The Big Buddha is the most famous landmark in Koh-Samui, mostly because of the size of the statue which can be seen from many miles away and especially from the air when planes land and take off.
The big Buddha is twelve metres high and its bright, shiny gold glints in the sun above shops and restaurants that lie at its base. The Buddha is sitting at the top of a row of wide steps that are decorated with dragons. Constructed in 1972, the Buddha resides in the PhraYai Temple on the island’s northern shore and is popular with visitors and locals alike. When the sun goes down the Buddha is bathed in floodlights and appears to be the island’s great guardian.
Thai citizens always visit the Big Buddha first, when visiting the island, and to ensure that their prayers are answered will offer gifts of food or burn sticks of incense.There is a centre for meditation near the Buddha’s base and a market within the temple grounds where Buddhist and Brahmin souvenirs can be bought together with many other items including hats and T-shirts. In the air, is the sweet aroma of cooking from the Thai restaurants that cater for all tastes.
Big Buddha beach lies beyond the temple area and although not its official name it is what everyone calls it. Not far away is Chaweng beach which is where people go to dance the night away but for a little rest, revellers often return to the peace of Big Buddha beach and snooze until sunrise. Sunday is the day that Big Buddha beach is at its busiest and is when bands play and crowds of visitors arrive to share both a spiritual and musical experience.
Apart from on Sunday, the beach is usually serene and peaceful. The water is shallow and is ideal for families with young childrenwho like to keep away from the busier, more fashionable areas on the island. Catering near the beach is a bit limited but it is improving and the big golden Buddha provides a superb point of rendezvous for people who get separated.