Discover the best way to visit the Big Buddha in Phuket, a stunning marble statue and landmark temple. This complete guide covers Chalong and Karon areas too!
Did you know 12 million people visit Phuket each year?
The vast majority of them will visit the colossal white statue sitting above Chalong on the south of the island called Big Buddha. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them!
So, I’ll dive into everything about the Big Buddha in Phuket that I’ve gathered from living on the island so you can enjoy it on your next trip!
From location to dress code, I’ve got you covered.
So, let’s get started.
Where is the Big Buddha in Phuket?
Phuket’s Big Buddha can be seen from just about anywhere on the island.
It’s nestled among Kata, Karon, and Chalong at the top of Nakkerd Hill.
To get there, you must head to the southern part of Phuket, near Chalong Bay.
The easiest way to get there is by taxi or private car, but you can also rent a scooter or take a tuk-tuk. Driving there is also an option that may add some adventure!
Remember that the road up to the Big Buddha can be steep and winding, so if you’re uncomfortable driving in these conditions, it’s best to hire a driver.
Once you arrive at the base of the hill, you’re there!
Well…almost. You’ll need to climb 306 steps to reach the statue.
No sweat, right?
Actually, there’s a good chance of sweating since you’re in Phuket.
If you aren’t in the best shape, don’t worry.
There are plenty of spots to rest along the way, and the views of the surrounding area are breathtaking.
Big Buddha Phuket history
The Big Buddha in Phuket is a seated “Maravija Buddha” statue.
However, it has a few names, like “Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Eknakiri” or “Ming Mongkol Buddha.” But I think I’ll stick to Big Buddha 😅.
The idea for the Buddhism statue came from a group of monks who wanted to spread peace in the region and thought the statue would help unite people.
So, construction started in 2004 atop Nakkerd Hill due to its panoramic views of the island. And donations from local residents and visitors helped build the entire structure. It took several years to finish — officially opening in 2010 — and is 45 meters tall (150 feet) and a width of 25.45 meters (83 feet), making it the 3rd-largest Buddha statue in Thailand.
Besides the statue, there is also an active temple (called a wat in Thai) where you can check out a few smaller Buddha statues and attractions. You can also observe the monks during their daily rituals and even receive a blessing!
Plus, since the construction is ongoing, you can buy a marble tile that goes into the statue’s base!
You can buy a small tile for around 300 baht ($9) or a large one for 1000 baht ($30). You can also write on it to try and find it on your visit back to Phuket in the future 😉.
What to know before visiting the Phuket Big Buddha
Visiting the Phuket Big Buddha is one thing that makes visiting Phuket worth it.
The 45-meter-tall white marble statue shines from atop Nakkerd Hill in Phuket, which is why people flock to it.
But there are a few things to know before you visit:
Follow the Big Buddha Phuket dress code
Big Buddha is a sacred place for the Thai people.
And as such, you should treat it with respect. That includes adhering to the dress standards, or you’ll be refused entry.
The dress code requires you to dress modestly and respectfully. That means covering your shoulders and legs above your knees. Avoid shorts, skirts, and sleeveless tops to make it easier for yourself. You can also wear a sarong covering you while you visit the statue and temple (which they provide).
It is important to note that the dress code applies to both men and women. So, men should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops as well.
Also, you should remove your shoes before entering any temple.
It’s a sign of respect and standard practice in Buddhist temples. You will find shoe racks outside the door, or you can simply place them off to the side for when you return.
What are the Big Buddha Phuket opening hours?
Big Buddha is open from sunrise to sunset.
That means you can get here and catch the beautiful sunrise from one of Phuket’s best viewpoints or choose to catch the sunset — you can see both from here.
I recommend visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds. You also avoid visiting at the hottest time of the day. And when you’re on one of the highest hills in Phuket, you feel it.
How much is the Big Buddha Phuket entrance fee?
There is no entrance fee, so it’s free to visit the Big Buddha.
However, you can make a donation in the donation box near the statue to help keep it running. Plus, you can buy a piece of marble that goes into the construction of the Big Buddha.
So you get an excellent way to leave a memory behind forever!
There are facilities at Big Buddha
Don’t worry if you forget a snack or drink. There are shops at the entrance next to the parking lot where you can buy anything.
Soft drinks, water, chips, candy — they’ve got it all here.
Plus, there are a few small souvenir shops where you can grab take-home items from your trip. Just remember that all of these items — food and souvenirs — will be more expensive than in other areas of Phuket.
You can save money by bringing snacks and buying souvenirs elsewhere.
Last, there are restrooms.
They’re located in the parking lot area. Consider bringing your own toilet paper, though. It’s hit-or-miss on if you’ll have any in the restrooms already.
Bring your camera
The statue of Big Buddha itself is perfect for every photo and angle.
The white jade marble shining in the Phuket sun is enough to make you go blind, but it’s worth it if this is the last thing you see. But that’s only one part of it.
When you turn around, you see why Big Buddha has a smile on his face.
The views are gorgeous as you look out over Chalong Bay from the top of the hill. The blue waters stretch out for miles, and you get a full view of the island of Phuket and how green it is.
So, while this is one of the most revered landmarks on the island, it’s also an excellent viewpoint.
And you’ll want pictures — plenty of ’em.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy your visit to the Phuket Big Buddha fully. Remember to take in the breathtaking views and immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of this spiritual landmark.
How to get to the Big Buddha in Phuket
So, naturally, you’re all excited to get there now, right?
Here are some options:
Hire a tuk-tuk
One of the most popular and unique ways to get to the Big Buddha is to hire a tuk-tuk.
