Ever wanted to visit the underworld? Now visitors to the capital of Thailand have the chance to do so when they frequent the Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden. Here, everything you need to know about hell found just outside of Bangkok. Be warned: this attraction is not for the squeamish.
Wang Saen Suk Monastery Garden has several off-putting nicknames, including Thailand Hell Horror Park and Buddha Hell. Regardless of its intimidating title, the garden has become quite the tourist attraction outside of Bangkok since it was constructed in 1986.
The collection of statues that make up the site are found in Chonburi, a province located about an hour outside of the city. Even though it is located a bit far from the capital, its promise of gory images and unique scenery, if you will, has many of visitors making the trek out to Wang Saen Suk.
Naraka means Buddhist hell, which is exactly what this garden depicts. Unlike Christianity, those condemned to hell are not made to stay in Naraka for all of eternity, though it is believed that many are forced to stay here for up to billions of years. Instead, one who has committed a sin and mustered up enough bad karma must come here and pay for it. The sinners are then reborn again. Just as there are several layers to Naraka, the grounds of the Wang Saen Suk Monastery Garden are certainly extensive. The further visitors go into the garden to explore, the more gruesome the images become.
Surprisingly enough, this is not the only depicted Buddhist hell in the Land of Smiles. This one does come in at being the largest and probably the most popular, however. Another destination where hell is depicted is at Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as, ‘The White Temple.’ It is found in the northern city of Chiang Rai. The depiction of hell at this temple is a bit more inconspicuous than that at Wang Saen Suk.
The northern capital of Chiang Mai is home to its very own inferno on the grounds of Wat Mae Kaet Noi, as well. Rumor has it that the temple is home to even more horrifying images than that at Wang Saen Suk, with the temple’s grounds consisting of statues including women being raped by demons and even bloodied babies. These are apparently meant to scare visitors from having an abortion.
The tallest and most distorted images found in the middle of the garden at Wang Saen Suk outside of Bangkok are known as Nai Thong-Nang Thong and Ngean-Nai Ngean. These skeletal figures are surrounded by other smaller statues that depict many of tortured souls damned to the Buddhist hell. Each smaller statue is made to look like the sin they have broken. These sins promise to keep the figurines in this hell until they pay for their wrongdoings and are reincarnated.
Nai Thong-Nang Thong was a woman who became the emaciated ghost as seen today after she, “did some mistakes of sexual intercourse, misconduct, (and) mind without morality,” according to her gravestone of sorts that sits beneath her. Her male counterpart, Ngean-Nai Ngean, is another ghost who did not follow the Five Moral Precepts of Buddhism, another wrongdoing that supposedly lands one in the inferno.
The Five Moral Precepts of Buddhism include sexual misconduct, harming a living thing, lying, taking any substances, and taking what is not given. Many of the informative plaques found around the Buddha hell indicate that the statues in which are being tortured are receiving it because they did not live by the Five Moral Precepts.
There are plenty of chilling images of what are known as hungry ghosts around the garden. They all depict scenes of the underworld and what happens when any of these Five Moral Precepts are not followed. Look one way and you will see a man being stabbed through his eyeball with a spear. Look the other and visitors will come across a chained prisoner being sawed in half. No matter where visitors look, they are bound to come across a ghastly site at the Wang Saen Suk Monastery Garden.
How to get there
Visitors can reach the Buddha hell by taxi from Bangkok, though it is quite expensive to do so. It is over an hour drive outside of the city. Those visitors staying near the BTS Skytrain can first make their way to Udom Sok station, which is the closest to Wang Saen Suk. From there, they can get a taxi to the garden. This can cost anywhere from ฿600-1,000 (approximately US$18-30).
Visitors can also take a minibus from the bus station at the BTS Skytrain station Ekkamai. Minivan tickets from Chonburi to Bangkok were only ฿120 (approximately US$3.60) per person. Try to visit during a weekday to avoid seeing other tourists, as well.