Kio Thian Keng Shrine is a colourful Chinese shrine that is set on the seashore inside Saphan Hin public park in Phuket Town. It’s a place of worship for the local Chinese-Thai community and it plays an important role as the site of the final farewell to the gods during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
Kio Thian Keng Shrine is one of the newer Chinese shrines in Phuket, and it has grown in size and splendour in the years since it was built. The temple is adorned with fierce golden dragons, red lanterns, elaborate fabric panels, and several statues of Taoist gods the Goddess Guan Yin.
About Kio Thian Keng Shrine
Kio Thian Keng Shrine was built in 1996, making it distinctly modern compared with other well-known shrines in Phuket like Bang Neaw and Jui Tui that are more than a century old. It’s situated well inside Saphan Hin park at a site of reclaimed land that was once a port during Phuket’s tin mining heydays
Just steps away from the shrine is a small, rather rough beach and a wide promenade that’s a popular place for people to enjoy a stroll or a run. On a clear day, you can see the Phi Phi islands in the distance across the bay.
Kio Thian Keng shrine’s buildings have peaked roofs with serpentine dragons stretched across the top. Hundreds of red lanterns hang from the ceilings and cast a mystical glow in the temple when lit up at night time. Stepping inside, you’ll first come nearly face to face with two fierce golden dragon statues that wrap around the interior columns. The central altar has a statue of the shrine’s main deity Kio Thian Keng and several other god statues that are approached and bowed to with respect by worshippers who come to make merit.
The Goddess Guan Yin is highly revered here, and next to the temple there’s a 5-metre tall statue of the goddess in white Burmese jade standing inside a large gazebo. Guan Yin’s statue and was made by artisans of the Fine Arts Department in China who follow sculpting traditions dating back to the Tang Dynasty. She was built to honour the late HM King Rama IX of Thailand for his 84th birthday, and to celebrate Thai and Chinese people joining together to pray for eternal prosperity.
There’s also a row of 8 very life-like Taoist god statues at the edge of the temple grounds that stand facing the sea.
Kio Thian Keng Shrine in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Kio Thian Keng Shrine is at its most crowded during the nine-day Phuket Vegetarian Festival that usually takes place in October. During the festival, throngs of people come to make merit at the shrine and some perhaps volunteer in the kitchen at the back to make vegetarian food for worshippers.
But it’s on the festival’s last day when things really get lively at Kio Thian Keng Shrine. The Vegetarian Festival’s final night is when devotees from all of the island’s Chinese shrines come together for a final procession that winds through Phuket Town and ends at Kio Thian Keng Shrine. The night air is thick with firecracker smoke and the noise is deafening, as festival participants make their way to the seaside shrine to bid farewell to the festival gods in a boisterous closing ceremony.
Visiting Kio Thian Keng Shrine
Kio Thian Keng Shrine is open every day and anyone is welcome to come in to have a look around. As it’s a place of worship it’s advised to dress modestly, and you’ll need to remove your shoes if going inside the main shrine building. During the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, it would be best to wear all white when visiting the shrine as a sign of respect for festival traditions.
Visitors who are not coming to make merit might spend only a few minutes or maybe half an hour at most at the temple, as it’s not very big and all the signage posted around the shrine is in Thai only. Unlike Thai Buddhist temples, there are no monks here though you might see a few people on site who are volunteer caretakers.
Kio Thian Keng Shrine is worth a visit if you’re wanting to explore Saphan Hin park, which has wide green areas for relaxing or picnicking, a seaside promenade, beach volleyball nets, food vendors, and sports facilities like tennis courts and a swimming pool. There’s a parking area next to the shrine and plenty of places along the park’s roads to park your car or motorbike.
Saphan Hin is host to several events throughout the year so if you visit Kio Thian Keng Shrine you might just stumble upon a fun little local festival or sports competition, many of which are not promoted to tourists at all.
There’s no entry fee for Kio Thian Keng Shrine, but you could drop a bit of money into the shrine’s donation box to help with its upkeep.
Kio Thian Keng Saphan Hin Shrine Info
Location: Saphan Hin, Phuket Town
Address: Soi Bang Yai, Wichit, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000
Kio Thian Keng Saphan Hin Shrine Map
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2022 – September 25th to October 4th