Wat Mahabut (Mae Nak): The Ghost Temple

Wat Mahabut (Mae Nak Shrine): Monks chanting Inside the ubosot
Temple Rating:7.9

Wat Mahabut offers a unique blend of history, culture, spirituality, and folklore, making it a great destination for an authentic Thai experience. Additionally, the presence of the Mae Nak Shrine adds a touch of mystique to the temple, making it an even more captivating place to explore.

Architecture: 6.5
Aesthetics: 6.0
Culture: 9.5
X Factor: 7.5
Value: 10.0

Name (Thai): วัดมหาบุศย์

Address (Eng): 747 On Nut 7 Alley, แขวง อ่อนนุช Suan Luang, Bangkok 10250

Opening Hours: 7.30-17.30 daily.

Admission Fee: Free.

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Length of Trip: 2-3 hours.

Trip Type: cultural / historical.

Age Restrictions: none. 

Dress Code: modest and conservative. 

Religious Affiliation:

Primary Sect:

Table Of Contents

Wat Mahabut

The Mae Nak Shrine

The story of Wat Mahabut’s Mae Nak Shrine is a famous Thai legend that has been passed down through generations. It revolves around a tragic love story that combines elements of romance, horror, and supernatural folklore. The shrine is dedicated to Mae Nak (แม่นาก) a ghost who is believed to have protected her family and community even after her death.

The legend takes place in the early 19th century in Bangkok, Thailand. The main characters are Mae Nak and her husband, Mak. They were a deeply in love couple living in a small village. Mak was a soldier who was called away to fight in a war, leaving his pregnant wife behind.

While Mak was away, the village was hit by an epidemic, and both Mae Nak and her unborn child died during childbirth. However, due to the deep love she had for her husband, Mae Nak’s spirit refused to leave the mortal realm. Instead, she returned as a vengeful ghost to protect her family and reunite with her husband.

Mak, unaware of his wife’s death, returned home to find Mae Nak waiting for him. He was overjoyed to see her alive and well, completely unaware of her ghostly existence. The couple resumed their life together, with Mae Nak caring for their child and maintaining their household. However, villagers began to notice something strange about Mae Nak’s behavior and appearance.

As rumors spread about Mae Nak’s true nature, a Buddhist monk named Somdet Phra Phutthachan became suspicious and decided to investigate. He discovered the truth and realized that Mae Nak was a ghost. With the help of his supernatural powers, the monk devised a plan to exorcise the spirit and restore peace to the village.

During a confrontation, the monk managed to trap Mae Nak inside a jar and cast it into a canal, effectively imprisoning her spirit. The legend says that the jar was sealed with magical spells to ensure Mae Nak’s spirit remained trapped and unable to harm anyone.

In the aftermath of these events, a shrine was built near the canal to honor Mae Nak’s spirit. The shrine became a popular pilgrimage site, where locals and visitors would come to pay their respects and seek protection. It is believed that Mae Nak’s spirit continues to watch over her family and the community, offering blessings and granting protection to those who visit the shrine and make offerings.

Wat Mahabut

Mae Nak's Significance

The Mae Nak legend holds significant importance in Thai culture as it embodies themes of love, loyalty, and the supernatural. It has become an enduring legend that has captured the imagination of generations, serving as a reminder of the power of love and the lengths to which one can go to protect and reunite with their loved ones.

The story’s blend of romance, horror, and folklore resonates deeply with Thai people, reflecting their beliefs in the supernatural and the enduring bonds of family and relationships. It has become a cultural touchstone, inspiring various adaptations in literature, film, and theater, and remains a cherished part of Thai folklore, symbolizing the strength of love and the complex nature of human emotions.


Wat Mahabut's History

Wat Mahabut (วัดมหาบุศย์) is a prominent Buddhist temple with a rich history that dates back several centuries. While the exact founding date of the temple is unclear, it is believed to have been established during the Ayutthaya period (1351-1767) or the early Rattanakosin period (1782 onwards).

