Wat Chalong, or Chalong Temple was built at the beginning on 19th century. It’s the largest, most revered and most visited Buddhist temple in Phuket. Its real name is Wat Chaitararam, but you probably won’t hear it or see it the official name on any road signs. It is almost a must to visit, often together with the Big Buddha of Phuket as they are relatively close to each other.
The tallest building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall ‘Chedi’ sheltering a splinter of bone from Buddha. Walls and ceilings are decorated with beautiful painting illustrating the life of Buddha, as well as many donated golden statues.
Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a nice bird view on the entire temple grounds. Few more steps will lead you to a glass display where the fragment of bone can be contemplated. You can see the nearby Phuket Big Buddha from there, but actually you can see it from almost anywhere in the southern part of Phuket island. The central temple is where most Thai people will make merit by offering lotus flowers and adding a small piece of gold paper to the monks statues inside. No need to tell you to remove your shoes, you already know that and the sea of shoes in front of the temple will remind you anyway. In theory you should wear long pants and no sleeveless shirts… but this requirement seems to belong to a past era.
Once in a while, you will hear loud explosions of firecrackers coming form a brick oven-like construction. That’s another way to make merit, it is supposed to show your gratitude when one of your wishes has been granted. One person stands by to lit the firecrackers for you, the big ones are pretty scary but make fun photos (see video). On the side of the temple a dozen of small shops are selling all kinds of souvenirs and tourist stuff… Strangely, the shops selling religious items are outside the temple ground, next to the gate, go figure…
Then there are the occasional large fun fairs, displaying lots of food, plenty of favourite Thai games and loud stage performances. It’s always fun, noisy, entertaining and will certainly give you interesting of opportunities to take some fun photos and an insight on Thai life.
From Phuket town, take ‘Chaofa Road’ in the direction of Chalong and Rawai. There are two Chaofa Roads: the one you need is passing in front of Central Festival and all the shopping malls. It’s about 10 km from Central on the left, well indicated.
Version Française de Wat Chalong