Spirit houses in Thailand

Ever wondered what those strange bird house looking things are that you see all over Thailand? They are houses for the spirits. If you’re interested in knowing more about spirit houses in Thailand read on…

One of the first things a foreign visitor to Thailand notices soon after arriving in the country are the spirit houses which are present at the front of practically every house and business.  On this page we explain the purpose of these Thai spirit houses and some of their common features.

What are Thai spirit houses?

Spirit houses, although seemingly ubiquitous across Thailand can vary slightly in terms of appearance. Some spirit houses in Thailand can best be described as being similar in appearance to an oriental bird house. Usually red in colour, with some gold linings, these spirit houses are usually placed at the front of a house or other piece of property. Many spirit hoses in Thailand actually look like miniature models of Thai temples with steep pointy roofs and elaborate decorations. Smaller spirit houses are also found in businesses and are usually just a small shelf placed high on a wall upon which offerings are placed.

The purpose of spirit houses in Thailand

The majority of people in Thailand are Buddhists for whom the spirits of their ancestors form an important part of religious beliefs. Spirit houses are a way of honouring and placating the spirits of ones ancestors or even the spirits of people who used to live on a property. By keeping the spirits happy through giving offerings, it is believed that good luck will be ensured for the house or business where the spirit house is located.

Offerings at spirit houses in Thailand

Offering are usually given in the form of food, drink and incense which is placed on the spirit house while a short prayer is recited. Once placed on the spirit house, the offering of food will usually be left for a week before being changed.

Municipal spirit houses

Every municipality in Thailand has its own spirit house which is maintained on behalf of the inhabitants of the entire municipality.  These spirit houses are usually much larger than the ordinary ones owned by private citizens and involve more offerings to the spirits. Municipal spirit houses can be visited by members of the public and may be an interesting way to while away half an hour or so.

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