Located in Chalong Bay (Ao Chalong) on the east coast of Phuket, Wat Chalong (Wat Chaitararam) is a beautiful Buddhist temple on the southern end of the island. Decorated in hues of red and white with gilt accents, it's also the biggest and most important of the 29 Buddhist temples on Phuket and welcomes both locals and visitors alike.
The ornate two-tiered temple was erected in 1837 although older remains have also been found on the site. The manicured grounds consist of many hallmarks of traditional Thai temples including the grand pagoda or relic tower, several halls including an ordination hall and elevated open-sided pavilions or sala, a crematorium and a wooden-roofed building dedicated to Buddhist scriptures, as well as a lotus pond.
The temple is also decorated with serpents and 26 statues of Buddha in various postures. The dominant building within the complex is the grand pagoda which holds a sacred relic of Buddha - a bone fragment housed in a glass case on the 60m-high structure. The walls of the pagoda are decorated with murals of Buddha's life and images of the revered religious figure.
The wat is most associated with the revered monk Luang Pho Cham, an abbot of the temple who helped and advised the people of Phuket during the Chinese Coolie Rebellion or Angyee Rebellion of 1876, an uprising associated with tin mining.
He has been immortalised with a gilt statue and his walking stick, said to have healing powers, is also within the temple grounds but not on public display. Two other monks thought to have healing prowess are also honoured with statues located in the temple's halls.
Remember to observe respectful practices within the wat such as removing your shoes to enter some structures and ensuring you cover your shoulders, arms and legs. Entry to Wat Chalong is free, however you can leave a donation for the upkeep of the temple complex. To visit, Wat Chalong is around 8km south of Phuket Town and east of Kata Beach. From Phuket Town, it's a 30-minute trip by tuk-tuk or taxi to the temple.