1. Sanzhi UFO houses, Taiwan
These pod-like holiday homes were constructed on Taiwan’s northern coast in the late 1970s. The plan was to create a luxurious and family-friendly resort near to New Taipei city. But while they might not look like your average haunted houses, there’s something incredibly eerie about this derelict site. The project was abandoned in the 1980s due to lack of investment and a number of mysterious incidents, including several accidents which took place during construction. Some locals believed that construction workers brought bad luck on themselves when they demolished a Chinese dragon sculpture in order to widen the resort’s main entrance road.
Credit: Chao-Wei Juan
2. Maya Hotel, Kobe, Japan
North of Kobe in Japan, halfway up Mount Maya, stands the Art Deco Maya Hotel, only accessible by cable car or via a steep hiking path. Built in 1929, the hotel has suffered untold calamities throughout its history: it suffered heavy bomb damage in the Second World War and six years after reopening in 1961, it was heavily damaged by a typhoon and mudslides, forcing it to shut its doors once more. It eventually opened again in 1974, this time as a student centre. Rarely used, it was closed for good in 1995 after suffering further damage during the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Despite being battered by the elements, it’s still possible to see the building’s faded beauty and admire the Art Deco architecture.
3. Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia
Today, Bokor Hill Station is a derelict cluster of abandoned buildings, but when it was built in the early 1920s, the plan was for it to be a luxurious resort catering to wealthy French colonials. It’s remote location and Cambodia’s hot, muggy climate caused problems from the outset, and 900 people died during construction. It opened in 1925 but was abandoned 15 years later during the Indochina war. in 1962 more buildings were added, including a casino. But in 1972 the Khmer Rouge took over the area and the resort was abandoned once again. There are now plans to turn the resort into a luxury holiday resort once more, and the Cambodian government has recently finished construction on a new highway which will make the site much more accessible. But today, the only building still in use is a small temple.
4. Hachijo Royal Hotel, Japan
Hachijo-jima is a semi-tropical island located nearly 300 kilometres south of Tokyo in Japan. After the Second World War, the island gained popularity as a tourist destination – the Japanese government promoted it as the “Hawaii of Japan”. But gradually tourism began to decline as Japan’s wealth increased and tourists began seeking out the real Hawaii or heading further south to the tropical islands of Okinawa. The ten-storey Hachijo Royal Hotel opened in 1963, and at the time it was one of the biggest hotels in Japan. After various changes of ownership and several attempts at rebranding, it eventually closed over a decade ago. Since then it’s rapidly decayed in the tropical, humid climate. Twisting, Triffid-like vegetation has quickly pushed its way through the cracked concrete, and the rusting hulks of abandoned cars remain parked outside. Weary locals avoid the site, describing it as one of Japan’s most haunted hotels.
5. Varosha, Cyprus
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Varosha in Cyprus was a booming seaside resort. Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Richard Burton booked its luxurious rooms months in advance, eager to soak up the views of the bustling seafront. This all changed in July 1974, the Turkish army invaded. Varosha’s 45,000 fled, leaving behind a ghost town. But the advance stopped just outside the town and an uneasy truce was reached. Today Varosha is a no mans’ land wedged between Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and the Greek armies to the south. Residents hoped to be able to return to their homes as soon as the deadlock was resolved. More than 40 years later, they’re still waiting. If you love to scare yourself silly on holiday, why not check out the world’s nine creepiest ghost towns?
6. Kolmanskop, Namibia
This Namibian town was founded by German settlers in the 1900s. They came here in search of diamonds, and many made their fortunes here after finding the precious stones beneath Namibia’s shifting sands. The first residents made good use of their new-found wealth, building a casino, tram line, ballroom, school and hospital. By the time WWI had ended, the supply of diamonds was running low and and Kolmanskop was finally abandoned in 1954. Today, it’s one of Namibia’s most popular tourist spots. Every year thousands of visitors arrive by jeep to walk through the knee-deep sands and peer into the deserted houses. It’s also been used as a setting for countless films and photo shoots. In 2011, Agyness Deyn came here to shoot a fashion spread for Vogue. Some of Kolmanskop’s buildings have now been almost entirely swallowed by sand. Visitors need a permit to enter the town, and there are daily guided tours.
7. Penn Hills Resort, Pennsylvania, US
This sprawling, rural resort was once one of America’s most popular hotels for honeymooners, who came here to relax in the spa and to soak in the famous heart-shaped bathtubs. It started life as a bar but quickly expanded, and when its last guest checked out in 2009 there were over 100 rooms. It was – and still is – wonderfully kitsch. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling carpeting and round beds, and the swimming pool – now filled with algae – is shaped like a wedding bell. So what went wrong? The resort’s owner, Frances Paolillo, died in 2009, and it soon became obvious that there were major financial problems. The resort closed less than two months after Paolillo’s death, and workers claim they never received their final paychecks. The resort quickly fell into disrepair this year, it was finally sold, although what will happen to the site isn’t yet known. Sadly, it’s not possible to stay at these creepy hotels, but if you do fancy spending the night with some ghost and ghouls, check-in to one of the UK’s most haunted hotels.
Credit: Ron LiBrandi