Do you dare?: The 12 most haunted places in the world
By Jacob Sullivan
Do you believe? Or do you want to believe? Regardless of whether you think the paranormal exists or not, most people have a fascination with the world beyond the veil
But how many of you would actually visit somewhere that is supposed to be haunted?
We’ve compiled 12 of the most haunted destinations in the world that you can visit right now. If you need something totally different to break up an average holiday, or if you are a non-believer that wants to prove that a haunted mansion wouldn’t ruffle your feathers, or just want to follow your morbid fascination, then this list is for you:
Let’s start in the states with one of the most well-known haunted places in the world. The Eastern State Penitentiary is famous for having held notorious criminals like Al Capone and Willie Sutton. However, its the reports of paranormal activity since the ‘40s that have really solidified its dark reputation. The prison was the first of its kind to introduce solitary confinement, even going as far as to place a black hood over a prisoner’s head to ensure the prisoner saw no other human faces. This often leads to prisoners going insane, and phantoms of former prisoners now haunt the jail. Including but not limited to: shadowy figures that disappear when approached, a wraith in the guard tower, evil laughter in cell block 12, faces appearing from the dark in cell block 4 and a slew of voices footsteps in empty rooms and hallways. If you think you are brave enough to visit the prison, ghost hunts and tours can be booked here.
2. The Old Changi Hospital, the most haunted place in Singapore
The Old Changi Hospital was opened in 1935 but was used as a prison and torture camp by the Japanese Secret Police, the terrifying Kempeitai, during WWII. After the war, the building continued to operate as a hospital before shutting its doors in 1997. Haunted by its history the decaying buildings are now populated with the ghosts of Japanese soldiers, people executed during the occupation and patients that died here. The corridors are said to be haunted by an old man that wanders aimlessly, fading in and out of sight; a woman has also been observed in various rooms. Ghost children wander the old children’s ward, and Japanese soldiers, bloodied and broken, have also been seen. Loud bangs, crashes and unexplained screams are also a common occurrence.
Built around 1300 to protect Oslo, Norway’s capital, Akershus Castle has a long and storied history including serving as a prison and Nazi occupation, so it really comes as no surprise that the fortress is home to a plethora of supernatural residents. The most famous of these is the demon-hellhound Malcanisen, who guards the castle gates and appears before guests as a massive black dog become fading into the shadows. Other ghosts, especially horses, are heard on occasion and are said to be harbingers of death who hear them. For our money though, the scariest inhabitant fades in and out of the darkness as she traverses the castle. You’ll recognise her by her long robe as the ghost of this particular woman has no face…
4. La Isla de la Muñecas – The Island of Dolls – Mexico
Legend has it that a man named Don Julian Santana, upped and left his family one day to come live a solitary life on the island but upon arrival stumbled across the body of a young girl, face down in the canal where she had drowned, with her doll floating nearby. What may have started as a memorial soon became an obsession (or was demanded by the ghost of the dead girl some say) as more and more dolls were left hanging from the island’s trees, sometimes from a noose, sometimes with spikes driven into their heads. Don Julian Santana Lived here, decorating the island with thousands of these decomposing dolls until his death in 2001, when his nephew found his body, floating face down, in the exact same spot Don Julian Santana had found the young girl’s body decades earlier. Isla de las Munecas is about 28km south of the centre of Mexico City. Visitors can catch a ferry from Mexico City to the island from either Embarcadero Cuemanco or Embarcadero Fernando Celada.
5. The most terrifying of islands – Poveglia, Italy
In the Venice Lagoon lies the terrifying island of Poveglia. In the 14th-century, the island was used as a quarantine area where Venetians infected with the bubonic plague were sent to die. To dispose of the bodies both at this time and two centuries later when the black death was decimating Europe’s population, corpses were piled up and burned on massive funeral pyres. During the 1800s it is claimed that the island’s building was converted into a mental asylum where patients were badly mistreated and subjected to brutal experimental procedures. Further plagued by torture and suicides, the island’s final use was as a care centre for the elderly until the building shut its doors and the island was abandoned for good in 1975. These days the island practically swarms with the ghosts of those that have died here. Voices and screams are often heard, shadow people are often glimpsed out of the corner of an eye, and cases of possession and sudden homicidal thoughts have been reported. Even without the feelings of possession that come over some visitors to the island, most people report feeling an evil and crushing atmosphere as soon as they step foot on the island that grows until they flee the island in terror.