The temple’s full name is Wat Mahabut Mongkhol Khoti Rattanaram, but it is commonly referred to as Wat Mahabut. The name “Mahabut” translates to “great strength” or “great virtue,” signifying the spiritual power and significance of the temple.

Over the years, Wat Mahabut has undergone several renovations and expansions to accommodate the growing number of worshippers and to maintain its cultural and religious heritage. The temple features typical Thai Buddhist architectural elements, including a main ordination hall (ubosot), various pagodas (chedis), prayer halls, and living quarters for monks.

To this day, Wat Mahabut remains an active place of worship and a center for Buddhist education and practice. Monks reside within the temple complex, carrying out religious rituals, providing spiritual guidance, and engaging in community outreach activities. Within Bangkok, the temple serves as an important hub for religious festivals, ceremonies, and cultural events throughout the year.

Wat Mahabut

How To Get There

To get to Wat Mahabut in Bangkok, Thailand, you have the option of taking a taxi or using the BTS Skytrain. Below is a step-by-step guide for both options:

By Taxi: If you’re starting from a specific location in central Bangkok, you can easily hail a taxi and provide the driver with the destination “Wat Mahabut” or “Mae Nak” in the Phra Khanong district.

It’s a good idea to have the temple’s name in Thai (วัดมหาบุศย์) or a nearby landmark handy to assist the driver (such as, Big C On Nut – Sukhumvit 77).

Given the popularity of temple amongst locals, the taxi driver should be familiar with its location. Be sure to make the taxi driver is either using their meter or agrees on a set price before taking off.

By BTS Skytrain: Take the BTS Skytrain to the nearest station, On Nut Station (E9), which is located on the Sukhumvit Line (light green line).

From there, exit the station by heading towards Exit 4. This exit will lead you directly to the street level via a staircase while Exit 3 will offer an elevator.

Once you’re at the street level, you can take a short motorbike taxi ride to reach Wat Mahabut. Alternatively, you can walk ~20 minutes to the temple’s location or even take a songthaew (shared taxi service) that’ll drop you off in front of the temple’s soi.  

Quick Note: It’s worth noting that traffic conditions in Bangkok can vary, and it’s always a good idea to allow some extra time for potential delays. Additionally, having the address of the temple written in Thai can be helpful if you encounter any communication difficulties with the taxi driver.

Wat Mahabut

What Is The Dress Code?

When visiting Wat Mahabut or any other Buddhist temple in Thailand, it is important to dress respectfully to show reverence and adherence to local customs. Here are some guidelines on what to wear:

Shoulders: Both men and women should ensure that their shoulders are covered. Avoid wearing tank tops, sleeveless shirts, or any clothing that exposes the shoulders.

Knees: It is customary to cover your knees. Avoid wearing shorts, short skirts, or any clothing that does not reach the knees.

Tight or revealing clothing: It is best to avoid tight or revealing clothing such as low-cut tops, transparent fabrics, or clothing that hugs the body tightly. Modesty is key.

Loose and comfortable clothing: Opt for loose-fitting and comfortable clothing. Long pants or skirts are suitable choices.

Footwear: As you enter the temple buildings, you will be required to remove your shoes. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, such as sandals or flip-flops. Alternatively, you can carry a pair of socks to wear inside the temple if you prefer.

By following these guidelines, you show respect for the religious and cultural practices observed at Wat Mahabut. It’s important to note that these guidelines are not only specific to Wat Mahabut but generally apply to most Buddhist temples in Thailand.

Remember, the purpose of dressing appropriately is to show respect for the place of worship and the local traditions. By adhering to these guidelines, you contribute to a peaceful and respectful atmosphere while visiting Wat Mahabut.

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Wat Mahabut Guide

Actionable Insights

Wat Mahabut is worth visiting for its historical and cultural significance, as well as the presence of the Mae Nak Shrine. 

The temple offers a serene atmosphere where visitors can immerse themselves in Thai Buddhist traditions and architecture. The Mae Nak Shrine, dedicated to the vengeful spirit turned guardian, adds an intriguing element to the visit, connecting visitors with a famous Thai legend. 

