Wat Plai Laem is a Buddhist temple compound on Samui's northeast coast, which features a striking white, 18-armed image of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Close to the Big Buddha temple, Wat Plai Laem offers visitors a view into Chinese-Thai beliefs as well as some elaborate Buddhist art and architecture.

Wat Plai Laem is a living and active temple. It's where devotees come daily to pay homage to Guanyin and the Buddha, who is also depicted in a number of statues and murals around the temple. The art techniques used in its creation are centuries old and based on ancient beliefs. Adding to its feel of tranquillity, 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.

Wat Plai Laem in Koh Samui - one of the highlights of 10 Things to Do in Koh Samui on a Small Budget and 18 Must-See Temples in Koh Samui (Read all about Koh Samui here)

What are the highlights and features of Wat Plai Laem?

The giant Guanyin statue is a towering white structure in the centre of the temple grounds. It forms an imposing and serene presence and a showcase of Koh Samui's strong Chinese heritage. The temple's intricate designs were created by one of Thailand's foremost artists, Jarit Phumdonming. The Goddess is flanked by 2 long halls that feature colourful murals and frescoes depicting Buddhist myths and stories.

Guanyin is believed to be a source of unconditional love and a protector of all beings. Her multitude of arms is seen as an illustration of her ability to reach out and provide help across the world. She is also seen as a fertility goddess and many who come here pray for her help in bearing healthy children. As well, Guanyin is believed by some to help protect sailors at sea.

Other standout features at Wat Plai Laem include a large, white laughing Buddha statue, beautifully carved teak entry doors, and an elaborate ubosot (ceremonial hall) set on an island in the lake.

Good to know about Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem is open to visitors all day during daylight hours and is particularly lively during Chinese festivals such as the Lunar New Year.

Since this is a sacred place, polite dress and conduct is a must. Be sure to wear shirts or scarves that cover the shoulders, trousers or long shorts, and avoid wearing beachwear. Worshippers often don white clothing when visiting the temple. Entry is free, but donations are welcome.

To get to Wat Plai Laem, take the main route 4169 up to the northeast region of Samui, then turn off on route 4171. It is very close to the Big Buddha temple, about 3 km directly north of Samui International Airport, 3 km east of Bophut Beach and 7.5 km away from Chaweng Beach.

Wat Plai Laem in Koh Samui

Location: Road 4171, Bophut, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand

Open: Daily from 6 am to 6 pm