The Shrine of the Serene Light (Sangtham Shrine) used to be ‘the little hidden Chinese temple’ hidden right under your nose on Phang Nga road, one of the most popular street of Phuket Town. While most Thais knew all about it, only few foreigners would be aware of its existence and proudly whisper its secret location to newbies like an old secret passage to some mystic temple.
The Shrine of the Serene Light, called Ting Kwan Tang in Chinese and Saeng Tham Shrine in Thai, was built in 1889 by a Chinese family and had originally two entrances, both hidden. The main entrance was a narrow anonymous looking gate leading to a run down anonymous walkway located on Phang Nga road, not really hidden but no one was paying attention to what was behind it. The second entrance however was more entertaining: it was found behind the toilets of a local restaurant called Wilai, which incidentally serves delicious Hokkien Noodles among others dishes.
The anecdote of the passage next to the toilet would pop up each you would have lunch with an local expat…: “Hey did you know there was a secret passage to a hidden Chinese temple called Shrine of The Serene Light just past the toilet?” With this introduction you suddenly became the center of the attention. Then in 2010, with Phuket rocketing popularity and tourist’s appetite for anything secret, the shrine entrance was widened and highlighted by a very large and unmissable Chinese gate. So much for the little secret, and worse, the secret passage from Wilai restaurant is now closed… what are they going to talk about?
While the small shrine itself has remain untouched, keeping its original old wall paintings, ceramic roof and authentic atmosphere, the garden and buildings surrounding it have been entirely rebuilt and repainted. The result is actually quite pleasant and a good photo opportunity.
(See also our large Old Phuket Town Photo Gallery)