One of the greatest parts of visiting Thailand is the opportunity to see locations that you may normally only read about. And what makes Thailand so magical is that most of those locations include legends and myths.

The following are five of the most interesting legends from Thailand’s history. Whether these stories are actually true or not are up to the reader to decide.

The Legend of Mae Nak

In 19th century Thailand, there lived a beautiful woman named Mae Nak. Although she was sought after by many men, Mae nak chose a man named Pi Mak to marry.

Eventually, Pi Mak was called off to war and in his absence, a pregnant Mae Nak went into labor with their first child. However, both Mae Nak and her child died.

As the story goes, Mae Nak loved her husband so much that she and her child returned to the couple’s home as ghosts. However, after Pi Mak returned from war, he had no idea that his wife and new child were only ghosts. Once villages learned that Pi Mak believed he was still living with his living wife and child, they tried to warn him.

As the story goes, anyone who tried to warn him was scared away by the ghost of Mae Nak. Mak refused to believe the warnings, until one day while Mae Nak was preparing a meal, she dropped a lime on the floor. Instead of bending like a live person would, Mae stretched her ghostly hand to the floor. When Mak saw this, he ran away in fear.

The ghost of Mae Nak was so furious she terrorized other villagers. Eventually, the village appealed to the monks to help exorcise this angry spirit. The legend says that monk Somdet Phra Phutthachan finally exorcised the spirit by obtaining a piece of her skull bone from her grave, and casting the spirit into the bone. He then kept that bone attached to his waistband, until his death when it was inherited by a member of the Royal Family.

Local written records from that time period show that Mae Nak and her husband lived along the Phra Khanong canal in Bangkok. The house was near the canal, and today all that remains is a shrine to Mae Nak, which locals call the Shrine of Lady Nak in Phra Khanong.

Soft Rice

Another Thai legend is a more light-hearted one. A very smart lady named Mohnae lived with her not-so-smart husband Pohnae. The family lived off the rice they grew, but one year when it was time to plant they didn’t have any rice available to sow.

Mohnae asked her husband to see if the neighbors had any to spare, but told him only to get “soft rice” because it would grow more quickly.

Pohnae went throughout the village carrying a large jar, asking each villager if they had any rice to spare. Unfortunately all they had was hard rice. Once he reached the edge of the village, he came across his friend’s house. He approached his friend, who was preparing to sow, and asked him was species of rice he was working with.

His friend replied, “Soft”.

Pohnae asked his friend if he could borrow some, and is friend agreed, but only on the condition that Pohnae help him with his winnowing work.

After helping his friend and getting his full jar of soft rice, Pohnae headed home. But while crossing a bridge, he fell and spilled the rice into the water. As quickly as he could, he scooped as much of the wet grains of rice out of the water as he could back into the jar, and then continued on home.

When he got there, is wife asked him if he was sure it was the soft species of rice. To which he replied, “I’m sure it’s the soft rice.”

Then he explained how he had tripped and all of the rice fell into the water, but some floated to the top.

“It must be soft, because all of the hard rice sank to the bottom!”

Mohnae, shaking her head, told her husband that he was probably the most dim-witted man she had ever known, but his heart was in the right place. With that, she headed off to the village to find some soft rice to plant.

Chalawan: The Crocodile King

This last story is more folklore than legend, but just as interesting as the rest.

There once lived a beast called Chalawan, the Crocodile King. Chalawan lived in a beautiful cave with his two beautiful wives and other crocodiles. As the story goes, any crocodile who entered his magical cave would be transformed into a human and could change back to crocodile whenever they wished.

According to the story, Chalawan was thirsty for power, and did not live by Buddhist principles. He enjoyed eating humans, and he was the reason parents warned children to avoid the canal.

Two young sisters decided to ignore their parents’ warnings, and went down to the canal to play in the water. Chalawan approached the ladies with the intent to eat them, but when he saw how beautiful they were, he instead abducted one of the girls and brought her back to his cave. There, he cast a spell on the girl to make her fall in love with him, and he made her his wife.

The girl’s father thought that his daughter had been killed by the Crocodile King, so he offered a reward to any man who could kill the Crocodile King and return his daughter’s body.

Understandably, the girl’s father was distraught. Believing his beloved daughter to have been killed by ferocious crocodiles, he offered a handsome reward to anybody that could kill the crocodile and return his daughter’s body. Many men tried, and failed. Legend says many men tried and failed to kill the Crocodile King.

That was until a crocodile hunter by the name of Krai Thong from Nonthaburi Province heard about the reward. He journeyed to Phichit and prepared to battle the Crocodile King.

First, he cast spells to lure Chalawan out of the cave. Once that worked, the two fought one another and Krai Thong seriously injured Chalawan. The Crocodile King retreated back to the safety of his cave, but Krai Thong followed him and finally killed Chalawan.

Krai Thong returned the young lady to her father, who was overjoyed to see her alive. The family rewarded Krai Thong with riches, and as legend goes the crocodiles stopped hunting humans in Phichit.

Today, you can find a very large statue of Chalawan the Crocodile King in the village of Phichit in Thailand.

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