The world is full of millions of wonders and plenty of thrilling destinations to excite even the most demanding travelers. It’s also home to some pretty scary locations that will test all you adrenaline junkies and hardened adventurers. In this post we’ve given you a rundown of some the scariest locations you can visit in real life with our own fear factor rating to help you decide which ones you can (or cannot) handle
10. Nagoro, Japan
Fear Factor: 4.5 /10
The lonely village of Nagoro in Japan has been transformed from a ghost town to a very creepy memorial to the dead. Nagoro resident, Tsukimi Ayano, returned home to her village only to find it was empty, due in part to a lack of jobs and an aging population. She decided to fill the void by replacing her departed friends, family and villagers with hand-made life-sized dolls. Tsukimi created around 350 dolls, all of which are scattered around the town, in the places that she associated with each individual. She has even recreated a very eerie classroom full of children complete with a teacher. If you’d like to get a real feel for Nagoro you can take a proper tour or simply catch a glimpse of the dolls out on Google Map’s Streetview.
9. Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany
Fear Factor: 5/10
For those looking to take an in-depth look at one of the world’s most notorious sanatoriums and snap up some amazingly eerie photos, then Beelitz-Heilstätten in Germany should be your first stop. Located on the outskirts of Berlin you will find the Beelitz Sanatorium, which once famously treated Adolf Hitler. After the Second World War ended, the giant sanatorium complex was taken over by the Soviets who made use of it until 1994. Since then, the 60 impressive buildings that comprise the sanatorium have become dilapidated and nature has literally started to become one with the brickwork. Beelitz has gone from being a place of recuperation for injured Russian and German soldiers to a place that has hosted some of its own horrors. In 2008, the ‘Beast of Beelitz’ aka Beate Schmidt, a notorious German serial killer, used it as a venue for some horrific violent acts. If you’re a daredevil you could try and sneak inside some of the buildings to take a peek (like blogger Ciaran Fahey does here) but we would recommend you stick to the ‘baumkronenpfad’ or tree top walk-way that meanders through the entire sanatorium and gives you excellent angles for your photographic genius to shine through!
8. Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan
Fear Factor: 5.5/10
Everyone’s heard of the pearly gates of heaven, but have you visited hell on earth? The Karakum desert in Turkmenistan is home to a literal inferno called the ‘Gates of Hell’ (also known as the ‘Door to Hell’), which you can now see for yourself. The crater was formed as a result of an accident during oil drilling in 1971 and has remained open since. Nothing short of mystifying, the crater is composed of fire, boiling mud and bright flames that makes it look like it belongs in a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. It’s definitely one to add to your bucket list but falls quite low on our fear factor scale as you can enjoy the spectacle from a safe distance!
7. Pripyat, Ukraine
Fear Factor: 6 /10
Today an entire abandoned ghost town lies just a few kilometers away from the famous Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The plant, which was once the largest in Europe, was decimated in 1986 when an explosion occurred. The destruction caused the entire area, with some 50,000 people, to be evacuated for fear of radiation exposure. The aftermath of the disaster left the once bustling town of Pripyat looking like a post-apocalyptic movie set. You can visit Pripyat and experience the haunting scenes of abandoned homes, left exactly as they would have been in the 80’s.
6. Forest Haven Asylum, U.S.A.
Fear Factor: 6.5/10
Built in 1925, Forest Haven Asylum was a state-of-the-art facility for mentally ill patients to recover, far away from the bustle of city life. However, due to serious budget cuts, the asylum deteriorated rapidly and became a real life horror story for thousands of its patients. After the asylum was forced to close in 1991, due to a series of lawsuits and a serious lack of funding, the buildings and grounds fell into disrepair. Today’s scenes are chilling; rusted medical equipment, battered furniture, lost records and rubble fills rooms that have witnessed many horrors.
5. Chapel of Bones, Portugal
Fear Factor: 7/10
The Chapel of Bones is one of Evora’s most iconic buildings and definitely worth visiting for a hair-raising experience. The Portuguese chapel, which was built in the 16th century, is creepily decorated with human bones, skulls and two mummified bodies. The chapel was constructed from the corpses of approximately 5,000 monks who were all from the same town. As soon as you enter the chapel you’re met with a sinister greeting from the bones themselves, “We bones, are here, waiting for yours”. Originally built to deal with the lack of cemetery space available, the chapel has become a place for solemn reflection on the meaning of death – and somewhere you’re guaranteed to experience the heebie-jeebies.
4. Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize
Fear Factor: 7.5/10
Deep inside a jungle cave in the Mountain Nature Reserve of Belize lies the remains of several people who were the victims of an ancient Mayan sacrificial ritual. Actun Tunichil Muknal, or “ATM” as it’s locally known, is where you can find the famous “Crystal Maiden” skeleton that has become completely calcified and gives off a mystical sparkle. The site is said to be haunted by the ghosts of those who were violently sacrificed there some 1,100 years ago. This one is not for the faint of heart and will require some stamina to reach the caves, explore inside them and also return back safely!
3. Pluckley, United Kingdom
Fear Factor: 8/10
This extremely tiny village in Kent is one of the most sought after locations for ghost hunting in the world. It’s also known as the most haunted place in Britain and for good reason. There have reportedly been at least 15 ghosts that haunt Pluckley’s streets on a regular basis. Some of these include the apparition of a mysterious gypsy woman, a ‘red lady’ who wanders church graveyards at night, a ‘hanging colonel’ who committed suicide in the forest and the supernatural presence of a monk. The town gets so packed with ghost hunters during Halloween that there is an increased police presence – so be wary of the time of the year you visit.
2. Island of Dolls, Mexico
Fear Factor: 8.5/10
Perhaps one of the most mysterious and bizarre sights you will come across is located in the heartland of Mexico’s canals. The Island of Dolls has become renowned as a tourist destination and not for the reason you might expect – it’s far from a child’s playground. The tiny island in Xochimilco is inhabited not by humans, but by hundreds of terrifyingly decrepit dolls many of which are simply heads, limbs or broken parts and all of them absolutely terrifying. As the story goes, the island’s caretaker, Don Julian Santana Barrera, found the body of a young girl who had drowned in the canal and shortly thereafter found a floating doll in the water, which he thought contained the spirit of the girl. To mark respect Don Julian then hung up the doll on the island but apparently became haunted by the spirit of the girl. In an attempt to appease the dead girl’s spirit, he began hanging up more and more dolls all across the island. In perhaps what are the most chilling circumstances, Don Julian was found drowned in exactly the same spot that the girl had died. There are still haunting stories of people seeing the dolls moving and whispering at night and some have even said Don Julian’s spirit now inhabits the dolls. So if you’re brave enough to witness the eerie island you could continue the tradition and hang up a doll of your own.
1. Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Fear Factor: 9/10
If you’re looking to push your boundaries with holidays and are looking for a stunning but deadly area of natural beauty, look no further than Japan’s haunted Aokigahara Forest. Deep at the foot of Mount Fuji lies one of the most well-known suicide hotspots where around 70 people commit suicide annually. It has also disturbingly been referred to in a Suicide Manual as “the perfect place to die”. In fact, Aokigahara Forest is the world’s second most popular place to die and it’s no surprise given it was popularized by the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai. Apart from the obvious spine tingling you would receive from seeing the remains of those who have taken their own lives scattered amongst their personal belongings, you may also, according to Japanese spiritualists, come across some serious paranormal activity. Be wary – compasses, GPS and satellite navigation have all been known to stop functioning in the forest.
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