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Phuket Big Buddha

Phuket’s most iconic landmark

Visible from anywhere in the southern part of the island, the Big Buddha of Phuket is a 45-metre-tall statue covered with white marble tiles. This impressive landmark is probably at the top of everyone’s ‘Must-Do in Phuket‘ and we never miss a chance to drive up there to admire it and pay respect. The site is superb and the size of the Buddha is humbling, with breathtaking panoramic views from the top. We were lucky enough to live in Phuket for long enough to witness the long process of starting the building in 2002, to become what is now the most iconic site in Phuket.

Big Buddha Phuket

Before we go further in this story, please remember Phuket Big Buddha is a religious site, so please avoid wearing too short clothes and act respectfully when taking photos and selfies! Just think if you would act the same way in a church, a mosque or any religious site in your country. Thank you for respecting Thai cultural and religious sites. 🙂

Phuket Big Buddha Video

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Visiting the Big Buddha

Phuket Big Buddha from Above

A sweeping staircase decorated by immense marble Nagas (Mythical serpent deities ) led us from the front panoramic terrace to the white Buddha statue. The stairs are only to climb up as we are not allowed to walk them down. There is a separate way down on the hillside, and a security guard sitting there all day ensures we all respect this rule. Don’t worry if you forgot to take photos and selfies the first time, as it’s easy to return on the way out.

The Big Buddha of Phuket and the 94 steps that lead to the statue

If you wonder or worry, there are 94 steps to reach the Big Buddha and climbing them is relatively easy (thank you to our reader Joni for counting them for us!). Last time we checked, there was no lift to go to the top, so if you have mobility issues, you might just be able to enjoy the front terrace.

The Big Buddha of Phuket with the completed staircase and two Nagas

Panoramic Views of Kata and Chalong

A few steps to the west, another short staircase took us to a terrace from which we could enjoy a beautiful view of Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach. We could even recognise Promthep Cape and even Nai Harn Windmill in the far south! The best spot to see the third bay is to stop at the restaurant on the way up. We never miss a chance to stop for lunch or a drink, because from there, we get a magnificent panorama of Karon Beach.

Kata Beach Panorama from the viewpoint located in the back of the Big Buddha of Phuket

From the platform behind the Buddha statue, we got stunning bird views on three large bays up there. Before that day, we always thought the bays of Kata and Chalong were far from each other. Facing the statue is Chalong Bay, and beyond it, you will even see Phang Nga Bay when the sky is clear!

Chalong Bay seen from Phuket Big Buddha.jpg

 

The site has become a tourist attraction and can be busy on some days of the high season, but it is imposing and worth a photo. When it gets too busy, we sometimes enjoy other modest but beautiful temples with Buddha statues, like the golden sitting Buddha of Wat Kao Rang or the reclining Buddha of Wat Sri Sunthorn which is more humble.

The Temple

Monk praying at the temple located at the base of the Big Buddha of Phuket

On the way down, we walked through a temple where monks sit all day to give blessings and hold occasional ceremonies, mostly for locals. Here too, we often donate money to the temple and buy amulets. This place also serves as a museum narrating the history of the Big Buddha construction. You can purchase snacks and drinks all along the way, but no alcohol is allowed.

Is there a dress code at Phuket Big Buddha?

Dress code to visit Phuket Big Buddha
Dress code to visit Phuket Big Buddha: Sleeveless shirts, too-short pants or skirts above the knee are not authorised,

There is a dress code to visit Phuket Big Buddha: Sleeveless shirts, too-short pants or skirts above the knee are not authorised, so if you wear short skirts or shorts, they will hand you a free sarong and ask you to wear it. While it is a popular tourist attraction, it is also an active temple with monks, so remember to dress appropriately and try not to speak too loudly, as we often hear people unfortunately do, especially for social media. Security will check your attire at the path entrance leading to the temple.

When was Phuket Big Buddha built?

Phuket Big Buddha started in 2002 as the foundation stone was laid by General Phijit Kulawanich, Privy Councilor, on May 22, 2002. The official name is ‘Phraphutthamingmongkhol-akenagakhiri Buddha’, meaning “Happiness on top of Nakerd Mountain”.

The Construction of the Phuket Big Buddha

The statue was built with people’s donations and is still under construction. If you want to help finish the building, you can sponsor a white marble piece for 300 or 1,000 baht, depending on the tile’s size. The statue of Lord Buddha is complete now, as well as the beautiful staircase, but some areas under the statues are still under construction.

