Need a break from the glittering temples and in the mood for something off the beaten path? Siriraj Museum has it covered. Lovingly nicknamed “the museum of death”, this medical education center reveals an interesting side to Thai culture – the public’s apparent immunity to the morbid. A look through one of the nation’s major newspapers’ reporting on accidents reveals this. But it is definitely more fascinating to see that in this museum.
Located within the Siriraj Hospital campus opposite Tha Maharaj and adjacent to Wang Lang market, the old museum is broken up into several parts including the more intriguing anatomical and forensic science sections. Within the former, gawk at over two thousand specimens preserved for eternity in ethyl-alcohol, which includes organs of Siamese twins. In the latter, see the mummified body of Si Ouey, Thailand’s first serial killer, who captured children to consume their hearts and livers in a bid to make him stronger. The visions of death are indeed explicit in the museum but it isn’t for sensation. They are primarily for medical interests and many students often visit to obtain information.
Once you are ready to step out of death’s shadows, head for the newer and sunnier section of Siriraj Bimuksthan Museum. This riverfront building was once the old Bangkok Noi train station and aptly so, for now the museum informs visitors of the history of the river and railways. A park next to the hospital pier offers a shady respite and a learning opportunity: many of the plants have medical properties according to Thai traditional medicine.