Big Buddha is Phuket’s top Buddhist attraction, making a good half-day trip
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Phuket's Big Buddha is both one of the island’s major attractions and one of its most visible. The 45 metre, white marble statue sitting on a peak in the mountain range behind Chalong is visible from many parts of the island. The image of sitting Buddha gazes east over Chalong Bay and the islands to the east, and towers over both Kata and Karon beaches, which are behind. The huge Buddha statue makes a fascinating and worthwhile outing, however, we suggest that there is more on this mountain than meets the eye, and the combination of Buddha plus other attractions make it a worthwhile half-day trip for families, groups or couples.
transport This trip is easiest for those with their own transport. Anyone renting a tuk-tuk or taxi for the trip up the mountain will need a very clear understanding with the driver if you wish to stop for anything more than the Buddha itself. Tuk-tuk drivers on Phuket are famed for being both unreasonable and greedy, so self driving is the hassle-free way. The road up the mountain leaves Chao Fah Road West a few kilometres from the Chalong 5-way circle. There are many signs and one can hardly miss the turn. Large numbers of people visit the statue each day, and most group tours to Phuket also include a visit here. Going early or late to miss the crowds, and the heat of the day, is advisable.
dress code As with most Buddhist monasteries, visitors are expected to dress politely. Men need a shirt, and while short pants are acceptable for men, they are not for women, who should cover their legs to the knees. Ladies or girls who turn up in beach attire will be offered a sarong at the entry.
donations The Big Buddha is built entirely from donations, and the work has been on-going for about 10 years and is not yet complete (2015). Visitors are asked to help by buying and donating a marble tile. Most write their name or a message on the back and hope their tile will end up in an auspicious location. While the inner constructions is reinforced concrete and brick, the outer layer is entirely white marble which enhances its visibility from afar.
Below the main terrace supporting the Buddha is a building with photos showing the history of the project, plus donation boxes.