With Thai New Year rapidly approaching, there has never been a better time to soak up some of the cultural treasures scattered across the island of Phuket.
Thailand's lunar New Year, locally known as Songkran
, is just around the corner, which means the traditional aspects of Thai life come to the forefront at this time of year.
April is a wonderful time to visit the Thai Kingdom, enjoy its many cultural sites and absorb some of the local culture first hand at the same time.
Phuket is home to many of Thailand’s traditional gems, and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to interesting places to delve into the cultural mix.
Below are five sites that should definitely be on your Phuket sightseeing list whne visiting Thailand's most popular island destination.
Phuket’s fascinating history as a Chinese settlment dates back hundreds of years and for visitors that want to learn more about the island’s traditions, its Chinese temples and shrines are a an ideal place to start. You should definitely put Jaw Chinese temple on your sightseeing list, which is located just next to Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket Town, and is the oldest on the island. The original temple was constructed approximately 200 years ago, and was dedicated to the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Im. Today, many locals still make their way to Put Jaw Temple if they are seeking spiritual help regarding personal health issues. Many young parents with Chinese heritage also visit this temple seeking out names for their newborns in the belief that a child given the right name will lead a long and successful life.
Anyone who visits Phuket will be intrigued by the story behind the island's iconic Heroines Monument, which is located on the island’s Thepkasattri Road in Thalang. The monument honours the bravery of two sisters who led an army of local people against Burmese invaders over two centuries ago. Their names were Lady Chan and Lady Mook, and they stood at the head of an army of locals (many of whom were women) who bravely defended their island from invaders. Today, the sisters are commonly known as Ya Chan and Ya Mook – “Ya” means “grandmother” in Thai. Many Thai visitors still make a stop at the sisters’ monument before entering the main part of the island in order to pay their respects. It is traditional for them to leave small offerings, including marigolds, incense sticks and gold leaf.
Wat to See
If you are in search of a traditional Thai temple to visit, Phuket’s Wat Chalong should be high on your list. Many visitors flock to the temple to pay respects to Poh Than Jao Wat, one of the temple’s magnificent Buddhist statues. According to local legend, two men won the lottery many times after paying homage to this statue. If you want to pay homage to Poh Than Jao Wat for your own good fortune, the statue can be found in the temple’s old hall, which is situated to the west. Wat Chalong’s Grand Pagodas are also well worth a look, as their intricate illustrations of the Lord Buddha’s life story offer an artistic treat.
Spiritual Side Trip
If you have already visited the Big Buddha on Koh Samui, that's no reason to miss Phuket’s very own Big Buddha. This revered landmark is perched in the hills between Chalong and Kata, but with an impressive height of 45m, the lofty landmark can be seen from far away. In addition to sweeping views of Phuket’s charming coastal scenery, the Big Buddha is also a highly treasured site which is said to represent good luck and hope. Soak up the peaceful atmosphere and enjoy a tranquil moment of reflection at this most sacred of island shrines.
Phuket History Museum
Phuket’s rich history can be traced back thousands of years, and the island’s Old Town is one of the best places to learn a little more about it. Culturally inspired visitors exploring Phuket generally head for the Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road. Housed on a stunning Sino-Portuguese building – one of the best examples of this type of architecture in Phuket – the museum display's the island’s history by focusing on its Phuket-China links, its traditional ceremonies and the story of the local cuisine. Visitors who are interested in Phuket’s tin mining past can also take in the museum’s garden exhibition of heavy tools and machines dating back to the time when tin was the main source of income, creating wealth and prosperity for many of the original islanders.