How to Get to Phuket Big Buddha?

Most tour agencies and tuk-tuks in Phuket can take you to the Big Buddha, and the entrance is free. If you prefer to drive, the Big Buddha is at the top of Nakkerd Hill near Chalong, south of Phuket Island. We follow the many road signs on the way to Chalong Circle, coming from Phuket Town. The road to the Buddha is hard to miss and is not far from Wat Chalong.

Driving to Phuket Big Buddha

The small winding road off Chaofa West Road leads to the site and is in good condition but can be tricky on the way down; so even though we are experienced driers in Phuket, we always drive down carefully. There are several ways to visit the Big Buddha of Phuket: you can ride your rented car or motorbike, use a tuk-tuk to go up there and ask him to wait for you, join a half-day tour or even join an ATV tour. There is also a trail to hike from Karon Beach to the site, but that is quite a hike.

How to get to Phuket Big Buddha

The road to the statue is well-paved and easy to ride despite many curves; however, as mentioned earlier, we drive slowly and carefully on the way down. Once at the top of the hill, we always find ample and well-organised parking. As we approach the site, a security officer always checks our attire. If your shorts or skirts are too short, you will be required to wear a sarong, provided for free, but we are used to it and always wear knee-length shorts.

Phuket Big Buddha Hike

The hike from Karon to Big Buddha is a 2.6 km steep walk
The hike from Karon to Big Buddha is a 2.6 km steep walk

We walked to Phuket Big Buddha through a relatively easy hillside path opposite Baan Karon Resort on Patak Road in Karon Beach. The climb is only 2.5 kilometres on Google map and 1 Kilometre if we believe the boulder in the photo below. It took us about an hour with rest breaks. The hike is moderately challenging. One short section is steep and slippery and we had to use the ropes installed for this purpose. Climbing to the Big Buddha site is not recommended if you have a heart condition or lack physical exercise. The dirt road is now wide and well-cleaned, but some parts are still narrow and we found it relatively steep. Read more about hikes to Big Buddha

Where to Eat Nearby?

Nak Kerd Seaview Panoramic Restaurant

Nak Kerd Seaview Panoramic Restaurant

On the way up or down, we never miss a chance to stop at one of the panoramic restaurants for snacks or drinks. We love to enjoy a Thai lunch at Nak Kerd Seaview Cafe with a beautiful view of Karon Beach, or even just a coffee, a soft drink or a beer; the birdview is worth the photo. Read more

Address: Chaofa West Road, Soi Yod Santhan
Open: 9.30 am – 7 pm
Tel: 087 888 9207


Star Mountain Cafe

Star Mountain Cafe on the hill leading to Phuket Big Buddha

Star Mountain Cafe is another tiny open-air restaurant where we occasionally stop for the sweeping views of the bay of Karon below. The cafe is located just before arriving at the Big Buddha and serves drinks and good simple Thai food.

Hours: 9 am – 9 pm
Phone: 089 287 7577

360 Panorama

More photos of Phuket Big Buddha

 

Information

Phuket Big Buddha Info

Location: Chalong
Address: Soi Yot Sane 1, Chaofa West Rd, Nakkerd Hill near Chalong
Open: 6 am – 7.30 pm
Phone: 083 556 2242
Dress Code: No short skirts or short pants, no sleeveless Tee shirts
Admission: Free
Built: 2004
Official name: Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri
Height: 45 m

This story was first published on June 6, 2012

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Fast Facts about Phuket Big Buddha

🧱 Year of construction2002
🕗 Opening hours:6 am to 7 pm
📷 Viewpoints on:Kata, Karon, Chalong
👫 Dress code:no shorts or short skirts
🍴 Restaurant nearby:Nakkerd Seaview Restaurant
🏃‍♂️ Hike from Karon:2.6 km
🚙 Distance from Kata Beach:12 km
🚙 Distance from Patong Beach:24 km
🚙 Distance from Bang Tao Beach:37 km
✈️ Distance from Phuket International Airport:47 km

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Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world early until I settled in Phuket in 1994. For the past 30 years, my passion for photography and my curiosity have taken me to every corner of Phuket, Bangkok and everywhere I could go in Thailand. My goal is to share my discoveries, photos and tips to help travellers plan their holidays by making Phuket 101 as easy as possible to use for everyone!