Phuket has 29 beautiful Buddhist monasteries, each with its own history. Virtually every Buddhist community here has a wat as its traditional cultural centre. They are all extremely interesting and will give you an insight into the religious aspects of Thailand.
The monasteries are sanctuaries where monks live with the minimum of material possessions and where they are tasked with overcoming physical desires. It is expected that women should act and dress modestly, and not touch or hand anything directly to the monks.
During certain weekly holy days (based on the Thai Lunar calendar) the monks chant Buddhist scriptures in the mornings.
All visitors are most welcome to visit Thai temples, but please do not forget to remove your shoes before entering any temple building.
There are no admission fees, but a very small donation of even 10 baht is very much appreciated to help maintenance costs.
You may photograph the monks, temples, images and all ceremonies.
There are also several Chinese temples and shrines throughout Phuket City and around the island. Many of them are a century old. These are especially busy during the Chinese New Year and the Vegetarian Festival.
Wat Chalong (pictured above) is one of the biggest and most ornate of Phuket's Buddhist monasteries, and the architecture is quite typical of wats throughout Thailand. It was built in 1837 and is also known as Wat Chai Tararam. The Wat is associated with the revered monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang, who were famous for their work in herbal medicine and tending to the injured.
These monks provided medical help on both sides during the Ang Yi tin miners' rebellion of 1876 during the reign of King Rama V, involving 25,000 migrant workers. They also mediated in, and resolved the dispute.
Statues of Luang Por Chuang and Luang Por Gluam, and other monks, who were abbots of the temple during later times, and who are the objects of respect and recipients of offerings by Phuket people generally, are enshrined at the Temple in the Viharn (sermon) Hall.
Thais come here to be blessed by the monks and receive a good luck charm in the form of a string tied around the wrist, which protects them from injury and illness. Many local Thais and Asian visitors
will also set off firecrackers and ask for the lucky lottery numbers, and have their fortune told.
A recent addition to the temple is a 61 meter high chedi, containing the Phra Borom Sareerikatat relic (a piece of the Lord Buddha's bones brought over from Sri Lanka). The chedi is the first in this region to house the holy Buddha's relic, and is a mixture of southern, central and northeastern architectural styles.
Wat Phra Thong
This temple is situated in Thalang, and is also known as the Golden Buddha Temple - there is a huge half buried Buddha in the temple floor. The statue is held in great reverence by local people.
The legend of the ancient Buddha image at Wat Phra Thong stretches back centuries - and is as intriguing today as it ever was. Protected by an ancient spell, the half-buried Buddha image has withstood man's every attempt to remove it from the ground. According to legend, those who try to dig it up will die.
It all started when a young boy tied his water buffalo to a hard muddy object sticking up from a field. Suddenly the boy died but appeared to his father in a dream and told him about the object, which turned out to be a huge statue of Buddha.
The father dug but the Buddha could not, however, be completely excavated. Advancing Burmese armies also tried to dig up the statue but they were attacked by swarms of hornets. Some historical accounts describe the Buddha as being cast in pure gold, whilst others say that
the visible part of the statue was covered with gold by the villagers and has remained as such until today. The temple was built on the site in 1785.
The name "Phra Thong" means the Gold Buddha. The image is also called "Phra Phut" which means a Buddha image emerging from the ground.
The gables and windows of the temple buildings exhibit rich carving. There is also a museum of curios and crafts, next to the main building.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
This historical temple, also in Amphoe Thalang, is Phuket's oldest temple (built approximately in 1750) and was originally a fort resisting a Burmese invasion in 1785. It was the rallying point for the two Phuket heroines who repulsed the Burmese attack on Thalang.
which was then the capital of the island. It has been rumoured that the Burmese were after the temple's Lai Tong (religious manuscripts, which were believed to indicate treasure locations).
The temple is sometimes referred to as the "Temple of the White Blood" because of a woman who according to folklore, bled white blood when she was cut. The ordination hall is dedicated to her.
Si Sunthorn Temple
Sri Sunthorn temple is situated in Thalang district close to the Heroine's Monument.
