Bangkok’s Famed Ratchaprasong: A Realm of Glitzy Shopping Malls & Revered Shrines

Faiths & Beliefs Thailand

Words: TBT Team
Photos: Phuwadol Jankhum
Published: September 18, 2018

Alongside the glitzy retail lights that beckon shoppers with the latest discounts and promotions one can also catch the smell of incense and jasmine as people pray, present offerings and give thanks.

Modern moralists may say today’s society has lost its way, in that we treasure objects above values and instead of looking to spirituality we seek solace in shopping. Shopping in Bangkok’s famed Ratchaprasong area, however, need entail no retail therapy guilt or neglect of religious duty, because this is home both to the city’s biggest and coolest shopping malls and some of its most revered shrines.

The area has six major shrines to Hindu deities. For tourists these offer a fascinating glimpse of how Thailand blends the ancient and the modern. Rather than following an established route to take in the shrines, they can be seen in any order that fits best with your other activities in the area, like shopping.

Erawan Shrine (Phra Phrom Erawan)

Erawan Shrine - Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok

The most famous of the Ratchaprasong shrines and its story is one most Bangkokians know. In 1956, following several mishaps in the construction of the adjacent hotel (the current Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok), a four-faced Brahma image, Phra Phrom, was installed to appease angry spirits and from there the problems stopped.

An important deity in the Hindu pantheon, Brahma oversees Heaven and Earth. Devotees visit Erawan Shrine seeking answers to their prayers, and many will attribute any change of luck to their having paid respect there. There is Thai dancing displays and incense sticks and flowers can be bought to make offerings. To do this, circle the shrine clockwise to respect each face of the god and give 12 incense sticks, four candles and four jasmine garlands.

Indra Shrine

ndra Shrine - Amarin Plaza Bangkok

Located in front of Amarin Plaza, Indra Shrine is popular with office workers who can be seen bowing their heads as they pass by each morning. Enshrined in 2006, the jade-coloured statue represents the king of the gods, and he sits resplendent with his lightning bolt. People will make offerings of jasmine and model elephants at the shrine, in return for Indra’s divine protection.

Narayana Statue

Narayana Statue - InterContinental Bangkok

This distinctive sculpture, in front of the InterContinental Bangkok hotel, represents Narayana, a twin incarnation of Vishnu and the god of mercy. Narayana’s statue was erected here in 1997 to protect local businesses and shoppers, and he sits atop his celestial transportation, the Garuda. Known in Thailand as Khrut, this bird-like creature adorns local businesses and is also a symbol of the Thai monarchy. At Narayana statue people make offerings of flowers, textiles and sweet Thai desserts.

Statue of Lakshmi

Statue of Lakshmi - Gaysorn Village

This statue can be found on the 4th floor of Gaysorn Village, which opens daily from 10 am to 8 pm. Consort of Narayana and mother of the universe, the beautiful goddess Lakshmi represents wealth and fertility and the statue is visited by people wanting children and fortune. They bring with them offerings of lotus flowers, coins and sugar cane.

Ganesha Shrine

Ganesha Shrine - CentralWorld Bangkok

Situated in front of CentralWorld shopping complex, the much-loved elephant-headed god Ganesha is visited early morning by revelers and devotees who bring with them large amounts of fruit, garlands, sesame cakes and milk. He is popular in particular with creative people who are seeking inspiration and those who are seeking protection.

Trimurti Shrine

Trimurti Shrine - CentralWorld Bangkok

Being made up of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva combined, Trimurti represents union and as such is the god of love for the Thai people. Often seen making offerings at this shrine, which is also in front of CentralWorld, are Bangkok’s young and lovelorn and especially on Thursday evening when it’s believed the god comes down to listen to prayers. People typically present red roses and red candles to the shrine.

They may not be ancient monuments yet the shrines of Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong area are still highly revered by the locals. It goes without saying that the same respect should be shown when visiting these shrines as at any temple. It’s important to dress appropriately (i.e. no shorts, mini skirts, vests, tank tops or the like) and remember not to point your feet at any of the sacred images and always walk around an image in a clockwise direction.

For a more complete guideline on the correct etiquette when visiting temples and sacred sites in Thailand, visit:
The TAT Newsroom: Observing temple and sacred site etiquette while in Thailand