I went ghost hunting on Thailand’s most popular supernatural show
Thai people are one of the biggest fans of horror, with our mediascape packed with spooky supernatural content, ranging from ghost films and monster legends to documentaries about real-life strange happenings.
Any local would agree that Khon Uad Phee is the most famous ghost television programme in Thailand, featuring talks on the paranormal as well as trips to haunted locations. Lucky or not, I myself had the opportunity to be on the show hunting for “ghosts” – here’s how it went, and why I would never do it again.
Other haunted things in Thailand:
- Santika Club: haunted nightclub in Bangkok
- Computer games based on Thai horror films
- Scariest Thai ghost and monster stories
About Khon Uad Phee
Khon Uad Phee, a.k.a. “Man vs Ghost”, is a Thai variety talk show centred around ghosts, life-after-death, and other supernatural topics. It is currently broadcasted on Workpoint TV (Channel 23) every Wednesday.
Image credit: WorkpointOfficial
One of the most popular sections in the programme includes Soun Bantao Tuk Phee, where guests are invited to share their life problems based on supernatural causes and are met with karmic solutions by paranormal expert, Host Riew.
Guest claiming to feel a presence on his right in one of the La The Phee episodes
The most thrilling part of the programme, however, would probably be La Tha Phee, which translates to “Ghost Hunter” in English. In this segment, guests such as celebrities and volunteers from the audience are put on a ghost hunting mission at one of Thailand’s many notoriously haunted places in each episode.
They can be seen doing crazy challenges to summon ghosts like tampering with sacred objects that are meant to ward off evil spirits or sitting in a closet where a murder victim’s body was once hidden in. As you might have guessed, it’s all to prove whether or not ghosts exist.
The participant who claimed that he couldn’t get up
Translation: Can someone please come get me?
It is during La Tha Phee that we can see many spine-chilling events – one of the most hair-raising episodes includes a man being unable to get up after lying on a spot in a house where someone was allegedly murdered only a few days ago.
The guest further shared that he felt like someone was on top of him – we’re getting flashbacks to Shutter.
The shooting was intentionally set seven days after the crime event to test out a widespread belief that spirits would return on the seventh day following their deaths. According to the happenings in the video, it seems that they in fact do.
Fortunately, I didn’t experience any of such moments, although I still had to do things that would haunt me for months after the show.
My experience ghost hunting on La Tha Phee
Being a member of a Thai girl group, Candy Mafia, I was invited as a celebrity guest to appear on La Tha Phee back in 2012. Despite my reluctance – which definitely seeped through the screen – I went ahead and joined following my manager’s advice. He said that I would be missing a big opportunity to star in a famous TV show had I not gone, and somewhere deep down, I agreed.
A promotional image for the episode I was on
Image credit: Workpoint Entertainment
Translation: Recounting Jen Yanthip’s words, “The ghosts here are hostile, something bad could happen”. Will Nune from Candy Mafia be brave enough to go through the missions? Don’t miss Khon Uad Phee, this Wednesday 10.30PM on Channel 5.
The location was unknown to me until a few days before the shooting date, which further contributed to the anxiety I’d already been feeling since I received the invitation. Knowing that Thai ghost stories usually occur at temples, I was not excited to hear we were going to an abandoned temple on the outskirts of Bangkok – areas that are known to be a pit full of graveyards.
According to the locals, the temple became haunted after the crematorium was torn down in order to build a new one. Spirits of those cremated at the original crematorium were said to be so unhappy with the decision that spooky events kept happening, and the construction project was ultimately terminated.
The site has been left as a wreckage ever since.
Upon learning the story, my feelings of fear grew from a seed into a giant tree, causing my imagination to run wild. Would I see a spirit, or worse, be touched by one? These things sound trivial, but to me, they were what I prayed to not come across.
There were two celebrity guests that day, me and a former singer, Jazky. We were each paired up with a volunteer from the audience, and my team was the first on the ghost hunting mission. For “safety”, we were given a flashlight and a walkie talkie.
Eating the spirits’ offerings whilst trying to remain as calm as I could
Right at the beginning, Pond – my partner – and I had to eat food offerings that were left out for the spirits residing in the area. We also had to call them out to eat with us. This is believed to open up our senses, allowing spirits to make contact with us.
“Come eat the snacks with us. Come join and be one of us”, shouted the both of us as we were ordered to.
Although we didn’t see anything, the show’s psychic, Jen Yanthip told us that a spirit was looking at us with rage in their eyes since what we did was also considered an insulting act.
The intensity only increased from there as we pushed further into the temple to an area filled with pagodas – where the dead’s bone fragments are stored. Immediately, we were told to stand atop the pagodas. I went absolutely quiet.
As if perching myself above a corpse’s home wasn’t alarming enough, I was told to look through my legs, which is a way to see ghosts as per Thai beliefs.
Me about to bend down and “look” through my legs
This is where I used my first secret ghost-defense tactic. Instead of actually looking for a ghost between my legs, I closed my eyes and said that I saw nothing. Sorry, I just didn’t have the guts.
