October 30, 2019

No one likes to be afraid, yet everyone still gathers at the bonfire and listens to the ghost stories. There’s a certain thrill in watching a horror film, partaking in Halloween Horror Nights, and getting up close and personal with the macabre. As you get into the mood of emulating the Addams family for the Halloween season, get your fill of real-life horrors as well with experiential attractions around the world that would conjure shivers and goosebumps. Here are seven to add to your travel list.

The Catacombs of Paris, France

Venture deep underground where it feels like you’re walking through a million open graves at the Catacombs of Paris. This subterranean labyrinth lined with walls of skulls spans more than 300km, built in the late 18th century to house the remains of the dead when the cemeteries above ground started overflowing. It’s a stark contrast to the charming streets of the city of lights, a sinister destination that allows you to get up-close to actual, centuries-old human bones (without touching them, of course).

Museo de las Momias, Mexico

Museo de las Momias, otherwise known as the museum of the mummies, is (as its name suggests) a haunting venue that houses the mummified bodies of folks from the 1800s. It features 111 bodies, retrieved from their original graves because their family members weren’t able to pay the “grave tax”. As harsh as it sounds, it was necessary to make way for more bodies at a time when cholera outbreaks were common. Displayed upright in glass enclosures, these grotesque mummies look as if they could come alive at anytime, making this trip not one for the faint of heart.

Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Almost like a mix of the previous two attractions, the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo is an underground cemetery that, instead of just skulls, features full skeletons arranged in upright positions. Situated beneath a monastery, the 16th century catacomb boasts at least 8,000 bodies preserved by a natural substance found in the basement gallery. These bodies also belong to the rich and well-reputed, which explains why they’re all dressed in their Sunday best, besides the fact that it gives them a more ominous appearance.

Haw Par Villa park, Singapore

Some call it a theme park for Chinese folklore. Others consider it their worst nightmare. Inside Haw Par Villa is everything a typical park would have—greenery, ponds, and turtles to feed—except it’s also decorated with gory sculptures and dioramas depicting the many levels of hell. Built in 1937, it was meant to be an educational experience that focuses on Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist mythology, but it ended up as a disturbingly bizarre ephialtes with three-dimensional portrayals of children being hurled towards a tree of knives for cheating at an exam, among other things.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Krakow, Poland

Relive the darkest chapters of history at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, where inordinate numbers of innocent people were tortured, experimented on and killed. If you linger long enough, you might even trick your head into sensing the spirits of the 1.1 million genocide victims and hearing their cries echo through time. More sombre than “in-your-face” lurid, this bleak destination (and the world’s largest death camp) now serves as a memorial with plenty of historical information. While it provides the much-needed context, it also makes the halls you walk through feel even more terrifying.

Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, Gyeonggi, South Korea

There’s nothing more eerie than taking a walk through the abandoned premises of the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital in South Korea, especially after reading about its history. Legend has it that about a decade ago, its patients started dying one by one without an obvious, logical reason, thus leading to its closure. It’s rumoured to have been filled with psychotic doctors and homicidal patients. Behind such ghost stories that catapulted its fame as one of the country’s most haunted addresses, however, was just a sanitation and sewage disposal issue, alongside the economic downturn.

Bell Witch Cave, Tennessee, United States

Supposedly home to the evil spectre of a witch who once bedevilled the Bell family in Tennessee in the 1800s and killed John Bell, the man of the household, the Bell Witch Cave is one of the creepiest places to visit and potentially get lost in. So infamous is the witch, christened Kate, that it’s been immortalised in books as a prominent figure in southern folklore. Perhaps you might get your ghost-hunting fix the next time you visit.