Escape from the crowds at these abandoned spots
Bangkok has its fair share of abandoned places that constantly keep the public interest alive. In recent years, this type of attractions has become so popular that now there are organized tours to satisfy the demand. Just a gentle reminder – some of these places are dangerous, not because of eerie lost souls, but because they are in quite a dilapidated state.
Let’s dig deep into the intriguing stories of some of Bangkok’s most incognito abandoned places! These legends and backdrops are a magnet for urban explorers and local Ghostbusters who are probably outperforming the latest Hollywood instalment of the movie in question. If the supernatural is not your cup of tea, fret not! There is more than meets the eye to these places and when possible simply sauntering around can prove to be a great workout alternative.
1. Pen down a story @ the abandoned ball pen factory
If anyone wishes to shoot another Asian-style horror movie, the real life events story and backdrop of this factory are absolutely bone-chilling. We are talking about a mammoth of a deserted factory stretching over 80 acres, located near Kasem Bundit University.
The grave-turning trajectory to closure is peppered with fatalities worth of the next Conjuring instalment. According to legend, the factory had a terrible explosion in its heyday when a pump blew up, leading to the agonizing deaths of many workers. If that wasn’t enough, the owner was allegedly shot dead in his office at the top floor of the factory. Needless to say, the ghost stories emanating from this place of tragedy are interminable, and many urban explorers claim to experience an instant freeze when they roam around. We’re unsure if it’s Elsa from Frozen, or actual ghosts blasting around this chill, but if you knock three times on a water tank you might find out.
Getting there: We do not recommend it but if you must then take the MRT to Sukhumvit station. From there, take a taxi to Kasem Bundit University. The factory is inside Soi Kasem Bundit on Pattanakarn Road.
2. Strike a pose @ Bang Rak abandoned fire station
Although permanently closed, daredevil fashionistas and Hollywood actors like Jason Statham in The Mechanic 2 have been trying their hand at looking fabulously gorgeous in this deserted fire brigade station. Bang Rak is about to either be demolished or rise like a phoenix as a brand new fire station, so hurry up if you wish to snap your next catalogue non-selfie pictures.
Designed and completed by the Italian architect Joachim Grassi in 1890, this Neo-Renaissance-style masterpiece located along the Chao Praya River served as a customs house to the city. About 60 years ago, it was transformed into a fire brigade station and although it looks rather ramshackle, many of its facilities are still in working condition. Maybe the supernatural element lacks here, but there is still something eerie and unnatural about it – such as people coming here for wedding pictures!
Getting there: Bang Rak fire station is located along Chao Praya River, close to Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from Saphan Taksin BTS station – tell the driver to take you to the Old Customs House. Otherwise take a boat from Saphan Taksin pier to Pier N2 at Wat Muang Kae.
3. Scale 49 flights @ Sathorn Ghost Tower
We cannot write an article on abandoned places in Bangkok without including the queen of all deserted structures – Sathorn Ghost Tower. Many adventurers go through the gates of Hades – aka 49 flights of stairs – to reach the top floor and capture some of the wildest views over the city. Although closed to visitors, illegal access is still available for thrill-seeking daredevils, for the low price of roughly USD $15.
But the urban legends about this place are equally fascinating. Cosmopolitan spirits and ghosts from all walks of life and nationalities are said to haunt this Goliath of a building. Maybe it’s the alleged former graveyard location or the suicide of a Swedish backpacker in 2014 that contributed to visitors claiming to feel the unsettling presence of a dead entity, but definitely something dark is in the air – apart from the pollution! The project fell through after the architect had been accused of a murder attempt for which he was later acquitted, and as a result the building is said to be surrounded by a cursed halo.
Getting there: We strongly advise against it! However, the tower is conveniently located next to Wat Yanawa which can be easily accessed just by a short walk from Saphan Taksin BTS.
4. Be on top of the world @ I.C.E. Abandoned Tower
Overshadowed in popularity by its more haunted brother, Sathorn Ghost Tower, this abandoned structure is actually taller at about 60 floors! As a rule of thumb, the more the locals know about tourists’ interest in a place, the more money they’ll try to squeeze from visitors. And since I.C.E. Tower is very little known, chances are that you can easily access it free of charge as the security guards in this place are known to be quite pocket-friendly.