Pond, on the other hand, said that he felt “someone or something” running past his face. Just a couple of moments later, he was seen squatting on the ground with his hand rubbing one of his temples.
Translation: I didn’t see the ghost, but I felt it.
We learned from Jen later that it was a spirit of granny who gave us a little warning about our disrespectful actions and potential consequences, which is what my partner sensed.
One other thing, you should also probably know that I also hid a Buddha amulet and some relics under my clothes, which is believed to protect those who wear it against evil spirits. *Shh…*
Both of us after hearing a knocking sound
Still, the amulet wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling chills from being out in a creepy, dark place. At one point, we even heard a noise that sounded like someone was knocking. I froze.
The other guest doing the same challenge as me – lying down under a coffin with a garland hanging right on top of our faces
The last challenge was the worst of them all as I had to lie down on a spot where the cremation took place with a bottomless coffin placed on top of me. They closed the lid, encasing me in one of my worst nightmares.
For five long minutes, I was forced to lay in a box meant for the dead, that seemed like it had been used. Unable to stand the fact that I was playing dead in a room full of death, the only thing I could do to stay sane was focus on the smell of incense, which also happens to have heavy connotations with horror stories.
Up to this day, I still don’t know where the smell came from.
As if my brain had blocked out the traumatic memories, I only learned there was a coffin with a dead person’s body with me in the room during the ritual after watching the reruns. Luckily, the spirit wasn’t around much, according to Jen. So, no guests had any encounters with it.
Even now, I still don’t have a single recollection about being briefed on the occupied coffin, which leads me to think that maybe the staff purposely didn’t inform me about it since it was obvious that I was extremely scared.
Psychic Jen explaining why I couldn’t sense the supernatural forces
Ultimately, I didn’t encounter any other strange events, although my partner claimed that he felt cold in many areas we visited, which is said to be a sign that a spirit is nearby. Psychic Jen explained that I had a strong mind, so none of the ghosts were able to get through to me.
TBH, the statement was a hope that I still hold onto up until today.
How I felt about going ghost hunting in Thailand
Despite the psychic saying that I was strong, the truth was that I was scared the entire time I was there, even with my extra safety tokens.
My hard exterior was only an illustration of how uncomfortable I felt doing all those challenges that I was taught to avoid growing up.
Even though my family wasn’t exactly religious or superstitious, the ghastly scenes from horror films like The Conjuring and hearing about first-hand experiences with ghosts from other people instilled in me that the paranormal was something that I should not dare mess with. The mere reason being that it’s just too scary.
Me feeling nervous about doing a challenge
After the shoot was over, I remember feeling jumpy for months. From someone who enjoyed being alone, it became impossible to find comfort in solitude for a long while. Not only did I feel like the environment became too quiet, I didn’t want to risk bumping into a ghoulie “alone”.
Aside from the need to have someone around at most times, I found it hard to sleep at night – I was always making sure my feet were tucked securely under the blanket just so there weren’t any chances for “someone” to pull my leg. Plus, I kept my eyes closed at all times. Period.
Overall, it was an experience that left me still feeling eerie and uneasy today whenever I think back about it.
Supernatural beliefs in Thailand
It is possibly due to the fact that because Thais grow up around ghost stories and superstitions that supernatural content is so popular here in the Kingdom.
Thai people believe that knocking on plates and bowls is a way to summon spirits
Image credit: Palungjit
One of the classic ghost stories is the tale of Pret, also known as “Hungry Ghosts”. They are a foul existence said to be the height of palm trees with a mouth the size of a pinhole.
An illustration of Pret ghosts
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Thai people are taught at a young age that those who are overly materialistic and unappreciative towards their parents would turn into Pret in the afterlife. They are cursed with an extreme hunger and have to “live” the rest of their days in repentance.
Thai people are encouraged to make merit often, not only for karmic purposes but to pre-empt any negative encounters with paranormal entities.
Image credit: Thai Post
With many stories along the lines of Pret so prevalent in the Kingdom and the large emphasis placed on karmic cause-and-effects in our daily lives, many Thais often turn to superstitions to deal with problems in their daily lives.
A common example would be to make merit after being in a car accident, or even dreaming about ghosts. However, whilst it’s a big part of the Thai culture, there is no denying that horror is also the best thrill generator, being another way for people to escape reality.
Are ghosts real?
So, are ghosts and monsters real? Despite my apparent fear of these supernatural beings and having experienced going on a ghost hunt, I still cannot say that I 100% believe in them since I’ve never actually encountered one, nor do I want to.
Yet, I must say that I do feel stronger in a way after the experience. Placing myself in a position where I literally summoned my greatest fear – ghosts – actually kind of empowered me because it was on my – the show’s – terms that I would have had to face them.
However, if another offer to prove that they’re real comes my way, I would instantly slam my door closed and double lock it.
Do you believe in ghosts? If not, would you go on a ghost hunt just to prove that they’re not real? Tell us in the comments.
More Thai perspectives:
- Losing my job during the pandemic in Thailand
- What’s it like being an atheist in Thailand
- I went through cosmetic procedures for my self-love journey