You’re in Thailand. You’ve done the temples. Beaches have been ticked off. Gorged yourself on all manner of street food.
Friends; it’s time to get creeped out.
Thanks to a crazy combination of rampant local superstition, spirit houses and merit-making everywhere you look, and urban legends and ghost stories by the bucketload, Thailand is an absolute treasure trove of the creepy and freaky.
This brilliant Travelog article from a few weeks ago went behind the scenes of the ridiculously macabre ‘Sathorn Unique’ Ghost Tower in Bangkok – if your interest is piqued by what secrets lurk in that abandoned, 49-storey building, why not try the following attractions on for size too.
Here are 9 of the creepiest places in Thailand for your delectation and disgust: let us know where else deserves a creepy shout-out!
White Lion House
The White Lion House or, to give it it’s proper name, Jangmuarinnakorn House, holds both a creepy aesthetic and a terrible past. The mansion is imposingly huge and its baroque architecture out of place, flanked by snarling lions and now in serious state of dilapidation. The inside isn’t much better; abandoned save a bunch of squatters, chickens and graffiti. If the stories are true, they’re living alongside ghosts…
It was built around 20 years ago by a very rich, yet mentally troubled, man and his family, who ignored the inauspicious signs that there was bad Feng Shui on the site. The story goes that the man finally lost his mind one day and hacked his family to bits in a horrendous act of murder.
Predictably, the house is considered one of Chiang Mai’s most haunted sites and no one has bought it for fear of ‘catching’ the bad luck lining its walls.
Luang Pho Daeng
Luang Pho Daeng was a Thai monk who underwent rare and intense ritual of self-mummification and died while meditating in 1973.
His incredibly well-preserved body is held in a glass case at Wat Khunaram temple on Koh Samui. He wears sunglasses so visitors will not be repulsed by his gaping open eye sockets. His internal organs are preserved complete, if a little shrunken, thanks to the effects of dehydration.
Adding to the creepy effect are the many geckos that lay eggs and hatch inside of his body. Eggs were found in his eye sockets, mouth and beneath his skin during radiography scans. He also still has his dentures in.
Siriraj Medical Museum, or: Museum of Death
With a nickname like ‘Museum of Death’, you can be assured of resolute creepiness at this fascinating medical museum. It’s made up of five smaller museums that explore and exhibit the complexities of different medical specialities, namely pathology, anatomy, anthropology, parasitology and forensics.
What makes the Museum of Death so creepily intriguing is its incredibly revealing displays of medical oddities: foetuses, siamese twins, children’s skeletons, skulls afflicted by hydrocephalus, rickets-riddled skeletons and even the mummified remains of a serial killer. Needless to say, it’s not for the faint of heart…
Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden
Supposedly depicting the punishments meted out in the Buddhist concept of Hell, Wang Saen Suk is occupied by a number of towering, grotesque figures undergoing torture for the crimes of their bad karma committed during their lives.
The Bohemian Blog gives an interesting and informative run-down on how to get to the Hell Garden and the things you can expect to spot in its 136 pits of hell. The punishments depicted include humans being transformed into animals, tongue stretching, intestines being eaten by birds, eyes pecked by ravens, severe beatings and incomprehensible violence seemingly at odds with the Buddhist approach to peace and gentility.
The hell garden finishes on a positive message, however, showing the rewards for good deeds with its happier depictions of figures enjoying their good karma at the end of the garden.
Nightingale-Olympic Department Store
Deep in the heart of Chinatown is the Nightingale-Olympic, opened in the 1960s as Bangkok’s first department store.
Despite its doors still being open, it’s clear that very little has been altered in the years to now, with the store resembling more of a living museum experience, rather than a mall to rival Siam Paragon.
Unsold stock – including wooden tennis rackets and rusty musical instruments – spill out over the shelves while creepy old mannequins are dressed in the style of yesteryear. Customers are pretty few and far between so there are no modern amenities like air-conditioning, adding to the feeling of being trapped in the past.
Kamchanod Forest is found on a small island near the village of Wang Tong in Udon Thani province and is the site of a number of myths and legends.
The underwater caves beneath the forest are believed to be the home of the giant, mythical Phaya Nāga serpent who, according to Buddhist folklore, breathed fire into the sky to assist the Buddha in his heavenly descent. Within the forest is a temple where Thais can make merit to the Nāga.
As well as ancient spirits, modern-day ghosts are also reported to haunt the forest: in 1987 a small film crew were requested by an unknown caller to come the forest to set-up a temporary open air cinema for the night. Late into the early hours, a large crowd appeared – peculiar, silent, with the men all in black and the women white. At the close of the entertainment, the crowd left, again without saying a word. When the film crew, a little perplexed, left the forest and travelled back to Wang Tong, they questioned the villagers about the strange happenings of the night before: the disbelief of the villagers lead to the development of the urban legend that the film crew had entertained a large group of ghosts.
The night’s events were recreated for The Screen of Kamchanod movie in 2007.
In total opposition to the nearby heavenly ‘White Temple’ Wat Rong Khun, is Baan Dam – or, Black House.
The 15 houses of the Baan Dam complex are dark in both physical colour and general aura, decorated as they are with the carcasses of dead animals. An entire elephant skeleton is presented alongside skins, teeth and bones of a variety of creatures, including big cats, buffalo, snakes and crocodiles.
Designed by local artist Thawan Duchanee, this artful presentation of death and spectacle is both jarring and voyeuristic – a must-see for fans of creep.
Koh Hingham is a tiny, uninhabited island off the coast of Koh Lipe near the Malaysian border that was supposedly cursed by the God of Tarutao.
The island is covered in peculiar looking black pebbles and the myth goes that if you take one such stone from Hingham, you will bear the brunt of the curse wreaked by the God of Tarutao. While many people presumably do nab a takeaway from the island, the National Park office receives dozens of the stones posted back to them every year from guilt-ridden thieves. Perhaps they wanted to live free of the curse?
On the site of a former maximum security jail is the Orwellian-sounding Corrections Museum, which documents the grisly reality of incarceration in the Bangkok past.
Photographs and models of the site help conjure the atmosphere of the prison while life-size figures recreate the horrific tortures and executions carried out there – particularly in the notorious, windowless Cell Block 9. This chamber was the site of prisoners’ last supper before being executed and exhibits the weapons and instruments of torture used.
What’s your favourite creepy attraction in Thailand?