Wat Pa Thewapithak, a hellish amusement park located at a Buddhist temple, isn’t the only terrifying theme park of its kind. There are Buddhist Hell parks in Singapore, in Vietnam, and all throughout Thailand. Many of the parks are operated by Buddhist temples, where they function as a cautionary tale.
Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike visit the hell parks to see the torture that awaits them in the next life in Naraka, the realm of hell where the worst of the worst spend eons as retribution for bad karma.
If the generally terrible quality of the statuary isn’t enough to frighten you by itself, perhaps its depictions of all the tortures of the hell awaiting unfaithful believers will do the trick. Witness skeletons, demons, corpses, and other monstrosities; behold a variety of tortures (eyes gouged out, entrails spilled, limbs hacked off, torsos impaled).
Each gruesome diorama has a small box where, at the insertion of a 1 baht coin, tinny screams, macabre laughter, and sonorous diatribes will blast from a small loudspeaker. Some of the dioramas are even automated, as the 1 baht coin will also activate motors that will jerkily tug the highly visible strings attached to the statues.
While there are large and presumably educational banners posted frequently throughout the park, those unable to read Thai will find them unhelpful. Even more unfortunately, caged animals are kept in dark, dingy corners.
The miniature Angkor Wat labyrinth, on the other hand, is well worth the 90 seconds it takes to duck through its child-size doorways, as it is strewn with some decent recreations of Apsara’s and other Buddhist and Hindu iconography, as well as, for an unknown reason, the bust of a stoic Native American chief.
As with all tourist attractions in Thailand, food and drink vendors abound on site.
Know Before You Go
Wat Pa Thewapithak is a easily visible on the West side of highway 216 running North from the city of Roi Et. It's about 8km North of the city limits; there is no transit available, but if you have a motorbike you will see its brightly coloured walls and gate after about a 10 minute drive. It will be recognizeable as it is really on the highway; you do not need to follow a turn off at all. There is also a small cluster of statues right inside the entrance thanking visitors for coming and welcoming them to the area.
You can get a taxi or tuktuk from the city but it would be wise to negotiate for them to wait for you and bring you back as there are no tuktuks waiting there or in any nearby areas. 200 baht should be the absolute upper limit for a full return journey.
If you're quite adventurous you can walk it, but the highway is busy with a lot of traffic. The shoulder is wide and paved but there are often dogs along the side of the road who have varying degrees of friendliness towards pedestrians.