Patong Temple (Wat Patong)
The Patong you see now is nothing like the Patong of 30 years ago. Can you imagine a place with limited road access, just a small village with fishermen, farmers, rubber plantations...a place where Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder) says there was "an open shelter where you could camp for 3 Baht a night". How things have changed! Patong is maybe the biggest tourist
Patong temple (Wat Suwan Khiri Wong) marks the entrance to Patong at the bottom of the hilly road that winds over from Kathu and Phuket Town. Where you have a temple you have a community and in the area around the temple and further along Phisit Karani road you'll see older houses and local people who are not involved a great deal in the goings on closer to the beach. The temple is a little haven of peace even with the main road outside.
It's a fairly extensive place with a main temple, a bell tower, monks quarters, dining hall and so on. Yes, there are monks at Patong temple. If you are awake early you can catch them as they walk along the road from the temple through the older part of Patong. Near the temple is a little daily street market selling veg, fresh fish and meat, which starts at dawn and is all over by 8:30am. Along the same street are many little local shops, though they now compete with a 7-11.
Patong temple takes you back to a time when Patong was a village, when tourists had not discovered Phuket. But, look just outside and you have the new Patong:
These 2 photos above are on the main road. If you enter via the main gate you can walk or ride your bike around the grounds and will come out onto Phisit Karani road, which is the south end of the road that wiggles along the back of Patong, becoming Nanai road and is a way to avoid central Patong completely! Y'know Patong is not all bad, but I basically never hit the center unless I have a very good reason. I see Patong temple quite often, on my way to Karon Beach, climbing over the hill from Kathu, beeping my horn at the top when reaching the shrine on the hill before descending into big, bad Patong ...