Exploring Chinese Traditions at the Jui Tui Shrine of Phuket
Reds. Golds. Whites. Yellows. More and more colors jump out as you explore the Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket. This traditional Chinese temple attracts both tourists and locals alike. As a visitor to Phuket, it’s a highly recommended cultural experience.
Phuket is famous for its beaches, its hedonistic party lifestyle and activities such as parasailing and snorkeling trips. The cultural temples of the island can sometimes take a back seat to the more extreme and modern activities, but it’s certainly worth taking the time out of the hectic schedule to indulge in some relaxation and cultural reflection. The Jui Tui Shrine is an easy to reach, spectacular and interesting temple making it a worthy addition to your itinerary.
History of the Jui Tui Shrine
The temple isn’t what you might call ancient, but is steeped in tradition. It was originally built in 1911 but it wasn’t the same form then as you’ll see today when you visit. The temple’s location wasn’t in the spot it is today, rather it was located on Soi Romanee in Phuket’s Old Town area. After a fire the temple was moved to its current location with additional structures and styles added. Jui Tui remains one of the most important cultural and revered landmarks in Phuket.
The main pagoda is naturally the focal point of a visit to Jui Tui. This large colorful building has undergone an extensive series of renovations. This makes for an immaculate exterior and a well-kept interior. There are 3 main plinths for the deities to rest upon. Team Hu Huan Soy is the god that takes center stage.
Hu Huan Soy is the Chinese god of performing arts and dancing so it’s no wonder that local dance troupes and performers pay homage at this temple. When you step into the central hall you’ll note that this exuberant god’s form is the one that dominates the center. You’ll also spot the chicken and dog to his sides. These are, accordingly to legend, his favorite pets that were with him since childhood.
Once you’re done with the central hall there’s a lot more to explore. On the left as you enter the complex you’ll spot a tall, colorful tower. This is a relatively new addition and was only added a few years ago in 2011 (potentially as a 100-year celebration!). This isn’t just a decorative building, as it also serves an exciting purpose. The tower is, in fact, a firecracker house! It’s used to launch fireworks and let off firecrackers during annual celebrations. The idea behind having a tower to house the firecrackers is to reduce both noise and pollution for the local population during festivals. That said, you haven’t really experienced a Thai festival until you’ve run for your life from a firecracker as it explodes under your feet… just us?
There are also a few bamboo cups spread around the temple containing lots of sticks. These are fortune sticks used to predict what might be coming up soon for you. Shake the cup and stop when one falls to the floor. Pick up that stick, match the number to the nearby pieces of paper and read your fortune. Unfortunately, the sticks are entirely in Thai and Chinese, so you might need an interpreter.
Dress code is important, as this is a working temple after all. This means covering up your shoulders and legs to the knee. Avoid low cut tops and remember to remove your shoes at the entrance. Carrying a lightweight sarong is a simple way to keep cool whilst also being respectful. If you don’t own one, outside almost every temple in Thailand there will be souvenir shops who will gleefully sell you one.
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The temple is particularly popular during Thailand-wide celebrations. The Vegetable festival is a particularly popular festival across all of Phuket and Jui Tui becomes something of a focal point for the festival. If you’re visiting during this time then be prepared for a once in a lifetime experience but crowds that will be thousands strong.