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5 Must-See Temples in Samui

Most Beautiful Religious Edifices Koh Samui

The 5 must-see temples in Samui give you the opportunity to explore the island and take a break from its splendid beaches. Buddhism is the dominant religion in Thailand, followed at a lesser degree by Chinese folk religions such as Taoism, and at even lesser degree by Islam, and Hinduism. ‘Wat’ is the Thai name for Buddhist temples, and ‘San Jao’ for Chinese shrines.

The most beautiful religious edifices all belong to Buddhism or have close ties to it. From the most iconic landmark in Samui to a mystic garden in the rain forest to the somehow gruesome remains of a revered monk, a visit to these must-see temples in Samui will give you a glimpse on real Thailand.

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    Samui 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-metre 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 artefacts, 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 Samui. Read More...

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    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. Read More...

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    Secret Buddha Garden is hidden away high in the hills in Koh Samui's interior, offering majestic views and an unusual collection of statues amid lush jungle surrounds. The gardens are a creation of an old Samui fruit farmer, Nim Thongsuk, who in 1976 began erecting several Buddhism-inspired and Apsara statues around his family's verdant land. Not technically a temple, this garden however has a strong mystical atmosphere. Read More...

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    Wat Khunaram

    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 artefacts may be bought, and visitors are welcome to join or observe the daily rituals and have a look around. Read More...

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    Known in Thai as Wat Namtok Hin Lad, Hin Lad Waterfall Temple is set in evergreen tropical jungle just before the trail up to the famous Hin Lad Waterfall, a few kilometres south of Nathon Town in Samui. This forest monastery is usually busy only on the weekends when the locals come to ‘tam boon’ (make merit) and to picnic at the nearby waterfall. The temple is well shaded and calm, making it a perfect place to unwind and relax. It features a lovely garden, walking path, various Buddha images, religious sculptures and a meditation area. Read More...

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