Wat Saen Suk in Chonburi
Some travel to Thailand for sleazy pleasure-seeking and seedy nightlife, and they need a little reminder to not toe the line.
There is a literal Hell on Earth in Chonburi at Wat Saen Suk Hell Garden, where you will see visions of Hell without needing to sin.
Hell on earth
Despite the temple’s name (saen suk roughly translates to “happy”), there is a garden where visitors can see what waits for them in the (Buddhist) afterlife should they lose their ways.
Image credit: @eri_thailife.141
You start in front of the Yama* who is judging souls brought before him to decide their fate.
*Yama is the Hindu or Buddhist equivalent of Hades.
Image credit: Michael Sarver/Flickr
Deeper into the garden, there are souls being tortured in various ways, such as boiling in a cauldron while being stabbed with spears.
Aside from wild depictions of torture, there are also statues of folklore ghosts depicted in the garden, such as the pret statues.
Image credit: @nikolay.lugovoy
People who were greedy or corrupted in a previous life are reincarnated as a pret. They have an unsatisfiable appetite not helped by their needle-sized mouths and being as tall as a palm tree.
Image credit: COHN17
It sounds scary, but not to worry. There are also garden sections of Heaven to balance it out. There are also shrines if you want to start merit-making after your garden stroll.
There is also a Thai folklore section
Image credit: @nastenka64
Thai proverb: “A whole dead elephant cannot be hidden with a lotus leaf.”
Image credit: Tripadvisor
There is a statue of a man covering a dead elephant with a lotus leaf, which is based on a Thai proverb that wrongdoings cannot be covered up.
One of the signs on your way out reads, “If you meet the Devil in this life, don’t postpone merit-making which will help you to defeat him in the next life. Donate a little each day and you’ll have a happy life,” and there are donation boxes around the garden.
Getting to the hell garden
Wat Saen Suk is a place that’s truly disturbing but also thought-provoking for both the curious and the religious. It is an hour and a half drive from Bangkok.
The next time someone tells you to go to hell, tell them you’re going to Chonburi.
Wat Saen Suk
Address: 150 Bang Saen Sai 2 Rd, Saen Suk, Chon Buri District, Chon Buri 20130
Opening Hours: 6AM-6PM