A tour of Bangkok’s spookiest sites

Bangkok (CNN) — “You are not coming house ahead of you’ve cleansed by yourself at the temple,” my spouse states. She may well not be Thai, but has observed adequate Thai horror flicks to know that just one does not mess all around with the community spirits.

And that’s particularly what I was about to do, on the walking tour I signed up for: “Ghosts, Spirits, and a Little Little bit of Dark Heritage” led by Justin Dunne, a Californian who, for additional than 10 many years, has been scouring Bangkok’s back again alleys for ghostly encounters and, in his words, “vibrationally challenged areas.”

In the email exchanges top up to the tour, Dunne warns me no significantly less than 5 periods that his walks are “exceptionally draining — each bodily and emotionally.” They’d get all-around 10 hours, and would carry us to areas that “just will not truly feel good.”

Inspite of remaining a staunch non-believer in the supernatural, these recurring warnings depart me with a amusing experience.

Basic safety very first: spirit safety

So, with a slight knot in my abdomen, I meet up with Dunne on a Sunday early morning at the Saphan Taksin pier, a person of the most important transport hubs in Bangkok’s oldest district.

In advance of we set off, I sign a waiver confirming that “any ghosts or black magic that attaches by themselves to me will be my individual accountability.” Dunne also fingers me a black crystal, “charged with excellent ju-ju” by his Reiki-learn spouse, and instructs me to continue to keep it in my pocket.

Shrunken heads on display at the Tha Prachan amulet market.

Shrunken heads on show at the Tha Prachan amulet current market.

Chris Schalkx

Our 1st cease is the Tha Prachan amulet market place, a labyrinthine network of sector stalls on the financial institutions of the Chao Phraya river.

At 1 store, hundreds of collectible figurines stare me down from rickety shelves. Clay babies with red diamonds for eyes. Black wooden creatures with long fangs and witch-like hair. Deformed lizards preserved in vials of brownish oil. A luk thep, an unsettlingly reasonable infant doll believed to bring very good luck to its owner, guards the whole lot.

A dark background lesson

We cross the road to Thammasat University, the site of just one of the bloodiest chapters in Thailand’s present day background. In this article, on the early morning of October 6, 1976, ideal-wing militia violently cracked down on a leftist university student protest, ensuing in a massacre with an estimated demise toll of far more than 100.

Some students sought refuge from the violence in one particular of the elevators of the College of Liberal Arts, only to be shot when the army learned them. Later, the college painted the elevators red to mask the blood stains. Rumor has it, Dunne tells me, that quite a few former pupils and professors have experienced otherworldly encounters when getting the elevator at night.

09b 4 Chris Schalkx Bangkok haunted places

Is that a facial area spying on you from the forest?

Chris Schalkx

Haunted hotels and spirit residences

The tour proceeds with a tuk-tuk ride to a lodge not considerably from the Grand Palace. Dunne tells me its assembly rooms were being applied as makeshift morgues throughout a violent pro-democracy protest in 1992. At an additional time, a six-yr-old girl disappeared in this article throughout a rest room visit. She has never been discovered.

The hotel stays in procedure, though it has clearly found much better times. Tripadvisor opinions describe it as “Bangkok’s edition of The Shining.” To this day, Dunne claims, visitors and team hear bogs flushing throughout the night or see deceased protestors hunting back again at them in the mirror.

A couple of blocks away, a clandestine “short-time” resort provides an even more hair-elevating backstory. On some nights, the story goes, the notoriously feared spirit Phi Krasue, showing up as practically nothing a lot more than a floating woman’s head with dangling entrails, roams the grounds to feast on flesh and feces.

Drawing on Buddhist beliefs and people tales, these spirits, or phi as they’re known as in Thailand, are commonly considered to lurk around abandoned buildings and historical trees. There are dozens of them, missing limbs, heads, mouths or eyes. Some have very good intentions. A lot of never.

To remain out of religious difficulty, Thais set up spirit houses all all over the nation. Minimal temple-like shrines on stilts, they are put in close proximity to office environment properties, markets and auspicious corners all-around the house. They’re festooned with flower garlands, joss sticks and colourful collectible figurines. Several Thais make everyday meals offerings (normally accompanied by a bottle of crimson Fanta, a far more humane different to blood) to keep the spirits appeased.

While we scan the lodge grounds wanting for clues pointing to Phi Krasue’s visits, I discover the staff acquiring visibly agitated. At moments, it feels like we, two white-skinned farang (foreigners), are seen as the curious spirits roaming the premises. “It really is component of the entertaining,” Dunne claims. “From time to time we get kicked out — persons instead not have us poking all-around for ghosts.” This is why he keeps his teams small, 4 individuals at most, and often slips the safety guards a handful of baht.

Modern Thais leave red soda -- an alternative to blood -- at "spirit houses."

Modern day Thais leave crimson soda — an alternative to blood — at “spirit residences.”

Chris Schalkx

Alleyways soon after darkish

We prevent at desolate purchasing malls, former prisons, abandoned nightclubs and an allegedly haunted cinema with a screening area so dark and fetid, it feels like I’m currently being smothered by a moldy towel. Dunne tells me that on just one of his tours, a guest noticed somebody stare at her from the balcony.

It is nearing 8 p.m., and our ultimate prevent is an old walk-up apartment constructing on a dimly lit aspect avenue. Dunne informs me that just one of the rooms employed to be a back-alley abortion clinic. “One particular of my preceding friends felt a thing pull his hair listed here,” Dunne says, pointing to a wood staircase. “He went house right away.”

As we climb the stairs, I avert my eyes from the wall-sized dusty mirrors beside it. Upstairs, a row of windowless doorways line a hallway lit by fluorescent tubes. Some have sneakers in front of them, other individuals seem empty. A wooden contraption with a huge lock closes off the stairwell to the pitch-black upcoming flooring. If we had been carrying a ghost frequency detector, I’m confident it would’ve been beeping excessively by now. I know what Dunne intended with “vibrationally challenged sites.”

At supper, I discover that a bowl of slippery noodles just isn’t as delicious next an afternoon of stories stuffed with disemboweled bodies and bloodied corpses, and I reward myself with an more dessert in an attempt to shake off the jitters.

On my way household, my spouse checks in to make certain I cease off at a temple very first. I failed to. But I did offer a bottle of crimson Fanta to our community spirit home. Just in scenario.

Bangkok Haunt hosts Ghosts, Spirits, and a Minor Bit of Darkish Heritage excursions on picked Saturdays and Sundays. The excursions charge 2,500 THB per person, and can be booked by means of [email protected], or +66 813 41 3206

Chris Schalkx is a Dutch author and photographer centered in Bangkok and Taiwan. He writes about travel, sustainability, and design — preferably all a few put together.