Shrine of The Serene Light in Phuket


After spending days lounging around on Phuket’s beaches that look like something straight out of a travel magazine, it’d be hard to imagine spending your vacation doing anything but. We get it.

However, if you’re looking to take a break from the sea and stroll through one of Phuket’s quieter-but-scenic treasures, then we’d recommend heading over to Phuket Old Town. There, you’ll find tonnes of colourful boutiques and cafes with both European and East Asian architecture.

Also, one of the island’s best kept secrets is located in the historic neighbourhood. The Shrine of The Serene Light in Phuket testifies to the island’s unique culture that is heavily influenced by Hokkien and Malay customs.

Let’s take a closer look at this hidden gem.

Other must-visits in Phuket:


Shrine of The Serene Light in Phuket Old Town


The Sang Tham Shrine, which is the other name for the Shrine of The Serene Light, is a Taoist shrine that was built in the 1890s by the Tan Luan Jae family, a Hokkien Chinese family that had settled in Phuket.

shrine-of-the-serene-light-entranceIn the latter half of the 19th Century, also known as Phuket’s “boom”, multiple Chinese families rose to prominence due to profitable mining businesses. Take note of the architecture and signs around Old Town, and you can still see the Chinese influence.
Image credit: @chom_sumittra

From the entrance alone, visitors can see that the Shrine of The Serene Light does not look like other traditional Thai-style temples. For one, the writing is in Chinese. Also, the site is protected by pillars of dragons, unlike other temples in the Kingdom that are manned by giants.

serene-light-shrineThe shrine’s entrance and alleyway used to look like the image on the right – the Tan family originally intended for the site to be used for private worship.
Images adapted from: @manzana9676, Jamie’s Phuket Blog

Originally built as a private place of worship, the shrine has been renovated throughout the years. The present entrance was constructed in 2013. Before that, locals had little indication that the Shrine of The Serene Light was at the end of the small alley. Some travellers even noted that the shrine used to have a “secret” entrance through a Hokkien noodle shop – the gate to the shrine was just past the restrooms.

shrine-of-serene-lightImage credit: @key_tnk

In addition to widening the alley, the pathway towards the physical shrine has also gone through a redecoration. Vibrant street-art now decorate the once-barren walls, giving the site an extra burst of colour and visitors the opportunity to pose for the ‘gram.


Inside the Shrine of The Serene Light


At the end of the colourfully decorated alleyway sits the Shrine of The Serene Light. Here, visitors can see the Hokkien-style architecture on full display: terracotta tiles are used on the roof and Taoist motifs, like dragons and lions, ornate the shrine.


Image credit: @gap_pisut

Visitors can purchase candles and incense sticks, and make offerings to the altar spirits at this fully functioning worshipping site. They can also present these offerings to the statues placed alongside other well-preserved historical marvels inside the Shrine of The Serene Light.

sang-tham-shrine-phuket-muralImage credit: Travel Fish

Upon walking inside the shrine, guests are immediately met with intricate murals called “Si Yin Gui” on the incense-worn walls. The murals are not only comprised of paintings but also raised images.

The room is illuminated by natural light, red lanterns, and candles offered to the gods that reside indoors.

shrine-of-the-serene-light-interiorImage credit: @mouykaprao

Recently, guests have been asked to refrain from taking photographs inside the shrine.


Hidden treasures in Phuket


Phuket is one of the most visited destinations in the world. So many people fly over every year in order to enjoy the island’s surreal beaches, sabai sabai lifestyle and the many must-try eateries.

However, it seems like no matter how often we go, we’re never really done exploring Phuket. The island’s rich history and unique blend of cultures has resulted in so many striking sites that you’d never expect to see in a beach town.

So, we’d recommend giving yourself some extra days to explore Phuket on your next trip. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover the next hidden gem.

The Shrine Of The Serene Light
Address: 72/1 Yaowarat Rd, Tambon Talat Yai, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket 83000

Google Maps


Cover images adapted from: @chom_sumittra (Left), @gap_pisut (Centre), Travel Fish (Right)

Enjoying The Smart Local Thailand? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this.