During my week in Phuket, I visited six of the 29 Buddhist temples on the island. Why are Thai temples so much more beautiful and shinier than Korean temples? I don’t know, but I couldn’t get enough of them…
Wat Chalong is the largest and most visited temple in Phuket and therefore the most touristy. One cool feature at this temple is that there is a “firecracker room”. If you want to bring firecrackers as a thanks for your prayer being answered, the “firecracker man” will light them inside the room for you. You can also purchase the materials used for offerings. When praying and requesting a favor to Buddha, Thai people take three incense sticks (one for Buddha, one for the Buddhist community, and one for the teachings of the Buddha), a flower (orchid or lotus, which symbolizes the Buddhist teachings purity) and a small candle (it symbolizes comprehension enlightenment).
After seeing Big Buddha on top of a mountain several times while riding around the island, I knew I had to visit. After driving up the mountain, you have to ascend 78 steps to reach the statue itself. It is still under construction and you can purchase a piece of marble to be added to the statue and write your name and message on it. There is also a smaller brass Buddha at the temple. On the walk down, I got to hear the monks chanting which was cool as well.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
This temple is over 500 years old and reportedly the oldest in Phuket. There is also an interesting story to it. Phra Nang Sang means built by a royal lady. The legend goes that Lady Luad Khao was condemned to death for having an affair. Before her death, she asked for permission to pay her last respects to the Buddha relics in Sri Lanka. When she returned, she built this temple. When she was executed, her blood ran white showing her innocence and earning her the name Luad Khao (white blood).
Wat Sri Sunthon
The coolest thing about this temple is the giant gold reclining Buddha on the roof. There were lots of colorful animal statues as well (you know I love cheesy).
Wat Phra Thong
Although Wat Phra Thong is apparently the second most important Buddhist temple in Phuket, I found it to be the most unimpressive. It’s most notable aspect is the half-buried golden Buddha, which does have a cool story behind it: anyone who has tried to dig up the statue has suffered terrible misfortune or death. There was also a gold leaf-covered Buddha. (They cover the Buddha statue with thin gold leaves to honor Buddha teachings. In case of pain, the leaf shall be stuck at the same location on the Buddha statue.)
I call this one “Mystery Wat” because I don’t know the name of it! I told the driver to take me to the other temples but this one was on the way so he stopped by there as well. He said this is where Thai people take their children on weekends to learn about Buddhism. It was very peaceful and the people were friendly and greeted me. There were many cats, dogs, and chickens running around as well. I was definitely the only tourist there (as well as at Wat Phra Nang Sang and Wat Sri Sunthon).
I visited Wat Chalong on the Phuket Introduction City Sightseeing Tour with Viator. Well worth the $11.
The other temples I had a driver take me around to. Contact Mr. Jimmy at email@example.com or 081-271-1820. His rate was 1800 baht ($60) for 8 hours in an 11 person van (per van, not per person).