Bangkok is a promised land for people looking for curiosities and weird things to do.
Museum of Forensic Medicine
Why: Who would not want to see Thailand’s most famous serial killer, his mummified body kept inside a glass display? Two-headed fetuses are some of the other weird things on display in Royal Siriraj Hospital’s Forensic Medicine museum. Some of the exhibits you don’t even know what they are. This museum sets the new high for gross levels.
Where: Museum of Forensic Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Department of Forensic medicine, 2nd floor. Located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya river. Take the Chao Phraya Express boat to Tha Wang Lan pier.
Gifts to Afterlife
Why: You will find all the things you could imagine a dead person might need in the afterlife in Bangkok’s Chinatown: luxury cars, newest models of mobile phones, micro-wave ovens and trendy sneakers. You can even find electric fans to make the hell a bit cooler place for your long lost uncle. The purpose of all that material wealth is to keep the ancestors happy, and thus not making trouble for the living ones.
All the gifts sold next to bustling Leng Noi Yee temple are made of cardboard, and they are to be sent to the afterlife through the flames of the temple’s large oven. Seems like the Chinese believe their ancestral spirits to be as foolish as they are greedy.
Where: The afterlife are sold in small shops on narrow alleys next to Chinatown’s Yee Leng Noi Temple.
Shrine of Mae Nak, Thailand’s Most Famous Ghost
Why: Many Thais believe in ghosts, and Mae Nak is the most famous ghost of all. She even has her own shrine with a very eerie bust statue. It is said that the ghost’s statue is made out of clay, which has been collected from seven different cemeteries.
Mae Naak’s horrific story is well loved amongst Thais and turned into several movie reincarnations. The story tells of a young wife who died during labor while her husband was in the army about hundred years ago. The wife didn’t let even the death to keep her away from her man. Needless to say, the husband wasn’t at all that happy, when he returned from the war and found a living corpse in his bed.
Somehow the Thais manage to interpret Mae Naak’s story as an example of a wife’s and mother’s loving dedication to her husband and baby, and come to the shrine to pray for good luck and protection during their son’s military service.
The ghost is also particularly good at giving hints for the correct lottery numbers, which can be found by rubbing a tree trunk next to the shrine.
Where: Mae Naak’s shrine is in the compound of Wat Mahabut Temple on On Nut Soi 7 (On Nut is another name for Sukhumvit Soi 77). Once you get to the temple, follow big arrow signs to the shrine.
Why: Almost every Thai man wears an amulet, many more than one. If one amulet is for protection against bullets or knives, the other will keep the wearer safe in traffic accidents, and the third promises good luck for business. You can also find amulets that protect you while traveling.
Amulets are sold in several locations, one of the main markets being the one next to Wat Mahathat in Bangkok’s old town. You will see amulets made out of almost anything: monk’s pictures, animal teeth and curiously shaped roots.
Where: Next to Wat Mahathat Temple, close to the Grand Palace. Riverboat pier Tha Phra Chan.
Why: Bangkok’s most peculiar spirit house is surrounded by hundreds of phalluses. They come in all sizes and materials, from small wooden ones to gigantic concrete monsters. A few have even been given wings, and a couple adorns legs and tails on their back.
Inside the shrine lives a spirit called Chao Mae Tubtim who is known for her gift of fertility. She has blessed many childless couples with a babe after they have prayed by the shrine. Each of the phalluses crowding the shrine is a proof of Chao Mae Tubtim’s capabilities, since for the Thais their spirits have a profit responsibility; new phalluses are bought to the shrine as a present after the wish is fulfilled.
Where: In the backyard of Swissotel Nailert Park on Witthayu street, fifteen minutes walk from Ploenchit BTS station.
Phantom of the Skyscraper
Why: Unique Sathorn Bangkok was meant to become the most luxurious residential building in the city, but it became the world’s largest haunted house, instead. The 49 floors high skyscraper was almost complete when the constructor went bankrupt during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and the building works halted.
The story goes that the architect committed suicide and has since haunted the building.
You can easily get in the ground floor of the building, but the guard there won’t allow access to any higher floors. The dilapidated ground floor is haunting enough.
Where: Charoen Krung Soi 51, a short walk from the Saphan Thaksin BTS station.