Koh Fan a small island joined by a bridge to Koh Samui.
At the base of the golden statue are numerous stalls that sell the usual T-shirts, crafts and other Big Buddha amulets and souvenir items for the unsuspecting visitors.
At night-time, the buge statue is lit up and a golden glow embraces both the Big Buddha & its surrounding areas. Most of the Thai locals are Theravada Buddhists who visit the temple regularly so there is never a time when incense sticks are not burning inside the main temple.
The pungent and overpowering smell of incense will greet you as you enter the temple shrine & is highly evocative that you are in a holy place.
You, as a tourist visiting Koh Samui for the first time will be encouraged to visit the temple to “pray” to the Lord Buddha and offer fruits and flowers while you light five incense sticks and ask Big Buddha to favor you to make your stay at the island go well.
You might seriously baulk at asking one massive golden statue for favors but in the spirit of the moment, it would only be right to join in lighting of theincense sticks otherwise don’t ask for favors anymore.
If you have visited Chiang Mai orBangkok before, the poor architectural detail and craftsmanship of the Koh Samui Big Buddha will disappoint you. Its main saving grace is its benign and friendly smile and its overall girth and height.
Large clawed serpents(nagas) decorate the stairway. Aside from Big Buddha, a Buddha of the future called “Maitreya” is also at the shrine. This Buddha is rather “rotund” and jolly. It is interesting to note that the Chinese Buddha is fat to signify wealth and prosperity, the Indian and Thai Buddhas are much more athletic & trim.
One final word of warning, as with all Buddhist temples you remove your shoes before ascending the stairs, firstly if its a sunny day, the stairs get VERY hot & secondly don’t wear your best shoes to the temple, on two seperate occasions whilst visiting the Big Buddha shrine, I returned to find my shoes had gone!, it would appear this is very typical & a local secondhand shoe shop does very brisk business thankyou!.
Do you have any great memories or just interesting stories about a visit to the Big Buddha statue on Koh Samui, if you do please add them here, so that others can enjoy them as well.