Big Buddha Phuket, a 45 meter tall white marble statue, is visible from anywhere in the southern part of Phuket. It might not be my favourite attraction on the island, but the views from up there are definitely breathtaking. When reaching the top of the hill you will find a large parking and a road leading to a temple where people can donate, buy amulets and where occasional ceremonies are held. This place also serves as a museum narrating the history of the Big Buddha. You’ll have to walk through this building to access the stairs climbing to the Big Buddha. Once there you’ll find out that a wide angle lens would have been a good idea, but since you are reading this, you’ll have yours.
The top of the hill is not that wide and the Big Buddha is really massive, so it is not easy to capture it in its entirety. Mostly built on people’s donation in 2004, Big Buddha Phuket is 45 meter high and made of white marble. Next to it is a smaller golden Buddha actually made of brass.
From up there you will get some pretty stunning bird view on three large bays. Before that day, I always thought they were far from each other. Directly in front of the Big Buddha is Chalong Bay and when sky is clear, you will see all the way to Phang Nga Bay. Few steps to the west, another short staircase will take you to a terrace from which you’ll get a nice view on Kata Bay and Kata Noi Bay. You might even recognize Promthep Cape and even Nai Harn Windmill. The best spot to see the third bay is actually to stop at the restaurant on the way up. From up there you’ll get from there a very good panorama of Karon Beach.
Why does it feel like a tourist attraction? Too many massive signs all the way to the Sarasin bridge some 50 km away and too many signs pointing at the site when closing up… where is the humility and the feeling of inner peace? Forget any possible reflection on the beauty of the site, the background soundtracks is way to loud, so altogether: the attraction is too obvious. Koh Samui always had a very popular Giant Buddha and it feels like Phuket wanted to have it bigger.
Big Buddha Phuket is definitely a site to visit. It has become a tourist attraction but it is still very impressive and worth a photo… If you prefer more modest but beautiful temples, the sitting Buddha of Wat Kao Rang or the reclining Buddha of Wat Sri Sunthorn are more humble.
Just follow the many signs on the way to Chalong Circle. It would be hard to miss and it is not far from Wat Chalong. The road leading to the site itself is in a decent condition but can be tricky, drive carefully. See also 10 Viewpoints of Phuket.