1. Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Picture a deserted island, with broken, glassy-eyed dolls hanging in the trees… No, this isn’t the opening scene of a Halloween film: it’s an actual place that you can visit on Teshuilo Lake, near Mexico City. The sinister Isla de Las Munecas (or “Island of the Dolls”) is the creation of a mysterious hermit who started collecting mangled toys and hanging them up across the island. According to local legend, the dolls have been heard whispering to each other, and sometimes move their heads or limbs. If this sounds like your worst childhood nightmare come true, you’re not alone.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Embarcadero Cuemanco or Embarcadero Fernando Celada in Mexico City
Website: Island of the Dolls
Welcome to the land of misfit toys. Photo credit: Kevin / Flickr
2. Capuchin Crypt, Italy
There’s creepy, and then there’s Capuchin Crypt. This terrifically morbid crypt is decorated with the skulls and bones of thousands of Capuchin monks – so it’s not for the faint of heart. Where else would you come across rooms named “Crypt of the Pelvises” and Crypt of the Skulls”? But it’s especially in the Crypt of the Three Skeletons that you’ll find the world’s most chill-inducing inscription, which reads: “What you are now, we used to be; what we are now, you will be…”
Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27, Rome 00187, Italy
Nearest metro station: Barberini
Website: Capuchin Crypt
Capuchin Crypt is truly a bone-chilling sight. Photo credit: John Mosbaugh / Flickr
3. Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, South Korea
It’s hard to think of a more disturbing place than Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital in South Korea. This abandoned asylum sits in the middle of a secluded forest, slowly rotting away. Entering this dark, dilapidated building is like stepping into the scariest of horror movies: we dare you not to be freaked out by the rusty bed frames, straightjackets, and decaying machines. Legend has it that Gonjiam was shut down due to patients dying mysteriously – but whether you believe the rumours or not, this ghastly asylum will chill you to the bone.
Address: Gwangju-si, 464-870, South KoreaCheap flights to Seoul
_No this isn’t a Halloween movie set: it’s an abandoned asylum. Photo credit: Hunter McGinnis / Flickr_
4. Paris Catacombs, France
The Catacombs offer a spine-tingling glimpse into the dark underbelly of Paris for those who dare to explore them. This scary underground network of tunnels and caves stretches across hundreds of kilometres, its walls lined with the bones of some 6 million Parisians. And if that isn’t terrifying enough, there’s also the chilly subterranean air and eerie lighting, which can lead to a major case of the goose bumps. As the final resting place for many notorious French revolutionaries, the Catacombs are just as fascinating as they are macabre. Just don’t get lost down there on Halloween…
Address: 1, Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 75014, France
Nearest metro station: Saint-Jacques
Website: Paris Catacombs
Fancy wandering through a maze of skulls? Photo credit: Nathanael Burton / Flickr
5. The Stanley Hotel, United States
Don’t be fooled by The Stanley’s utterly charming exterior: this elegant Colorado hotel famously served as the inspiration for horror maestro Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. Guests have reported all sorts of strange occurrences here – from lights being turned on and off to luggage being mysteriously unpacked. The hotel’s original owners are even said to still roam the halls: Mr. Stanley has been sighted in the Billiard room, while Mrs. Stanley can be heard playing her antique piano in the dead of night. Still fancy checking in despite the ghost stories? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado 80517, USA
Website: Stanley Hotel
Remember, appearances can be deceiving… Photo credit: David Shankbone / Flickr
6. Hashima Island, Japan
A deserted city in ruins in the middle of the sea: poetic or just downright creepy? You can decide for yourself when you visit Hashima Island, which was once home to thousands of coal miners until operations shut down abruptly in 1974. Hashima, also known as Battleship Island, has been abandoned since then – but the ruins still remain. This post-apocalptic scene was also an inspiration for the villain’s hideout in the James Bond movie “Skyfall”. As you wander amidst this landscape of decaying buildings and cast-off possessions, you just might feel like the last person on earth.
How to get there: Take a ferry from Nagasaki Port
Website: Hashima Island
What will you find among the ruins? Photo credit: ajari / Flickr
7. Old Jewish Cemetery, Czech Republic
We all know that old cemeteries are seriously sinister – but what about one with 12 layers of graves? Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery, which dates back to the 15th century, contains around 12,000 tombstones: in other words, it’s the ideal setting for a spooky Gothic novel. Known by locals as the most haunted part of Prague, there are countless tales of ghosts and other mysterious apparitions in this graveyard. There’s nothing like walking through a sea of creaky old tombstones to scare the living daylights out of you.
Address: Siroka 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Nearest metro station: Staromestska
Website: Old Jewish Cemetery