The Chalong Big Buddha is hard to miss. Built on a patch of virgin rain forest high above Phuket, this gigantic Buddha statue is one of the island's most prominent and revered landmarks, easily seen from most places in the south.
Up close, the marble Big Buddha is an astonishing sight, measuring in at 148 feet (45 meters) tall. It sits atop one of the highest peaks at Khao Nakkerd Hill and as such, offers incredible 360-degree views of Phuket Town, Chalong Bay and beyond. Another smaller, brass Buddha image also sits on the site, standing at 40 feet (12 meters) and dedicated to the Queen of Thailand. Those who enjoy hiking can book a tour that includes a trek through lush jungle before a visit to the Big Buddha, as well as a trip to Wat Chalong, the largest Buddhist temple in Phuket.
The Big Buddha site is a working progress, so travelers should expect construction work. At the base of the main statue is a hall with a display depicting the history and future of the donation-based project.
Insider's Tip: Entry to the Big Buddha is free, but donations are accepted. Visitors can donate in a unique way by purchasing a block of marble to be used in the site's construction. You can even write your name on it.
The Big Buddha is located along a four-mile (six-km) road just off the main route from Phuket to Chalong. Turn down Soi Yot Sane and follow the signs up the hill. Travelers should note that conservative attire is required to visit the Chalong Big Buddha; avoid beachwear and be sure to cover shoulders and knees.