The Big Buddha Phuket (or Puttaminmonkol Akenakkiri) statue is without a doubt both a cultural and religious icon of this popular southern Thailand holiday destination; attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Proudly situated atop of the highest point of the 380 metre high Nakkerd Hills of Ao Chalong in Phuket (840 kilometres south of Bangkok), this 45 metre high white marble Buddhist statue is positioned in an easterly direction looking out over the picturesque Chalong and Phang Nga Bays.
Construction of this massive Buddhist statue commenced back in 2006 at a site which is located between Chalong and Kata Beach, with the construction costs apparently being raised solely by cash donations.
In 2011, the Mingmonkel Faith Foundation (which is responsible for building the Big Buddha Phuket) stated that these donations had reached over 30 million Thai Baht (1 million USD).
Once you arrive at the Big Buddha the first thing you will notice is a second smaller gold colored Buddhist statue which is about twelve metres in height (see image above) yet is no less impressive than its bigger brother.
However, the Big Buddha Phuket statue is the main attraction and it sits atop of a round building which is surrounded by numbers of smaller gold colored Buddha statues. There is a large bell near the entrance to the building which includes a temple and souvenir shop.
There is also an area underneath the Big Buddha where they have established a small museum and here you can view pictures of the construction process since 2006.
Work at the site continues and donation boxes are located around the temple if you wish to provide financial assistance. Monks are also on hand to take donations from visitors and offer blessings in return.
I suspect that most Thai's who visit the Big Buddha do so to offer a prayer and provide a cash, food or incense offering, and perhaps just to reflect upon life for a while.
In contrast, I presume that the majority of foreign visitors come out of sheer curiosity and to take advantage of the brilliant views on offer, which showcase much of Phuket's breathtakingly beautiful landscape. These views include, Kata Beach to Karon Beach and the surrounding waters of the Andaman Sea.
The best way to travel to Phuket is by plane or bus. Flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Phuket's International Airport occur daily with a number of local airlines servicing the island including Nok Air, Air Asia and Thai Airways.
Being an international airport direct flights are available to Phuket from a number of countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan to name a few. There are an abundance of taxi's and mini-vans located outside the Phuket airport to transport you to your hotel.
Buses to Phuket depart Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal daily with the journey taking approximately 13 hours.
The Big Buddha Phuket is located approximately 6 kilometres from Chalong. The best way to get there is by taxi or tuk tuk. Admission to the site is free but remember that this is a religious site and you should dress modestly. The site opens between 8 AM and 7.30 PM daily.