Situated on top of a mountain with sweeping panoramic views, The Big Buddha has the best seat in Phuket. The shining white Buddha is easily spotted on the lush green mountain and can be seen from nearby attractions such as Wat Chalong. The Big Buddha’s calm visage inspires tourists to find the same tranquility when visiting the grounds.
How To Get Here & Parking at The Big Buddha
This grand marble Buddha sits peacefully atop Nakkerd Hill or Naga Hill. A twisty and very steep road leads up to The Big Buddha. Ideally, you have your own or a rented vehicle. Be very careful when driving up the hill. Not only does the slope make things difficult, but there may be other drivers and motorcyclists driving recklessly that could startle you.
If you do not have a car, you can do what we did and hire a driver for the day. This service costs around 1800 Baht for 8 hours, and because of the difficult road, we were asked for an extra 100 Baht to visit the Big Buddha. We highly recommend Mr Phongsak Rordsong (WhatsApp: +66 866 843 510), nicknamed “Crab.” His English was quite good, and he was very friendly with lots of smiles and laughs. He had an unrushed, easygoing attitude and drove very safely.
There is a parking lot at the base of the hill. As far as I can tell, parking is free.
Opening Hours & Entrance Fee at The Big Buddha
Admission is free to see The Big Buddha, but donations are always nice. It is open from 8 am to 6 pm.
Dress Code at The Big Buddha
Make sure you are dressed properly by temple standards. That is, no bare shoulders, crop tops or short shorts. If you are inappropriately dressed, you will be stopped at the gate and given some shawls to cover up with. I think these cover-ups are free to rent, but you’ll look worse in your pictures with the Big Buddha swathed in rental shawls. It’s better to wear modest clothes that you’ve chosen yourself.
What To See at The Big Buddha
There is a lot of reading material on billboards about Buddhism next to the parking lot. The walk up the hill is not bad and probably won’t leave you too tired.
Before you go up the Naga stairs to Buddha, enjoy the view from the base. There is a gorgeous panorama view of lush green hills and the bay dotted with white sailboats. There are lots of benches and gazebos here to admire the view.
Admire the Naga on either side of the staircase as you climb up to the Big Buddha. Made from an exquisite mosaic of white marble, the Big Buddha is 45 metres tall and 25½ metres wide. After the site was scouted in 2002, construction began in 2004 at a cost of 30 million Baht, mostly sourced from donations. This is the third tallest statue in Thailand.
Just below the Buddha are a couple of statues of military generals. It’s worth a quick walk around the Buddha. The temple directly under the Big Buddha was still under heavy renovation during our visit, so there was nothing there except for some golden monks around the periphery. Around the back is a brass Buddha dedicated to the beloved former Queen Sirikit, and a couple of extra scenic spots that you shouldn’t miss.
When you’re ready to leave, there is a designated set of stairs to exit. If you try to descend the Naga staircase, a guard will stop you. At the bottom is the souvenir shop where you can buy lucky amulets or make a donation to add a marble block to the construction project. Past the shop is a hall where monks will give blessings to visitors in the form of a string bracelet. No one was here at 5:30 pm, so come earlier if you really want your blessing. Lastly, there are 32 Buddhas in a row, each with an alms bowl. A donation here helps grant wishes, luck and health.
What To Eat at The Big Buddha
There are no cafes or snack bars on-site at The Big Buddha. A visit to Big Buddha shouldn’t take long, so I recommend waiting and eating somewhere else. There are a couple of cafes with a nice view at the base of the hill that you can stop into if you’re desperate.
Facilities at The Big Buddha
There is a toilet once you’re at the top with Big Buddha, and another on your way out at the souvenir shop. I didn’t need to go, so I didn’t try them. I wouldn’t expect anything nice, though. Be prepared to provide your own toilet paper and for unpleasant smells.
The Big Buddha is well built and the views are gorgeous, but I wouldn’t deem this attraction as a “must-see.” The Big Buddha is rather out of the way and a real pain to get to if you don’t have a car. If this is the only thing in the area that you’re keen to visit, you’re going to spend more time driving than seeing the Buddha.
Most tours that you can find online will have a package that will feature The Big Buddha. We went to see this because we already made the choice to hire a driver and combined it with other inconveniently located tourist spots, like Wat Chalong and the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. If you are interested in these other attractions, I recommend you do the same to make the journey to this area of Phuket worth it.