If the shiniest tourist attractions seem to be rusting, you’re probably in need of a desperate change of pace. This is where dark tourism comes into play! Characterised by tragedies, horrific flashbacks and daunting legends, the places I’ve highlighted for you in this article have a razor-sharp edge that glistens with different shades of gloom, taking you miles away from the usual happy-go-lucky experiences you’re accustomed to in a regular holiday.
Aokigahara Suicide Forest, Japan
Ahem, you might be familiar with this one; actually, I think we’re all familiar with this one, especially, after the Logan Paul incident. But if you’re not one to get caught up in the whirlwind of YouTube drama and the creepy side of Japan, I guess, then you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. To give you a little context, the Aokigahara Suicide Forest is said to be one of, if not, the most haunted place in the world. It’s a space known for, well, you most probably guessed it. Suicide.
Locals would advise you to stay from this place at all cost, but recently, more and more tourists have been paying a visit and documenting their experiences to prove their case and answer the ongoing question of whether or not ghosts exist. Word of advice? Don’t be like them. Going there is your wish, but documenting a place that people go to end their lives takes being insensitive to a whole new level. Flashing orbs, wails of terror & pain, and sightings of spirits are the regular starter pack you sign up for when you visit this place. Many visitors also describe the atmosphere to be crushing, like its heavy and mention it gets harder to breathe the deeper you venture into the forest.
Did you know?
Logan Paul’s video showed the body of a victim who had committed suicide, it almost cost his entire career and sparked a viral series of hate tweets, threats and videos made by the general public and other creators to bring awareness to the forest and its history.
It’s not a segment about dark tourism if we don’t remind you of Chernobyl’s existence. Surprising nobody, Chernobyl scores the second spot on our list of places that capture the obscure intensity that dark tourism radiates. With a haunting tragedy dating back to 27 April 1986, the disaster-struck area is widely recognised for its grey-clad skies, dry leaf enveloped scenery and daunting views kept away by barbed wire. But hey, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, experiencing Chernobyl’s gloomy yet fascinating atmosphere is much more sophisticated than you think. This ghost town is as good as it gets!
Did you know?
Many suspects that animals exposed to high levels of radiation in Chernobyl will very well, in fact, begin to develop unusual mutations. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t bring in anything more than flying puppies.
The Hoia Baciu Forest, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
No, seriously, what is it with the paranormal and forests? I’m starting to see a pattern here. Some would even say that all of this is being done by concerned environmentalists from deforestation. But, hey, I guess its working. So, props to them! We’re back to yet another place that many deem to be the world’s most haunted spectacle. Its most notable feature? The clearing where nothing grows! A space that some believe to be the portal to another dimension, while others suspect satanic cult activity and some to be UFO.
Throughout the years, the forest has garnered a heavy dose of media coverage, with many world-renowned scientists being unable to explain the strange phenomenons encountered in the woods. Shrouded in myths that may very well be true, the Hoia Baciu forest has many tales passed on about it. One story tells of a six-year-old girl who went into the forest and came back out five years later, wearing the same clothes and not looking a day older. It is also suspected that more than 1,000 people have gone missing in the forest. Visitors to the forest report strange symptoms – nausea, anxiety, the feeling of being watched – and the failure of electronic devices.
Did you know?
The name of the forest comes from a local legend of a shepherd who entered the forest with his flock of 200 sheep and was never seen again.
The Killing Fields, Cambodia
The Choeung Ek was transformed into a memorial site and tourist attraction in a bid to remember and educate both locals and tourists on the historical massacre. There’s also talk of a tree that is over 100 years old, a tree that witnessed every bit of inhuman torture that the victims faced. It’s definitely an emotional walk down a very dark lane, so please do try to be respectful. Try not to take pictures with the skulls, dress appropriately and don’t smoke drink or eat while touring the site.
Did you know?
In so many other places in this genocide park, poking out from the ground, you can see as yet uncollected evidence of the horrors: teeth, bits of cloth from shirts, kids’ shoes, bits of smashed bone from broken bodies and more
Auschwitz concentration camp, Oświęcim, Poland
The fortified walls, barbed wire, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and cremation ovens show the conditions within which the Nazi genocide took place. The atmosphere is understandably eerie, and the former concentration camp has also gained a reputation for being haunted. Visitors often remark on seeing apparitions, but the most common story is that of a child’s laughter. Just like the Killing Fields in Cambodia, the Auschwitz concentration camp has a dark story that rests on its shoulders, so try to remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed. Refrain from doing Tiktok videos, taking selfies, making jokes and anything else that’s a step away from being respectful.
Did you know?
There’s a special place in hell for people like Hitler and Pot Pol!