Big Buddha statues in Thailand are extremely popular with locals and visitors alike. There are dozens of huge representations of the Lord Buddha dotted around the country, with each of the popular resort towns having at least one, which, for the sake of simplicity, is often dubbed as the local “Big Buddha”. This is usually among the star attractions of the town, and it is not difficult to see why. Gleaming in the sun, generally wearing an expression of blissful peace or contemplation on a vast face, they are wonderful cultural highlights.
The following list shows the 14 biggest Big Buddhas in Thailand, in order of size. We decided to measure the statues by the size of the figure, not just the height of the statue, which means that several “reclining Buddha” statues make the list. Also, we have limited our selection to only representations of the Lord Buddha. This is why the 19m-tall Hua Hin Big Buddha and the 79m-tall statue at Wat Huay Pla Kung near Chiang Rai are not included. The former is a representation of the highly revered monk Luang Phor Thuad, while the other is of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin.
Wat MuangAng Thong Province (92m tall)
The towering Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin of Wat Muang is the ninth-tallest statue in the world and is deservedly known as the “Great Buddha of Thailand”. Located around 140 km north of Bangkok, in Ang Thong Province, the gold-painted statue took 18 years to build and was completed in 2008. Being sat in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose, its knees span a staggering 63m. The nearby “Hell Park” is also worth a visit, with its gruesome (and much smaller) statues depicting the fate of sinners.
Wat BuraphaphiramRoi Et Province (59.2m tall)
It could be argued that Buddha statues would be much taller if they were stood instead of sitting. That argument is settled by the Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol statue in Roi Et Province in Thailand’s rural northeast. Thailand’s tallest standing Buddha Statue, Phra Phuttha Rattanamongkhon Mahamuni (also known as Luangpho Yai) is built from gold-covered reinforced concrete and is in the varada mudra pose. There is a viewing platform at the back, which gives you a good view across the city but, reaching only about halfway up the huge figure, your view won’t be as good as his.
Wat PhoBangkok (46m long)
Wat Pho’s famous Reclining Buddha – properly known as Phra Buddhasaiyas – would not ordinarily be very high on the list of biggest Buddhas in Thailand but, if you’re measuring the height of the figure rather than of the statue, the gold-leaf-covered brick and plaster representation is indeed huge. Built in 1832, the giant mother-of-pearl feet are perhaps the most striking feature. At 3m high and 4.5m long and covered in auspicious symbols, it is one of very few exceptions to the rule that it is rude to point the soles of your feet at people in Thailand. Read More...
Phuket Big BuddhaPhuket (45m tall)
Known among Thais as the Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri, Big Buddha is 25 meters across at the base. The whole body is constructed from reinforced concrete covered with beautiful Burmese white jade marble that shines in the sun. It has an enviable view across Chalong, towards the rising sun, though it seems a bit of a pity that the big guy misses out on the beautiful sunset view behind him. Seated on one of the tallest hills in Phuket in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose, it can be seen from across much of the southern part of the island. Read More...
Wat LokayasutharamAyutthaya (37m long)
Found in the northwest of the island which represents the historical heart of Ayutthaya, the Phra Noon reclining Buddha is a statue without a temple, with Wat Lokayasutharam itself having been all but flattened. Constructed from bricks and cement and covered with a very large saffron-coloured robe, it has a rather more rugged appearance than its big brother in Bangkok. There is a miniature scale model in front of it, which is adorned in gold leaf applied by devotees.
Wat IntharawihanPhra Nakhon, Bangkok (32m tall)
Phra Si Ariyamettrai (also known as Luang Pho To) is a rather broad and flat depiction of Buddha, especially compared to the extremely lanky standing Buddha in Roi Et’s Wat Buraphaphiram. A full 10m across the middle, it shows Buddha carrying a begging bowl. Made of brick and stucco and gilded with 24-carat gold, it took 60 years to construct and was completed in 1927. The pointy Ushnisha (topknot of the hair) contains a Buddhist relic, gifted by the government of Sri Lanka. It is easy to get to, being just a kilometre north of Khao San Road. Read More...
