A Phuket activity that almost everyone can enjoy (as opposed to Hanuman World’s ziplines) is visiting the Phuket Big Buddha. The statue is 45 meters (148 feet) tall and 25 meters (83 feet) wide. It presents Buddha in a sitting position and is made of concrete covered with Burmese white marble.
Building the statue cost 30 million Baht (about $900,000). Donations are the primary source of financing the construction and maintenance costs. There is no entrance fee. Visitors are encouraged to use donation boxes at the site.
The huge image sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata. It is visible from as far away as Phuket Town and Karon Beach. Getting to the Big Buddha from Patong, the main tourist area, requires about a 30-minute drive. It is not far as the crow flies, but there is no direct route due to the island’s hilly terrain and paucity of good roads.
The Big Buddha is also accessible via a trail form Kata Beach. It requires a 15 – 20-minute hike pretty much straight up the hillside. Locals take this route all the time. Tourists, not so much.
The narrow road to the Buddha passes an elephant ride attraction. I did one of these rides years ago before being enlightened about the conditions under which the elephants must work. It looks like fun (and is), but I’d recommend researching any elephant experience before taking one of these rides.
Visitors park in the large lot and then have a short walk to see the Buddha. The road is lined with many booths selling Big Buddha related souvenirs and artifacts.
The Big Buddha is part of an operational Buddhist wat (temple). It is disrespectful to enter the property and the temple in short skirts, beachwear, or T-shirts with offensive images or words. Wear a sarong or other clothes that cover your shoulders and legs. As with many wats, you can buy inexpensive clothes to cover up if you are dressed inappropriately.
As a non-Buddhist, one of the best aspects was the amazing view. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island, with vistas of Phuket Town, Kata, Karon, and Chalong Bay.
The Big Buddha is home to a troupe of mischievously playful monkeys who provide an entertaining sidelight.
Phuket Big Buddha is an ideal place to sample a bit of Thai Buddhist culture, relax, and take in views of the island. It should be on the itinerary if you visit Phuket.