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Wat Plai Laem Temple, big fat smiling Buddha on Koh Samui in Thailand
Wat Plai Laem Temple, big fat smiling Buddha on Koh Samui in Thailand


Wat Plai Laem is an impressive colourful temple complex. You can see the smiling Buddha and the 18-armed Buddha from afar. Between the two statues there is also a large temple. The temple and the Buddhas stand in the middle of a landscaped pond which makes it extra special. To be able to see the temple and statues up close, you first have to cross colourful bridges.

colorful 16 handy Buddha of the Wat Plai Leam Temple on Koh Samui in Thailand

Chinese massage someone?

Even before you enter the Wat Plai Laem temple complex you will see all the shops selling food, souvenirs and clothes along the road, a sign that you are on the right track! On the temple complex itself there is a small tent selling good coffee and delicious smoothies (Coffee Mujalin). Next to that there are a few shops selling amulets and Chinese herbs etc. and you can also have a Chinese massage, that’s something else than a Thai massage!

Entrance with stairs and dragons along the railings of part of the Wat Plai Laem temple complex on Koh Samui.

Serene atmosphere

Yet Wat Plai Laem doesn’t feel very touristy, among the greenery there are many benches in the shade and despite the tourists there is a serene atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the temple complex is spacious and the statues are so big that they immediately command respect? On the temple complex you get a bag of fish food when you make a donation. You can also buy fish food for 10 baht from a vending machine. The pond around Wat Plai Laem is full of large fish and turtles that cannot wait to be fed. Not only a fun activity for children!

The pond and the laughing Buddha on the temple complex of the Wat Plai Laem on Koh Samui
Wat Plai Laem Temple on floating lotus flower in the water

Meaning of the Wat Plai Laem Buddha statues 

The 18-armed statue is the goddess Guanyin, she gives healthy children and protects sailors from danger. The smiling Buddha also known as Budai Buddha gives prosperity and joy. The large temple between the two statues stands on a huge lotus flower. This temple is guarded by two dangerous looking guards and snakes over the banister. But you don’t have to be afraid because Buddha gestures that you are welcome and don’t have to be afraid of anything! In the temple itself you can see paintings of the life lessons of Buddhism.

Statue of the 18-armed Goddess Guanyin at the Wat Plai Laem temple complex on Koh Samui
Golden Buddha inside the Wat plai Laem Temple with pictures on the wall of Buddha's life lessons

Koh Samui has another famous Buddha statue, called the Big Buddha, which is only 1.2 kilometers away from the Wat Plai Laem Temple. That is why many people combine these 2 popular temples.

Spending the night on Bophut Beach?

The Wat Plai Leam Temple is close to the beach and village of Bophut Beach. But to visit this temple you don’t necessarily have to sleep nearby. Wherever on the island you can book trips at one of the many travel agencies, often in combination with the Big Buddha Temple. Bophut is mainly known for the cozy village and the big Friday Night market and this is often the reason that people visit this beach. Along the coast and in the village you have a wide choice of accommodations in different price ranges. A few kilometers further you will find the beautiful quiet Maenam Beach, a must if you are looking for a nice beach without too much crowd.

Information What Plai Laem

Alternative name: Wat Laem Suwannaram
Open: 6 AM – 6 PM
Admission: Free, small donation appreciated
Address: Wat Plai Laem, 4171 Road, Koh Samui
Parking: Yes, for cars and scooters
Clothing regulations: Yes, knees and shoulders covered


More fabulous destinations

Below you will find more beautiful destinations that we recommend you to visit when you travel to or through Thailand.

Click here if you want to see all our articles about Koh Phi Phi in Thailand
Klik hier voor alle informatie over het natuurpark Khao Sok National Park in Thailand
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