Ghost Towers: True Stories Behind 4 of Bangkok’s Scariest Abandoned Buildings
A tourist heaven like Bangkok draws in people from all around the world on the regular with the unmatched charm of its foods, history, culture, and smiles. What most people might not know if there’s another type of attraction that invites daredevils from all places to come to Bangkok for a unique experience that is both dangerous and illegal. They are the abandoned building structures that are tucked away around the city of Bangkok.
Every abandoned landmark leaves behind a story, or even a tragedy, of why it had become what it is today. At one point in time, all these places were once the hopes and dreams of many people, but not anymore. The sorrow and disappointment left behind in these abandoned structures have become the identity of these landmarks today.
No matter how inviting these places may be to some of you, we know for a fact that intruding a restricted area is quite tough to pull off. That is why we’ve put together the stories about 4 abandoned locations in Bangkok for you to read. Be warned, some of them are guaranteed to give you the chills for days to come.
Sathorn Unique Tower
This abandoned 49-story skyscraper that bears a touch of Greek-Roman architecture is situated on Charoen Krung Road next to the Chao Phraya River. The building stands tall as part of the view of Bangkok city as if it was a symbol of one of the worst financial crisis Thailand had ever gone through, the 1997 Tom Yum Kung Crisis. The landmark had often been referred to as the “Ghost Tower” and continues to draw interest from tourist up until today. The building had also been featured in a Thai Dram-Horror film “The Promise” in 2017, stirring up even more fears and lore about this seemingly haunted landmark in the heart of Bangkok city.
The Sathorn Unique Tower project started back in 1990 with a total investment reportedly as high as 1,800 million Baht. The plan was to make Sathorn Unique one of the most luxurious condominium complex at the center of the city and just as everything falls into place up until 1993. The leader of the project, Mr Rangsan Torsuwan, became involved in a controversial case that would drag on for fifteen years. Rangsan was arrested for allegedly plotting to murder the President of the Supreme Court, Praman Chansue, causing the project to become insufficiently funded for a period as financial institutes were reluctant to offer a loan.
After everything had seemed to settle, everything starting rolling again and the project was nearing 80% completion. All expectations then came crashing down harder than ever when a crisis of historical magnitude caused all real-estate markets to collapse like never before.
Thailand was in the midst of the Tom Yum Kung financial crisis after the government was forced to float the baht due to lack of foreign currency to support its currency peg to the U.S. dollar. At the time, Thailand had acquired a burden of foreign debt that made the country effectively bankrupt even before the collapse of its currency. Over 300 construction projects were left abandoned, including the Sathorn Unique Tower that was then left to rot for over 20 years.
Some locals believe that the reason the construction was never completed was that the building overshadowed the Yananwa Temple and the land used for the development is believed to be a graveyard before. Even though this isn’t something, we can prove outright, but it had been something that caused fear among many locals up until today.
Other than this, back in 2014, a body of a foreigner was found by a Thai photographer in the restroom area of the 43rd floor. This caused quite a stir among locals and made the tower a topic of conversation once again. After an investigation, it was revealed that the body was of a Swedish tourist that died of suicide by hanging himself.
It’s not only the spooky stories about this place that draws in curious tourist to this abandoned building in Sathorn, but it’s also the unique atmosphere and the view of Bangkok from over 185 meters from the ground that can be matched with all the luxurious rooftop bars of today. As of today, the Sathorn Unique Tower had tightened its security and did not allow outsiders to enter like before anymore.
As one of the top new attractions for tourists, this Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok had been on the news and been on featured on multiple international blogs. This landmark is located next to Soi Ramkamhaeng 105 and has got both locals and visitors questioning how the airplane ruins got there in the first place. Some say it was a crash site, while others even believed that the place is haunted and saw ghosts on many occasions, making this open piece of land even more attractive than ever.
About 5 years ago, this open space used to host a beer garden called “Runway Beer Festival”, and it was the owner himself that bought this airplane carcass for decoration with the hopes of creating an exciting and new hangout place for Bangkokians. The truth, however, was far from ideal, as the business had to be closed down after a short while due to undisclosed reasons and the place was just abandoned.
