Wat Hua Krabeu - The Bizarre Temple of the Buffalo Skulls
Wat Hua Krabeu - An homage to animal rights
Certainly one of Bangkok’s quirkiest and off the beaten path sights, Wat Hua Krabeu, which translates to “Temple of the Buffalo Heads,” is the result of one eccentric monk’s animal rights crusade. Located to the west of the city alongside a tranquil and traditional canal community where kids commute to school by boat, the temple started when the head abbot decided to collect antique Mercedes Benz limousines and turned half the temple into a garage. As a Buddhist monk who has vowed to live a simple life, this led to media scrutiny and outcry, but the abbot claimed he just wanted a haven where beautiful old machines could rest and not be sold as scrap metal with the added bonus of starting a mechanic training program for novice monks.
The History of the Water Buffalo
A few years later, the abbot wanted to create a memorial to the nearly extinct Asian water buffalo and showcase their once-vital role in Thailand’s agricultural life. Since the mid-1980s, the Thai water buffalo population has dropped from six million to about one and a half million, as farming has become mechanized and buffalo meat a prized delicacy. Originally asking villagers to donate buffalo skulls when their animals died, the collection has now grown to more than 10,000 skulls and plans are underway for a two-storey buffalo memorabilia museum with an impressive entryway made entirely of buffalo skulls, is in the works.
A truly unique experience
The temple is certainly unique, and you are pretty much guaranteed not to see another foreign tourist out here. Wandering around the canal community and visiting the nearby Outer Ring Road, where thousands of monkeys come to accept food handouts from passing motorists, can make this a full afternoon of Bangkok bizarre!
Travel Tip: The temple is just south of the Outer Ring Road off Rama 2 Road in the Ban Khun Tien district of Thonburi (west of the city across the river) and it’s best to travel here by taxi. Note the location of the temple (Soi Wat Hua Krabue, Khwaeng Tha Kham, Khet Ban Khun Tien) on your Portier phone if you or the taxi driver need assistance.