18 Spookiest Places on Earth

October 27, 2015

Think your neighborhood Halloween decorations are spooky? Then, you need to pack your passport and check out one of these destinations around the world. From the hanging coffins of Sagada to the aptly named City of the Dead in Russia, there are plenty of the terrifying and haunting places on earth that will truly give you a mind-blowing and spine-tingling experience.

Ready to explore some of the creepiest places on earth? Check out these locations that are straight out of a horror flick. Be warned; several of these sites are not for the faint of heart!

Need a cool backpack for your spooky adventure? Why not invest in a Bau Bax jacket? Unlike the typical jacket, Bau Bax has tons of extraordinary features, making it a great tool for some exploration. In fact, it comes with a built-in neck pillow. 

1. Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island is one of over 500 uninhabited islands off the coast of Japan in the Nagasaki Prefecture, but what makes it stand out from the others is the abandoned city, a testimony to industrialization as well as near slavery and forced labor of the past century. The island was first established in the late 1800s, and was abandoned a century later for decades when the mines were closed.

The “Forgotten World” has since been opened to tourists who are attracted to the eerie abandoned city, where apartment building complexes, schools, and other remnants of civilization still stand filled with evidence of the former occupants’ lives. Nature has started to reclaim the island, but visitors can still see evidence of the malnutritioned and overworked Koreans and Chinese war prisoners who were forced into labor in the mines.

2. Sagada, Philippines

Think cemeteries are creepy? The Igorot population of Sagada, Philippines take burying their dead to a whole new level, literally; the hanging coffins in Echo Valley are hung off the sides of cliffs hundreds of feet in the air. The coffins have been placed there for over 2000 years, partly due to protection against damage due to floods and animals, and in part to help the dead souls reach heaven faster. Several of the coffins have decayed enough to expose the bodies buried in them, making the cliffs some of the spookiest places to hike around.

3. Akodessewa Fetish Market, Togo

The world’s largest voodoo market in the world, Lome takes outdoor shopping to an extreme. Togo’s capital hosts an outdoor market deep in West Africa where voodoo practice is still popular and at large; the open air market supplies all sorts of fetishes, charms, spells, priests, and even human skulls. There are thousands of piles of wild animals native to Africa in various stages of decaying, from rotten to piles of bones, all stacked out in the open and for sale. The smell is horrific, even for an open air market, and the atmosphere is disturbing to tourists who visit the area.

4. Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico

Located just south of Mexico City, Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of the Dolls, sits in the middle of the canals of Xochimico. The creepy island was man made, and was originally decorated with thousands of dolls by the owner/hermit recluse Julián Santana Barrera, as tribute to a young girl whom he found dead on the island’s shoreline.

Barrera died in 2001, but not before spending years collecting, mutating millions of dolls, and hanging them from the trees. The dolls were said to serve many purposes, including appeasing old spirits, keeping bad luck away, and even helping with Barrera’s garden harvest. Today the dolls serve as one of the world’s creepiest tourist attractions for visitors who venture to the island.  

5. Riddle House, Florida

The old house in Palm Beach County started as the primary residence for the cemetery’s caretaker, but the houses morbid history only increased from there. One of the owner’s employees committed suicide by hanging himself in the attic. The house is still well known for active paranormal activity, and is said to be haunted by ghosts and spirits of former residents.

The ghosts are said to target men, and male visitors aren’t allowed to visit the attic for fear of physical harm. The house has been featured on several TV shows and is a constant source of attention for paranormal thrill seekers.

6. City of the Dead, Russia

Russia’s City of the Dead is more of a graveyard than an actual city. Located just outside of North Ossetia, the city is a collection of ancient crypts and tombs, the earliest of which was erected nearly 1000 years ago.  In the 1700s a plague ravaged the area, and sick people were sent to the small white cottages to live in solitude until they died; their homes became their tombs. The city is very remote and requires a multi-hour drive to reach, and due to several rumors, remains largely untouched and ignored. The abandoned atmosphere only adds to the spookiness of visiting the graveyards that contain thousands of bodies as well as their last possessions.

7. Aokigahara, Japan

Also known as “Suicide Forest”, Aokigahara’s haunting beauty is also what makes it one of the spookiest places on earth. The views are breathtaking, but the silence is so dense that it is eerily quiet, with no noise but the forest itself. The forest has become such a suicide destination that signs posted at the entrance beg visitors to remember their families and contact someone who can talk to them at a suicide hotline. The high content of magnetic material makes compasses inside the forest useless, and the thick undergrowth allows visitors to disappear very quickly. Volunteers clean out the forest once a year, and there are usually around 70 people each year who have died inside the park.

8. Chapel of Bones, Portugal

Located in Évora, Portugal, the Chapel of Bones is one of the most intricate and grotesquely decorated places of worship in the world. Visiting isn’t for the faint of heart; the walls and ceilings of the chapel are decorated with millions of bones, skulls, and even a few complete skeletons. The origin behind the macabre design was peaceful enough; the town’s cemeteries were quickly becoming overcrowded, and the 16th century monks hoped to make room and provide a place where the town’s population could contemplate on the transparency of life and stay focused on the eternal life promised in heaven. The door to the chapel contains the warning to visitors “We are bones here, waiting for yours.”

