Sai Ngam

One of Thailand's spookiest sights

Photo of Sai Ngam, , Phimai

What we say: 3.5 stars

Banyans germinate their seeds in the crevices of the same tree from which the seeds came, and after a while, it becomes many individual trees that are impossible to decipher from one another and exist more as a single entity. At Sai Ngam, 1,350 square metres have been taken over by the trees. Eerie shadows are cast as sunlight filters through the banyans on clear days, and breaks in the trees can feel like portals to frightening, other-worldly dimensions when it’s cloudy. Don't forget that camera.

Banyans are also considered by Thais to be the homes of potent terrestrial spirits. At Sai Ngam, locals can be regularly seen offering incense and brightly coloured flower garlands to a large spirit house beside the original 350 year-old tree trunk. Many of the garlands are fake, but they're all colourful, and the huge collection of them adds to the area's mystical air.

The banyans are surrounded by streams and ponds, and during the rainy season from June to October the area sometimes floods. Should you visit at this time of year, some incredible photos of the trees reflected in the water can be taken, if you don't mind wading through ankle deep water.

The area surrounding Sai Ngam is the preferred place of business for local fortune tellers, and you can even pick up "black magic" souvenirs like homemade voodoo dolls. Several vendors also sell caged animals to be set free, but we don't promote this practice as it's cruel to the animals in the first place. If you're hungry, a dozen makeshift restaurants serve the usual som tam and grilled chicken nearby.

More details
Opening Hours: Daily 06:00-18:00
How to get there: Sai Ngam is located a couple of kilometres east of the main clock tower/intersection at the centre of Phimai town, and signs are well posted throughout the pleasant 20-minute walk or five-minute bicycle ride that winds past a public park and a few sleepy old temples. It can get packed with local tourists and merit-makers on weekends, so visit on a weekday if possible; as sights go, this one really needs to be experienced with minimal people around.
Last updated: 6th June, 2013

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Sights in Phimai