The vantage point might not be so drone-worthy but the adrenaline of frolicking on the rooftop of an abandoned building makes up for the 30 minute climb. Unfortunately for us damned mortals lacking gym experience, there are no elevators. So if you wish to get to the top you must work out your way through it first - literally. The office building is yet another financial catastrophe of the 1997 economic crisis and it has been left in a dilapidated state ever since. There are no ghost stories yet but with rising tourist interest, it’s just a matter of time before some creepy tales make their way to the mainstream.
Getting there: Take the MRT to Phra Ram 9 station. The giant tower is easily noticeable and just a short walk away, behind Soi Pho Phan.
5. Admire locomotives @ the old Thonburi Railway Station
Steam locomotives might have puffed and huffed at the advent of new modern technologies, but their elegant grandeur still dominates our feelings of nostalgia. Not every steam locomotive has lived a life of luxury and stardom like Thomas the Tank Engine or the Orient Express, but the ones in Bangkok definitely had a much juicier and more flamboyant life span – just like most expats in Thailand.
Built in 1900, the old Thonburi station went through tumultuous times including the Second World War and what’s left of it now resides in a train depot. Somewhere in-between an abandoned place and museum, the station offers free access to those who wish to reminisce on their personal experience with steam trains... mainly from the movies. There are about 4 or 5 fully functional locomotives that are still used for special occasions and tourists are more than welcome to marvel at such marvellous vehicles.
Getting there: The old station/warehouse is located near Siriraj Hospital and Royal Barges Museum. Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Railway Station pier – the locomotive house is within a short walk from the river bank. If you get lost, ask someone – they will be able to direct you there.
6. Become a zombie Disney princess @ Magic Land
Once upon a time, a few decades ago, when the Vietnam War was coming to an end, Thailand was otherwise preoccupied with building amusement parks. Magic Land was one in a series of prime locations for kids’ entertainment up until its permanent closure in 2000 due to a land contract dispute.
The Sleeping Beauty style castle that still stands majestically today is a pure reminiscence of how Bangkok had great tourist expectations from the get-go. This abandoned Disneyland style castle serves as a nostalgic backdrop for older generations on various festivities throughout the year. Occasionally go-cart races are held around the abandoned castle and in 2015 a special event with arts, food and music warmed the hearts of many former loyal visitors. Vintage backdrops apparently never go out of fashion!
Getting there: Take the MRT to Phahon Yothin station then walk towards Centara Grand Hotel. On the same road, Magic Land lies out in the open.
7. Have a little reel of glamour past @ Nang Loeng Cinema
Oh, the glamorous scent of old movie reels and wooden halls... replaced by smelly market fish! The oldest cinema in Thailand built in 1918 represented the glory of a cinematic experience and irradiated with star-studded posters up until 1993. The old market that now stands in its place is the only link to the past glorious days of this quaint neighbourhood.
The cinema hall - which is more of a Western-style barn - represents a cultural heritage that is recognized internationally by various film academics. So important is this building considered, that a renovation plan to celebrate its centenary in 2018 is in the cards. In that case, Nang Loeng cinema would become a living museum of how people used to savour a cinematic experience. Today, the abandoned warehouse is out of reach for visitors – although if you really call yourself an urban explorer you would find ways around it – but the nostalgic movie posters are still hanging around in oblivion.
Getting there: The abandoned cinema is located next to Nang Loeng market. From central Bangkok take the BTS to Phaya Thai and then tell the taxi driver to take you to “Talaat Nang Loeng”.
8. Go all Lara Croft @ Wat Phleng
The reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise is not due until 2018, but that does not stop us to indulge in some Lara Croft adventure wool-gathering. This overgrown banyan tree temple might not be as worthy or crowded as Cambodia’s famous compound where Angelina Jolie shot her movie, but that’s not what this article is about.
Wat Phleng was a completely deserted temple, abandoned centuries ago by villagers in the aftermath of a violent armed conflict between Myanmar and Thailand. A few years ago it was partially restored with a modest shrine inside but the place is still as abandoned as it gets, located in a tropical orchard. Dating back to Ayutthaya period, the temple features architectural splendours with stucco ornaments, a bell tower, red sandstones facades, and other important antiques.
