Phuket has many fantastic things to do, and you will never be bored as the island has something for everyone. If you want to take some time out of the sun and fancy a change, why not spend a day or two going around the fantastic temples? It is an opportunity to take in some culture, incredible architecture and become acquainted with some of the local folklore and beliefs. In essence, it doesn’t even have to involve religion if that’s not your thing!
One of the best ways to get around a few temples is on a scooter. Scooter rental in Phuket is generally quite cheap and gives you that little bit more freedom to explore. We would always recommend using a reputable company who will ensure that the bike you hire is roadworthy and safe. Here are some of the must-see temples and shrines in Phuket.
Aka Chaithararam Temple: Wat Chalong is undoubtedly the most famous and revered of the temples on the island. The temple is about 10km from Phuket Town and can easily be reached by tuk-tuk if you haven’t hired a scooter. Most hotels also run tours which include a trip to the temple. When you get to there, it is certainly enchanting with locals telling stories of Luang Poo Cham who had mystical healing powers and a fragment of bone from Buddha which stored at the top of Phra Mahathat Chedi.
Wat Chalong is open every day from 7am until 5pm, and entry is free although a donation is always appreciated.
Wat Khao Nakkerd
Or The Big Buddha Temple as it is affectionately known, is the temple on Phuket which is most famous for its stunning panoramic views from the Nakkerd Hills. The Buddha stands 45 metres high and is visible from large parts of the island and is one of the most expensive temples to complete costing approximately THB30 million. The temple houses another smaller but still sizeable 12 metres tall Buddha.
The temple was devoted to the King and Queen and is known locally as Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha.
Wat Khao Nakkerd is open from 7am until 7pm and adheres to a strict dress code.
Wat Lipon: Wat Srisoonthorn is situated in the Thalang district and is better known to the locals as Wat Lipon. It is renowned for its 29 metres high sleeping Buddha which is visible on the top of the temple. You can reach the wat by scooter if you travel along Thepkasattri Road. The temple is in a very peaceful area surrounded by forestry and is surprisingly quiet and restful.
Wat Lipon is open daily from 7am to 5.30pm.
Wat Khao Rang
Wat Khoa Rang is one of the easiest temples to get to in Phuket as it is located in Phuket Town. The temple is probably best-known for its famous viewpoint and adjoining restaurant, which is a fantastic place to grab something to eat and take in the views. It hosts the second largest Buddha on the island and surprisingly quiet considering its location. If you are interested in meditation and Buddhist teachings, it one of the best options and the paintings and carvings are also well worth seeing.
The temple opens at 8am and remains open until “the late afternoon”.
Wat Phra Thong
Wat Phra Thong is a small temple but is one of the oldest on the island which gives it obvious appeal, but it is its half-buried golden Buddha for which it is most famous. Folklore says that the Buddha cannot be touched and anyone who tries to remove the Buddha will be cursed for eternity. One such story is of a young boy who tried to “help” remove the Buddha with his buffalo. The story goes that both the buffalo and the boy became sick and sadly died.
Wat Phra Thong is heavily promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and is featured as one of the Unseen Thailand attractions resulting in the site getting quite busy. There is also a museum on site which has Buddhist artefacts and other antique items which have been donated by locals.
The temple is open daily from 8am until 5.30pm.
As you would imagine, some of the temples in Kathu can be quite busy both with locals and tourists. Kathu Temple is one of the quietest and mainly targets locals which gives it more of an authentic feel. Some small tour groups do stop by, but it is mainly those who are doing their own sightseeing, perfect for those who are visiting Kathu on a scooter. To make this a day trip, you could also visit the nearby market, waterfalls and tin mining museum.
The temple is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm every day, but this is subject to change without notice.
Jui Tui Shrine
Although Jui Tui is a shrine, it deserves a place on the list and is a sacred place for many of the Phuket’s Chinese descendants. It is located on Ranong Road, close to the main market in Phuket. Jui Tui Shrine is probably best known or the role it plays in the annual Vegetarian Festival which is held every October. However, it is worth going at any other time of the year, especially if you are interested in learning more about the Chinese interpretation of Buddhism and their beliefs. The shrine is ornately decorated inside and out.
Jui Tui is open from 8am until 8.30pm every day.
Wat Koh Sirey
If you are looking for an opportunity to get away from it all then the temple on Koh Sirey, a small island to the south-east of Phuket, may be your best option. It is only 4km from Phuket Town which is clearly visible from the temple which is perched on a hill. Like many others, it is enshrined with countless images of Buddha, but the reclining 5.5 metre golden Buddha is undoubtedly the most majestic.
Wat Koh Sirey opens around 8am and close around 5pm but the openings hours do appear to quite relaxed.