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Why Do People Leave Red Fanta At Shrines In Thailand?

If you’ve ever visited Thailand then you may have noticed many open, unconsumed bottles of red Fanta left out at shrines.

This may have left you feeling confused. I felt the same the first time I saw it.

In this post, I’ll explain exactly why Thai people leave red Fanta bottles at shrines in Thailand. There’s actually several interesting reasons why…

Why Do People Leave Red Fanta Out At Shrines In Thailand?

There are actually several reasons why Thai people leave red Fanta bottles at shrines and all of them relate to Thai spirituality.

The first thing to know is that many Thai people believe in paranormal spirits and they don’t just believe in them, they actively engage with these spirits.

The red Fanta bottles that you will see all over Thailand are left at places called spirit houses.

What Is A Thai Spirit House?

A spirit house is essentially a type of shrine

A photo of a Thai spirit house.
A photo of a Thai spirit house.

They are intended to provide shelter for spirits that otherwise could cause problems for the Thai people.

These spirit houses tend to be erected when a piece of land is cleared and buildings are built on it.

They believe that the earth spirits reside in the trees and the land so when you clear the land and build on it, the earth spirit will be displaced.

A displaced earth spirit may be angry about losing its home so the Thai people think it’s right to build them a new home to reside in, a spirit house.

You’ll actually find a spirit house in most buildings in Thailand with some being more fancy than others.

One of the most famous spirit houses is the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.

Why Do Thai People Leave Things At Spirit Houses?

So we know that Thai people build spirit houses to house displaced earth spirits. 

But that still doesn’t answer why we see these spirit houses covered in red Fanta bottles…

Well firstly it is a tradition in Thailand to leave offerings to the spirits at spirit houses every single morning. 

Again, this is all in an attempt to keep the spirits happy as they could cause havoc if they’re upset.

These offerings usually come in the form of food and drink such as rice, fruit, desserts, coconuts and, to many people’s surprise, red strawberry Fanta. 

It’s thought that the spirits like sweet things in particular but you’ll also sometimes see things like flowers and other small trinkets.

The idea behind these offerings is that friendly spirits will congregate here at the spirit houses and keep evil spirits away. 

If you treat the spirits well, they will defend the house from evil spirits. Pretty neat, right!?

Stealing from one of these shrines is seen as bad luck and you’re sure to befall some sort of tragic accident if you do.

If you don’t take care of the spirits then they won’t take care of you. It’s simple.

Why Do People Leave Red Fanta?

Red fanta at shrines in Thailand.
Red fanta at shrines in Thailand.

Ok time to answer the big question: what’s with all the red drinks?

A very common offering to the spirits is red strawberry Fanta or ‘Fanta Nam Dang’ as it is known in Thailand.

If you’ve visited Thailand, you will often see collections of red Fanta bottles everywhere. 

Many tourists see this as a really unusual and strange thing to leave and I must admit that I was surprised and confused when I first saw them on my first trip to Bangkok.

You’ll also notice that many people even place straws in the drinks too to make it easy for the spirits to drink them. 

Red Fanta has actually been left in this way for a very long time, decades even. 

Many years ago, before red Fanta existed, Thai people used to color and sweeten water to make it red and leave it for the spirits. 

So basically it’s a long standing tradition where Thai people have left sweet, red colored drinks for the spirits and the existence of red Fanta just makes this process quicker and easier.

The Significance Of The Color Red

Whilst there is no definitive answer as to why Thai people chose red colored drinks as an offering, many people say it is to do with the significance of the color red.

Firstly red is a lucky color in Thailand and it’s also the color of blood. 

Back in ancient times, Thai people used to sacrifice animals at these shrines to please the spirits. 

Luckily they don’t do that anymore but the color red signifies animal sacrifice and kinda acts like a less messy alternative.

Another interesting theory is based on the red incense sticks that you may also see left out at the shrines. 

These sticks are often left inside glasses of water and are also colored with red dye. As the sticks melt, the dye drops into the water tinging it red. 

Again just buying and leaving a bottle of red Fanta is a much easier way to get the same effect.

Some people also say that red is the King of Thailand’s favorite color which is another reason why it’s left at the shrines.

Another pro of red Fanta is that it often comes in a glass bottle so it’s unlikely that it will be blown over by the wind. 

You will also sometimes see red Fanta alternatives such as Kool-Aid or other cheaper brands but it will always be a sweet, red-colored drink. 

Red Fanta is so popular in fact that Thailand is Fanta’s fourth-largest market in the world and bigger than the USA and China. 

Finally, I’d just like to add that whilst at first this may seem like a strange concept, let’s remember that children all over the world are encouraged to leave out milk for Santa Claus and in many countries people believe in the existence of the Easter Bunny that will leave chocolate eggs in your garden.

I hope this post was interesting and explained why people leave red Fanta at shrines in Thailand. 

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand then you might be interested to know where you can swim with turtles in Thailand. It’s a really fun and unforgettable experience!

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Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir, who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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