If you’ve got a group, this is a great option. Just be sure to negotiate the price before you take the ride.
Rent a motorbike
If you’re more adventurous, renting a motorbike is an excellent option.
You get more flexibility and independence, but make sure you’re comfortable driving on winding mountain roads and with people zipping past you at insane speeds.
Join a tour
If you want more of a personal experience, join a tour with a visit to the Big Buddha.
Phuket tours are more frequent than street meat in Thailand. And you could book a tour around the south of Phuket to see all the attractions in one go. If the tour starts at Big Buddha, that’s better!
It’s a more convenient option, and you can often get picked up at your accommodation. Just make sure to choose a reputable company.
If you prefer just a private driver for the day, I recommend using Khun Supat. He was a driver for me when I needed him and is one of the most awesome people to have to drive you around for a day.
You can reach him or his business partner here:
- Khun Supat/Khun Van Whatsapp: +66 877 221 477
Go on a Hike
If you want a non-touristy thing to do in Phuket, hike to Big Buddha.
You have a few different options to choose from:
- Walk up the main road
- Hike from Kata
- Hike from Karon
Walk up the main road
This is the easiest way.
Starting at Chaofah Road, you’ll simply follow the main winding road to the popular tourist attraction. The tall Big Buddha, made of marble, often glistens in the sun on your way up. So you’ll have plenty of chances to get an excellent picture of Lord Buddha from different angles.
Also, there are a few restaurants and bars along the road leading to Big Buddha’s entrance, so you can stop off for a drink to cool off and get a beautiful view.
Hike from Kata Beach
The hike from Kata Beach to Big Buddha is…steep.
So be prepared to do some climbing. The hike is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Kata to Big Buddha and back. And along the way up, you’ll climb around 400 meters (1,300 feet).
On the way up, you’ll go up some pretty steep hillsides that may require some scrambling. There is a rope at certain sections to help pull yourself up, but it’s only part of the entire trail.
I recommend following the AllTrails map, at least until you get on to the trail. After that, it’s just up, up, up. So it takes a lot of work to get lost.
Overall, this is a fun (and challenging) hike that’s worth it once you reach the top!
Hike from Karon Beach
I did this hike the second day I was in Phuket…and it instantly made me fall in love with the place.
Starting in Karon, you’ll wind up the hill through the Phuket jungle on a relatively easy hillside path leading past rubber tree farms, wildlife, and an elephant camp.
It begins opposite Baan Karon Resort, and Phuket101 has the perfect guide for you to follow, so I recommend it 👍
Whichever option you choose, make sure to wear sunscreen along with proper hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.
Other attractions near The Big Buddha of Phuket
You won’t only visit Big Buddha, right?
While it’s hard to miss Big Buddha on a trip to Phuket, there are plenty of other popular attractions, such as Wat Chalong, for you to see along the way!
So, while you’re on your trip in Phuket, make sure you have a chance to stop at these attractions:
- Wat Chalong: It’s one of the most important temples in Phuket, and it’s basically at the bottom of Nagakerd Hill. Well worth the visit.
- Phuket Town: Many people skip Phuket Town while visiting Phuket Island. And it’s a mistake. If you’re planning a trip, include the city of Phuket.
- Viewpoints: Big Buddha has one of the best viewpoints in Phuket, but there are plenty of others for you to check out on your trip!
- Hiking trails: If you want more than only the Big Buddha hike, there are plenty of other Phuket hikes for you to enjoy.
Where to stay to experience Big Buddha
Realistically, Big Buddha is easy to see no matter where you are on the island.
But if you want to make it as convenient as possible, book your airbnb or hotel in Chalong, Karon, or Kata.
These three areas surround the hill Big Buddha sits on and will make it easy for you to get there. In order of convenience:
FAQs about Big Buddha in Phuket
When was Big Buddha in Phuket built?
Construction began in 2004, and it took over 10 years to complete the statue.
The base of the statue is still under construction. It is made of white Burmese marble and stands at an impressive height of 45 meters (148 feet).
Is Big Buddha in Phuket worth seeing?
Big Buddha is absolutely worth seeing!
The Big Buddha in Phuket is one of the most iconic landmarks on the island and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area. It is a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to Phuket.
How long does it take to see Big Buddha in Phuket?
Your time at Big Buddha in Phuket depends on your preferences.
On average, visitors spend about 1-2 hours exploring the area, taking pictures, and enjoying the views. However, if you want to take your time and soak in the atmosphere, you can easily spend half a day or more.
What is the best time to visit Phuket’s Big Buddha?
The best time to visit Phuket’s Big Buddha is early morning or late afternoon.
This is when the weather is cooler, and the crowds are smaller. If you visit during the middle of the day, it can be sweltering and crowded, detracting from the experience.
Are there toilets at Big Buddha in Phuket?
Yes, there are toilets available at Big Buddha in Phuket.
They are located near the parking area and are free to use. However, bringing your own toilet paper is always a good idea, as it may not be provided.
What is a fun fact about the Big Buddha in Phuket?
A fun fact about the Big Buddha in Phuket is that it was built entirely from donations.
It is said that over 1.5 million people have donated money towards the construction of the statue, which is a testament to the popularity and importance of the landmark.
Can you hike to Big Buddha?
Yes! You can hike to Big Buddha from Chalong, Kata, and Karon!
You can choose Chalong if you want to hike on the road. And Kata and Karon are great for getting into the trees and on a dirt path!
Are you ready to visit the Big Buddha in Phuket?
Big Buddha is easily one of the top 5 must-see attractions in Phuket.
And hopefully, this guide helped you on your next visit to the island.