Religion in Phuket – An Introduction To Buddhist Culture

by Mama Loves Phuket

Understand the important role religion plays for the people of Phuket and how you can engage in religious experiences as a tourist.

What is the Predominant Culture in Thailand?

Most people in Phuket, as well as Thailand overall, are followers of Theravada Buddhism. Approximately 95% of the population in Thailand identifies as Buddhist, and this number is likely to be similar in Phuket as well. However, there are also significant Muslim and Christian communities in Phuket and smaller populations of Hindus, Sikhs, and other religions.

Despite the different religious beliefs, the people of Phuket tend to live together in peace and harmony, and visitors are usually welcomed regardless of their religious affiliation.

Buddhism is deeply ingrained in Thai culture and is reflected in the many temples, shrines, and religious ceremonies throughout the country, including Phuket. Visitors to Phuket can witness and participate in Buddhist ceremonies and rituals, such as giving alms to monks, visiting temples, and lighting incense and candles as offerings.

You can find our complete guide to visiting temples in Phuket here, along with our guide to religious festivals and celebrations in Phuket.

The Buddhist Year

The Buddhist year is based on the lunar calendar and is commonly used in Thailand and other countries with a significant Buddhist population. It is also known as the Thai solar calendar or the Siamese version of the Indian Vikram Samvat calendar.

The Buddhist year starts from the day of the full moon in April, which is usually around the 13th or 14th of the month. This day is called “Songkran” and marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year.

The current Buddhist year is 2566.

The Buddhist calendar is approximately 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used civil calendar in the world.

One significant difference between the two calendars is that the Buddhist calendar has 12 lunar months, each starting from the full moon and lasting for approximately 29 or 30 days. This means the Buddhist year is shorter than the Gregorian year, which has 12 months based on the solar cycle and is approximately 365.24 days long.

Another difference is that the Buddhist calendar uses a system of animal signs and elements to represent each year, similar to the Chinese zodiac. The 12 animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig, and each animal sign is associated with an element (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) that rotates in a 60-year cycle.

Overall, the Buddhist year is an important part of traditional Thai culture and is used to mark significant religious and cultural events throughout the year.

You can learn more about Buddhist Festivals and Public Holidays over here.

Are There Mosques in Phuket?

Yes, there are several mosques in Phuket to serve the local Muslim community and Muslim visitors. Some of the prominent mosques in Phuket include:

  • Masjid Nurul Islam: located in the Patong area, this is one of the largest and most popular mosques in Phuket.
  • Masjid Al-Huda: located in the heart of Phuket Town, this is another popular mosque that serves the local Muslim community.
  • Masjid Mukaram Bangtao: located in the Bangtao Beach area, this mosque caters to the needs of the Muslim community in the vicinity.
  • Masjid Darul Ihsan: this mosque offers regular prayer services to the local Muslim community in the Kamala area.
  • Masjid Ban Bangla: located in the heart of Patong, this small mosque offers a place for Muslim tourists to perform their daily prayers.

Is Ramadan Observed in Phuket

Yes, Ramadan is observed in Phuket by a small percentage of the population. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and many restaurants and food vendors in Phuket will have adjusted hours or be closed during daylight hours. After the fast is broken in the evenings, there are often special meals and celebrations with family and friends.

Visitors to Phuket during Ramadan can still enjoy the local culture and cuisine but should respect those observing the fast.

Christianity in Phuket

There are several Christian churches in Phuket, mainly located in the main tourist areas of the island. Some of the popular churches in Phuket include:

  • St. Joseph’s Church: located in the heart of Phuket Town, this is one of the oldest churches on the island.
  • Holy Trinity Church: located in Patong Beach, this is a popular church for both locals and tourists.
  • Andaman Evangelical Church: located in Kata Beach, this is a small church that welcomes visitors.
  • Phuket Christian Centre: located in the Rawai Beach area, this is a non-denominational Christian church that offers services in English.
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church: located in the Chalong area, this is a church that caters to the Adventist community in Phuket.

These are just a few examples of the churches in Phuket, and there may be others as well.

Are Easter and Christmas Observed in Thailand?

Easter and Christmas are not widely celebrated in Phuket, as Christianity is not the dominant religion in Thailand. However, some hotels and resorts may have special events or offer traditional holiday meals for their guests.

Some expatriate communities and churches may also hold celebrations or services for these holidays. Additionally, some tourists may choose to celebrate these holidays in a more private or personal way during their travels.

Overall, while these holidays are not officially recognized in Thailand, visitors can still enjoy their time in Phuket and participate in local traditions and cultural events.

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© Mama Loves Phuket 2024

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