Big Buddha

Top choice in Phuket

High atop the Nakkerd Hills, northwest of Chalong Circle, and visible from half the island, the 45m-high, Burmese-alabaster Big Buddha sits grandly on Phuket's finest viewpoint. It's a tad touristy, but tinkling bells and flags mean there's an energetic pulse. Pay your respects at the golden shrine, then step up to the glorious plateau, where you can glimpse Kata’s perfect bay, Karon's golden sands and, to the southeast, the pebble-sized channel islands of Ao Chalong.

Construction began on Big Buddha in 2007; all in all, the price tag, funded entirely by donations, is around 100 million baht (not that anybody minds).

From Rte 4021, follow signs 1km north of Chalong Circle to wind 5.5km west up a steep country road, passing terraces of banana groves and tangles of jungle. It's also possible to hike up to Big Buddha from Karon: a splendid, challenging, 2.5km climb through the jungle, starting from Soi Patak 14 and taking an hour or so. You'll need plenty of water and an early start.

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