Mythical Creatures of Thailand

All the Spiritual Sagas Surrounding 
Hindu and Buddhist Mythology

Three Headed Erewan Elephant

Mythical Creatures are found all around Thailand, but in many cases, foreigners to the country simply walk right past them in their sheer excitement as they gingerly make their way through the vast crowds at all the most popular places. Hopefully, you are not one of them. Below is a list of all the most important ones. 

It may be of tremendous interest to you to pause for a while before entering any of the Thai temples to observe these beautifully crafted creatures. Many of the exceptionally fine examples found here, represent fearsome beasts which act as temple guardians. Most of these beings originate from the legendary Himaphan forest, a kind of Buddhist Shangri-La somewhere in the Himalayan mountains.

Five Headed Naga Serpent

The Naga Serpent

The Naga is a serpent-like protector of Buddha and often act as guardians against bad spirits. They almost always flank the walls of temples or the staircases that leads up to them. Many can be seen carved on roofs, doors, gables and windows. In some cases, they are multi-headed as seen in the photo above.

The Garuda

The Garuda is a large mythical bird-like creature which appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Its shape is usually that of half-man and half-bird. The story of Garuda's origins, accomplishments and exploits are told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata. Examples of these ferocious figureheads can be seen on the brow of the gun barge at the Royal Barge Museum in Bangkok as well as other fine specimens at various temple complexes around the country.

Garudas at Wat Phra Kaew Complex

The Kinnari

The Kinnari appears in the form of a half-woman and half-bird. You will find some of these mythological figurines in small coves on the second level of the central prang at Wat Arun located beside the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

Kinnari- Half Woman Half Bird

The Apsonsi

The Apsonsi materialises as a half-woman and half-lion. Some of these graceful gilded figures can be seen on the upper terrace at the temple of Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.

Apsonsi - Half Woman Half Lion

The Hongsa

The Hongsa is a swan-like figure of which a fine example can be viewed at the Royal Barge Museum in Nonthaburi in Bangkok. Not only is there a Hongsa figure perched proudly on the brow of the king's barge, but these mythical creatures can also be seen perched on the apexes of temple roofs in various other parts of the kingdom.

Mythical Creatures at the Royal Barge Museum

The Yaksha 

The Yaksha takes the shape of a grimacing giant statue often sporting brightly coloured faces. These spectacularly crafted figures tower above the entrances to a great many of the temple compounds in Thailand, of which some superb examples can be seen at the Grand Palace Complex and at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Giant Yaksha Statue at the Grand Palace

The Makara

The Makara is an aquatic monster made up of part crocodile, part elephant and part serpent. Symbolising rainfall, temples depict these creatures on balustrades.

Makara Serpent in Chiang Mai

The Erewan 

The Erawan is a three-headed elephant of which one of biblical proportions can be found in the almost fifty metre tall Erawan Museum in the town of Samut Prakan south of Bangkok. Other fine examples of these mythical creatures can be seen at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya. Another example can be viewed on the central tower of Wat Arun in Bangkok and also in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

The Singha

The Singha takes on the appearance of a lion-like figure whose primary function is to guard temples. Larger ones grace temple entrances while other smaller ones sit atop gateposts. The marble temple at Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok has a number of these giant mythical creatures gracing the compound.

Singha Temple Guards at the Grand Palace

I would really appreciate anyone who was kind enough to read this article and who may have any other additional information regarding the details described here, to contact me so that I may improve the subject for other visitors to enjoy including myself.

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