Are tourists ready for Thai ghosts?
text size

Are tourists ready for Thai ghosts?

The latest inspiration from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is to promote "Ghost Tourism" to spice up the experiences of visitors who may be a little weary of bars, beaches and the usual bunkum.

It might be an idea to first set up a Ministry of Things That Go Bump in the Night. A certain Harry Potter could be enlisted to wave his wand every now and again if the tourist "ghost bus" gets stuck in the Sukhumvit gridlock. The three-headed dog may also come in useful by taking bites out of bolshy ghosts who refuse to pose for smartphone cameras.

One wonders if the unsuspecting tourists are ready for the more blood-curdling Thai ghosts which can be quite unpleasant. For a start there's the unfriendly one-legged, three-toed hairy forest vampire that is said to hang around a cave in Loei province. Then there's the hugely hungry half-tiger, half-man creature that goes on the prowl in Tak when there's a full moon.

Tourists will also need to be quite brave to tackle the most feared ghost in Thailand the phi grasue which consists of a bloody head with entrails, tubes and innards dangling from it. That would be enough to give even the most hardened tourist bit of a scare. But the biggest test would be to venture into the territory of the fearsome ghost which prompted the unforgettable case of the "shrinking willies'' that swept the Northeast a few years ago. Now that would be a real test for tourist resilience.

Headless horsemen

Vying Thailand in spooky goings-on is the UK which is helped by all those castles, dungeons and stately homes in which ghosts flourish. They also like to hang out in pubs and frankly just about every tavern in the UK has its own resident ghost. Here are two famous inns that could inspire the Thai tourist authorities.

The Red Lion in Avebury, Wiltshire is home to no less than five ghosts. The most familiar is Florrie who in the 17th century had her throat slit by her angry husband and was subsequently thrown down a well. Florrie's ghost occasionally escapes from the well and entertains customers by rattling the chandeliers. There is also a phantom carriage which clatters through the pub's yard, driven by a headless horseman.

Then there is the Spaniard's Inn in Hampstead, London which was frequented by legendary highwayman Dick Turpin whose ghost reportedly roams the top floor robbing other ghosts. On a lower level a moneylender apparition known as Black Dick is said to annoy drinkers by just being creepy. We must not forget Turpin's horse Black Bess which can be periodically heard trotting around the car par neighing mournfully.

The Hand

For many years tales of the supernatural have helped keep the Thai film industry afloat. I've been fortunate enough to be on location for two or three Thai films and they all involved ghosts in some form or other. The most memorable was Mae Nak America (American Wife) shot primarily at a lakeside village in Chiang Mai in 1976. The highlight of the special effects was a ghostly hand which appeared to be five large condoms lodged on to the end of a long stick. It provided the spirit with a super-long arm with which it could perform most unpleasant acts.

One evening a large number of villagers had gathered after word got out about the magical arm. After the scene was completed the film crew got hold of the arm and decided to have a bit of fun. Using the hand they went on to play ghost tricks which scared the wits out of the unsuspecting villagers. Throughout the night there were regular shrieks from the village as "the hand" did the rounds.

Dodgems beat ghosts

Some years ago I was in Brighton with my wife, who is Thai. Among the attractions at the end of the Palace Pier was a "haunted house ride". You could hear screams and weird noises coming from the attraction and it will come as no surprise that my wife politely declined the opportunity to experience the English house of horrors. The dodgems were another matter, however. She absolutely loved crashing into other dodgems drivers with undisguised glee. Somewhat worryingly she explained it reminded her of driving in Bangkok.

Law and disorder

Following last week's item on aptonyms (people whose names suit their occupations) we should not overlook those whose names are painfully inappropriate for their chosen employment. We could call them "inaptonyms".

Over the years there have been many British policemen with the name Lawless although they have been in good company with a number called Outlaw and Crook. Alas, there were no reports of them arresting themselves. For many years in England the gentleman in charge of advising banks on financial fraud was Robin Banks. And the chief media contact on police matters in the 1980s was none other than Robin Hood. It would also be remiss not to mention the Indian lawyers with the splendid name, Panicker & Potti.

Hey Mister!

There was also an item last week about gentlemen who through no fault of their own are christened Mister Mister. It prompted an Australian reader to express concern. After all it can't be much fun being called Mrs Mister, Ms Mister or even Master Mister.

Contact PostScript via email at

Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

Email :

Do you like the content of this article?