Chinese immigrants have for centuries been settling on the island of Phuket, as traders, farmers, and most significantly tin miners during the boom years of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Chinese arrived in great numbers to work as coolies.
The immigrants were primarily from Southern China, and they brought with them their traditions and culture, which have permeated island life and, along with the Thai, Malay and Indian influences, given Phuket such a rich cultural heritage.
Chinese religions are usually a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism, and there are many fascinating Chinese temples and shrines around the island. Bang Neaw Shrine is within a few minutes’ walking distance of the Novotel Phuket Phokeethra, located at the junction of Phuket Road and Ongsimphai Road, opposite the Robinson Department Store.
Bang Neaw Shrine is everyone’s favourite idea of what a Chinese temple should look like, with its traditional Chinese roof, its archways, its brilliantly coloured figurines, and its twisting dragons. Erected in 1904, Bang Neaw Shrine was initially connected to another shrine at Soi Romanee in the Old Town but has since been moved around due to fires that kept occurring within close proximity to the shrine’s locations.
The long, linear structure of Bang Neaw Shrine, with its many doors, is due to there being about ten shrines immediately next to each other. The most important is the shrine in the middle, where the main deity resides.
The smaller structure on the left side of the main building is used as an administration office. Still, it becomes a vegetarian kitchen during the Vegetarian Festival each October, Bang Neaw Shrine being one of the most colourful and crowded centres for the festivities.
Opening Hours: Daily from 08:30 – 22:00. Location: On Phuket Road at the Bang Neow intersection and not far from Robinson Department Store and MacDonalds. If heading to Saphan Hin Park, the shrine is on the left-hand side of the road.