Spirit or doll’s house? Foreign woman goes viral for Barbie doll photoshoot in northern Thailand

Thai netizens were amused by a viral clip of a foreign woman snapping a pic of her Barbie doll inside a spirit house outside the White Temple in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on Monday.

Spirit houses – which look like miniature temples – are found in abundance all over the kingdom and are intended to appease ghosts by giving them a place to live so they don’t bother haunting people. You’ll find them outside offices, shopping malls, larger buildings, and private homes – adorned with offerings like Strawberry Fanta, snacks, and marigolds for the spirits.

TikTok user @nataleexangel posted a five-second video of a woman of Western appearance placing her Barbie doll inside a spirit house next to the entrance of the famous Wat Rongkhun, or White Temple, with the caption, “Noooo!!

Although spirit houses continue to play an integral role in Thai society, most netizens were luckily entertained rather than offended by the Barbie doll’s photoshoot.

Netizens commented…

“I’ll wait to hear about this on The Ghost Radio.”

“Barbie wants to travel abroad, too.”

“The foreigner is probably thinking, why are there so many dollhouses in Thailand?”

@nataleexangel แกทำแบบนี้ม่ายดั้ยน้าาาา #ฝรั่งงงไปดิ ♬ เสียงต้นฉบับ – ชณพร “นาตาลี” 💵🐷💵

In May last year, Thai netizens thought it was hilarious when a foreign woman mistook a spirit house for a table and sat down on a stool.

Surrounded by Strawberry Fanta, the woman was blissfully unaware of the Thais around her paying their respects to the spirits.

Thais online made light of the situation…

“The foreigner said, ‘Thai people have such good manners, all of them have Wai-d to me as they walked past!’”

“I’m just glad the foreigner didn’t think the red Fanta was for her.”

“Ain’t nobody going to tell her? Haha.”

“If you don’t know, it’s not wrong.”

The most common offering for spirits in Thailand by far is red, strawberry-flavoured Fanta. More strawberry Fanta is sold in Thailand than in the US or China, but most of the bottles go unopened. A modern twist on an old tradition, strawberry Fanta replaced blood from animal sacrifices as an offering to the spirit world. Also, spirits are thought to love sweet things. With 32 grams of sugar in each bottle, strawberry Fanta is certainly sweet.

Northern Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.