Travel Phuket

Tourist information for Phuket, Thailand

Temples of Phuket

Travel Phuket

Thai temples, or wat, have long held a magic and mystique and are considered one of the most important symbols of Thailand. From a giant Buddha keeping watch over the island to the sanctity of a working monastery, visitors to Phuket's temples will feel their awe-inspiring, spiritual atmosphere.

Before visiting, it's important for visitors to remember to show respect at religious sites by not wearing clothes that reveal their shoulders, chest, stomach or legs. Shorts or short skirts are definite no-no's. Visitors will also often be asked to remove their footwear before entering some of the temple buildings. Donations are readily accepted and greatly appreciated at all watt.

Big Buddha

This image, one of the Phuket's most well known temples and revered landmarks, sits atop one of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata. Easily spotted from miles away, Big Buddha measures 45 meters high and 25 meters across the base, and the location offers visitors spectacular, 360-degree views of the island.

An extremely peaceful setting away from the bustling city and beaches, the only sounds visitors will hear are the wind-blown Buddhist flags, small bells, and soft dharma music.

Still not 100% complete, it is a sight that should be on any itinerary, and on a good day, more than 1,000 people visit the site, donating money for building materials that include beautiful white Burmese marble. The gigantic Buddha is funded entirely by donations, and countless donation boxes are found around the site. When completed, it’s estimated that the entire project – including the road leading up to the site – will total about 150 million baht.

Finding Big Buddha is easy as it is well-signed. The road is off Chao Fa Road East near Chalong, then follow the red and white signs that will lead you up the hill.

Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong, about 8 km south of Phuket Town, is the busiest, biggest, most ornate, and most important Buddhist temple on Phuket. This temple honors the two revered monks Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang, plus houses the Poh Than Jao Wat statue.

Visitors to the Wat Chalong are often startled by the sound of firecrackers, which are ignited by thankful Buddhists in smaller, beehive-shaped structures on the temple grounds. Whenever a prayer of theirs is answered, they loudly celebrate with thanks by setting off a string of firecrackers.

Wat Phra Thong (Buried Golden Buddha Temple)

A little less touristy than Wat Chalong, Wat Phra Thong is in the middle of Phuket, which means visitors will need to forego the beaches for a bit to see this temple.

According to legend, the revered Buddha image at this temple was found with only the very tip of the head visible aboveground, to which a little boy had tied his buffalo in days when the area was used for pasture. The boy and buffalo then became ill and died.

Over the years, the local villagers and even invading Burmese soldiers tried to excavate the Buddha, only to be attacked by ants, wasps, hornets and bees from within the ground. For fear that the golden tip would be stolen, it was at one point covered in a cement-like mixture of burned shells and sand.

Eventually, a monk from Sukhothai came to Thalang and was able to persuade villagers to build a temple around the exposed Buddha's head and re-gild the image.

The more scientific explanation as to why this Buddha is half buried is much more boring: a canal simply changed direction and flooded the area, burying it in a layer of silt. However, it remains that no one that’s ever tried to dig it out has succeeded.

Only the upper part of the Buddha image, known as Phra Phut, is on display in the temple today.

Wat Phranang Sang

The oldest temple in Phuket, this "Temple built by a queen" was constructed over 500 years ago, complete with ancient tin Buddhas, some found nested inside the bellies of others.

Wat Phranang Sang displays statues of Phuket's heroines, Lady Chan and Lady Mook, a reclining Buddha, revered monks, as well as a mural representation of the life of Lord Buddha's and important historical events.

Wat Suwan Khiri Khet (Wat Karon)

The only temple in Karon Beach, this small, attractive temple was founded in 1895 and recently renovated. Two large, emerald-green serpents stand guard at the main building, and the interior walls, doors and window panels portray Buddha's life.

The temple is an easy walk from Karon, and well worth a visit and a few photos.

Wat Srisoonthorn

Built in 1792, the temple is known by locals as Wat Lipon, and showcases a 29-meter-high sleeping Buddha on the central building’s roof, making it easy to spot from the road.

This particular image depicts Buddha entering Nirvana, and this image, as well as smaller ones nearby in varying positions, face the entrance to welcome visitors.

Wat Putta Mongkon

In the center of Phuket Town, visitors will find Wat Putta Mongkon, often called Wat Klang, or "centre temple", because of its location.

Beautiful architectural features are the highlight of this wat, including a small bell tower, yellow pagoda (chedi) and a Sino-Portuguese style mansion that houses temple monks.

Wat Kajonrangsan (Wat Kajon)

The temple's unique attribute is its main building, built in Roman style – very unusual in Phuket – and Thai pagodas.

Other wat in Phuket worth a visit are Wat Kathu, Wat Khao Rang and the ornate Wat Kosit Wihan, some offering jungle settings and picturesque views. Don't forget the camera.