8 Temples to Visit on Koh Samui
Temples are everywhere on Koh Samui, deeply respected by locals and definitely worth any number of visits. More than the sum of their parts, they offer not just an insight into Samui’s culture but are filled with atmospheres and a sense of mystery all of their own. Here’s a brief round-up of some of the most interesting and popular Koh Samui temples. Remember that there’s a dress code, so be sure to cover bare flesh.
Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha)
Big Buddha temple sits majestically on a small rocky island named Koh Faan located just north of Bophut, off Koh Samui’s northern corner. Known locally as Wat Phra Yai, its golden, 12-meter seated Buddha statue was built in 1972 and remains one of the island’s most popular attractions. Around the base of the tall statue is a courtyard and vendor area where amulets, religious artifacts, clothing, and souvenirs are sold, and there are two more Buddha images set in pavilions. Certainly one of the most visited attractions in Samui, Wat Phra Yai is the most important temple in Koh Samui. Google Map
Wat Plai Laem
Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound on Samui’s north-east coast of Samui. It features a striking white 18-arm image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion in Chinese Buddhism. Close to the Big Buddha temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view into Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist-themed art and architecture. Adding to its feel of tranquility, the temple is surrounded by a lake, which is teeming with fish. Visitors who make a donation to the temple are given a bag of food to feed the fish. Google Map
Wat Samret (White Jade Buddha)
At Wat Samret, you can see a typical Mandalay sitting Buddha carved from solid marble – a common sight in India and northern Thailand, but not so common in the south. There is also a long reclining Buddha (representing Sakyamuni about to enter parinirvana) with a very peaceful countenance in another hall, surrounded by a galaxy of other Buddhist figures; at the rear of the temple-ground is a forest of moldering stupas. It is also home to the “Secret Hall of Buddhas”, a small “chapel” containing countless small statues. Google Map
Wat Khunaram is one of the most impressive temples in Samui, due to the fact it hosts the mummified remains of a monk, Luong Pordaeng, who died in 1973. The mummy is presented in a seated meditative position and, remarkably, even more than 40 years on the monk’s body shows little sign of decay. For some visitors, having a dead man in full view might be a shocking sight, but for Thais, it is something to reflect upon and revere. Aside from the Mummy Monk, Wat Khunaram is a fairly typical Buddhist temple, where local people come daily to make merit and pray. Amulets and other Buddhist artifacts may be bought, and visitors are welcome to join or observe the daily rituals and have a look around. Photographers will love capturing some unique photos at this traditional cultural site. Google Map
On top of the Koh Samui in the mountains above Lamai, you will find the mighty statue of Phra Buddha Teepangkorn, the highest standing in all of Koh Samui. When you are trying to find places to visit, you will not find much about this place. The temple can be reached individually by motorbike or with a guided 4-wheel-drive or quad tour. The view over Lamai is breathtaking and there is also a museum with the things and tools that locals were using for farming, ranching, hunting and etc. On the top floor, the stairs lead outside to the observation tower, from where you have the magnificent view of the Buddha looking at the sea. Google Map
Wat Rattanakosin (Khao Chedi)
Wats in Koh Samui are generally separated into two categories; the original Buddhist wats and the Chinese temples. The latter is inspired by the original Chinese-Thai culture which was initiated by Chinese immigrants when Koh Samui was settled. The wat of Khao Chedi is a pagoda that originates from Thai culture. It was built in the Srivijaya-style and sits on a hilly terrain above Laem Sor. Visitors who want to visit this wat will have to hike up a hill in order to reach the wat. Google Map
Wat Bophut Tharam
The fishing village of Bophut is known for its beautiful beach and Chinese-Thai culture. Wat Bophut Tharam is notable for the unique architecture, beautiful sculptures, as well as its serene and calming setting. Typically, many visitors miss this small wat, as it is not one of the main attractions on Koh Samui. Come here with your family and be blessed by the monks at this quaint and charming wat. Google Map
Wat Sila Ngu
Wat Sila Ngu is far from being a run-of-the-mill temple. Just translating the name from Thai adds a sense of the dramatic: ‘sila’ means stone, and ‘ngu’ means snake. Yes, that’s right – Stone Snake Temple. This long-established temple may look standard and slightly run-down at first sight, but it has recently been upgraded with the addition of a magnificent large new building realized in deep red clay. This building adds to the mysterious yet serene atmosphere of the temple as the large room it houses is pretty somber and its walls are entirely carved with the scenes of the Buddha’s life. The seaside location of this temple also permits splendid views to Koh Samui east coast. Google Map
Q: How many temples are on Koh Samui?
A: There are 28 temples on Koh Samui.