Ghost Tower: The Mystery and Infamy of the Abandoned Skyscraper
January 1, 1970
by Grace Gift T. Chua, RN, MN
“Who wants to break in Ghost Tower with Me?”
Was my initial post to a particular social media site while planning my trip for Bangkok. I was already intrigue by the mystery of the infamous structure months ago prior to my trip to Bangkok. I can smell danger and the mere thought of climbing it sends my heart jumping with a thrill.
Sathorn Unique Tower is supposedly a 49-storey luxury condominium built in the heart of Bangkok City during the 90’s while Thailand is still at its economic boom. This magnificently designed skyscraper was developed by an architect named Rangsan Torsuwan. However, the Asian financial crisis in 1997 has greatly affected its construction. The project was then forced to shut down upon its 80% completion and declared bankruptcy. The said architect was arrested in 1993 for attempted murder of the President of Supreme Court and was found guilty in 2008, though there has been no evidence proving for any assassination attempt.
Since its abandonment, words of its haunting have spread among the locals and apparently became popular to thrill-seeking tourist. Urban legend says that the building itself was built on an ancient burial graveyard which brought bad luck to the entire project… Stories of ghostly hauntings, suicides and death by accidents or murder never failed to create a creepy atmosphere that one could only experience in a horror movie for real. Hence, the name Ghost Tower and is now one of the famous urban exploration destination in Bangkok.
Going to ghost tower was easy. It only took me a few minute BTS ride from my hotel in Dusit Thani to Saphan Taksin Station where in the 49-storey skyscraper is visible that it only takes you a little walk to Charoen Krung Road from the station to get into the vicinity. The real challenge is breaking in since it has been declared illegal to enter the building last 2014 after the police have discovered a dead body of a Swedish tourist believed to have committed suicide.
What you need:
- Good Pair of Kicks – Avoid Slippers. This is not your ordinary climb and there have weak spots around the unfinished structure that you might set foot into. Remember that one wrong move could mean death as you may easily fall without warning.
- Headlamp – some areas especially in the middle could be pitch black and if you climb to see the sunset, you may go down in total darkness. Regardless, it’s still dark inside at any time of the day. I personally won’t recommend Phone lights or handheld flashlights since there are some areas where you need to put both hands in use especially if you really want to be on the topmost of the building.
- Water and Light Snacks – Depending on how fast you are, the climb would take you 30 min on the average so better have something to munch on and drink along the way. I suggest you take time and explore each floor. Rumors have it that the most haunted part of the building was the 23rd floor where many have claimed to have ghost sightings and 43rd where a dead body was found, well who knows where else the ghosts would be lurking, it’s time for Ghost hunting baby!
- Action Camera – or any kind of device that could document your climb. Take pride on having your selfies on top or a simple panoramic shot of Bangkok’s urban jungle over the sunset, either way, it would always be worthwhile.
- Extra Cash for Bribe…. And loads of convincing powers – Heck! It took me 3 attempts before I finally succeeded and trust me, those big cat eyes of Puss n’ Boots might just work for you as it did for me. The guard will usually asked for 500 baht as bribe but I’m not sure if things has changed since then. I suggest you go on Friday to Saturday at 6pm so be there before 6pm as you have to descend by 8pm.
Day 1: First Attempt
It was around 4pm in the afternoon when me and my company, a Frenchman who responded in my social media post, along with another tourist we met there went in site but to our disappointment the guard didn’t allow us to climb. In a very weird sign language communication, the guard insists that we could not climb for the reason that all possible access has been lockdown. I begged him and bribed him for some money so instead he told us to come back as he will find way to get in.
Day 2: Second Attempt
The second attempt was failure on my part. It was Friday and I was caught in heavy rush hour traffic. I decided not to push my luck since the time was already late. it was already 7pm and by the time I would get there, the group would have already descended as we are strictly instructed to be in the ground floor by 8pm.
Day 3: Third Attempt
I was already desperate to climb by this time as I would be leaving Bangkok the next day so if I miss this chance, it would be my biggest regret from my Bangkok trip.
I made sure I was there early like 5pm and while waiting there, tourist from different race starts to come over for the same purpose of conquering the Ghost Tower. It’s only a few minutes to six as the group gathered getting ready for the climb. The group consists of 2 Spanish women, few Frenchmen, an Englishman and me, being the only Pinay [Filipina].
Ascending through a makeshift ladder access through an unfinished elevator slot
Overlooking the Urban Jungle
Hello any Ghost out there???
Watching across Lebua Sky Bar
Daredevil post on Top of the Edge
Freedom Feels – Chilling on Top
Descend at 19:40H
Descending on the same make-shift ladder
It was always great to have conquered the Ghost Tower and it is what I have got to share into the world. What’s your Ghost Tower Story?