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Constructed as recently as 1972, Koh Samui's Big Buddha has quickly become one of the island's most visited and iconic attractions. Wat Phra Yai, as it is known to locals, is the epicentre of Buddhist prayer on this Thai island yet, despite its primary function as a religious site, tourists are warmly welcomed.
One of the best times to visit the statue is in the early morning, at sunrise. This is when the locals carry colourful arrangements of flowers and fruit and place the offerings at the Buddha's feet. This is also the only time of day when the monks perform their prayers and chants. The sound of their solemn chanting mingling with the scent of incense in the early morning light is an intoxicating experience not be missed.
The miniature island on which the statue sits is connected to the mainland via a short causeway and sits 12 metres above the ground. As the day progresses, various food and souvenir stalls pop up around the Buddha's base, and the area can get particularly busy on holy days. It is also the site of many Buddhist festivals throughout the year, when people come from all over Koh Samui to celebrate their faith.
If you would rather an opportunity for some quiet contemplation, the time to visit Wat Phra Yai is in the evening. Lit from below, the golden Buddha subtly changes hue. Visiting at this more peaceful time of day can be a good way to avoid the crowds.
Located in the northern part of Koh Samui, the Big Buddha can be found just to the east of Bang Rak beach and a mere 3 kilometres north of the airport. As this is a religious site, visitors should dress appropriately – clothing should cover the shoulders and long pants should be worn to avoid offence.
Situated near the airport, this luxury villa is within a 15-minute walk of Wat Plai Laem and Big Buddha Statue. Chaweng Beach and Fisherman's Village Plaza are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Located in Koh Samui, this beachfront resort is in the city centre and within 1 mi (2 km) of Central Festival Samui, Chaweng Beach and Chaweng Lake. Chaweng Noi Beach and Bangkok Hospital Samui are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Located in Koh Samui, this beachfront hotel is connected to a shopping centre and within 1 mi (2 km) of Mini Golf International and Choeng Mon Beach. Chaweng Beach and Big Buddha Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Situated in Koh Samui, this holiday home is steps away from Wat Phra Yai and Big Buddha Statue. Bo Phut Beach and Chaweng Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Situated in Koh Samui, this beach hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Wat Phra Yai and Big Buddha Statue. Wat Plai Laem and Mini Golf International are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Situated in Koh Samui, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Wat Phra Yai and Big Buddha Statue. Bo Phut Beach and Chaweng Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).
This family-friendly Koh Samui villa is located on the waterfront, within a 10-minute walk of Wat Phra Yai and Big Buddha Statue. Bo Phut Beach and Chaweng Beach are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Located in the heart of Koh Samui, this luxury villa is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) from Big Buddha Statue and 2.9 mi (4.6 km) from Bandon International Hospital. Tesco Lotus Koh Samui is 4.7 mi (7.6 km) away.