Wat Phuttha Mongkhon Nimit
Wat Mongkon Nimit, situated in the centre of Phuket town on Yaowarat Road (junction of Dibuk Road), is a Rattanakosin (Bangkok) style Thai temple dedicated to Theravada Buddhism and has particularly finely carved doors.
Wat Sawang Arom
This wat is at Rawai on the southern tip of the island.
Shrine of the Serene Light Chinese Temple
A beautifully designed chinese temple, more than a century old, located down a small side road (near the Bangkok Bank of Commerce) just off Phang-Nga Road in Phuket town.
Sanjao Sam San Chinese Temple
Built in 1853, this temple is dedicated to Tien Sang Sung Mu, the Goddess of the Sea. When a new boat is launched, a cermony is held here to bless it. This is an atmospheric temple which contains some intricate carvings.
It is situated at the junction of Padiphat Road and Krabi Road, Phuket town.
Bang Neow Chinese temple
This temple is situated in Phuket Road, Phuket town, and is one of the six main Taoist Shrines on Phuket that organise the Vegetarian festival.
(The big Buddha of Phuket)
The Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha image will be completed in 2008 on 49 rai of land high up in the Nakkerd hills between Chalong and Karon/Kata.
The Buddha will be 45 meters high and 25 meters across at the base. Apart from its philosophical significance, it is expected to become an icon for Phuket.
The gold-painted image will be in the Maravichai style, and will face eastward, with fantastic views overlooking the sea towards Chalong.
There will also be a smaller brass Buddha image (containing about 22 tons of brass). The Naga base will be 9.39 meters in width. The height from the base to the ray top will be 12.19 meters.
Directions: Proceed from Wat Chalong towards Chalong roundabout. At about the halfway stage there is a small (sign-posted) turning on the right which leads to the location. Access is by car, or motorcycle, all the way, but use caution especially when there is low cloud.
Wat Suwan Khiri Wong
The temple is situated at the junction of Phisit Karani road and Phra Barami road, at the foot of the hill as you exit Patong en route for Phuket Town.
Wat Cherngtalay, just east of Cherng Talay town on route 4025, features many large and colourful murals depicting Buddhist themes.
Wat Anuphat Kitsadaram
This small wat is situated between Phuket City and Patong at Talat Yai.
This is a small wat in a picturesque setting next to a pond, south of Phuket City on route 4021.
Wat Ko Sire
Located on Sire island just east of Phuket city.
Put Jaw and Jui Tui Chinese Temples
The Put Jaw Chinese Taoist temple was built over 200 years ago and is the oldest in Phuket. It is dedicated to Phra Mae Koan-Im (Kuan Yin), the Goddess of Mercy.
The main hall holds statues of the goddess and her attendants. The temple is situated on Ranong Road Phuket town. It underwent extensive renovationa about 100 years ago, following a fire.
Inside the temple, one will find two cans containing what look like special bamboo chopsticks. One can is for diagnosing illness, the other is for fortune telling.
Gently shake each can, in turn, until one of the sticks gradually falls out to the floor. Remember the number on the two sticks, and proceed to a room on the left.
On the right wall are pigeon-holes containing numbered slips of paper. Match your number and ask someone to translate the writing on the slip of paper. The slips are printed with fortunes - both good and bad.
The left wall contains slips of paper representing your illness and the cure. Take this prescription to a traditional herbal pharmacist and buy the herbal remedy he gives you.
In addition, there are decision making red wooden (bamboo root) blocks, shaped like halves of a mango, on the altar. Ask yourself a question, which requires a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. Then throw the blocks in the air and observe
how they land. If they both land with the same side up, then the answer to your question is 'no'; otherwise the answer is 'yes'.
Small monetary donations at the altar are most welcome, to help with the upkeep of the temple.
The Jui Tui temple is adjacent. It is dedicated to Kiu Wong In, a vegetarian god, and is a more recent and a more ornate Taoist temple. The fine carvings of guardians on the teak entrance doors are quite striking.
At the altar, there are oranges, cakes and other offerings for devotees. This temple is extremely active during Phuket's Vegetarian Festival, and a chariot, on which an image of the deity is placed, departs from here prior to it being
pulled through the streets of Phuket town.