Nestled away in a random and hidden spot of central Bangkok, you can find the very surreal Phallic shrine; a small site filled with numerous, large carvings and phallic statues. It is located within the grounds of the very posh, and maybe unfortunate, Swissotel Nai Lert hotel. Crossing over the small bridge leading into the typical Bangkok cityscape scene of the Swissotel grounds and it’s concrete car park, you will see a very small and overgrown-looking garden tucked away amongst some trees. If you were not actively looking for the penis shrine you may well easily miss it as it so hidden away, almost as if it has been conveniently shoved into the corner and out of people’s view.
A visit to the penis shrine in Bangkok can be a somewhat odd experience. Sometimes there may not be another visitor in sight, the only other signs of life around being a couple of stow away workers slacking off around the outskirts of the garden and a family of cats who have made their home underneath one of the many piles of phallic sculptures.
The Bangkok penis shrine is around 100 years years old and Chao Mae Tuptim is the name of the spirit or goddess believed to reside there. There seem to mixed feelings from the locals of Bangkok about the shrine, some apparently finding it to be embarrassing and perhaps vulgar (I have heard that if you mention it to a member of staff in the Swissotel, most of them will deny all knowledge of it’s existence). There are others throughout the region however, who regard the penis shrine as a place of good fortune, endowing fertility to visitors who worship Chao Mae Tuptim at the phallic shrine.
Visiting Chao Mae Tuptim
The phallic shrine is very small in size, it is literally like stepping into somebody’s back garden. It is not really something that would make a trip worthwhile on it’s own (particularly if you do not have a specific interest in phallic sculptures), but there are absolutely masses of shopping centres, malls and cafes around to explore nearby, and so the penis shrine can make an interesting stop off whilst wandering through the area of Chit Lom. Other places to visit in the area include Central Chit Lom (a department store with an impressive and high quality food court below), Central World, Amarin Plaza, Pratunam, Erawan shrine and the Baiyoke Tower. Every other person who’s been to Thailand has a picture of themselves in the Grand Palace and Wat Arun – the shrine can make for a more unconventional detour to the usual tourist sights.
And besides, who wouldn’t want a photo of themselves posing next to a giant pile of men’s oversized gooblies?
Directions to the Bangkok penis shrine
Take the BTS to Chit Lom and follow the exit signposted for Central Chit Lom. You should be walking in the direction towards Ploenchit, rather than back towards Central World. You can exit through the air conditioned Central Chit Lom and head back onto the main road with the BTS on. From here, carry on walking left along the main street until you come across a road turning left with a small canal running along the right-hand side of it.
Continue to the end of the street until you see a small bridge across the canal and a security guard booth just on the other side. Walk on through the car park and follow the road to the left. Straight ahead of you from here you will notice some trees and a small garden which is the penis shrine.