Lining the road after you pass the ferry terminal are some mangrove swamps where a local group of monkeys resides. You can stop to have a look at them and take a photo and you will often see the locals feeding them bananas.
We first went exploring in Koh Siray many years ago and it was very quiet. Now there are quite a few “seaview developments” that have sprouted up and one big resort – the Westin Siray Bay – which opened back in about 2010.
Much of Koh Siray is undeveloped, there are lots of rubber plantations, coconut trees, a sea gypsy village, a few big houses, a school and the temple high on the hill.
The temple is just past the school. You pass through an entrance by the road and head up a slight hill to an open area, then you turn right and the road carries on up.
You can park where you like in the carpark, as it’s unlikely to be busy, and then head up the steps lined by two Nagas (mythical half serpent, half dragons whose images often guard the entrances to temples).
Inside the main temple building (if it’s open) you will find a large reclining Buddha. We’ve been maybe eight or nine times over the years. It’s really nice but it could be amazing with a bit of investment. On a hill, great views, big Buddha... win! We always leave a donation.
You can also walk around the outside of the temple before climbing the steps – the road winds right around the temple, which itself is surrounded by hundreds of Buddha images.
It’s really quite beautiful, and yet every time we have been, there has never been more than a handful of visitors.
Since our last visit, a replica of Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also known as the Golden Rock, has been created. The original pagoda is located in Myanmar, in Mon state, northeast of Yangon.
It’s one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. So why is there a replica in Phuket? Well, it seems there are plenty of people from Myanmar living in the area. We saw several Burmese girls visiting while we were there last time.
This quiet little corner of tranquillity near Phuket Town is certainly worth a visit – Koh Siray is just a few kilometres to the east of Phuket Town, and it’s pretty easy to find, but aside from the temple and the views there is not a lot there!
There are some restaurants overlooking the bay where the only road leading south comes to a dead end. I’d like to take some photos around the sea gypsy village one day.
But the temple is certainly nice and houses one of the lesser known Big Buddhas of Phuket.
Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com