Known by locals as Wat Lipon, Wat Srisoonthorn is a temple in Thalang that's just north of Phuket Town. The first impression 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.
Nearby are 9 other smaller Buddha images in different positions – all facing the entrance as if welcoming people to the site.
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Wat Srisoonthorn’s highlights
Why the sleeping position? This pose is considered very important for Buddhists as it represents the Lord Buddha in the stage of dreaming. The story has it that it happened after he stopped the 6-year-long period of extreme self-mortification (in the hope of discovering the Truth about life). He had a dream that made him realize soon afterwards that he had indeed reached the stage of enlightenment and was ready to help other people.
If you look around here, you will notice that there are quite a few non-Buddha images, including a giant and lions (all from Thai myths, not at all your average giant and lions). They are believed to act as the temple’s guardians.
Other interesting images are of phets (ghosts from Thai myth). From the old Thai belief, a phet is a skinny creature as tall as a palm tree and has a mouth as small as a pin therefore it is perpetually hungry. Some Thais believe that if one does bad things especially hitting parents or cheating on your spouse, the person 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 their folks and spouses, among other things.
Another point of interest is a small belltower which people can go up to and have a closer look at. Also, there’s an electronic fortune-telling machine into which you insert a coin and ask questions to see what the outcome will be. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea though.
Wat Lipon was built in 1792 and covers about 22 rai (3.52 hectares) of land. It was later named Wat Srisoonthorn by King Rama I. The main ubosot (temple hall) is in a very simple style. There’s only one full wall and the whole property is very quiet, peaceful and shady. Good for those looking for a place to meditate.
And just like many other temples in Thailand, there are dogs and cats living in the temple; for whatever reasons these poor animals were abandoned by their owners. The dogs seem to enjoy barking at strangers but so far there have been no reports that they have attacked anyone. Always take caution, though.
You can find the temple around 5 km north of the Heroine's Monument on Thepkasathri Road. Wat Srisoonthorn is on the left-hand side.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 7am to 5.30pm
- Location: 20/4 Thepkrasatree Rd, Si Sunthon, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
- Tel: +66 (0)98 017 8044