We Visited Phuket’s Big Buddha and Learned What Not to Do
In North America, we’re used to seeing Buddha statues the size of garden gnomes, which is why Phuket’s Big Buddha is so impressive. Standing at the base of the 45-metre white marble statue is humbling. It was built with donations from around the world. It’s located at the top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata Beach, and the view is spectacular.
In preparation for our trek out to Big Buddha, we asked Tom Billinge, who travels the world visiting and writing about temples and holy places, about the dos and don’ts. Here are his top six tips for visiting a Buddhist holy place.
- In Thailand, unlike Hong Kong, you must remove your shoes before entering a temple.
- If you’re sitting in the hall, your feet should never face Buddha.
- Don’t point at anything with your finger; use an upturned open palm instead.
- You don’t have to bow, but if you wish to wai to Buddha, place your palms together on your brow and bow.
- Dress modestly, with your shoulders covered. If you are wearing a skirt, the hem must fall below the knee. (Carry a shawl or sarong just in case you need to cover up.)
- Unless there is a sign telling you otherwise, you can take photos inside the temple, including ones of Buddha. (In Hong Kong, this isn’t permitted.) There are two possible exceptions: the Phra Buddha Chinnarat in Phitsanulok and the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.