With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time for our annual roundup of some of the most macabre and disturbing destinations the world over. Come along with us….IF YOU DARE.
Tao Dan Park
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
What makes this seemingly bucolic and lovely city park one of the most haunted places in the world? The ghost of a young man killed in a vicious attack is said to wander the park at night, searching for his lost love, though “wander” might be too ordinary a term. It’s actually been reported the sad ghost floats very close to the living, often startling young lovers who have come to the park themselves to get some privacy.
Beechworth Lunatic Asylum
In the town of Beechworth there once was a notorious mental institution, home to some of the most dangerous and debilitated lunatics in the country. It was founded in 1867, and during its more than 100-year years of operation, more than 3,000 troubled patients died on its premises. It’s said that those souls still wander the grounds, which you can experience first hand if you visit and take one of the famed nightly ghost tours.
Many people visit the glamorous, fairytale destination of Venice without ever knowing of the disturbing history that lurks so nearby. Poveglia Island has a long, dark and depressing history. The island was first inhabited around 400 AD, but was abandoned by ordinary residents in the 1300’s. From then, the island was used to quarantine plague victims – which was an obvious death sentence for the tens of thousands of Venetians who succumbed to the Black Death and Bubonic Plague. In the late 1800’s, the city constructed an asylum, where patients were exiled, not rehabilitated. In fact, a rumor that strange and improper experiments were performed on patients was somewhat substantiated by the suicide of the supervising doctor, who threw himself from the bell tower. The island has been abandoned since the 1970’s – tourists and locals are forbidden to visit which has given much grist to the mill that the haunted nature of the place is the real problem.
The Queen Mary
Long Beach. California
The RMS Queen Mary was in operation for only 30 years, but this ocean liner that was once touted as “the most luxurious ship at sea” managed to gain quite a distressing reputation while it sailed the seas of the north Atlantic. More than 50 people are said to have died while it was operating as a luxury cruise liner for Cunard, and the ghosts of all of them have been sighted over the years. These days, you can take a night tour to see for yourself. The engine room is supposed to be one of the creepiest places on board. You were warned!
Located alongside Mt. Fuji, the Aokigahara has the well-earned nickname, “the suicide forest.” Over the years, countless Japanese have come to off themselves, and because it’s become so popular, the government has stopped publicizing the numbers of suicides, for fear that it was encouraging the masses. In any event, the forest is a spooky, misty place to visit.
Spirits wander the grounds of the Bhangarh Fort, with strange noises, screams and a feeling of “heaviness” or someone watching you being the main reports from visitors who decide to try their luck after dark. Though the fort is said to be the most haunted place in India, most locals will tell you it is only after the sun goes down that you should worry. In fact, you may be warned that if you enter after dark, they undead may not permit you to leave in the morning.
Hell Fire Club on Montpelier Hill
Legend has it that this hunting lodge became a meeting place for a local group that got together for relaxing evenings of drinking, gambling and devil worship! The horrifying activities were said to include animal sacrifice and the torture of nubile young creatures. This was a party to which you might not want to receive an invitation.
Port Elizabeth Library
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
A haunted gothic library, with ghostly apparitions drifting among the stacks, is tailor-made for horror movies, don’t you think? And the history of Port Elizabeth’s Library doesn’t disappoint. The library is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two men – the library’s former caretaker (who likes to arrange disheveled books into tidy stacks) and a police constable who burned to death in the building next door. When that building was razed, it’s said that Constable Maxwell moved next door to bother the library’s patrons. And if reports from spooked visitors are any indication, the good constable has kept generations of people on their toes (and looking over their shoulders)!
This bonkers story of human trafficking coming out of Portland, Oregon may not be one you’re familiar with but it’s a doozy! In the early 19th century, local men were disappearing at night after going out, often never to be heard from again. Local bar owners would get patrons extremely drunk, drop them through trapdoors in their floors, which deposited them into a labyrinth of tunnels under Portland. The men would then be taken to cargo ships where they were sold into slavery and often ended up in Asia (hence, you were “shanghaied.”) Many men never made it, dying in the tunnels themselves. You can now take a tour of the tunnels, where ghosts of these unlucky souls still reside.
Hoia Baciu Forest
In the annals of haunted forests, Hoia Baciu holds a special place. There’s nothing so spectacular about the forest itself – in fact, it’s barely a single square mile but the sheer quantity of supernatural activity has earned it the title of “world’s most haunted forest” on many a creepy list. There’s UFO sightings, a disappearing child who then reappeared five years later, mysterious flashing lights at night, an unsettling feeling that comes over visitors and even a barren circle where nothing can grow. As a bonus, it is located in Transylvania – so various monuments to Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for Dracula) abound.
The Dutch used the imperial palace of Lawang Sewu during colonial times, and the Japanese army famously appropriated the basement for a prison during WWII. The sightings of ghosts who met unfortunate deaths are rampant, with headless soldiers and prisoners being the most often reported. Lewang Sewu is said to be the most haunted place in all of Indonesia, and who are we to argue with them?
If you’d like to sleep in a haunted hotel, check out our top picks. Something wickedly fun is right around the corner….