The Weirdest TripAdvisor Activity in Bangkok
Location: Siriraj Medical Museum, 2 Wanglung Road Khwaeng Siriraj, Khet Bangkok Noi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700, Thailand
Closest transport stop: Thonburi Railway Ferry Stop
Cost: 200b (now, apparently)
Bangkok is a city of paradoxes. Gleaming golden opulence teamed with stained cement facades, and wires that weave like jungle vine beneath the ominous highways and humming mini marts. Smoke dances from sidewalk grills – honks, yells, madness. A woman nonchalantly fillets a chicken on the stoop of a Subway franchise. It’s a city of chaos and beauty, and I love it.
Whilst it could be agreed Bangkok lies host to a number of gritty experiences – and no, I don’t just mean that time Uncle Ian mistakenly made love to a man in a windowless room, somewhere above the Khoa San Road. There are, in fact, some experiences that Bangkok possesses that don’t need to play out under cover of darkness or end in a disgraced head-shake from your family Doctor. My favourite of these is visiting Siriraj Medical Museum, located on the West side of the Chao Phraya river, amongst the buildings of Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital.
Gore, awe, pig fetuses, mummified serial killers and an extremely large testicle sack – these are some of the things you will get feast your eyes on. If you were ever wondering what the bedroom of a cannibalistic surgeon (with a penchant for fetus) might look like, you’re bizarrely in luck.
The museum itself can be a little tricky to find. Best to team the experience with a ride on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river ferry, which is extremely economical and offers an insight into the waterways of this fine city at just 40 Baht per ride. As a natural cheap skate, I like (and also have no other choice) in being amongst the people. And the chickens. And the fish, the noodles, barrels of cooking oil, and whatever else is being hauled along the river that day – it’s cultural.
I’m not sure how, but I managed to bypass whatever the main entrance was and wind up alone wandering the fetus section (although, that might not be its official name..) As I mistakenly entered and exited from the wrong door, it seems I missed a few things, so I won’t tell you about that.
— Back to fetuses. I must say, I had never realised how few experiences I had amounted around dead things in my short 29 years on this, planet Earth. It was kind of creepy walking down the fetus-lined hallway into the cathedral of death (again, possibly not actual name) and, quite frankly, I felt a bit nervous. Thankfully, this dissipated and I was soon skipping the halls like a kid in a candy shop (although I should add, this reference has nothing to do with the abundance of half-filled jars.)
There are very few touristic attractions left in this world where one might wander alone with reckless abandon, and this was one of them. The museum is quite far off the tourist radar, never mind the TripAdvisor top 10, so you’re unlikely to find yourself jostling for space around the giant testicle, or anything untoward like that.
Since researching further for this article I’ve realised you aren’t actually allowed to take pictures in the museum and are supposed to check your bag at reception. Obviously, this was new information to those of us who had mistakenly wandered in from the street and had no idea there were rules to abide by. I mean, who was to know you can’t pet a fetus?
So on that note, here are a collection of images taken from my trip to the museum to highlight some of the curiosities and medical marvels you can see in the permanent exhibitions…
The Museum is actually part of 6: a museum of pathology, a forensics museum, a museum of the history of Thai medicine, a parasitology museum, an anatomical museum, and a prehistoric museum. Entry to the museum was 40 baht when I visited – but is now 200, which is still reasonable, if you make use of all the exhibits. You should also probably find the actual entrance and do it the proper way. Let my mistake be a lesson to you all. Although I should add, clearly I’m not the first to accidentally steal a museum visit as there is a donation box too where you can leave your entry fee, if you too end up mistakenly being a back-door Betty, like me.