6. 1000 doors to the afterlife – Lawang Sewu, Indonesia
Built in 1917 by the Dutch East Indian Railway Company, Lawang Sewu (The Thousand Doors), was occupied by Japanese forces during WWII and the basement of Building B was used as a prison (mainly for Dutch nationals) and was the site of torture and many violent executions. Consequently, Lawang Sewu is now believed to be the most haunted building in Indonesia and is a top international hotspot for ghost hunters. While a multitude of headless spirits are said to roam the grounds the most well-known spectre is the ghost of a Dutch woman who is believed to have committed suicide here. If you visit you may be (un)lucky enough to encounter a Pontianak, a vampiric spirit with long black hair, red eyes, and a white dress smeared in blood that likes to rip into the stomach of its victims so that she can devour their internal organs.
KAYAK Travel Tip: It’ll take a little more work on your side, but when travelling in Southeast Asia it is often worth booking domestic flights between major airports and smaller airports separately to your main flight. For example: To visit Lawang Sewu, rather than flying from London to Semarang directly, fly from London to Jakarta and then take a domestic flight from Jakarta to Semarang. At times this can save you literally a few hundred £££s!
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7. Do you dare stay overnight – Banff Springs Hotel
If you are checking in to the Banff Springs Hotel pay attention to your bellhop. They are most likely a living breathing person working a standard shift, but if they are wearing a 60s style uniform is could also be Sam Macauley. Sam will help you up to your room, open doors, turn on the lights for you, etc. but will likely vanish the second you try and converse with or tip him. Because Sam has been dead for decades. Other people who have taken up a very permanent residence here include the bride who tripped on the stairs and broke her neck (she’ll stand out in the ballroom as flames often burst from her dress). The most terrifying apparition you may encounter, though, is the family from Room 873. The entire family was murdered in this room for reasons unknown, and the room has been bricked up ever since. Despite this, the family is often seen outside if the room in which their lives were taken.
Built during the 17th century by the Dutch East India Trading Company, Cape Town’s oldest colonial building is home to a veritable smorgasbord of spooks. The first official haunting was in 1915 when a tall man was observed flinging himself from the castle’s ramparts, an act he has repeated several times over the last decade. There is also the ghost of a big black dog that pounces on visitors before vanishing into thin air and the sound of the bells that regularly ring out from the bell tower. The only problem with that is that the bell tower was sealed off centuries ago after a guard was found hanging by his neck from the bell rope. The Grey Lady also used to haunt the castle, running through its corridors wailing and hysterical but has stopped since a woman’s body was found and laid to rest during recent excavations.
Since this infamous house was built in 1848, it’s been host to multiple tragedies. A maid threw herself from the balcony after becoming pregnant (allegedly by the master of the house), a baby tragically died after being dropped down the stairs, a servant-boy burnt to death in the stables, a caretaker was shot to death, and a different caretaker kept his son chained up in a shed for 30 years. Unsurprisingly, the Monte Cristo homestead is considered to be the most haunted place in Australia. The current owners (who’ve experienced everything from bumps in the night to a ghostly hand on the shoulder) offer a combo dinner and ghost tour every Saturday night. For the truly brave, you can also opt to stay overnight…
Better known as the Suicide Forest, Aokigahara has become the final resting place of over 500 people who have chosen to end their lives here. The forest itself is unusually silent, the trees and gnarled and the landscape disorientating. On top of the ghosts or energy left from the suicides, that is believed to imbue the very soil, the forest is rooted in paranormal activity. In more ancient times, people would abandon weaker or older family members to starve in the forest during times of famine. Be warned, if you do choose to go hiking in this forest the belief is that the forest itself may wish to keep you and never let you find the path back out.
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11. As Grimm as it gets – Kirchlengern Forest, Germany
In Nordrhein Westfalen is a small province called Kirchlengern and in Kirchlengern there is a section of forest that has terrified locals since the 12th century. People have reported feeling everything from unease to sheer terror from just walking through these woods as well as the feeling of being watched. Even creepier are the reports of animals from the local towns disappearing only for massive amounts of animal blood to be discovered spread across this cursed stretch of forest.
This hotel is famous as the fated hotel that inspired Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’. The room where he stayed, Room 217, has been known as a hotbed of paranormal activity since as far back as 1911. While every one of the hotels 142 rooms has had reports of weirdness: things moving, lights turning on and off, etc., ghost children have been heard laughing and running through the hotel, and the ballroom reputedly plays host to spectral soirees on occasion, no malevolent behaviour has ever been reported. As you’d expect, there is a wide range of ghost tours available.
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on September 25th, 2017. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.