How to Visit Erawan Museum, Bangkok
Curious about how millionaires spend their money?
Especially the eccentric lot!
I was blown away again and again. Mostly since very few people know about this stuff.
First I visited the Ancient City (and again, almost nobody goes there)
And then the Erawan Museum, just to see how much more can there be.
My next trip will be the Sanctuary of the truth that completes the trio.
Let me explain.
About Erawan Museum
The Erawan museum was commissioned and envisioned by Thai millionaire Lek Viriyaphan. After his death, his son took up the project until its completion. Lek Viriyaphan also commissioned the Ancient City (Muan Boran) in Samut Prakan and The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya.
The museum was built to keep and display the family’s personal collection of artifacts from all over the world. He felt a strong responsibility to preserve the essence of Ancient Siam and pass it over to future generations.
The construction of the museum started in 1994 and was opened to the public in 2003. It is both a tourist attraction and an important shrine for the locals.
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Where is it located?
Erawan museum is located on the grounds of Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant Co. Ltd (owned by Lek Viryapant’s family). It is 21km south-east of Bangkok in Samut Prakan district. However, it is easily accessible from Bangkok via BTS Skytrain. A large 3-headed elephant made out of bronze that is visible during the journey on the Skytrain near Chang Erawan Station.
How to reach Erawan Museum
Here is how you can reach the Erawan museum
Metro: Take the BTS to either Pu Chao BTS Station or Chang Erawan BTS Station on the light green line towards Kheha. The museum lies in between these two stations. So either way, you will have to get down and travel more.
If you wish to cover the rest of the distance on foot, you can get down at either station. But if you want to take a taxi, get down at Pu Chao BTS Station only or you will have to travel a lot to take a U-turn back for the museum.
Tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxis are not that easily available on the road in the area. Taxis are more convenient to find.
Bus: Bus no. 511 passes from major areas like Kong Salak (near Khao San Road), pass through Sukhumvit (near Asok BTS station), and goes all the way Khong Korek bus station, just a little ahead of Erawan Museum.
Other air-conditioned buses are 102, 507, and 536. Non-AC buses are 25,142, 365.
Taxi: It will cost around THB 300 for a one-way trip from Khaosan Road to Erawan Museum and approximately THB 220 from Sukhumvit. You can either hail a running taxi on the road or book one on Grab (app). Taxis are easily available from the Museum as well.
Erawan Museum Timings
Erawan Museum Opening Hours: 9 am to 7 pm; every day of the week
Tour Guide availability (1 hour): 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12.30 pm, 1.30 pm, 2.30 pm, 3.30 pm, 4.30 pm. Contact the ticket counter to avail the tour service.
Erawan Museum Entrance Fee
Entrance Free for Thai nationals: THB 250/125 for Adults/Children.
Entrance Fee for foreign nationals: THB 400/200 for Adults/Children.
Expats and long-term residents can get the tickets at the local rates by showing Work-permit, Thai driver’s license, Non-B/O type visa, or marriage certificate.
However, you can get the best rates if you book online via travel aggregators like Klook. You can book a combined ticket for both the Erawan Museum and Ancient City or anyone individually. Make sure you book at least 30 min ahead of your arrival.
Book ticket for Erawan Museum: Ancient City and Erawan Museum Ticket
Visiting Erawan Museum
If you haven’t pre-purchased your tickets, you must buy it at the venue at the ticket counter on the left side. In case, you are a foreign national, you will need your passport.
I found in dismay later that I missed my welcome drink. You don’t do that. You will find on the right side as you enter past ticket booth.
If you have already purchased your tickets or a part of the group, you will need to get to another counter on the right behind the coffee shop. There you get a receipt of your online ticket that will allow you to enter. You can also log-in to the audio guide using the QR code at the counter (bring-in your earpiece). Audio guides are available in Thai, English, Chinese, Korean, and Russian.
Your destination is a large pink building with a humongous three-headed elephant on top.
The museum is divided into three parts. The three floors (Ground, First, and Second) depict the Underworld, the Human World, and the Heavens correspondingly. The Underworld and the Human world are inside the Atrium.
The Underworld, also called the ‘Suvarnabhumi floor’ is an enclosed space located under the large pink-colored atrium. You can access it through the brown wooden doors right next to the stairs. If you are visiting by yourself, you may even miss it.
It has a small personal collection of Chinese vases and ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasty. Additionally, there are other regional artifacts, detailed maps, and photographs of ancient Siam. There is also a scaled-down version of the Sanctuary of the Truth. A shadow puppet show takes place many times in the day. Accompany a tour guide to enjoy it.
THE HUMAN WORLD
The Human world is inside the pink atrium in the middle. There are two large gorgeous and elaborate helical staircases that go to the top of the building. If you travel to the back, you will find several mythical creatures carved in the back of the staircases.
On the middle floor, the central figure is a statue of Guanyin, a Chinese goddess with a thousand arms. Other angel-like figures are carved into the handrail with intricate details and glasswork. The translucent ceiling is the map of the world in the stained glass technique from the Gothic architecture.
There are four metal pillars on the ground floor with scriptures from four branches of religion and mythology. They are Hinduism, Theravada, and Mahayana Buddhism and Christianity. A large poster is on the opposite wall explaining more about the pillar.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you reach the entrance to the 3rd floor depicting the heavens. You can take either the stairs of the elevator. The wooden helical stairs on the left side have an eerie glow that literally looks radiating out of heaven. The stairs are inside one of the legs of the large elephant that leads directly into its belly.
On this floor lies a collection of Buddha statue from around South-east Asia and a center one in the mysterious-looking glow of blue-colored lights.
This level represents the Travatimsa Heaven which in Buddhist cosmology is located above Mount Meru. The ceiling depicts the solar system with a large orange sun and nine planets revolving around it. Golden-colored asteroids are also floating in the vacuum.
The elephant is ‘Erawan’ or Airavat (in Sanskrit) is the god of all elephants. According to myth, he had 33 heads and as a vehicle of Indra (The king of heaven, thunder, and lightning in Hindu mythology), he led him into many wars.
The place requires you to be quiet and respectful. Cover your shoulders and sit cross-legged. Your legs should not face the altar, nor should your back. You can offer money on a central pedestal and pay your respects.
Now if you want to spend a little more time in the area, you can hang out in the garden. The garden has rows of elephant statues. And as a pleasant surprise, the elephants create a trumpet sound as you pass beneath them (using sensors).
There are some lovely fountains with images and sculptures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Some smaller shrines dedicated to gods like Ganesha are also present in the garden.
If all that makes you hungry, you can grab a bite or some drinks at the coffee shop or at the restaurant area. The prices are reasonable and not inflated because of the venue. Plus they have some royal-looking furniture I enjoyed sitting on.
What to wear to Erawan Museum
Erawan Museum is especially popular with Instagrammers. But you may have to dwell a little before you decide what to wear.
The museum is a great depiction of religious beliefs from all over the world. But it is also a place of worship, at least for the locals and Buddhists.
Make sure you are covered to your knees. Your shoulders must be covered too. If you are planning to wear short-sleeved take a scarf or a sarong along. You will also need to take off your shoes at the entrance.
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Places to visit around Erawan Museum
If you have the whole day at your disposal, you can combine your trip with the Ancient City tour. Finish your visit to the museum by lunchtime and head over to Muang Boran for the rest of the day. There are free trams that take passengers between the two destinations.
If you are feeling braver, you can also visit a crocodile farm in Samut Prakan just before Ancient City. They harvest crocodiles for meat (you can find a roasting crocodile at a night market) and their leather.