Paying respects at the shrine allows individuals to witness the devotion and spiritual beliefs of the local community, while exploring the temple grounds provides an opportunity for quiet contemplation and an appreciation of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

To fully explore Wat Mahabut, you will likely need 2-3 hours. This iconic temple, located in Thailand, offers a rich cultural and historical experience. 

Take your time to admire the elaborate murals, ornate statues, and the main pagoda, which is the centerpiece of the temple. You may also want to explore the surrounding gardens and enjoy the peaceful ambiance. 

Whether you’re interested in religious aspects, photography, or simply immersing yourself in Thai culture, dedicating a 2-3 hours to exploring Wat Mahabut will ensure that you have ample time to appreciate its beauty and significance.

The opening hours from Monday to Sunday are 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

Please note that these hours are subject to change, and it’s recommended to contact Wat Mahabut directly for the most up-to-date information regarding the temple’s opening hours, especially if you are planning a visit during a religious festival.

The best time to visit Wat Mahabut is during weekdays, preferably in the morning when the temple is less crowded. This allows for a more peaceful and immersive experience, as you can explore the temple grounds, observe the rituals, and visit the Mae Nak Shrine without the bustling crowds. 

Additionally, visiting outside of major holidays or festivals can provide a more serene atmosphere, allowing you to fully appreciate the tranquility and spiritual ambiance of this historic temple.

Mae Nak’s legend has had a significant impact on popular culture in Thailand, captivating the imagination of the Thai people and leaving a lasting impression. Her story has been widely portrayed in various forms of media, including literature, films, television shows, and theatrical productions. One of the most famous adaptations of her legend is the 1999 horror film “Nang Nak,” which brought Mae Nak’s haunting tale to a broader audience and became a cultural phenomenon. The film’s success sparked a resurgence of interest in the legend, leading to the creation of numerous subsequent adaptations and retellings.

Mae Nak’s influence extends beyond the realm of cinema. Her story has inspired books, plays, and even musicals, further solidifying her status as a beloved figure in Thai folklore. She has become a symbol of undying love, loyalty, and the power of supernatural forces. Her tragic tale resonates with the Thai people, and her character has become an iconic part of Thai popular culture. Whether in traditional or modern interpretations, Mae Nak’s impact is evident in the continued fascination and recognition she receives, making her a prominent and enduring figure in Thai folklore.

The restriction on taking photos of the Mae Nak Shrine with “professional cameras” is likely due to cultural or religious beliefs and practices.

In Thai culture, there is a deep respect and reverence for sacred sites and religious objects. The Mae Nak Shrine is considered to be a sacred place where people come to pay their respects and make offerings. Prohibiting photography in such areas helps maintain the sanctity and spiritual atmosphere of the shrine. Additionally, it may also be a way to ensure the privacy and respect for those who come to worship or seek blessings at the shrine.

It’s important to follow local customs and guidelines when visiting Wat Mahabut to honor and appreciate the local traditions. With that being said, you are allowed to take smartphone photos of the shrine.

Lottery sellers are often found near shrines and temples in Thailand, including at the Mae Nak Shrine and Wat Mahabut, due to cultural and superstitious beliefs surrounding luck and fortune.

In Thai culture, many people believe in the power of spiritual entities and deities to bring good luck and prosperity. It is believed that making offerings or prayers at these sacred places can increase the chances of winning the lottery or attracting good fortune. Lottery sellers strategically position themselves near these popular religious sites to cater to the belief that purchasing lottery tickets in proximity to sacred locations will enhance one’s luck. It has become a common practice for locals and visitors alike to purchase lottery tickets from these sellers as part of their spiritual rituals or hopeful endeavors for financial success.

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Welcome to North of Known! We’re Alan and May, a married couple who have embraced digital nomadism while calling Bangkok, Thailand, our current home base. Over the past 7 years, our shared passion for exploration and adventure has fueled our journey across the globe. Join us as we continue to embark on our nomadic adventures, sharing our insights, discoveries, and travel tales along the way.

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