Getting there: Located in Tambon Bang Kanoon, Amphoe Bang Kruay, Nonthaburi by Sak Yai canal, the temple is easily accessible from Bangkok. Its whereabouts are not known to locals or taxi drivers so give them these coordinates 13°48'53.5"N 100°28'00.7"E. The closest MRT station is Bang Sue, but on the other side of the river.
9. Hitch a ride @ Soi Sai Yood Bus Cemetery
This macabre cemetery is probably the most reported haunted place on our list and for a good reason! All wrecked busses brought here have met their tragic end in fatal road accidents and the unsettled spirits are a real pain in the backseat for taxi drivers passing by the cemetery – even worse than drunk Soi Cowboy dudes hailing a taxi in Nana!
That’s because apparently the playful sociable ghosts enjoy hailing a cab, getting in the car and then completely disappearing on the taxi driver. Other reports such as spectral hitchhikers appearing from nowhere or throwing themselves in front of a car have been heavily purported as commonplace around the bus cemetery. Unless you really wish to prove everyone you’re not insane and go in for the kill with recording ghost apparitions, this place might not be that exciting to visit. Nonetheless, we do admit that with a monochrome filter, it can be an amazing Halloween backdrop.
Getting there: It is not really a safe place to roam around due to all the scrap metal bits lying everywhere! The place is little known even by the locals and they won’t be able to help you much with directions. Make sure you know where you’re heading. Take the MRT to Phahon Yothin and then a taxi to “Tiger Shrine” on Pahonyothin Soi 48.
- BONUS -
With a country the size of Thailand, surely there are a few more spots long abandoned and left to the mercy of the elements. Here are but 2 more that we've found interesting, but aren't located within the capital!
10. Check into an abandoned cruise ship turned luxury hotel
On the remote island of Koh Chang, imagine the Titanic of Thailand, but more tropical, exotic and ruinous with occasional macaques swaying above the decks! The mind-boggling dichotomy of comfort and desertedness of this billionaire-owned unique resort has attracted mixed reviews from its visitors.
The outside décor of the bay-nested abandoned ship, “the Galaxy”, is rather ominous and monstrous with its 7 brutalism-style decks. The eeriness oozing from its tenebrous and dilapidated corridors and Hollywood 80s slasher-like rooms makes you feel as if Jack Nicholson is around every corner ready to chop you off with an axe.
The resort has other more traditional floating chalets on offer, but most tourists come here to explore the semi-abandoned cruise ship. For about USD $3 you are allowed inside the resort and you can take a bike tour. Lights out, everyone!
Getting there: The most convenient and fastest option is to take an Air Asia flight from Bangkok to Trat. The airport is located close to the pier from where you can easily access the island. You’ll need to travel all the way down south to find Aunchaleena Beachfront Resort and pay an entry fee if you are not a guest of the hotel.
Contact: +66 39 558 145
11. Feel the justice at the abandoned Batman disco
In line with Pattaya’s over-the-top eccentricity, this 1990s disco club used to flash the Bat-signal up in the alcohol-scented skies until it got raided and busted by police for drug consumption and under-age booze-ups. Unlike in Hollywood, this dark knight of blazing parties never rose again and fell into utter oblivion and desolation.
Pattaya is famous for the never-ending slew of gentlemen “accidently” falling to their deaths normally from their balconies, and the Batman disco stayed true to this “tradition”. In March 2016 a young artist found the body of an older Thai man who allegedly had fallen into a pool of water down a staircase. Ever since, the place is thought to be haunted!
However, this tragedy has not curbed the plethora of graffiti or erotic artists from enhancing their creative skills on these godforsaken premises. Whichever art you wish to go for is solely your business, but make sure to pay a visit to this remarkable abandoned building should you ever find yourself in wicked Pattaya.
Getting there: From Bangkok take a minibus at the Victory Monument to Pattaya. When you arrive there, you can easily take a taxi to Soi Batman (Pattaya Thai Soi 2). On Google maps the Batman club appears as J.K. Disco.
Abandoned Bangkok places for a perfect city break
That’s right – Bangkok never stops never disappointing! Just remember that some of these places require caution and unorthodox means of access so it is best to just enjoy reading about them and let your imagination flow.
Likewise, we are all mature and commonsensical here – we know that ghosts don’t squander their energy on just every mortal, so keep your expectations at a minimum low. However, you will not come to Bangkok on a wing and a prayer as our list will satisfy your most ardent needs for urban adventure.