Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden: A Glimpse Of The Buddhist Underworld

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling
In the original author's own words:

Hidden away down an overgrown road, in a village not far from Bangkok, there lies a curious museum known to many as the ‘Thailand Hell Horror Park’. Built adjacent to a local temple, the Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden – as it is correctly named – brings to life Buddhist teachings about the torments of the underworld, in a series of increasingly gruesome scenes. Curious to learn more, I set out in search of Hell.The village of Saen Suk is located close to Chon Buri – around 100km southeast of Bangkok – and while its pleasant beaches do attract their fair share of domestic tourism, the majority of foreigners pass this spot by in favour of nearby Pattaya or the spectacular islands to the south. I didn’t have much in the way of a plan; I simply woke up early one day and headed down towards Bangkok’s hectic bus station beside Victory Monument.

Getting there seemed to be a relatively simple affair. Regular coaches run from the capital to the infamous sex-tourism hotspot of Pattaya, and they would all be passing Chon Buri on the way. From there I guessed I’d taxi it to the Hell Garden. Getting back worried me more, but I decided to think about that later. Sure enough, by 9am I was wedged into the back of an old bus between a couple of elderly Thai women, with a breakfast of noodles and a syrupy iced coffee. The journey took us just short of two hours, escaping the horrific Bangkok traffic to leapfrog the beach resorts which lie scattered along the coast east. One-by-one the other passengers got off, until I was alone with the driver. Every few minutes I’d ask him where we were, terrified of missing my stop.

“This Bang Saen!” he suddenly declared, then, pointing off to the right, “Saen Suk!” He hadn’t heard of the Hell Garden (and my graphic mimery wasn’t helping), but I only had to get to Saen Suk and look for the palace, or “Wang”. I thanked him and hopped off the bus – into a bustling street of Chinese markets. Getting from Bang Saen to the Hell Garden was not as easy as I had imagined. Taxis seemed non-existent here, so for the next four hours I walked up and down rural lanes flanked with high hedges, beside highways and past grocery shops, barbers and massage parlous. To make things a little more interesting, the weather was fast deteriorating. As the locals were dashing for cover, many of them looked out in puzzlement at the stupid farang who had gotten lost in a fishing village during a thunderstorm.




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