Phuket is this wonderful island where crazy parties and spiritual places live together really well. On the island, there are more than 40 religious temples; some of them are very ancient while some others have been there for a couple of decades.
As in the entire country, the main religion practiced in Phuket is Buddhism; as a consequence, temples are based on this belief, you will find some of them with Chinese influences. They are dotted all around the island and giving them a chance is an important part of the Phuket experience.
Culture and heritage are a vital part of the island, Thai people are open to sharing their culture, traditions, and beliefs among tourists and temples are a perfect example of this exchange.
We thought it will be useful for travelers to have an idea of the most iconic ones to visit while traveling to Phuket; so here we have compiled a short list of the Top 10 Temples to see in Phuket both Wat (Buddhist temples) and Shrine (Chinese temples), enjoy the journey!
Built more than a century ago, it keeps being in the spotlight of visitors who come from all over the world to see the beauty this charming temple preserves. Wat Chalong is one of the 29 Buddhist temples established on the island, and one of the most popular too.
Located at Chao Fa West Road, around 8 km away from Phuket city; this temple opens daily from 08:00 to 17:30, during these hours locals come to pray and foreigners come to admire and learn a bit more about this rich culture.
Inside this temple, there are several statues, Poh Than Jao Wat being one of the most important ones, located in the west area of the temple surrounded by two other statues of two local men who won the lottery several times after asking Poh Than Jao Wat for inspiration.
On the other hand, the Gran Pagoda, that catches the attention of visitors, is carefully decorated will elaborated paintings that relate the life story life of Buddha. Actually, locals say there is a bone of Lord Buddha in the Grand Pagoda.
Around the temple, there are some others buildings to visit as an exhibition home of Luam Poh Cham. The best thing any traveler can do is take enough time to appreciate every detail at this amazing place.
Located in Phuket between Chalong and Kata on top of the Nakkred hills, there is a giant image of a sitting Buddha. It is undoubtedly one of the most visited landmarks of Phuket Island. As the temple is located at the top of a hill, the spot is also known as a flawless viewpoint in the island, offering 360-degree views.
Since 2004, this impressive statue of around 45 meters tall and 21 meters wide was built and exposed; nowadays, is one of the iconic parts of the island. There is no way a single person comes to Phuket and leave without visiting the Big Buddha.
Even though the statue is a total spectacle by itself, the location truly helps; around the Big Buddha, the environment is very peaceful, you will only hear the tinkling sound of the many bells hanging around.
Moreover, beauty also comes from the sun; the structure of the Big Buddha statue is made of pure concrete and layered with gorgeous Burmese white jade marble that shines immensely because of the sunlight.
Next to Big Buddha, you will find a smaller yet golden statue that catches much attention too. Come to this temple in the afternoon and stay to stare at the most wonderful sunset you will ever witness.
Wat Khao Rang
It receives its name from its location, at Khao Rang or Rang Hill, this amazing place has the very first golden sitting Buddha on the island. Wat Khao is a truly charming temple, surrounded by natural beauty and interesting places such as viewpoints and restaurants.
This gorgeous place is not too crowded, its visitors are quiet and commonly looking for the spiritual experience and not only for the fact of being able to say "I have been there!”
It receives more people during weekends because locals come to this lovely temple to pray and do their rituals, it is very interesting to watch; among their traditions, some families come especially during mornings to offer fresh food to monks as merit actions.
Walk around the temple and discover the art forms such as the Statue of the Lord of Death and some giants’ Thai myths expressed in the temple's doors and roofs. Wat Khao Rang opens every day from early morning to late afternoon.
Wat Phra Thong
This interesting place also known as Wat Phrathong is not particularly popular by being big or has a great view, what keeps attracting people to this temple is the half-buried Buddha statue and because this temple is considered one of the most ancient ones on the entire island.
Located near the Thalang District, at the north of Phuket Town, it said that this temple is older than 1909 when King Rama VI visited it and gave it the name we know nowadays.
Moreover, even though it is not a big temple, it counts with many buildings very colorful and fulfilled with traditional decorations.
The main story about how the image gets half buried tells that probably a channel located near to the statue changed its direction and flooded the area leaving the Buddha under layers of the stilt. A big group of people got together to help get the statue out of the mud yet they only could expose half of the statue.
As they could not dig the Buddha up, they decided to build the temple around him. By the way, be careful as the statue is considered as untouchable, every person who has touched it has been injured or cursed (based on local tales).
Easy to see before getting to the temple, there is a giant 29-meters approximately high sleeping Buddha located at top of the central building; yes, not inside yet on top.
Surrounding this big statue, there are other 9 figures of Buddha in different positions; they are acutely located, all facing the entrance of the temple so they seem like welcoming people.
This charming temple is frequently visited due to the sleeping Buddha, the tale says it is in that position because it represents the dreaming stage and soon realized he had achieved the enlightenment step and was ready to serve people.
Moreover, this temple is not only about Buddha; there is a myriad of images from Phets which are ghosts from Thai mythology, they are tall and skinny and are there to remind people to be kind especially with parents and couples, they are also supposed to guard the temple among lions and giants.
The temple is pretty simple in structure yet charming and colorfully decorated, it opens from 07:00 to 17:30 offering a lovely and peaceful place to meditate.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
This temple is a true jewel in Phuket, it is the most ancient religious building constructed on the island, it is located in the area of Thalang because it was the first main city in Phuket Island. Actually, locals say the name means "Built by a queen”.
It is around 545 years old and the place is wonderfully conserved, the Wat itself has a wonderful decoration with hundreds of paintings of Lord Buddha’s life story and important events; also, many small images of Buddhas, mummies, heroines and much more.
