You’ll be on intimate terms with Big Buddha before you’ve even met. Very likely, if arriving on Koh Samui by plane, you’ll fly straight over top of him moments before landing. Be sure at some point 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?
CRUCIAL! 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:
- Big Buddha dress code: What to wear on your arms, legs and feet
- Rude feet? What not to do with your feet in Thailand
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.
Despite an enormous sign about Big Buddha’s dress code, many tourists still – literally – miss the memo. Find out what to wear at Big Buddha (and any Thai temple) – it’s easy!
Big Buddha, Koh Samui: Top 5 FAQS
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 of 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.
TIP! Sight-seeing Koh Samui? Whether you want your next stop to be a massage, a mojito or a mummified monk – The Koh Samui Guide makes sure you see the island’s best: safely and happily. Get our best tips, maps and 13 years of island experience, to explore Big Buddha’s many nearby hidden treasures and beyond.
[The Koh Samui Guide: PDF travel guide, instant download, 174 pages, US$12]
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.
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 with a causeway, which has recently been paved. You can easily walk there (or park in a small parking area in the temple grounds).
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.
He’s 12 metres (almost 40 feet) tall.
Visiting 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).
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.
Big Buddha: Beautiful at sunset, but the stairs get really hot in noon sun!
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.
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.
TIP! 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).
Gift shops and market stalls at Big Buddha’s surrounding village
Discover so many ways to enjoy yourself on Samui, that you’ll need to come back. From temples to treasure hunts to Thai wine, The Koh Samui Guide has activities and day-trips for all interests, plus hundreds of ways to ruin your bikini body – everything you need to eat and drink on the island – views included. Enjoy!
Photo credit to Sherwin Sibala, Tim Parkinson jetalone and jetalone via Flickr Creative Commons