Climbing the trail from Karon Beach to the Big Buddha
Hiking to Phuket Big Buddha from Karon Beach is a great experience for the adventurous: there’s a slower and sweatier way to the top of Big Buddha Hill, starting from the west side of the hill near Kata and Karon beaches. If you start from Karon Beach (near Siam Commercial Bank), the way up is about 2.3 km and takes about an hour with rest breaks. The hike is moderately challenging. One short section is steep and slippery and needs to use the ropes.
Taking Patak Soi 14 across the road from the Siam Commercial Bank at Karon Plaza, just walk along towards Big Buddha Hill and you’ll spot small signs along the way pointing the way to the trails. Hopefully, the signs, which are rather flimsy looking, are still there when you try them. If I’d been clever enough to use a GPS tracking app during my walk, I’d post a detailed walking map of the journey, but instead, I’ll let you have your own adventure finding your way up!
Part of the hike is along a road or partially paved track, but for about 1,500 metres there’s a steep dirt track through the jungle. This section really gets the heart racing! I don’t know who takes care of the trail but it was in good shape when we walked it in late March 2018, and there are hand ropes along some of the steeper sections to help keep you from slipping.
The dirt path ends at the road, with about 500 metres to walk along the road before reaching the hilltop. Along the way, be sure to stop and take a look back to take in the spectacular sea views.
There’s another way up to Phuket Big Buddha that’s longer, but not as steep or jungly, and you’ll share the trail at times with a few motorbike and ATV riders. If you’d rather take it this way, then go left where there’s a sign saying it’s 4km to the Big Buddha. We took this way down the hill on my most recent hike.
In all, the hike to Phuket Big Buddha took about 2.5 hours up and back, with plenty of time spent stopping to snap photos and lingering at the hilltop to savour the cooling breezes! I managed to do the hike wearing regular running shoes, though sturdier walking shoes or lightweight hiking shoes with a better grip would have been ideal.
It’s best to go in the early morning before it gets too hot. But it’s still a hot walk! Vendors selling fresh coconuts and drinking water are positioned perfectly to make easy sales to sweaty hikers just as they arrive at Big Buddha.
Map of the Big Buddha Trail
Street view of the 1st entrance
>Street view of the path entrance
Street view of the landing point near Big Buddha