Spirit Houses in Thailand

There is a small building which looks like traditional Thai house or Buddhist temple on a pillar with statues of people and animals inside and food and drink offering outside almost in front of every house, cafe, hotel in Thailand. That’s spirit houses (saan phra phum).

Thai spirit house, saan phra phum

Thai people don’t really care that these spirit houses are totally out of Buddhism. Worship of spirits came to our days from times when nobody heard about Buddha. The funny thing is that sometimes you can see a spirit house at Wat’s territory.

So, why does everybody have the spirit house nearby his home?

Easy – Thai people build spirit houses, so spirits will live there. It’s believed that if there is no spirit house, spirits will come and stay in the main house with people and will make a lot of troubles and problems to humans in the house.

spirit houses could be simple or posh

What spirits will live in the spirit house? – those spirits who lived on this piece of land before anything was constructed there. Some legends say that those spirits have lived on the land since ancient times, some – that spirits are souls of ancestors of those who used to live on this piece of land before.

According to Thai believes, spirits can make good or harm to people – depends on their mood. And spirit’s mood is getting bad when people disturb them on their land/trees/water/etc and moreover when people do not show proper respect to them or forget about their existence .

So, humans build houses for spirits to make them peaceful and harmless. Then, they invite the spirit to enter the spirit house and settle there.

The spirits will be too happy with there new house and such an attention from human beings, that they would prefer this spirit house to the people’s one and plus will start to help in business, bring good luck and so on and so forth.

Offerings are to make spirits remember that people loves them and respect, so the spirits will remain in peaceful mood and won’t forget to perform their duties by keeping the place safe and wealthy.

By the way, bottles with red sparkling water are noticeable more that other things among the offerings to spirits in their spirit houses. All bottles are open and with a straw inside. All that is because Thai people believe that spirits like red color most of all.

The construction of the spirit house is a very serious process. A place, appearance and rest details should be chosen according to the advise of a local guru. But anyway, the mandatory rule is that the shadow of the main house should not fall upon the spirit house and vise versa.

The color of the spirit house is chosen in line with a birthday of the owner: if he/she was born on Monday, then the house would be yellow, if on Tuesday – pink, Wednesday – green, Thursday – gold, Friday – blue, Saturday – purple and Sunday – red.

spirit houses market at Koh Samui

But looking at all those houses in Thailand… It seems that not that many people in this country were born on Friday.

hand-made spirit house

hand-made - not all spirit houses are posh

Small figures of humans and animals are often place inside the spirit house – they would serve to the spirits. I haven’t seen by myself but my friends told me that they saw even tiny copies of TV-set in spirit houses – to save spirits from the boredom, I guess (TV is the second-important thing for every Thai person – after Buddha for sure).

little figures in a spirit house

If the main house is growing bigger or the owner build any adding to his shop, then the spirit house gets an upgrade as well.

spirit house with curtains

An old spirit house could not be just thrown away. First, the spirits should be moved into the new house. It could be done by prays and ceremonies. After that the old house should be taken to a special place where Thai people leave old spirit houses – it could be near a temple, tree or just along the road – hard to tell how they choose the spot for a spirit house’s cemetery.

Altogether, Thai people are very serious about all this spirit question – I often see them praying and making offerings to the spirits in their gardens , moreover they pray and respect spirits who live in spirit houses at the gas stations, in front of the stores or simply in the forest.

If you haven’t got any accommodation for your next trip booked yet, try it here: Airbnb.
You will get $25 discount for your first booking
and would be able to stay in a nice room or apartment rented from locals and not just in a dorm!  

And if you haven't decided yet where to stay on your next trip - try AirBnb! You can rent a room or a house from locals and that's usually cheaper and cozier that staying in a hotel. Plus, $20 bonus for your fist stay is a nice bonus! Enjoy!