Connect with us

Thai Life

Blazing Saddles: Cycling to great heights

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Since the Mingmongkol Buddha was completed on top of Phuket’s Nakkerd Hills in 2010, I’ve felt the spiritual presence of the Gautama watching over me.

That may sound rather outlandish, but as I can look westward and see the Buddha from my back bedroom window, it also has some rational underpinning. I particularly feel the Buddha watching whenever I set out for my regular bike rides along Wiset Road and down to Nai Harn and I usually offer up a silent prayer of thanks to the presence each time I come home unscathed from Phuket’s maniacal roads.

Therefore, I thought it was only right that I cycle up to see the Buddha at sunrise one morning to offer a proper propitiation of gratitude for looking after me, and I chose the morning of August 31 to do so.

This auspicious day was that of the full moon and so I anticipated seeing Buddha, sun and moon in one breathtaking landscape at dawn.

Sunrise was scheduled for 6:19 am and so I figured I needed to allow about 90 minutes to cycle up there from Chalong. So a start at 5am seemed about right, meaning getting up at 4:15 am (the things I do for you my loyal readers!)

The Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha, or Mingmongkol Buddha for short, was conceptualized over ten years ago, as Phuketians wanted to create something worthy enough to pay homage to HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his 80th birthday.

It is a fitting tribute as the statue prominently overlooks the island all the while exciting a sense of humility. The monument was not created with the objective of making another tourist attraction, or even with the more admirable purpose of creating a noteworthy landmark; this structure is a symbol of pride and respect to both the Buddhist and non-Buddhist Thai people, as well as showing reverence for HM The King.

Starting to cycle up to see the Buddha before sunrise is also a good idea in order to beat the twin Phuket cycling demons of heat and traffic. The road to the top twists and turns and features some pretty stiff sections of incline, so nullifying those demons is particularly worthwhile.

I set off from the main road in Rawai in the still darkness after devouring a handful of fruit and easily made it through the notorious Chalong circle, which was deserted except for a couple of teetering and laughing ladyboys on a scooter, who were presumably still on their way home from a riotous night in Patong.

Then I rode along Chao Fah West Road for a kilometer to the traffic lights and to the prominent signs announcing the road to the Buddha itself. The first couple of kilometers are just a slight incline taking you past one of Phuket’s two Bird Parks, but then the twisting road starts to ascend with a vengeance and continues to ascend as it snakes and weaves its way up the hills.

As you reach the upper parts of the climb, you’ll be rewarded by gorgeous views of Chalong Bay and out across Phang Nga Bay, as well as Phuket Town and Rang Hill to the east. The Buddha faces this way to greet the rising sun each morning, and so did I as I breasted the final ascent into the car park at the base of the huge concrete plinth upon which the Gautama sits.

Reaching an astonishing 45 meters in height and expanding to 26 meters in width at its base, the Big Buddha literally dwarfs Hong Kong’s famous Lantau Island monument, the previous record holder for the world’s tallest outdoor Buddha.

Close up to the image itself, it was very peaceful at this time in the morning and the only noises I could hear were the tinkling of small bells and the yellow Buddhist flags flapping in the wind.

The whole body is constructed of reinforced concrete layered with beautiful Burmese white jade marble that glinted in the sun’s first rays, making it a natural symbol of hope. The views, and the actual image itself, are breathtaking.

There is a smaller Buddha statue positioned nearby which is gold in color, though actually made of brass.

Undoubtedly the Buddha’s essence is one of pure calm, stillness and equanimity and, at sunrise, the lone cyclist can be infused by these rewarding virtues.

Sad to say that once the Buddha opens to the public at 8am the area is turned into a complete nightmare of building construction, earth-moving trucks, dust, heat pollution and ubiquitous tour buses sending their crowds swarming in every direction.

One can only hope that final construction will be completed very soon and that peace and quietude befitting the Buddha’s presence is returned to this lovely hilltop.

— Baz Daniel


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand8 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok10 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

263 covid cases linked to canned seafood factory in Songkhla

Drugs11 hours ago

Narcotics Control Board announce recent drug busts, heroin and cocaine sent by mail

Environment11 hours ago

3 Cambodian activists arrested for plotting against the government/insulting the king after documenting waste run-off

Chiang Mai11 hours ago

Chiang Mai eases restrictions, alcohol now allowed at restaurants

Thailand11 hours ago

Angry ex allegedly sets motorcycle on fire in school parking garage

Cambodia12 hours ago

6 arrested in Cambodia for allegedly trafficking people into Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 4,059 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand13 hours ago

Power outages coming to Kathu

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Samut Sakhon governor calls for more vaccine doses after order was cut

Thailand14 hours ago

Fruit buyer arrested for allegedly using counterfeit certificates to export durian

Tourism15 hours ago

Airports of Thailand president says tourism won’t pick back up until October

Thailand15 hours ago

Mobile sterilisation/vaccination truck helps Pattaya’s cats and dogs

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8