Photo: You get the idea.

Phra Nang cave shrine

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Riveting legends and wooden penises are what make the Phra Nang cave shrine famous. Located in a corner of the same-named beach, locals flock here to ask the resident goddess-spirit for help, especially when it comes to catching fish and having kids, while foreign travellers stand around looking bewildered. Want to know what’s behind the phallic frenzy? Read on.





In all of the legends, Phra Nang (or Mae Nang) is a female spirit symbolising fertility. Part of the cave resembles a vagina (seriously), and some of the hundreds of phallic offerings that now fill it stand several feet tall and over a foot wide. A stalagmite that rises from the floor of another nearby cave, along the path from Railay East, is also deemed a sacred lingum. Local fishermen believe that offering a phallic symbol will result in a hefty catch. Most Thais who visit Railay make it a point to pay their respects to Phra Nang.

Come on now, this is serious. Photo taken in or around Phra Nang cave shrine, Railay Beach, Thailand by David Luekens.

Come on now, this is serious. Photo: David Luekens

One story tells of how, many centuries ago, an Indian princess drowned in a shipwreck off the Railay coastline. Confused and desperate for dry land, her spirit took refuge in the cave, where some say it remains. Another legend claims that Nang was a sea gypsy who was abandoned in the cave by her husband. Angry at this betrayal, she became a powerful sorceress who after death morphed into a potent spirit. And not always a happy-go-lucky one either.

The most famous legend tells of how a son, Boon, and daughter, Nang, of two feuding families fell in love and wished to be married many moons ago. Seeing that their children had fallen deeply for each other, the families settled their differences and arranged a marriage. But they weren’t alone. A powerful local sea serpent spirit also had his eye on the beautiful Nang, wanting her to come out to sea and marry ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Location map for Phra Nang cave shrine

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