Spirit houses in Thailand


Everywhere around Thailand you can find spirit houses. You’ll see them in -and in front of- houses, in trees, next to offices, in front of shopping malls and along the roads. Most of the houses we see on the way have a spirit house. They look like small, colorful, beautifully decorated temples. Besides being beautiful to photograph, what are they for?

Thailand, as a whole, is a country obsessed with ghosts and ghosts stories.  An estimated of 80% of its residents believing in the supernatural.  As such, you’ll find ghost topics a mainstay of Thai newspaper and magazine article, movie storylines, and simple, everyday conversation.

So what is the spirit house for?

An attractive spirit house will appease the deceased in a manner such that they will reside there and not cause hardship for the current living resident of that place.  They are meant as an offering in the protective spirits/ghosts of a place of residence or business.

Spirit houses serve a different purpose on different locations.

Thai people believe when they build a house they use land that is already occupied by spirits.

In order to keep those spirits happy they will also build a small house for the spirits to live in.  In this way the people and spirits can live peacefully side-by-side.  Spirit houses along the road are for the spirits who protect the road users.

Some people make offerings at spirit houses every day: others only do so on special occasions.  Offerings are made by bringing food and drinks -red and orange Fanta are particularly popular-, candles, fresh flowers and burning incense.

Do’s and don’ts

As interesting and beautiful they look to photograph please remember that spirit houses are a place of worship for the owners.  Never put your feet on any religious item whatsoever and don’t touch items inside those houses.  Respect the beliefs of others and don’t take photos of spirit houses when people are praying, unless you ask.

Want to see some spirit houses and see the everyday life the Thai living in Bangkok: join us on a tour!

Looking for an easy to read travel guide for Thailand have a look at travelkids.com.