Lonely Planet Writer

A Death Awareness Café in Thailand wants to celebrate the living

From cat and dog cafés to even toilet-themed establishments, themed cafés are all the rage across Asia but this new one in Thailand is going one further to ask visitors to challenge their perception of life and death. The Kid-Mai Death Awareness Café in Bangkok is the latest project by Assistant Professor Dr Veeranut Rojanaprapa, who is the director of the Kid-Mai centre.

29495944_339512086539230_226260431931441152_n
A skeleton is around for those looking for unusual company. Image by Kid-Mai Death Awareness Café

“This idea came from the research about [the] Buddhist philosophy to create a right – wisdom society in Thailand 4.0,” he told Lonely Planet. “The results found that awareness of death in Buddhism is strong enough to make people recognize their value of life [and] that when they recognize this, their greed and anger will decrease automatically.”

Thailand 4.0 is an economic model in the country that aims to improve several economic challenges from past models with an emphasis on agriculture (Thailand 1.0), light industry (Thailand 2.0), and advanced industry (Thailand 3.0). With 4.0, the government wishes to encourage economic prosperity, focus in on social well-being to reduce social disparity, create a highly-educated workforce and protect the environment.

Wreaths can be found in the café. Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA
Everything in the café is themed. Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

“Also, they will do good things for themselves, their family and society; this was the first part of [the] research. The second part is to find how to bring this tool, death awareness, into real life. Thailand 4.0 results found that society 4.0 is a symbolic society, people use materials or lifestyle to declare their class in their society.”

Veeranut noted that the young Thai of today spend most of their time in cafés which to him “is the symbol of new generation, they love to freelance, do online jobs [and] online work in cafés” and so the idea of the café was born.

In a bid to inspire people to take note at how everyday life is so fleeting, scattered across the place are a variety of things relating to the macabre including a skeleton and signs talking about the permanence of death. A coffin experience is even offered to visitors and for those who manage to stay in will get a small discount.

Slide into a coffin to get a discount. Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA
Do you dare be covered up? Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

Decorated in black and grey, with wreaths donning the café, it somewhat resembles a funeral parlour but Veeranut says that it’s not its uniqueness or strangeness that makes it special, rather its purpose in getting people to become more death aware and celebrate life itself.

The décor reflects the macabre. Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA
A skeleton chills with the customers. Image by GettyImages/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA

Kid-Mai Death Awareness Café on 1191 Phaholyothin Road Phayathai is open every day but Sundays and holidays from 9am to 7pm.

Updated: This story was updated with new images on May 22nd, 2018