Wat Phra Thong
Wat Phra Thong is a Buddhist temple located in the Thalang District of Phuket, Thailand. The temple is famous for its golden Buddha statue that appears half-buried in the ground, giving the impression that the statue is emerging from the earth. The name “Phra Thong” means “golden Buddha” in Thai.
Legend has it that the Buddha statue was originally situated on a hill. However, lightning struck the statue and made it fall to the ground. When the locals attempted to lift the statue back to its original position, it became so heavy that they could not move it. They then built a shrine around the statue and it has remained in its current position ever since.
In ancient times, when Phuket was covered with virgin jungle, and the only settlement was in the Thalang region, heavy rains hit the island. When the rains stopped, a cowherd boy brought his buffalo to the pasture. Even the small tree was invisible nearby. The shepherd then tied the buffalo to a small post sticking out of the ground. Returning home, the boy fell ill with a fever and died the same day. By strange coincidence, the buffalo was also found dead in the morning.
The next night, the grieving father saw in a dream his son. He told him about the post in the pasture and urged him to dig it out. And it was not a pillar at all, but the top of a golden Buddha statue buried in the ground. The boy’s father called the villagers for help. But they failed to completely unearth the statue. A swarm of bees, wasps, and hornets attacked the disturbers. The next attempts were unsuccessful. The curse was brought on by everyone who dug up the statue. Even the Burmese warriors who attacked Phuket could not dig up the statue and take it to Burma. They were attacked by ants and one hundred soldiers fell ill and died that same night.
One monk from Sukhothai convinced the villagers to build a temple around the site. Since then, the half-excavated Buddha statue has been the key relic of Phra Thong Temple. The temple’s name translates as “the golden face of Buddha.”
To date, the Buddha statue remains intact, with only his head and shoulders visible. The statue area is fenced, and parishioners can stick the gold leaf on a small copy.
The temple is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, and visitors can make offerings and participate in traditional Buddhist practices.
In addition to its famous golden Buddha statue, Wat Phra Thong also features a large prayer hall and smaller shrines and pavilions. The temple grounds are beautifully landscaped, with manicured lawns, lush gardens, and traditional Thai architecture.
The Phra Thong temple grounds consist of several buildings, including a small museum full of copper, wood, and porcelain antiques donated by the locals. In it, you will find interesting specimens of daggers, masks, household items, clothes, and shoes of the Chinese community. The statue of a shepherd tying a rope to her buffalo is located next to the temple.
The temple is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and charges no admission, although donations are welcome. Visitors should dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering temple buildings. It is also important to respect Buddhist traditions and customs observed at the temple.
Overall, Wat Phra Thong is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in exploring Phuket’s rich cultural and religious heritage. The temple’s stunning golden Buddha statue, tranquil grounds, and spiritual atmosphere make it a truly unique and unforgettable destination.