Phra Nang Princess Cave in Krabi

Railay Beach Attractions

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The Legend

The cave, on the east side of the Railay Bay is famous for its wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Since ancient times, Phra Nang (Princess) Cave has been where fishermen, before going out to sea, have made offerings to the symbolic Phallus of Shiva (known as the Siwaleung or Palad Khik in Thai).

The fishermen, who say the cave is the home of a mythical sea princess, believe their offerings will bring them success in their fishing and protect them from danger, but what is more remarkable is that the cave contains a large collection of carved wooden phallic symbols, offerings and other objects believed to help with fertility.

My boatman told me that some fishermen do still come here to make offerings to the princess but that the number is shrinking. I don’t know what to think of this cave. Actually, I do – but I’d rather keep my opinions to myself. So instead, let’s see what other visitors have to say.

What Do Tourists Say?

John from the UK:

I can think of only one word: Bizarre. I find girls are generally too embarrassed to stay long or take pictures. I haven’t seen anything like it before. The lingams? Well, sort of. South of here, toward Lanta Island, there’s a snake shrine which is a little bit similar. There’s also a phallus shrine in Bangkok.

Kanokporn from Thailand:

The cave is not as big as I thought it would be. But I don’t think we have anything like this elsewhere in Thailand. There must be close to 100 phalluses, big and small. Most are made from wood. I respect the shrine because it’s a sacred place for the fishermen here in Krabi. But as for the cave itself, it’s nothing special. If you want to see a really nice cave, you should go to the Narakeering cave in Amphur Priphaya, also in Krabi. We just came from there.

Montri from Thailand:

I’ve been here a few times, mostly to show friends around. The cave is very interesting. I notice that the first reaction of every Thai is the same: we pray respect by waiing the shrine first. Then we go and read about the history of the shrine and then we take pictures. Every time I come back here, I can see the number of Siwaleung has grown, along with flowers and pa pair (colorful pieces of cloth). I guess it’s not only the fishermen that come to pray respect to the princess these days.

Jacques from France:

The cave is small. The minute you step inside, you can see the whole thing. When I first saw those … er … male objects, I thought it must be a place where women having difficulty getting pregnant would come to ask for help. In Europe we have places for offering similar prayers, though not in the form of a phallus shrine.

Fast Facts

Getting there

Take a long-tail boat from Ao Nang Beach to Railay Beach. The ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 100 baht per person each way. It is then a 10-minute walk to Railay Beach East where the shrine is.

Did you know?

Siwaleung or Palad Khik is one of the most common objects of worship in this country. Some Thais believe that wearing a Siwaleung amulet will bring good luck and ward off accidents and illness. Usually they string the amulets around their waists. Most such amulets are 2 inches in length, or less.

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