The world is a vast, mysterious place filled with beauty, adventure and good times…but some places have happier histories than others. For every story that gets us excited to book our next trip abroad, there’s a creepy tale of terror, dread, and unexplained horrors. If you’re not a believer in the supernatural we promise you’ll return a new, spookier person after you hit up the most haunted places on earth.
1. Aokigahara – “Suicide Forest” Tokyo, Japan
Just beside Mount Fuji lies the eerie Aokigahara forest where an estimated 100 people commit suicide in the forest’s deep brush every single year. The forest is so dense that many of the corpses go undiscovered for years. When visiting, make sure to hike alongside a local or follow the tape that lines the trails to the exit, that is of course if the mournful spirits don’t decide to take you on an unexpected detour first…
Creepy fact: The soil of the Suicide Forest is rich with magnetic iron that reeks havoc on cellphones, GPS systems, and compasses.
2. Isla de las Munecas – “Island of the Dolls” Mexico City, Mexico
Outside of Mexico City between 2 canals sits the Island of the Dolls. Legend has it that the caretaker of the island was so distraught by a young girl’s drowning on the island that he began collecting thousands of dolls and hanging them from the trees to appease her spirit. If that’s not creepy enough visitors to the island have been known to see the dolls turning their heads and opening their eyes.
Creepy fact: Many people doubt that the drowned girl ever existed in the first place. People believe that instead Julian, the island caretaker, slowly drove himself mad as a result of prolonged isolation on the island. After 50 years spent collecting dolls and hanging them from trees, Julian’s body was discovered — drowned in the very spot he claimed to have found the young girl decades earlier.
Price of the ferry ride = $15.5 USD.
3. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In the 1970’s a former high school was converted into the notorious S-21 prison by the Khmer Regime where an estimated 20,000 prisoners were executed. Today the school/prison has been transformed into a museum where the ghosts of the dead are still said to haunt the halls. Of the 20,000 prisoners that experienced the horror of S-21, only approximately 6 to 12 are rumored to have survived the genocide.
Creepy fact: The museum employees often leave food out for the ghosts during their lunch breaks. They say that if they don’t leave out an offering, they cannot enjoy their own lunches in peace due to loud noises and other ghostly activities.
Guided Tour = $6 USD per person
4. Les carrières de Paris – “The Catacombs” – Paris, France
The Catacombs beneath the streets of Paris are home to the remains of over 6 million people. As a result of overcrowding in the cemeteries above ground, city officials started to place bones of the dead in the old mining tunnels beneath the city streets. It is said that the spirits of the countless dead still lurk in the shadows and some have even been caught on tape.
Creepy fact: Many sections of the catacomb network have gone unexplored and for good reason. There are many caves, pitfalls and it’s essentially an underground maze that goes on for miles…with a supposed portal to hell at its deepest point.
Guided tour = USD $80
5. Valley of the Kings, Egypt
The Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb in the center of the pyramid is supposedly cursed; anyone who disturbs Tut’s resting place will allegedly die a painful and violent death. There have been several accounts of a man dressed in 19th-century attire roaming beneath the ancient stones.
Creepy fact: The belief in the curse of King Tutankhamun’s tomb began when a few members of the excavation team (as well as other visitors to the tomb shortly after its opening) began to die mysteriously. Overall, 11 deaths have been attributed to the ancient curse.
6. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Canada
Don’t let The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel’s stunning features fool you. This hotel located in the Canadian Rockies is as haunted as they come. The most famous ghost of the hotel is a young bride who fell down a flight of stairs on her wedding day. While she tumbled, her dress caught fire and she quickly burned to death. She is said to be seen still dancing in the ballroom some nights, desperately pining for the first bride and groom dance she tragically missed.
Creepy fact: There are three more ghost stories that will keep you looking behind your back during your stay. Some of the spirits haunting the hotel are less malicious than others but here’s a helpful hint: avoid staying in rooms 692 and 873.
Cost of room = USD $400 + per night
7. Pripyat, Ukraine
Pripyat is a ghost town in Northern Ukraine that has been fully abandoned ever since the world’s worst nuclear diaster in Chernobyl, forced all of the city’s residents to evacuate. Witnesses of the disaster are said to have seen a mysterious large black bird minutes before, possibly as a warning of the terror to come. The 50,000 residents of Pripyat had less than 2 hours to pack up all of their worldly belongings and leave. The sense of urgency still remains through the sight of abandoned possessions and hastily rummaged through furniture.
Creepy fact: Sightings of a creature, described as a large black, bird-like creature or a headless man with a 20-foot wingspan, and red eyes began to be reported by workers of the power plant. The creature would later become known as the Black Bird of Chernobyl and anyone who supposedly encountered this creature suffered from horrific nightmares in the days that followed.
Day tours from USD $89 per person
8. Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennsylvania, America
There are few things on Earth as creepy as an old prison, especially one that is haunted, which is exactly the case in Pennsylvania at the Eastern State Penitentiary. Although the prison was closed and abandoned in 1971 there have been many reports of the prison’s past visitors still lurking in and out of the bars.
Creepy fact: Prisoners spent nearly every hour of their day locked in their cells. When they were removed from their cells, a black hood would be put over their heads so that they were unable to see their surroundings or their fellow inmates. Nowadays visitors to the prison report anguished faces appearing on cell walls and distorted, haunted figures lurking in corridors.
Self-guided audio tours from USD $19
9. Gunkanjima “Hashima Island”, Japan
Some of you may recognize this tiny abandoned coal mining island from James Bond’s Skyfall, but what most of you probably don’t know is that this island is as haunted as they come. When the island was occupied, the miners were more or less forced to tirelessly work away in hellishly hot and humid conditions up to 1,000 meters beneath the ocean in expansive, rickety shafts. Miners fell victim to problems like collapsing mine shafts, toxic fumes, and gas explosions. Approximately 200 people died in the depths of the mine.
Although no one has lived here since 1974 there have been reports of the ghosts of the teachers meeting with each other in the old abandoned primary school, and if there is one thing scarier than ghosts, it’s ghost homework.
Creepy fact: During the Second World War, many of the island’s men had to leave to join the war effort and to compensate for the decrease of labor, Japan sent its Chinese and Korean war prisoners to the island as replacements. It’s said that up to five labourers died every month and a nearby island was essentially turned into a crematorium…and the spirits don’t let you forget it.
Boat ride to the island = ¥300 per person
10. Hanging Coffins, Sagada, Philippines
As if coffins weren’t scary enough, an ancient tribe in the Philippines has been hanging them on the sides of cliffs for more than 2000 years. This traditional burial is practiced in part because ancient tribes believe that the higher the body is buried, the closer the dead are to their ancestral spirits. The coffins are either tied or nailed to the sides of cliffs, and are only about one metre in length, with the corpse buried in the fetal position because the tribes believe that a person should leave our world the same way they entered it. Sagada is reachable from Manila after about a 12 -13 hour bus ride through the mountains.
Not-so-creepy fact: During the coffin hanging process, any helper who had a drop of blood spilled on them while they were passing the coffin forward was considered to be very lucky as blood is a symbol of good fortune in Igorot culture.
Guided tour = PHP 200