Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, delicious food and mesmerising cultural sites but if you wish to explore some of the countries lesser-seen, unusual attractions there is plenty on offer too. Come prepared with an open mind, curiosity and a strong stomach and explore our selection of Thailand’s weirdest attractions.
“Welcome to Hell!” reads the sign as you enter the Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden. Take a leisurely stroll through grotesque depictions of torture inflicted on those who go to Buddhist hell. You’ll see sinners boiled in copper cauldrons, being torn apart by hell’s dogs, and emaciated sinners with protruding ribs to name but a few of the sites’ ‘attractions’. Throughout the garden are signs eluding that if your good deeds outweigh your bad, you can avoid going to hell and therefore not live the terrifying scenes before your eyes.
If your vision of a museum is pretty shiny displays of cultural artifacts, then perhaps it’s best to give this one a miss. The Siriraj Medical Museum is a morbid and unusual treasure trove of pathological, forensic, parasitological, and anatomical specimens. There are actually six museums in the hospital complex; a museum of pathology, a forensics museum, a museum of the history of Thai medicine, a parasitology museum, an anatomical museum, and a prehistoric museum. On display are bones, preserved organs, pathological fetuses, a mummified corpse of a notorious serial killer, parasitic worms, a two-and-a-half-foot-wide scrotum removed from a man afflicted with elephantiasis, the remains of a cannibal, and a traditional Thai medicine shop. This collection is bound to peak the average curiosity but it is advised to avoid it if you are squeamish. It’s recommended those that wish to take the plunge and check out the museums-with-a-difference to come prepared with a strong stomach.
Koh Hingham, also known as the cursed island of black pebbles, is a small uninhabited island which is believed to have been cursed by the God of Tarutao. Visitors are free to play with the black pebbles and assemble them into structures, but the sacred stones must be left on the island to avoid being cursed for a lifetime. Each year the National Park receives dozens of stones being returned via post from desperate people wanting the curse to be lifted.
A quirky and surprisingly cultural place to visit is the Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok. This yard is not only home to an abandoned 747, two smaller MD-82 planes and old plane parts, it is also a makeshift home to a small community of Thai families. The yard is owned by a local businessman who sells off plane parts for scrap. Although the interior of the planes have been stripped of seats, paneling, entertainment screens and overhead luggage compartments, old in-flight magazines, oxygen masks, and life vests can be seen littered around the yard.
The planes that were once used to transport passengers around Thailand now provide shelter and an income for the families who reside there. They would otherwise be on the street and are able to make money by bringing items to a nearby recycling station and by charging tourists an entrance fee to tour the compound.
Another slightly unusual attraction at Wat Khunaram on Ko Samui is a self-mummified monk who died over 20 years ago while meditating. Luang Pho Dang still sits today in a well-preserved lotus position, but adorns sunglasses where geckos have slowly eaten away at his eyes. Geckos also use his body cavities to lay their eggs. Thai people come from far and wide to pay respect to the deceased monk.
It might be best to save that delicious riverside lunch in Chiang Mai for another day as a visit to the World Museum of Insects and National Wonders is bound to put a dampener on your appetite. The museum has an eccentric and extensive collection of dead creepy crawlies of all varieties pinned to dusty display boards. There is a quirky charm to this husband and wife led insectoid taxidermy establishment that makes it a must visit on any travel itinerary.
Nestled in a quiet corner of a Bangkok hotel car park is a forest of phallic offerings. Take a relaxed stroll around the penis forest for a unique day out in the capital. This ‘spirit house’ was built for the goddess of Chao Mae Tuptim, the goddess of fertility. Along with the usual spirit house offerings of flowers, incense and food, are thousands of phallus offerings, some over six-feet long. The shrine is frequented by woman seeking to be granted fertility by the goddess, consider yourself warned.
For those with a love for the supernatural and abandoned buildings, this is the perfect hang out for you! The Sathorn Unique Skyscraper, a 49-storey tower, was set to be a beacon of glimmering office suites and residential up-market apartments. However, after the 1997 Asia financial crisis it was left an eerie, post-apocalyptic skeleton of its lofty hopes. Abandoned rooms are filled with random objects including mannequins and pictures of Thailand’s late king. Locals believe the structure is haunted and report stories of supernatural activity. The structure is fragile and extreme caution is advised. A safer option is to explore the 10-storey car park, which is located opposite The Sathorn Unique.