The Big Buddha is one of the top attractions in Phuket. The 45-metre tall white marble statue, on top of Mt. Nakkerd near Chalong, is visible from most parts of south Phuket.
Although the statue is a beautiful attraction in its own right, there is another reason why many choose to visit it. And that is the stunning panoramic views of Phuket from on top of Mt. Nakkerd!
Reaching the Big Buddha is fairly easy. There is a motorable road to the statue and it’s possible to take a taxi, car, or scooter all the way to the top. However, if you’re more adventurous and want to earn those breathtaking views, it’s also possible to hike to the Big Buddha in Phuket.
About the Phuket Big Buddha
The complete name of the Big Buddha in Phuket is “Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Akenakiri“, which translates to “the Cherished Auspicious Lord Buddha atop Nāga Hill”.
It is the third-tallest statue in Thailand behind the Great Buddha of Thailand and Luangpho Yai. The statue is made of concrete and covered with Burmese white marble and is 45 metres tall and 25.45 metres wide.
Dress code and timings
The Big Buddha opens from 6 AM to 7:30 PM daily and there is no entrance fee. And the dress code does not allow for swimsuits, short skirts, strapless tops, tank tops, wide neck tops, crop tops, short pants or mini skirts for women, and sleeveless t-shirts for men.
But of course, you need to dress comfortably for the hike. So, my suggestion is to carry a change or something to cover up with once you reach the entrance.
The Big Buddha Hike in Phuket
If you’re looking for a fun but slightly challenging hike in Phuket, the Big Buddha Hike is perhaps the most popular.
The trail to the Big Buddha is referred to as the Kata-Karon Hiking Trail, or at least that’s how it’s labelled on Google Maps. The trail is between Kata and Karon beaches, making it possible to reach it from either side.
The length of the hike may vary depending on where you start. However, the distance between the start of the Kata-Karon Hiking Trail to the entrance of the Big Buddha is approximately 1.6 km. But because I hiked from Kata, the map above covers the additional distance.
The Big Buddha Hike in Phuket is a mix of motorable roads, paved paths, and dirt trails. However, I must stress – please do not attempt this hike if you’re not an experienced hiker or have health issues.
I think this is a fair question given that most people wouldn’t want to hike while on a vacation. But I enjoy hiking, as you can tell from this blog.
However, it’s also worth noting that the Big Buddha is relatively close to Kata and Karon. And if you’re staying at these beaches (which I was), taking a taxi to the Big Buddha can be a relatively long and expensive ride. That’s because the road to the top of the hill approaches from the west, whereas Kata and Karon and directly below the Big Buddha in the east.
So, you can hike up or down from the Big Buddha to Kata Beach or Karon Beach, save yourself some money and add a workout to your day!
Best time for the hike?
Given that Phuket is mostly hot and humid throughout the year, I would recommend doing this hike either early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler. Remember that the Big Buddha is open from 6 AM to 7:30 PM.
I completed the hike on a cloudy morning, which meant it was cool and humid. Also, I reached the Big Buddha by 10 AM and there were hardly any tourists.
However, I walked to the start of the trail from Kata, near Ozo Hotel, which added an additional 1.5 km to the hike.
The walk from Kata Road to Patak Road 3, and then to Patak Road Soi 10 via Patak Road is quite easy but has a lot of traffic.
Once I reached Patak Soi 10, the traffic lessened as it is a quieter residential area.
Towards the end of Patak Soi 10 is where the incline begins. At this point, you can either continue on Patak Soi 10 to Patak Soi 14 or turn left onto Soi Yousook. I chose the latter.
At the end of Soi Yousook is a steep incline that merges with Patak Soi 14.
Turn left onto Patak Soi 14 and walk to CC’s Hideaway. Just beyond CC’s Hideaway is another steep incline. When I arrived, the road was wet and I slipped pretty badly.
But once past that, there’s a short lonely road that leads to the start of the trail. It’s easy to spot the start of the trail, heading into the woods (if you were coming from Karon, you’d approach this road from the other side).
This is the starting point for the Big Buddha Hike in Phuket.
To the lone house
I prefer to break a trail down into smaller sections through memorable checkpoints. And the first checkpoint on this trail is a small lone house, 250 metres after the start.
