Biggest Buddha rises above Phuket

By JAMES SHRIMPTON, AAP, 14 December 2007

Phuket, Thailand -- Rising on a scenic hilltop in southern Phuket island is a 45m-tall Buddha which its builders see as an icon to match the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro, the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour or the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The tallest Buddha in Thailand, it's made of concrete to be covered by Burmese white jade with a golden pinnacle, with some enthusiasts calling it a new wonder of the modern world.

The statue's 6.72-hectare site affords panoramic views of the port town of Chalong, its beaches and pier, boats off the coast, surrounding rainforests and to the northwest, some of the beaches at resorts south of Patong and the Andaman Sea with its dozens of rocky islets.

One regional guide has already described the Giant Buddha, which is costing 60 million baht (more than $NZ2.25 million), as Phuket's most important cultural icon - although its official opening is not scheduled until mid-2009.

The complex, which will include a museum at ground level, has been hailed as a future major tourist attraction for Phuket - along with its beaches, resorts, island visits, boating, diving, snorkelling and other water sports and golf courses.

Tourism officials say about 300,000 Australians are expected to have visited Phuket this year by month's end, nearly double the 2006 figure, many taking advantage of Jetstar's exclusive direct non-stop flights to the island from Sydney.

Today the huge statue - 24.45m wide at the base - is surrounded by scaffolding but the Buddha's facial features can be seen, although partly obscured also by green cloth.

The face was moulded in concrete on the ground as one huge mask divided into sections - to be replicated in white jade - then raised piece by piece along with the two long white ears.

A bone fragment from the body of Buddha (563BC-483BC), one of many such relics in Buddhist shrines around Asia, has been promised by the church for inclusion in the statue complex.

The Giant Buddha dwarfs a 34m-high statue on Hong Kong's Lantau Island described as the world's largest tallest outdoor seated Buddha.

Less than 100m away in the shadow of its towering brother is an already-completed golden Buddha statue made of 22 tons of brass and standing 12.5m high.

Thousands of Thai pilgrims each week now drive up a newly-upgraded road to the crest of 380m-high Nakkerd Hill to view progress on the Giant Buddha, to pray, chant and to enjoy the views, along with an increasing number of tourists of all (or no) religious persuasions.

Monks from all Phuket's Buddhist temples supervise the work. They also hold a ceremony there at 10.30am on Saturdays.

The Giant Buddha is being built with public donations on the hilltop land made available by its owner, businessman and prominent leading Buddhist Suporn Vanichkul, who is president of the Mingmongkoi Foundation formed to launch the five-year project.

Khun (Mr) Suporn said donations towards the construction had been received from everywhere, from local companies and individuals, supporters in other Thailand provinces and overseas.

Tourists help, too. Every day at least 150 visitors hand over 20 baht and write their names with a blue stylus pen on a porous red brick, to be used in the construction of the complex.

Sponsors can donate white tiles for 500 baht ($NZ19.20) apiece.And the golden topknot for the Giant Buddha's head is available to a sponsor for 500,000 baht (nearly $A17,000).

Khun Suporn said the statue would be finished in white jade although some media reports said it would be of white marble.

Visitors to the site have included Thailand's Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, eldest child of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, who attended a prayer meeting here earlier this year.

Khun Suporn said the Great Buddha would be dedicated to the King, who celebrates his 80th birthday this month (December), and the smaller statue to the queen.

The statue's official name, incidentally, is the Pha Puttamingmongkoi Akenakkiri Buddha.

It's one of a number of several projects planned or under way on Phuket island. They include:

  • The Phuket Welcome Gate near the Sarasin bridge linking the island to the Thai mainland, now completed at a cost of 46.67 million baht (about $A1.57 million), includes 29 concrete pillars with plaques describing Phuket's history in Thai and English.
  • A proposed man-made island, named Zoran, 3km off the Royal Phuket Marina, to cost an estimated 6.6 billion baht (more than $A227 million) with mooring berths for at least 50 yachts of all sizes on a circular quay, with villas, a resort and shops.
  • A proposed sports park and convention centre on government land in northern Phuket, costing up to five billion baht ($A170 million) with a training centre for dozens of sports, a large resort and spa.
  • The near-completed Kathu Mining Museum on the Kathu-Koh Kaew road, costing over 50 million baht ($A1.7 million), telling the history of Phuket's tin-mining industry.


The Giant Buddha site is a short drive from Chelong at the southern end of the Thai island of Phuket.

Details visit or

For details of holidays in Phuket and elsewhere in Thailand, call the Tourism Authority of Thailand on (02) 9247-7549 or visit

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: