Spirit Houses in South East Asia

14 Nov

Travel has numerous advantages but a really big one is that it’s the most fun way to study and remember the history and culture of new places. The amount that I have learnt on this during my travels in the last 1 year is far more than what I have ever read till date. So in my endeavor to share these stories on different cultures and practices, this is one small piece on Spirit Houses in South East Asia.

During our trip to Thailand and Cambodia this year, we kept coming across numerous small / miniature houses or temples built in traditional Thai style and kept prominently outside all commercial and residential establishments i.e. houses, hotels, discs, offices, markets, shops – basically everywhere. At first we didn’t understand what they were and what was the purpose was it a temple for worship? a bird house? a piece of decoration? the possibilities were endless. But then in Cambodia we asked someone and they told us that these are Spirit Houses. Well, of all possible answers, this had never struck us.

Spirit Houses, Bangkok

Spirit Houses, Bangkok

A spirit house is a kind of shrine built for the protective spirits of the place and is part of the ancient religion and culture of this region. These houses are placed in the most auspicious corners of the property (we even saw one on the roof of a building) and this place is determined by a local Brahmin priest. These houses can be built by specific builders only and can be simple or opulent; small or big; made of either brick, cement or wood and can be mounted on a pillar or a dais. Everything about these houses is based on the affordability of the person building it and the spirit it is being built for. Many times you see numerous spirit houses all placed close to each other.

Spirit Houses, Bangkok

Spirit Houses, Bangkok

These houses are found all over South East Asian countires of Thailand, Cambodia Burma and Laos and provide a shelter for spirits or celestail beings. According to local folklores, the spirits can be either good or evil and can cause damage / mischief if not appeased. The shrines often include images of people and animals and locals make offerings in the form of incense, candles, flowers, fruits etc to these spirits.

So the next time you are in this region do check out some of these houses and best of all – they are FREE to SEE. 🙂

16 Responses to “Spirit Houses in South East Asia”

  1. Andrew Harvard November 14, 2012 at 00:24 #

    I learnt something here


  2. Niranjan November 14, 2012 at 00:43 #

    That is interesting. Thanks for sharing this quiky fact.



  3. pommepal November 14, 2012 at 07:56 #

    Always something new to learn and see when travelling


  4. GalOnTrip November 16, 2012 at 22:45 #

    wow, the spirit houses are even prettier than my own house 😉


    • getsetandgo November 18, 2012 at 12:54 #

      I know…. They are really beautiful and the work on some of them is very delicate and fine… These are a must see in SE Asia


  5. boat charter samui November 17, 2012 at 22:34 #

    Now i know What Thailand really is it seems very Historic i was amazed this really beautiful.hopefully i can get pic. there someday.you such a lucky guys you have pictures like that nice!!!!


    • getsetandgo November 18, 2012 at 13:02 #

      Thanks… 🙂 also Thailand has many facets to it and it is fun to explore each one of them… It is a beautiful country with a lot left for me to see and experience.


  6. Juliana Lightle November 23, 2012 at 20:26 #

    I have a spirit house that looks exactly like many of the temples in Thailand. I brought it home from Changmai more than twenty years ago.


  7. หมอ แมว January 10, 2013 at 15:07 #

    In south east asia region , there is mixed culture of Buddhism and Brahmin .
    Heaven in these culture have about 8 levels
    The spirits house is place that Angle in lowest level or จาตุมหาราชิการ
    Angles in this level can be either good or bad
    But Angle in spirit house must be only good angle that protect household from evil angles or spirits

    In term of word “Spirit house” I saw many europeans see this as any spirit , but it is like catholics people that have cross and archangel St. Michael sculpture in their house


    • getsetandgo January 11, 2013 at 16:58 #

      Hey, thanks for the introduction and backgrund… This has been really helpful in understanding more about Spririt Houses and the Thai culture…


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