The hike begins on a slightly challenging but shaded incline.
At the end of the shaded section, the trail reaches a grassy patch and continues to climb gently. From this point, you can take a quick peek behind to admire the sea, if it’s a clear day.
The path meanders through this section till it finally reaches a small, lone house. I am not entirely sure if the house is occupied or not.
Nonetheless, the trail continues to the left of the house and then up a short flight of steps.
Just after the steps, take a quick break and spray any insect repellant because the next section of the trail cuts through the forest area.
Through the woods
The next 500 metres of the Big Buddha Hike cuts through the woods and is perhaps the most challenging section. To be more precise, the most challenging section is right at the beginning.
As you enter the woods, you’ll immediately notice the gentle slope turn into a steep incline!
Fortunately, there are ropes to help pull yourself and not lose balance. I don’t recommend grabbing branches but you can hold onto tree trunks for extra support.
Be careful as you ascend this steep section of the hike. Go slow!
After the initial steep section, the trail becomes less intense. But what I found challenging was the slippery surface as it had rained the night before and in the morning.
There aren’t too many visual markers along the hike, so keep a close eye on the clearing. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to follow in this section of the hike.
Further ahead, the vegetation around the trial thickens. But just keep climbing at a gentle and comfortable pace. The trail also remains on a moderate incline.
As you’re getting close to ending this section of the hike, you might notice that vegetation becomes thicker but shorter.
From here, it’s a short distance to the end and onto the paved path.
The short, steep paved path
I must admit, coming out of the trail onto this path felt good! I breathed a sigh of relief to be out in the open again!
Between the trail and the motorable road above is a short paved section. As you exit the trail, follow the path uphill. The initial climb is quite scenic and gentle.
But as it gets closer to the top, the incline becomes really steep! Once again, the wet and slippery surface did me no favour!
Once you get past the final incline, the path meets Soi Yot Sane 1, the main road to the Big Buddha! Turn right onto the road to continue the uphill walk.
But before that, this is the location of the famous Marker Stone. Which means that you’ve hiked up 1 km!
Walk on Soi Yot Sane 1
The final stretch (650 metres) to the entrance of Big Buddha is a gentle walk uphill on Soi Yot Sane 1.
Soi Yot Sane 1 is the main motorable road, so watch out for vehicles and stay to the side of the road.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the side of the road that offers stunning views of Kata and Karon beaches below! Feel free to take a break and enjoy the view at the cafe.
The walk on Soi Yot Sane 1 is relatively easy with only a short incline just before the entrance to the Big Buddha.
If you don’t feel like sitting in a cafe, there is another gorgeous viewpoint slightly up ahead. There’s even a bench and table with chairs for you to enjoy the views!
After that, continue walking uphill on Soi Yot Sane 1 till you reach the entrance to the Big Buddha.
Mt Nakkerd Buddha Garden
Before you enter the Mt Nakkerd Buddha Garden, make sure you adhere to the dress code. If you’re carrying a change of clothes or something to cover yourself, put it on now.
To reach the base of the Big Buddha statue, take the road to the left.
And in case you were looking for a toilet, there is a nice one behind the parking lot to the right.
The final steps to the Big Buddha
The panoramic views of Phuket from on top of Mt Nakkerd are breathtaking!
Unfortunately, when I reached, it was cloudy and raining. But the views were still spectacular!
Be sure to walk around the garden area, before climbing the steps to the statue. There are panoramic viewpoints at every corner!
If you’re looking for views to the east, you can walk to the side to get a glimpse. Just be careful of all the monkeys in the area.
Funnily while I was there, the west was all cloudy and rainy but the east was bright with sunshine!
Once you’re done admiring the views from below, it’s time to climb the final 94 steps to reach the Big Buddha!
Take your time admiring the structure and all the hidden gems around it and make sure to walk around the base of the statue.
Feels good to have earned it!
Hiking guide to the Big Buddha in Phuket
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the Big Buddha Hike in Phuket and find it useful.
Remember, you can hike up or down from the Big Buddha. If you hike down, you could even end your hike on Kata or Karon beaches.
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