Our list of the 10 must-see temples in Phuket comprises Wats (Buddhist temples) and Chinese shrines (Taoist temples). Wats are among the most important symbols of Thailand, partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhist and partly because they are so beautiful. In Phuket alone, there are 29 Buddhist temples spread around the island.
Chinese shrines also have a great importance in Thailand, and especially Phuket, due to the great Chinese community that migrated to Thailand through the centuries. There are as many Chinese shrines as Wats in Phuket, so you are sure to find a colourful and interesting temple near to where you are staying. Here are some of the best in Phuket and in neighbouring Phang Nga Province.
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Wat Chalong has been welcoming visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn about Buddhism. The temple is open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon. The Grand Pagoda dominating the temple contains a splinter of Lord Buddha's bone and is officially named Phramahathatchedi-Jomthaibarameepragat. The pagoda is decorated with wall paintings depicting the Buddha's life story and also features various Buddha images. Take your time in the pagoda; it is a breezy, cool location and one which is very popular with visitors to the temple. Always busy and a colourful place to be, there is plenty of parking here. Read More...
- Location: Chao Fa West Road halfway between Central Phuket Festival and Chalong Circle
Phuket's Big Buddha is one of the island's most important and revered landmarks on the island. The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and, at 45 metres tall, it is easily seen from far away. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island, with sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay and more.) Easily reachable via a six-kilometre road leading from Phuket's main artery route, it is a must-visit island destination. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:30 - 19:30
- Location: Chalong
Wat Khao Rang (or Sumnak Song Khao Rang) enjoys a great location in Phuket Town, on the slope of the popular Rang Hill. It has a large golden sitting Buddha – the first of its kind on the island and the spiritual centre of the island for many locals. This temple is busy at weekends when locals pay a visit. It not only looks amazing, it was also the first big Buddha image Phuket ever had until the giant Buddha was built in the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata. Wat Khao Rang grounds are divided in two areas: the original building supporting the sitting Buddha on its roof, with its back against the green hillside, and the new temple next to it. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from about 08:00 – late afternoon
- Location: Khao Rang Hill, Phuket Town. Take the road Soi Vachira, leading from the Vachira Hospital, the temple is a few hundred metres up on the right.
Jui Tui Shrine is a popular Chinese temple that plays a pivotal part in the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Located on Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road, not far from Phuket’s main market, it’s a must-see site for all newcomers to Phuket as one of the oldest and the most respected spiritual centres around. Jui Tui Temple was previously located in Soi Romanee in Phuket Old Town and was moved to its current location after a fire many years ago. The grounds are quite impressive and display photos of the temple dating back to 1911 when it was just a single, stand-alone construction without side buildings or walls. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 – 20:30
- Location: Next to Put Jaw Chinese Temple on Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road, not far from Phuket Town’s main fresh market.
Wat Phra Thong is not very large but it’s a pleasant place to visit. The main attraction is the half-buried golden Buddha image which is said to be untouchable as every person who has tried to dig it out is reported to have been cursed. Legend has it that a boy who tied his buffalo to an object that looked like a post fell ill and died, along with the buffalo. His father went to check the post and it turned out to be part of a buried Buddha image. One of the island’s oldest temples, it received a visit in 1909 by King Rama VI, who gave it its official name. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 17:30 Daily
- Location: Wat Phra Thong is 20km north of Phuket Town and is located near the Thalang District Office. Heading to the airport, the street leading to the temple is on the right-hand side (you have to do a U-turn if driving). Look for a small sign before reaching Thalang and follow the street to the wat’s parking.
Known by locals as Wat Lipon, this temple is in Thalang, north of Phuket Town. The first sight on entering the grounds is of the 29-metre-high Sleeping Buddha on top of the wat’s central building, so large that it is noticeable from the road outside. You will notice that there are quite a few non-Buddha images, including a giant and lions, all from Thai myths. They are believed to act as the temple’s guards. Other interesting images are of phets (ghosts). Some Thais believe that if one does bad things, you will end up being a phet in the afterlife. It’s the main reason why many wats have this ghost image – to remind people to be kind to others. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 17:30
- Location: About five kilometres north of the Heroine's Monument on Thepkasathri Road. Wat Srisoonthorn is on the left-hand side.
Wat Phranang Sang
Phra Nang Sang Temple is located just before Thalang intersection near Baan Ta-Kien, opposite the entrance of Khao Pra Taew Wildlife Conservation Centre. Rumoured to be approximately 500 years old, it’s said to be the oldest temple on the island. A story is attached to this temple that claims that the temple was built in honour of an innocent princess who executed for a crime she did not commit. At her execution, it’s claimed that she bled white blood, thus showing her purity. For this reason the temple is also called ‘Wat Leuat Khao’ (Temple of the White Blood).
- Location: The temple located in Thalang on Thepkasattri Road, at the Baan Kian intersection: on the way to airport, at the traffic light, the entrance is located right on the side of the road. You will be able to recognize the entrance by the two pairs of large colourful statues holding the gates.
Wat Suwan Khuha (aka Wat Tham)
Wat Suwan Khuha is also known as Wat Tham – or simply temple cave, because that’s where it’s located, in a limestone cave. The largest of the caves houses a stunning 15-metre reclining Buddha image and this cave is decorated throughout with attractive Benjarong (Thai-style) tiles. Care should be taken here as the temple has a sizeable and rather aggressive monkey population, prone to grabbing snacks off visitors and messing with car antennae. A chedi structure is reminiscent of Bangkok’s famous Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun) and you’ll find another small grotto with a golden stupa. Apart from the naughty monkeys, this is a pleasant place to visit.
- Location: 12km west from Phang Nga Town in Takua Thung District
This stunning shrine located in a superb location at Saphan Hin Park in Phuket Town, Kiew Tien Keng must be one of the most beautiful places of worship in Phuket. It’s the only shrine that is located near the seashore and is considered the departure spot to send all gods/deities back to heaven on the final night of the Vegetarian Festival. It’s where the colourful parades of each shrine officially come to an end when a normal diet can resume. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: Sapan Hin Park, Phuket Town
Kathu Shrine has shared a long history with Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival and is known as the original home of the festival. Rumor has it that a Chinese opera from mainland China came to town and without any particular reasons, members of this group started to fall ill. After a while they realised that they had forgotten to carry on with their important traditional vegetarian diet. Finally, they held a vegetarian diet ceremony at their temporary opera house at Kathu and within no time all the sickness and problems amazingly disappeared. Locals couldn’t believe their eyes when witnessing what had happened. They too participated in the ceremony and have been carrying it on until today. This is the roots of the great annual Vegetarian Festival that Phuket is known for. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: In Kathu Village, it’s about two km from the Kathu- Patong junction on Samkong-Kathu Road once you turn right.