Bangkok Forensic Museum
Bangkok Forensic Museum is not on people’s top 10 list of things to see in Bangkok, at least not on a first trip, but it seems to rank high on people’s ‘Off the beaten track travel guide’. I guess a morbid curiosity and a desire to see something really unusual is irresistible to the new generation of travellers. So we had to see it for ourselves.
The Bangkok Forensic Museum consists of 3 particularly gruesome rooms and 3 others less noticeable inside the Siriraj hospital (pronounced Sirirat) on the Thonburi side of Bangkok. The rooms everyone really wants to see are the forensic and the pathology rooms, displaying bodies, parts of bodies and babies preserved in glass containers. As often in Thai museums photos are not allowed, which always surprises us, but we managed to get some shots. So here they are and the most horrible are at the bottom, so SCROLL ONLY if you are not faint of heart! (you’ve been warned)
Located on the ‘other side’ of the Chao Phraya River, almost opposite to the Grand Palace, the Siriraj hospital is very large and finding the museum was not easy despite the signs on the wall. I was kind of lost so I asked a gardener who kindly walked me all the way to the discreet museum door.
The Parasitology Museum is not very impressive with displays of plastic parasites and snakes in some dull vivarium. You will also ‘admire’ plenty of tapeworms and preserved organs with parasitic diseases, the highlight being a 35 kg human testicle affected by elephantiasis, the size of a big dog, pickled in a jar. Creepy. The weirdest part it the ‘sushi display’ at the entrance of the room, I suppose it tries to explain where parasites can be found.
The ‘Ellis Pathological Museum’ is modern with nicely displayed and organized malformed babies. (Fetal development and congenital anomalies) See the photo and you’ll get the picture 😉 The ‘Songkran Niomsane Museum’ is dedicated to homicide and accidental death with the preserved corpse of a notorious cannibal from 1950 who developed a taste for human meat, especially liver.
Inside the Anatomy Museum, the next building is the weirdest ‘Congdon Anatomical Museum‘ on the 3rd floor of antique edifice. As you walk up, the old, dark and creaky staircase sets you in the mood. Walk past some old dark doors in a narrow passage and reach that large room coming straight out of the 19th century with rows and rows of wood and glass closets containing thousands of human body parts. (See photo). Better not be too easily impressed. Thankfully samples are very old-looking, like pickles, and don’t seem ‘too real’. So if it helps, you can try to convince yourself that these are just plastic display… which they are not.
Dissected full-size bodies, entire nervous systems, muscles peeled back, plenty of skeletons, this is for the ‘normal’ bodies. Then the most disturbing are the malformed babies and kids of all sizes (and shapes) standing naked in formaldehyde liquid… the most sinister was to find all kinds of recent toys placed on several of the glass containers.
So the verdict? I’m glad I saw it by myself, everything deserved to be seen at least once. Will I go back? probably not. Will I recommend it to my friends? I doubt it. Should you go and see it? If you are as curious as I am, maybe you should, it’s not every day you see something as strange as the Forensic Museum, and it’s not far from Grand Palace and you’ll have a pretty weird story to tell once back home.
Bangkok Forensic Museum
Address: 2 Wanglang Road, Siriraj, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700
Open: 10 am – 5 pm, Monday to Saturday
Price: 40 Baht
Tel: 02 419 7000
To get there: Take the Chao Phraya ferry to the Tha Rot Fai pier near the end of the Grand Palace white wall, crossing with the ferry cost 3 baht. The back entrance of the hospital is not far from the ferry pier on the other side and the building is very easy to spot.