Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine
Experience local culture and tradition at one of Bangkok's most storied locales.
Every time I visit Bangkok, I make a beeline to the shimmering Erawan Shrine, easily the city’s most fascinating spectacle. It‘s on a street corner just a five-minute walk from Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, and there are benches around the perimeter, so it‘s easy to settle in to watch the nonstop activity.
Streams of people go there to pay their respects to the glittering four-faced statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma. He‘s the god of kindness, protection and good fortune. Praying to different sides offers different blessings—fame, success, luck—so all around him, people make ceremonial offerings, such as candles, fruit, floral garlands and little teakwood elephants.
A small troupe of Thai dancers performs on a stage to the side. Accompanied by the beat of a double-sided drum and two xylophone players, they dance and sing for hire. Devotees make a small monetary offering, then get down on their knees in prayer while the dancers tilt and twirl behind. Occasionally, visitors douse themselves with holy water from one of the gleaming bronze urns in the corners.
The shrine swarms with people from morning to night; after sunset, the experience feels particularly exotic as the air clouds with jasmine-scented incense smoke. A visit to the shrine provides a rewarding, authentic glimpse of traditional Thai culture.