The scraps found in the open space is from a Boeing-747 and MD-82 of One Two Go Airlines, the first low-cost airline of Thailand operated by Orient Thai Airlines. The low-cost subsidiary only lasted 7-8 years as the brand suffered damage beyond repair from the air crash in 2007 that left Thai people in a deep hole sadness and shock that can still be felt until today.
The tragedy occurred on September 16, 2007, with flight OG269 bound for Phuket from Bangkok. As the MD-82 model took off, it carried with it 130 passengers and crew members. Investigators recalled that it was a raining quite heavily that day, causing extremely low visibility. When the wheels hit the runway, the plane lost its balance and glided out of the tarmac and hit the surrounding wall. The crash caused two explosions and led to a death toll of 90 with 32 being Thai and 58 being foreigners. After a period of investigation, the cause was determined to be multiple flight crew errors caused by systemic failures including corruption and lack of training at One-Two-GO and within Thailand's Civil Aviation Authority, Department of Civil Aviation.
New World Shopping Mall
In the area of Banglampoo, not very far from the world-renowned Kao Sarn Road, stands an abandoned building that might not be what you think. Inside the big tall structure is a pool of water that houses a numerous variety of fishes, making this abandoned New World Mall an attraction named by the locals as the ‘Fish Palace’.
The New World Mall opened its doors in 1984, and it was a huge success as this mall was considered the largest in the area a back then. The shelves were lined with an endless variety of goods, and everyone was excited about the glass elevator operating right in the middle of the mall. The tragedy of this building, however, started since the illegal construction of it. The decision was made by Mr. Kaew Puktuanthong and his management in the hopes of becoming Thailand’s leading department store. Mr. Kaew and his team proceeded with the construction of an 11-story building but was only authorized to construct up to 4 floors. They plan to request authorization for floors 5-11 in the future, but demolition was ordered by the court before its completion. The management team delayed to demolition process to the fullest and extended the case for over 10 years.
During the demolition process of the 5-11 floors, the New World Mall was still regularly open for service on the 1-4 floors. Up until one fateful day in June of 2004 when the structure of the building couldn’t support the weight of the materials that were being deconstructed by the workers anymore, causing the building to collapse, injuring 5 and killing 1.
So how did this place become a ‘Fish Palace’? The building ruins were shaped perfectly for a pool of water, and when it rained, water would fill the basement floor, becoming the perfect breeding grounds for mosquito. The locals nearby then decided to release fishes into the water to control the mosquito population. More people followed, both adding fishes to the pool and continuing to feed the existing pack, growing the body of water into a giant pond that houses to over 3,000 fishes today.
As of today, no one can access the building anymore as the authorities have closed it down for good. The fishes have all been transferred out to a nursery and were release out to the wild since January of 2015.
Thai Fa Group Office Tower
If you’ve been to Central Bangna, you’ve definitely caught sight of a 32-story abandoned building sitting quietly next to the Bangna-Trat Frontage Road. Just looking at it can give you the chills, but wait until you hear the stories about the Thai Fa Group Tower after it was hit badly by the Asian financial crisis back in 1997.
In 2009, Thai Fa Group declared bankruptcy and all of its assets taken away by the orders of the supreme court. The building was then supposedly taken care by another owner, but no development or maintenance has been done on the building for 20 years, making the Thai Fa Group Tower completely abandoned and left room for the tragedy that occurred to follow.
Up to two tragedy occurred back in 2012 at the tower. In April, a foreigner was found dead hanged from a rope on the rooftop of the building. From the investigation, officials deemed the case a suicide as it was assumed that the deceased was under stress after a bad break-up. A photo of a woman was found in his wallet along with a suicide note inside an envelope found next to the nearby wall that read ‘Try to remember what was good, sorry is not enough’. In August, a body of a middle-aged man was found on the 30th floor of the building. His arms and legs were tied and were found in the control room. It’d been assumed he was beaten to death by a group of attackers. There were also 3 more deaths that occurred in the building, all jumping to their deaths from a high floor.
As of 2017, the Thai Fa Group Office Tower has been bought by a group of Chinese investors from the Tai Hung Tai Group to continue its development as an office building.