Of the 29 Buddhist monasteries in Phuket, Wat Chalong is the largest, the most important, and probably its most ornate. The architecture is typical of Thai temples and the design emphasizes bright colours. The main building has three floors. As with many temples, Wat Chalong is visually quite dazzling. The murals on the temple’s walls are particularly interesting. In the temple’s ‘viharn’ are statues of two monks - Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang. The monks were associated with the temple and they did great works treating the areas sick and injured with herbal medicine. They also played a role in ending the tin miners’ rebellion of 1876. Many locals believe these two monks to have supernatural powers and come to the temple to pray to their images and receive their blessing. Many people come to the temple to learn about their future. You can have your fortune told by the ‘Mor Doo’ (fortune teller) and you can also learn about your future from a set of bamboo sticks. Each of the sticks has a number. Shake the sticks in a container and eventually one will come out. That number corresponds to a printed outline of future events. Unfortunately, these predictions are in Thai so you will need a translation. It’s still good fun though! The temple also houses pairs of wooden blocks made that are intended to help people make important decisions – ask your question and throw the blocks, how they land indicates the answer (if they show the same side the answer is ‘yes’). Wat Chalong is a very traditional Thai temple without too many of the trappings designed to entice tourists, although there are stalls around the temple where you can buy souvenirs. Wat Chalong looks more like a community than a temple. If you want to experience Buddhism wrapped up in Taoism and Chinese mysticism on Phuket, this is the place to go and wander around.
Details: A visit to the temple will take you about an hour. This is an active temple and your dress must be appropriate (no shorts, etc.). Unfortunately, unlike other temples, you don’t get people renting out sarongs. Admission to the temple is free, as is fortune telling. However, you should leave a donation – 20 Baht per item would be about right. A visit to the temple is often combined with a visit to Promthep Cape.
How to get there: Wat Chalong is about 8 kilometres from Phuket town and about 1 kilometre from Phuket International Youth Hostel. Given its location a taxi is probably the best bet and should cost around 50 Baht.