Guan Yu Shrine

Celebrating Chinese heritage in dramatic fashion

Photo of , , Ko Samui

What we say: 3.5 stars

An ongoing project first instigated by Samui islander of Chinese descent, Virach Pongchababnapa, the Guan Yu Shrine will likely be one of Samui's most popular cultural attractions once a 16-metre high bronze statue of Guan Yu is completed.

For now, you'll have to settle on an enormous red statue of Guan Yu's head, which peeks over the top of the new Chinese-style shrine where the statue will eventually be.

Although now viewed by many Chinese as something of a deity, Guan Yu was an actual historical figure who died in the year 219 after being instrumental in helping the warlord-turned-emperor, Liu Bei, establish China's Three Kingdoms period. Over the centuries, Guan Yu has come to embody loyalty, righteousness and honesty in Chinese folklore.

Virach hopes the shrine will soon be the centre of Samui's Chinese community, and it already houses a growing number of local family trees and portraits along with old photographs of what Samui looked like before it became a tourist destination.

Plans are also underway to build a "Chinatown" building behind the shrine for dining and activities and a Chinese language school.

Though it likely won't come to full fruition for some time, the shrine currently makes for a unique stop on a greater cultural day-tour that could also include a visit to the mummified monk at Wat Kunaram, the rocks of Hin Ta Hin Yai and the Muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon.

Respectful attire should be worn and donations are appreciated.

More details
How to get there: The shrine is located along Ko Samui's ring road in Hua Thanon, just south of Lamai Beach.
Last updated: 29th January, 2013

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