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Explore Palau's Rich Cultural Heritage

Bai - Traditional Chiefs' Meeting Houses


In the heart of Palau's vibrant villages, a unique matriarchal and matrilineal society thrives. Guided by the Council of Chiefs, this rich cultural tradition is upheld by formidable women and men who oversee the land, finances, and anointment of leaders. Discover the vibrant history of Palau's Council of Chiefs and their sacred gathering places, known as "Bai," as we delve into the past and present of these iconic structures.


Bai in Airai: Preserving Tradition

Nestled in Airai, home to Palau's international airport, stands the Bai ra Rengarairai, the last remaining traditional-style bai in Palau. Listed on the Palau National Register of Historic Places and the American National Register, this bai carries a legacy of at least 180 years. A structure that's 21 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 12 meters high, it is constructed using local materials, adorned with beautiful symbols, and steeped in legend. Explore the rich history within its walls as you uncover Palau's cultural treasures.


Bai in Melekeok: A Cultural Icon

Venture to the serene hills of Melekeok to discover another iconic bai, perched majestically in splendid isolation. This remarkable structure, adorned with intricate traditional designs and colors, is a testament to Palau's rich heritage. You'll find legendary figures, like the symbol of fertility Dilukai, and other symbols that embody Palau's history, unity, and prosperity. From the Melekeok State Office, follow the stone path to this cultural gem, a journey that takes only 15 minutes and immerses you in the heart of Palauan tradition.


Discover Symbolism in Every Detail

These traditional bai houses are not just structures but repositories of Palauan culture, with every symbol and motif bearing profound significance. From the rooster, symbolizing an industrious spirit, to the timeless money bird that ushers in good fortune, each element tells a story. The tridachna shell represents resilience, the god face symbolizes wealth, and the bat symbolizes respect. Spiders embody prosperity and humanity's reproduction, while the Moorish Idol fish promotes humbleness and unity. The shark, with its unwavering strength, serves as a guardian, while the surgeon fish is a reminder of the power of unity.


Explore these ancient bai structures and unlock the secrets of Palau's cultural heritage. Discover how traditions have been meticulously preserved through these remarkable symbols and legends. Dive into the rich tapestry of Palau's history and connect with a culture that treasures its past while looking towards a vibrant future.


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