Who would not like a break from this hectic life? With banana pancakes and low buildings, Chalong is just the place where you need to be! Snooze your hectic life for a while and read along why you should be there! There is a saying among Thai tourists that if you are visiting Phuket but have not yet set foot in Wat Chalong, then you have not really arrived on the island.
Unlike other coastal towns of Phuket, Chalong has lush natural landscapes. It displays well-preserved flora and fauna of Chalon in the Phuket Zoo where you can interact with the animals. The tropical scenery makes the zoo very inviting for a tour under the shade of giant trees while you cross little bridges that connect the sections of the zoo. There are also humongous statues of dragons, animals and cartoon characters. The zoo has a breeding program so every year new animals are acquired, propagated and exchanged with other zoos
Chalong's muddy East Coast shoreline makes it rather unsuitable for swimming but it's an ideal and natural spot for yacht mooring as well as the Boat Lagoon, Yacht Haven and Royal Phuket Marina. Diving and day trip groups are bundled on and off boats. The Ao Chalong Yacht Club, which organizes regular sailing races, makes its base here, and its bar is a favourite spot as per sailors.
The Big Buddha, also called Tian Tian Buddha by the locals, is one of the most respected monuments of Chalong. The massive bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni is found sitting on the top of Nakkerd Hills, which is situated between Kata and Chalong. It can be seen from far distances like Karon Beach and Phuket Town. Climbing 268 steps to reach the foot of the Buddha you will be blessed with the view of Chalong Bay, Karon, Kata and the entire Phuket town. Opposite the Buddha is the hidden Po Lin Monastery.
Chalong Rum is an award-winning handcrafted rum made of sugarcane using a French art of distillation. A tour is routed off the distillery along with a refreshing mojito to savour. They also offer a cocktail workshop so you can learn how to make delicious concoctions with the use of Chalong Rum.
Of the many temples found on Phuket Island, the Wat Chalong temple built-in 1837 is the largest. The large grounds of Wat Chalong that is officially named Wat Chaitararam contains a vihara, a mondo, an ubosot, a chedi containing a secret relic, a sala and a crematorium. Wat Chalong Temple is most revered for the sacred relic that is kept here, a fragment of a bone of the Buddha. The relic that is named Phra Borom Sareerikatat is kept inside a glass case on top of the 60 meters high Phra Mahathat Chedi. It was brought over from Sri Lanka and was installed in the chedi by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. The walls of the chedi contain mural paintings depicting scenes from the Jataka, the tales about the previous lives of the Buddha.
Chalong Temple is about 10 kilometres south of Phuket town and east of Kata beach in the South Eastern corner of the island. Wat Chalong is open daily from 7 am until 5 pm, free of charge although donations are welcome for the temple maintenance. On weekends and holidays, it gets busy. Every round around Chinese New Year, the Wat Chalong Festival is held, during which it can get pretty crowded.