9. Timbak Caves, Philippines

The Timbak Caves are hard to reach; visitor’s must venture on a winding 5 hour car ride up through the mountains and then embark on a 5 hour long hike, complete with intense and ancient rock steps leading up the mountains. But what awaits those who visit is a chance to see a bizarre collection of mummies, where the mummification process started before the human had died. The mummies are curled up in a fetal position, well preserved in a small coffin.

10. Pripyat, Ukraine

Nearly 30 years later, and the disaster of Chernobyl has left a city that is a foreshadowing of the apocalypse. Nature has slowly reclaimed the city that demanded a quick evacuation in only 2 days, leaving behind a city that seems creepily abandoned amidst chaos.  The city of 50,000 people has remained untouched since the nuclear power plant explosion, and is one of the most haunting places in the world.

11. Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil

Ilha da Queimada Grande is also known as Snake Island, and the name is well earned. Located off the coast of Brazil, the island is now uninhabited, thanks to the overwhelming snake population that killed off the last family that lived there, the island’s lighthouse keepers. The snakes are Golden Lancehead, and there is one snake for every 800 feet; they are highly venomous and responsible for over 80% of all snake fatalities that take place in Brazil. The abandoned island is forbidden to visitors and tourists, with good reason.

12. Paris Catacombs, France

The City of Light isn’t always the city of romance and love; underneath the city lie thousands of bodies buried in the city’s catacombs. The catacombs were made from old limestone quarries when the city’s cemeteries were in danger of becoming overcrowded. The catacombs stretch for over 180 miles, and you can still take guided tours through the underground cemetery. Much of the catacombs have been close off, but there are secret entrances that locals use to enter the tombs; the catacombs even housed a secret underground movie theater and restaurant, which hands down wins for the creepiest place to enjoy a date night ever.

13. Sanctuary of Tophet, Tunisia

One of the most haunting and saddening places on earth, the Sanctuary of Tophet was only discovered within the past century. It’s the burial ground of hundreds of children, who were believed to have been sacrificed by fire to appease gods and deities in times of trouble. There have been over 20,000 urns uncovered with the remains of infants and small children, as well as bones from other animals and children. The history, and the sight of the thousands of graves, make Tophet easily one of the saddest and creepiest archaeological finds.

14. St. George’s Chapel, Czech Republic

St. George’s Chapel doesn’t contain a morbid history or backdrop, but that doesn’t mean the church isn’t one of the creepiest attractions in Europe. In order to attract more tourists to the area, an artist and sculpture was commissioned to create art for the church located in the town of Lukova. Instead of creating oil paintings or more traditional subject matters, the artists rendered a handful of ghost statues that permanently sit in the pews. The trick worked, and the chapel is now one of the most visited strange places in the planet, attracting tourists from all over the world.

15. Centralia, Pennsylvania

There are plenty of abandoned towns across the globe, but what makes Centralia stand out as one of the strangest and creepiest places on earth is the fact that the underground fire that first cause the town’s evacuation still continues on to this day.. The town is also still home to 10 residents, who live next to the perpetually burning fires that still emit toxic gas levels and smoke. Sinkholes are common, and were almost the cause of death for children in the 1980s. The abandoned/not abandoned town is a surreal place to visit, and dangerous as well.

16. Jatinga, India

For unknown reasons, the town of Jatinga in northern India becomes a suicide hot spot annually during the months of September and October. But, it isn’t people who are diving to their deaths; it’s the town’s bird populations. Even more absurd and strange is the fact that the suicide flights only take place from 7:00 to 10:00 pm within a single square mile. No one knows the reason why, and the strange mystery continues to be unsolved to this day.

17. Takakonuma Greenland Park, Japan

Want a scene straight out of the apocalypse? The amusement park at Takakonuma Greenland Park was originally abandoned due to the high death count that occurred on the park’s rides. The park itself is nearly hidden and almost impossible to find; rumors circulate about its specific location, but no official maps list its location. It is known to be somewhere outside of Hobara; the near constant fog cover makes the park the perfect spot for creepy urban photographers who wish to capture eerie post-apocalyptic photos.

18. Overtoun Bridge, Scotland

The Overtoun Bridge outside of Milton in peaceful Scotland lies a picturesque bridge that is anything but peaceful. No one knows why, but hundreds of dogs have leaped off the bridge to their death since the 1960s. The drop off is over 50 feet, and the rocks beneath make any jump certain death. “Overtoun” is Celtic for “The Thin Place,” meaning the closest place between earth and heaven.

How much power is in a name? No one knows for sure, but dog owners are cautioned to keep a tight hold on their dogs if they dare to cross the bridge. The dogs who have died there always jump off on the same side on the same place, tend to be dogs with long snouts, and on sunny days. Coincidence? No one knows for sure.

Whether your visiting abandoned cities, shopping at voodoo markets, or walking through haunted forests, Trekeffect has everything you need to plan your perfect trip!

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.
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