5 Haunted Asian Historical Sites

Five of the Spookiest Places in Asia

These historical sites are world-famous for their architectural beauty, their historical significance, and their spiritual power.  If you visit after dark, however, you may find that spirits from the past truly do linger.

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The Great Wall of China

Watchtower on the Great Wall of China. Image Bank / Getty Images

China's Great Wall stretches more than 13,000 miles over the rugged terrain of northern China.  It's no surprise that building this massive edifice was dangerous business; as many as 1 million workers died during the different stages of construction.  Sometimes their bodies were simply tossed into the Great Wall's foundation as fill.

Today, visitors and local people who live near the wall report a number of ghostly phenomena that may show the presence of the workers' spirits, as well as those of the soldiers who patrolled the wall down through the centuries. People report sudden feelings of uneasiness, nausea, and headaches.  Some have been grabbed or punched by unseen hands.  Others smell campfires or hear marching footsteps along lonely stretches of the wall, far from any town.  A few visitors have even seen ghostly lights and figures moving along the Great Wall of China.

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Tah Prohm, part of the Angkor complex in Cambodia. Luis Castaneda, Inc. via Getty Images

Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple and the surrounding complex is a depiction of the Hindu heavenly mountain, rich in religious meaning and spirituality.  Local people strongly believe, however, that the temples are home to the ghosts of Khmer warriors, ancient kings, and Buddhist monks.  In fact, many say that the only living people who have the power reside at Angkor, surrounded by so many spirits, are monks and nuns.

Visitors report feelings of uneasiness, cold spots that pass through them in the temple corridors, and hearing voices that tell them to "get out!"  Some have also seen transparent monks gliding through the halls, or encountered lovely female spirits that tried to lure them away to an uncertain doom.

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Petra, Jordan

Treasury building at Petra, Jordan. Jan Cobb Photography Ltd.

Petra, the abandoned city hewn from living stone of the Jordanian desert, is a mysterious place.  Nobody knows for certain who built it, originally, although it seems to have been at its most prosperous under the Nabateans in the third and fourth centuries BCE.

Local Bedouin people steer well clear of the ancient city at night.  They believe that it is haunted not only by human spirits, but also by djinn or genies.  Those brave enough to enter the city after dark report whispering voices that rise to screams, the sound of clanging metal as if from a sword fight, and glowing lights.  Some have seen ghostly entities standing atop the city, as well.

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Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand

Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand. Claudia Uribe via Getty Images

 The Bridge on the River Kwai, also known as the Death Bridge, was part of a 250-mile-long railway built to connect Thailand and Burma during World War II.  The Japanese Imperial Army needed the Burma Railway in order to ferry troops and supplies into Burma, which was supposed to be the staging ground for an advance on British India.

The Japanese used about 180,000 enslaved Asian laborers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war to build the line.  Working in the jungle heat without proper food, water, sanitation, or insect repellent, approximately 90,000 of the Asian workers and 16,000 of the western POWs died in just over a year.  Many were dumped in mass graves or thrown into the river.  Some of the victims recovered from the mass graves had their hands tied with wire and then had been buried alive.

Farmers living near the railway route and foreign visitors hear tortured screams and feel chilly spots in the tropical heat.  Some have also had dreams in which World War II-era ghosts beg them to help release them from their torment.

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Masada, Israel

Visitors at the mountaintop fortress of Masada. Cosmo Condina via Getty Images

In the year 73 CE, Roman legions surrounded the mountaintop fortress of Masada, near Israel's Dead Sea.  Inside the fortifications, more than 960 Jewish rebels waited - men, women, and children.  They were members of the Sicarii, an offshoot of the Zealots, and they had fled to Masada after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Typically, the Romans decided that a massive engineering work was called for, so they began to build an enormous ramp up the steep sides of the mountain.  This would allow them to carry a battering ram up, and break down Masada's walls.

Rather than wait to be captured and enslaved, the Sicarii formed a suicide pact.  Because suicide is forbidden under Jewish law, they drew straws to determine who would be the last to die.  Then each person killed another, in turn, until there was only one man left.  He jumped to his death from the walls.  By the time the Romans broke through, they found two women and five children hiding in a cistern, and about 960 dead bodies.

Today, Masada is a national park and a symbol of Israel.  Visitors to the site have heard screams, moans, and wails, as well as the throbbing boom of Roman war drums surrounding the plateau.  People regularly see shadow figures and even full-bodied apparitions dressed in robes, as well.