The main statue in the temple is a large reclining Buddha made of tin, in the époque it was built, tin was considered a semiprecious metal. One characteristic that makes this place so interesting, apart from being so old, is the flawless way it combines both Thai and Chinese influences.
Wat Phra Nang Sang has the purest history and heritage, every part and decoration have a story to tell and locals will be more than pleased to tell you all their stories, come to this wonderful place located via Phuket Airport and learn about Phuket’s history.
Wat Suwan Kirikhet
Also known as a Karon Temple by being located at around half a kilometer away from Karon Beach, this temple is particularly unique. What make this amazing place so interesting is the giant guards that are settled on both sides of the entrance: snakes.
Two huge snakes, often called Nagas in Thai tradition, their heads are placed at both sides of the entrance, while their bodies surround the entire building. The temple is white, yet decorated with a myriad of colors and golden details.
Moreover, inside the building is the place where the Buddha images are located; yet, outdoors there are some others images such as "Yak" that are blue monsters with giant teeth, they have a scary face and its purpose is to keep Buddha's images safe from spirits.
Another particularity about this incredible place is how often you can see monks doing chores; they maintain the temple, do the gardening and clean apart from meditating of course. During nights, a local market takes places in the grounds of the temple: food, clothes and handcraft jewelry is sold to both locals and tourists.
Jui Tui Shrine
On Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road there is the main Chinese temple called Shrine in Phuket Island. Jui Tui Shrine is undoubtedly a must-see attraction for new visitors to the island as it is one of the most ancient spiritual centers, especially among Chinese temples (keep in mind that Thai temples are the most popular ones).
An interesting fact about this place is that the current location is not the original one, the Shrine was firstly located at Soi Romanee in Old Phuket Town yet it had to be moved due to a fire many years ago; yet the new location has firecracker buildings since 2011.
The temple had numerous renovations resulting in an incredible exterior and interior. Inside the Shrine, there are three large altars wherein Chinese God statues are settled, with Tean Hu Huan Soy as the main one, this God is associated with performing artists and dancers.
This temple is particularly important among locals; in here, many celebrations are performed, from birthdays, weddings, newborns and healing rituals too. Visiting this place to stare at one of these celebrations is such a wonderful experience.
Jui Tui Shrine also is a key part of the Annual Vegetarian Festival in Phuket.
Opened daily in Kathu Village, Katu Shrine was not a big temple yet an important one. It took lots of efforts, money and time to get the Shrine that we are able to see nowadays, yet why this place needed to grow?
The temple is the main place wherein the Annual Vegetarian Festival takes place and hundreds of people come to this place to participate in. The tradition began because an Opera from China came to the island many years ago and after a few days on the island they got sick, lately they find out they were missing their vegetarian diet and this is how the festival born.
About the temple, it is considered the holiest one by locals and beauty can be seen both inside and outside. Visitors are mostly welcome inside the shrine, yet there are some conditions to follow: they must not disturb a private hall wherein a beloved deity named the Chairman of the festival is.
Moreover, the rest of the halls and spaces of the temple are available to enter and admire, do not feel bad about it, locals cannot pass to that place too.
Kiew Tien Keng Shrine
As you may have noticed, all Chinese temples have a connection with the Vegetarian Temple and this one is not the exception. Located at Kiew Tien Keng, Saphan Hin Park, this shrine is pure beauty compiled in a place.
Its location made even more interesting for the Vegetarian Festival, as it is close to the seashore, locals consider it as the starting point to return all the deities and gods back to heaven, this is why the last night of the festival is celebrated in this shrine.
The religious place has many images in life-size from every kind of deities in different altars spread all over the temple, the most special one is a silver statue of a non-traditional monk called Ji Gong, who (by the way) was not vegetarian.
Outside the temple, the terraces that surround the building are wonderful places to stare at the shore and the Andaman Sea too; it is such a wonderful place to see the sunset any day of the week as the shrine opens daily.
Once in the terrace, do not forget to pay attention to the impressive statues of eight immortals of the Taoist tradition. Without any doubt, it is a place that must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
There are some important things you need to have in mind when visiting these wonderful places. Be aware that religious matters are always a topic that has to be taken seriously, even if you do not share the same beliefs you are about to see.
Based on this, we want you to have the very best experience by following these recommendations:
Be respectful: this is incredibly important, not only when visiting temples yet in every aspect. In Thailand, locals take their religion very serious and the last thing you want is these kind people offended by you.
Wear the adequate clothing: it is true, Phuket is a tropical island and all a traveler wants to wear is swimsuits, shorts, and sandals; it does not work for temples. Look for clothes that cover your shoulders and legs, especially if you are a woman. Do not forget you are about to get into a religious building and showing too much skin can offend locals.
About footwear: in order to enter at some of the temples, every person is asked to take the shoes off; if it is the case, you will to let them out of the building. What we recommend is to wear simple footwear, not the most expensive one; it does not happen very often yet you definitely do not want to get out of the temple and find out that your very new fancy pair of shoes has vanished.
Ask before taking photos: in some places, sometimes locals has rules about not taking pictures, especially inside of the buildings. The best option you have is to ask one of the guides or employees before taking out your camera, better to be sure.
Smoking and drinking: as usual, smoking tobacco or any type of cigarettes along with drinking alcohol are forbidden in public spaces including temples and surrounding areas. In addition, fees are really high and may include even jail time.
Never higher than a Buddha: in the Buddhist religion, Buddha's figures are the main icon; based on that Buddhist people has a tradition of never standing higher than a Buddha statue, it means you will probably have to get on your knees sometimes.