Koh Samui Travel Guide -> Sightseeing -> Big Buddha & North Coast
There is one temple on Ko Samui that almost every traveller to the island pays a visit to: the Big Buddha Temple (or Wat Phra Yai, the official name; it is also known under the name of Hin Ngu Temple). The giant (12 meter tall) golden Buddha statue of this temple is a major landmark of Samui and is one of the first things that you can discern if you arrive via plane on the island. You find the Wat on the northeastern tip of Ko Samui . In order to get there from Chaweng drive north on  the airport road along the coast and drive past the airport to Choeng Mon Beach.
 
Choeng Mon Beach

Choeng Mon is a scenic beach (to be exact, it is a collection of several small bays and coves), and a lot more quiet than Maenem or Chaweng. There is no village, only a couple of hotels and resorts. Take a little walk on the beach if you like to and enjoy the undisturbed peace of the place. Some of the better hotels here are the White House  or the Tong Sai Bai (in the north of the bay).

The temple Wat Phra Yai is mainly known for the big Buddha statue that sits on the tiny island Ko Fan directly in front of the coast (the golden colour is paint). The face is not a masterpiece of sculpture, alas, but it has a very friendly and benign smile. Don`t forget to climb the stairs up to the viewing platform - it offers superb vistas of the northern coast of Ko Samui, and of Ko Phangan. Large Nagas (serpents from Buddhist mythology) with elaborate and really terrifying claws flank the staircase. Besides the big statue, the temple offers a shrine with a Buddha Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future), very fat and happy-looking. A decorated Viharn is currently under construction, but not yet finished. If you are coming from Chiang Mai or Bangkok and expect to see breathtaking masterpieces of temple architecture in Ko Samui, you are going to be disappointed, but the island`s modest monasteries definitely have a special charm of their own.
 

The Buddha Statue at Wat Phra Yai

A lot of tourists come to these temple - and the monks soon realized that these foreign visitors might be a good source of donations. Their current project is a new shrine hall, and for the future they plan to renew the gold paint of the Buddha statue (there is already a big billboard that states how many cans of paint will be needed - and how much money that will cost!). There is an astonishing array of donations boxes and "donation machines" that are sometimes funny or touching to see: machines where you insert a coin the machine gives you a horoscope (the more you donate, the better your prospects!).

If you still have some money left after trying out all the donation machines, there is also a shopping arcade outside the temple courtyard. The stalls carry snacks and souvenirs, but as in most tourist places, the items (although some are nice) are overpriced. Alternatively, you could take a walk along the Big Buddha Beach to the right of the temple. The beach is very peaceful and the waters are calm. Some inexpensive bungalow hotels and guesthouses are located here. The ferries to Ko Phangan start some kilometers west, from Bophut Beach (very similar to Big Buddha beach). There are two each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (if you want to spend only one day on this peaceful neighbour island of Ko Samui, take the morning ferry.) The ferry ride takes about 40 minutes.

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Last Updated 10.02.2007