Wat ThipsukhontharamKanchanaburi (32m tall)
Found in a modern and huge 512,000 sqm temple/educational facility/park about 60 km north of town, Phra Buddha Metta Pracha Thai Trailokanath Gandhararath Anusorn holds the (very specific) title of being Thailand’s tallest bronze standing Buddha statue – quite a feat of engineering, give how soft a metal bronze is. Surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, it is standing in the abhaya mudra pose and took four years to complete.
Wat SrisoonthornPhuket (29m long)
Thanks to its bigger brother, further up our list of the biggest Buddhas in Thailand, Phuket’s reclining Buddha is comparatively unknown among visitors. The golden statue lays on the roof of the temple’s main building, but is surrounded by hills and tall trees, making it hard to spot, even though one of the main roads on the island is a very short distance away. It is worth stopping to see as the representation has a remarkable look, with huge ears and a very relaxed expression. Read More...
Phra Buddha Mongkol MaharajHat Yai (19.9m tall)
Towering over the city of Hat Yai from its hilltop position and raised up on a pedestal to give it an even higher elevation, this is the tallest standing Buddha statue in Southern Thailand. Despite exhibiting quite a trim physique, it is no lightweight at 200 tonnes. The centrepiece of a municipal park, it enjoys a spectacular view across the city in the valley below which, based on the hand gesture of the vitarka mudra pose, it thinks is ‘ok’. There’s a cable car up the hill, so you can judge for yourself. Read More...
Wat Phanan ChoengAyutthaya (19m tall)
The only upright entry of our list of the biggest Buddhas in Thailand to be housed indoors, Phra Phanan Choeng is also said to be Thailand’s oldest. Believed to have been built in 1324 (though no proper records remain of its construction) from bricks covered with stucco and gold, it was originally out in the open and the temple was built around it. Wearing a saffron-coloured robe and quite a grim expression, it is seated in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose at the confluence of the Chao Phraya and Pa Sak rivers. With age comes legends, and it is said that the statue shed tears when Burmese invaders captured Ayutthaya in 1767. Read More...
Pattaya Big BuddhaPattaya (18m tall)
Based on its cheery smile, the Pattaya Big Buddha clearly quite enjoys its prime position on Pratumnak Hill – the highest point in the city. It may also be pleased to hold the title of being the biggest Buddha on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. Built in the 1940s in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose, it has a great view down the long flight of stairs (about 170 of them, but they’re each quite small) lined with impressive seven-headed naga images, which you will have to climb up to get to the statue. Suffice it to say, it is not one of Pattaya’s most wheelchair-friendly attractions, though it is one of its most popular. Read More...
Wat Prathat Doi KhamChiang Mai (17m tall)
Relatively little-visited, thanks to its many more famous neighbours, the so-called ‘Temple of the Golden Mountain’ is about 10 km from the city centre and is believed to have been built in 687 AD. The Buddha statue in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose was added later, but has been very well looked after over the years as its white and gold skin really gleams. It is easily the biggest Buddha in Chiang Mai and demonstrates the traditional Lanna style the area is known for. Read More...
Phuttha Monthon BuddhaNakhon Pathom (15.9m tall)
Built in 1981 as the centrepiece of a park 30 km to the west of downtown Bangkok, Phra Si Sakkaya Thotsaphonlayan Prathan Phutthamonthon Suthat is believed to be the world’s tallest walking Buddha – not a difficult record to hold, given how few similar statues there are. It is also said to be the tallest freestanding Buddha statue in the world as, unlike other standing Buddhas earlier in our list, it is not supported by extra structures.
Koh Samui Big BuddhaKoh Samui (15m tall)
Gleaming in the sun as you come in to land at Koh Samui Airport, Samui’s Big Buddha is one of the most popular attractions on the island. Seated on a pedestal at the heart of Wat Phra Yai (literally ‘Temple of the Big Buddha’), it is unusual for having a Dharma wheel and a replica of the Royal Barge Suphannahong behind the gilded figure in the Bhumisparsha mudra pose. Built in 1972, it is such a significant attraction that the whole coastline around it is known as Big Buddha Beach. Read More...