Earth is a beautiful, welcoming place – but it can also be horrifying. This world has some seriously terrifying locations that should give you the heebie-jeebies. Some of these places were rendered scary by the hands of humanity, some are supposedly supernatural, and some are just weird. If you’ve got vacation days saved up, don’t use them to visit the 10 scariest places on Earth.
One thing that has made America so prosperous is our incredible natural resources. Sometimes those resources can turn on us, though. In 1962, a coalmine near the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania caught fire. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the veins of coal ran right under the town, and the entire municipality was transformed into an absolute hellhole. Temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and belching clouds of poisonous gas were just the beginning, though. Once things settled down, people moved back only to discover that the fire was still burning, creating blazing hot sinkholes that swallowed people without warning. Most of the residents have split, but a few foolish souls still insist on living in this literal hell on earth.
If you really want to see the power of mankind to screw up our planet, take a trip to Pripyat in the Ukraine. The formerly bustling little town with a population of 49,000 was evacuated after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The “zone of exclusion,” as it’s now called, has made the city into a freaky ghost town. The few people who have ventured into the area report an atmosphere of desolation and terror, as residents fled in extreme fear leaving everything behind. Weathered dolls lay on schoolhouse floors, vehicles decay in disrepair on the roadside, and the skeleton of an abandoned amusement park is hauntingly scary.
Aokigahara Suicide Forest
Peer pressure is a hell of a thing, but the Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji is something else. The preternaturally quiet area is associated with multiple demons in Japanese folklore, and there’s something about these woods that drives people to suicide. An average of 100 people travel to Aokigahara every year to kill themselves, mostly by hanging and drug overdose. Signs are posted all through the forest to discourage potential suicides, but they don’t seem to be working so well. Death has haunted the forest for more than two hundred years, too. Legend has it that in the 19th century, families would abandon their elderly relatives there to die when they could no longer take care of themselves.
Lome Bazaar, Togo
If you’ve ever been to a street market in a third world country, you know that things can get a little crazy. So take that intensity and then apply it to a bazaar where all they sell are materials for voodoo and you’ve got the bazaar in Lome, Togo. The Voodoo Market is your one-stop shop for a wide variety of utterly terrifying things used to do terrifying things to other people spiritually. You can buy a skull of just about any animal here, either freshly killed and with fur still on or bleached to the bone. The sheer volume of grisly death that stares you in the face here is enough to make even the toughest guy weak in the knees.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia
The Khmer Rouge period of Cambodian history is one of the scariest genocides in history, with millions of innocents slaughtered, so why not visit where it all went down? In Khmer, “Tuol Sleng” translates as “Strychnine Hill,” and this museum – housed in a former death camp – is notoriously haunted by the ghosts of the thousands who died there. Inmates were viciously tortured, had internal organs removed without anesthetic, and even got skinned alive. Of the 17,000 people who were admitted to the prison, only seven survived. The museum features the implements used, as well as horrifying paintings of tortures inside the prison painted by former inmate Vann Nath. Many believe that restless spirits are trapped in the area and will appear to the sensitive.
Body Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee
Sometimes we have to do some pretty disgusting things for science, but typically we don’t make them vacation spots. Studying the decomposition of the human body can give researchers lots of knowledge useful in the fields of medicine, forensics and more. But how do you watch a human body rot in real time? Well, you go to the body farm on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The 2.5-acre plot of land is surrounded by a razor wire fence and at any time features multiple bodies laid out to decompose in various positions. Over 100 corpses are donated to the Body Farm every year – maybe you could be one of them!
In 1806, the village of Boston was founded in Ohio’s Summit County and prospered until 1974, when something very weird happened. President Gerald Ford signed a bill to authorize turning the area into a national park, and the Parks Service bought all the houses and boarded them up. No park was ever built, though, leaving the deserted town in the middle of nowhere. All kinds of terrifying legends sprang up around newly named Helltown, including tales of Satanist sacrifices, mysterious toxic waste spills, and an escaped mental patient who wanders the woods. Sure, nothing’s been proven, but it’s not the kind of place where you want to run out of gas in the middle of the night.
A country as populated as China doesn’t have a lot of extra room for ghost towns – except for one. Fengdu, located on the north bank of the Yangtze River, is a completely abandoned city that’s rumored to be a junction point between Earth and the underworld where rampaging demons snatch unaware souls. To play that up, the city has been populated with terrifying statues that depict souls undergoing all kinds of vicious and demented tortures. So if you’re looking for a vacation spot that will frighten you for life, Fengdu is a good pick.
Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. So when you have the human remains of over 40,000 people, what do you do with all that bone? After the Abbot of Sedlec went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1278 and brought back some dirt from Jesus’s burial site, legions of Catholics all throughout Europe started demanding to be buried in the cemetery there. Obviously, they didn’t have the space to deal with them all, so here’s the scary part. In the 16th century, the church staff dug everybody up and used their remains for interior decoration. The ossuary features a chandelier made from one of every bone in the human body, garlands of skulls, and a replica of the Schwarzenburg coat of arms made from bones.
Next: Terrifying Ghost Photos
La Isla De La Munecas, Mexico
In the canals south of Mexico City there are dozens of small, uninhabited islands. Sure, the polluted runoff from one of the world’s largest cities doesn’t make the area that inviting to visit, but there’s actually something even scarier going on here. Fifty years ago, a man named Don Julian Santana lived a hermit-like life on one of the islands. His existence was shattered when he fished the corpse of a young girl out of the water. As some sort of totemic protection, he started hanging dolls from the limbs of tree branches on his island. Over the next few decades, he continued this creepy habit until his whole island was infested with broken, weathered dolls. It’s a truly terrifying place – especially since spiders nest in the hollow body parts of the toys and come scuttling out without warning.