One of Samui's fastest developing areas, Big Buddha Beach (Bangrak Beach) benefits from its proximity to the airport and Chaweng Beach. It's also the best place in the north of the island to catch a ferry or speedboat over to Had Rin on the island of Koh Pha Ngan - home of the Full Moon Party.
Big Buddha's long sweeping beach is lined with cheap to mid-price bungalow operations, many of which have excellent restaurants attached. One of the island's more opulent independent spas. Ban Sabai can also be found here.
The main road has improved a lot in recent months and now has several dive shops, numerous supermarkets and many nightlife options. There are also now British pubs, such as the Elephant & Castle and Brahms & Liszt; a sailors' hangout, The BBC; tapas bar Saboey and a myriad of cheap and cheerful beer bars, all doing their bit to attract visitors to the area and serve its large expat population.
Although backpackers still make up the majority of the clientele, Big Buddha is also now attracting its fair share of small tour groups and families, who appreciate being within a short distance of the bars and clubs of Chaweng and the trendy restaurants and shops of Fisherman's Village, but would rather stay on a quiet beach, which apart from the occasional kiteboarder, tends to remain pretty peaceful throughout the day.
Out on a causeway at the northern end of the beach, Wat Phra Yai houses the statue that gives the beach its name and is the island's most popular tourist attraction. Twelve metres tall and located at at the top of a wide staircase decorated with dragons, it dominates the landscape and attracts visitors from all over the world. The view from the top of the staircase is brilliant.
A cluster of arty shops, including Farn Shop, which specialises in hand wrought silver jewellery, surround the temple.