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Wat Plai Laem

A huge Guanyin goddess and a laughing Buddha are impressive features of this extravagant temple built in the Thai-Chinese style.

Wat Plai Laem is a colorful Buddhist temple complex set on a placid lake, which is swarming with fish. The work of revered Thai artist Jarit Phumdonming, Wat Plai Laem presents a showcase of the art and religious beliefs of the Thai-Chinese in addition to traditional Buddhism themes. Admire the collection of imposing statues, intricately carved sculptures and elaborate murals.

The temple is split into three sections located on floating platforms reached via decorative causeways. To the right see a majestic 18-arm statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. At the base of the statue are a dragon and a smaller image of Guanyin. On either side are Chinese-style pagodas.

To the far left of the complex is a 100-foot-tall (30-meter) laughing Buddha painted in white, red and gold. This representation of the fat Buddha symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture. Reach the statue by crossing a causeway beautified by a patterned floor and gold pillars crowned by mythological creatures.

On the central platform is an ubosot, which is a ceremonial hall and prayer room. Note the intricate detail of the façade and the two imperious yak warrior statues that guard the entrance. Step inside to see a seated Buddha and an exhibition of colorful murals, each portraying different events from the life of Lord Buddha. To the rear of the ubosot you can enjoy views of the lake and the jungle-covered hills of Koh Samui.

The temple stands in the Big Buddha Beach district of northeastern Koh Samui. It’s a 10-minute drive from Samui Airport and a 45-minute drive from Nathon Pier, the island’s main ferry port. Free parking is available outside the temple and on the surrounding streets. Combine your time here with a visit to the nearby Big Buddha Temple at Big Buddha Beach Pier.

Wat Plai Laem is open daily and admission is free, although donations are welcome. Purchase a bag of fish food and have some fun feeding the lake’s catfish and turtles. This is an active temple so dress appropriately and act respectfully toward the devotees.


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