If you are new to Pattaya you have probably been wondering what the miniature, ornate little houses are which you see outside peoples houses, ‘often in the garden’, you also see them outside bars, businesses, banks, hotels, in fact you will see them just about everywhere. These miniature houses are actually Thai Spirit Houses, they are usually highly decorative and adorned in ribbons and garlands and they often have a table at the side of them where daily offerings of food and drink are placed. These Thai Spirit Houses are a place for the spirits to live after the land on which they used to dwell has been developed in the form of a house, bar, hotel or any building. The reason for this is simply to keep the spirits happy and keep them out the owners house, bar or establishment and to help bring good luck and prosperity.
There are 2 common styles of Thai Spirit House and you often see them together as they are in this photo from Walking Street, they are often side by side, one will stand taller than the other, it stands on one central column and often has a spiraled roof, this one is called the San Phra Phum or ‘San Phra Poom’, you will see many variations of the spelling. The smaller of the Thai Spirit Houses stands on 4 legs and often resembles a simple Thai house, this is called a San Jao Thi or ‘San Jao Tee’.
Thai Spirit Houses can be seen everywhere around Pattaya, from Walking Street to Soi Six, just about every hotel has one, Supermarkets, Banks, the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker might even have one. Thais are often seen crouched on their knees in front of a Spirit House in a Wai gesture with an offering of incense, many will simply Wai or bow in respect as they are passing. You should not tamper with a Thai Spirit House or any of the offerings outside it, not only might you incur the wrath of the Spirits, but more seriously the wrath of its Thai owner.