Striking gold Buddha statues, life-like carvings, beautifully drawn frescoes, traditional architectural features. a mummified monk – you’ll find all of these, and more at these must-see temples in Samui:
- Wat Phra Yai, Big Buddha Beach
Also known as Big Buddha Temple, Wat Phra Yai is just as its name suggests – the temple houses a towering gold Buddha statue standing at a height of twelve metres. The striking statue, which is visible several kilometres away, is a popular attraction that draws a sizable crowd of visitors. Take an exploratory stroll in the compounds of the temple, and you will set sight on a second Buddha statue, Brahmist and Budhhist architectural elements, as well as naga statues lining the stairways. You can easily grab a bite or shop for souvenirs after your visit here; the nearby Big Buddha Beach contains a plethora of restaurants and shops.
- Laem Sor Pagoda, Maret
Bedecked in a glittering shade of gold, the striking structure of Laem Sor Pagoda stands at the edge of a quiet stretch of beach. Devotees continue to visit this sacred site to make prayers; numerous monks and pilgrims arrive on the days of Buddhist festivities. Travellers with a keen appreciation for traditional Thai architecture will be pleased to set sight on the pagoda and admire its design elements, sculptures and statues. A small meditation forest sits close to the pagoda; peace-seeking travellers will enjoy taking some time to venture into this peaceful sanctuary for a short meditation session during their visit.
- Wat Sila Ngu, Maret
As one of the island’s most fascinating temples, Wat Sila Ngu is a cultural site well worth a visit. Located on the ring-road just after Rocky’s Resort, this temple is easily accessed by visitors. Featuring intricate carvings and exteriors coloured in an arresting hue of red, the temple presents a striking sight.
Just as its name suggests (sila translates to mean ‘stone’, while ngu refers to ‘snake’), you’ll find plenty of snake carvings and images as you explore the temple. Its grounds offer a rather contradictory sight; poorly kept lawns and worn buildings stand next to a newly-constructed temple. Step inside the temple building, and you’ll undoubtedly be impressed by the carvings of countless figures that appear to be emerging from the walls. A stairway close by leads down towards the sea, and monuments placed together in a minature garden indicate that the grounds serve as a place of burial.
- Wat Kiri Wongkaram, Taling Ngam
Not keen on squeezing with a crowd of visitors and devotees? You are unlikely to encounter any at Wat Kiri Wongkaram, an alluring temple set in quiet Taling Ngam. With few visitors present at the site, the grounds of the temple emits a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Soak up the zen-like vibes; you’ll find yourself drawn into a state of serenity during your visit.
Unpretentious and interesting, the temple features unique architectural elements and lovely artworks. It also houses the well-preserved body of the mummified monk, Loung Por Ruam. An English illustration detailing the life, death and Buddhist practices of the monk is available. Enjoy a leisurely stroll as you explore the temple; you may have a lucky encounter with a Buddhist monk, and receive his blessings, as well as a bracelet for good luck. Leave a small donation at the temple if this happens.
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