After visiting the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore, we thought it would be nice to visit Phuket’s largest and most revered Wat Chalong Temple. Often listed as one of the top things to see in Phuket, we didn’t want to miss it.
What is the Wat Chalong Temple?
The simplest way to describe Wat Chalong is a temple complex. The grounds include several different holy buildings – a viharn, a mondop, a ubosot, a chedi containing a secret relic, a sala, and a crematorium.
The complex is most revered as being home to the Phra Borom Sareerikatat, a bone relic of Buddha kept high in the chedi protected within a glass case.
Viharn = A sermon hall.
Mondop = A square building with a pyramid-shaped roof that will typically house relics & scriptures.
Ubosot = A prayer room/ordination hall.
Chedi = Sometimes called a stupa, this building is typically the most important building in a temple complex (wat).
Sala = An open rectangular building, typically used for rest & shelter
Crematorium = A building where the dead are cremated, commonly distinguished by a high chimney.
The complex is dedicated to two Buddhist monks, Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang. Both are renowned for their help in the Chinese rebellion of 1876 and knowledge of herbal medicine. There are many legends that surround these holy men, including the legend of Luang Phor Cham’s walking stick. Still kept on the grounds today, but not visible to the public, many believe it has healing powers.
Unless you’re staying within walking distance, I highly recommend taking a taxi (with air con.) and negotiating a round trip rate. This way your driver will wait while you explore (usually up to 1-2 hours). Don’t worry that’s more than enough time.
What to Expect
As you pull up to the grounds, the first thing you’ll notice is the ornately decorated temples towering high above the trees. Each one of buildings has its own unique design and vary in size.
Connecting each one of the buildings is a beautiful landscape, with lush green trees scattered throughout the property. These are perfect for photos and great escapes from the hot sun.
Like most people we were drawn to the largest building, the chedi, and joined other guests in exploring its life-size golden statues, paintings, and marble interior. After navigating up the steep marble staircases, we found ourselves on the roof gazing out across the surrounding island. On a clear day, if you look close enough, you can see the Big Buddha statue on the mountain horizon.
In addition to a sprawling 360-degree view, at the top of the chedi, there is a rare bone relic of Buddha. Here you’ll find guests praying and slipping in donations between the divisions in the glass case. Regardless of your religion or beliefs, you can feel a sense of hope and peace in the air.
Be “Mindful” of the Cats
Although the chedi is the largest and most popular buildings, be sure to explore all the surrounding buildings. Each has their own unique purpose. As we stopped in to explore each one we couldn’t help but notice the adorable & allusive cats that call the temples home. It really makes you appreciate how peaceful and serene these temples can be not only for us but all animals.
Make sure you arrive early to beat the crowds. This is a popular tourist destination. Take time to explore each one of the buildings. There are educational signs posted throughout the complex to help answer any questions. Most importantly remember to be a conscientious traveler and brush up on temple etiquette before visiting Wat Chalong or any temple in Thailand.
A Must-See Destination but…
Wat Chalong is a must-see destination when visiting Phuket but depending on where you’re staying on, transportation to and from can be pretty pricey. It’s a good idea to try and split the cost across a group of people, or spend just a little bit more and go on a Site-Seeing tour that includes the Big Buddha. You’ll have plenty of chances to arrange tours when you’re on the island and often times at better rates than online.
Visiting Phuket? Be sure to read Thailand | Phuket Elephant Jungle Sanctuary