In case you grew up in a household where ghosts were discounted by your mum—yet you’ve got reservations—it’s impossible to ignore the fact that ghost stories and tales get major attention in Singapore, even among the most sceptical people. Things get particularly scary in August/September when the Hungry Ghost Festival takes place in Singapore, so give Singapore ghosts a wide berth if you run in these eleven neighbourhoods or risk other-worldly creatures following you!
1. Old Changi Hospital
Location: Barrack Hill along Netheravon Road
History & Hauntings: This building looks benign; after all, it’s got that colonial architectural vibe, but more than 50,000 prisoners were sequestered here when Japan occupied Singapore. If you believe in ghosts, you might hear crying and moaning–or spot weird figures through the windows if you decide to show no fear and run in this area. If you’re fit enough to outrun spooky spirits, take this extra step: don’t step on butterflies, moths or grasshoppers during the Ghost Festival. These insects are rumored to be ghosts that got out of the hospital!
Scariness Rating: Two Ghosts.
2. View Road Hospital
Location: Admiralty Road West, Woodlands, Singapore
History & Hauntings: Originally named View Road Lodge to handle Woodbridge Hospital’s overcrowding in 1975, this epicentre of treatment for mental illness was scary enough when patients ranted and raved into the night. These days, it’s an equal opportunity haunted area: dead and living spirits co-exist, releasing scary smells and poltergeists into the neighbourhood. This building became a dormitory for foreign workers and a barrier has been installed at the View Road entrance, but rumour has it, some fearless types jump over it. Err on the side of caution and run up and down View Road instead.
Scariness Rating: Two Ghosts.
3. Kopi Hill/Bukit Brown Cemetery
Location: Lorie Road at the Pan-Island Expressway.
History & Hauntings: Find many more pontianaks at this tree-rich venue where an old lady, dressed in traditional Chinese garb, sits on tombstones and dares visitors to make her move. This area was a coffee farm, but it became a favourite spot for paranormal investigators looking to brew a good cup of fantastical ghost stories. Run around here at night and be prepared to hear spine-chilling, evil laughs coming from the cemetery. Already a hot spot for Singapore runners, you can get both your workout and your other-worldly fix here.
Scariness Rating: Three ghosts. It’s a cemetery, after all.
4. Haw Par Villa
Location: 262 Pasir Panjang Road
History & Hauntings: Haw Par offers the mother lode of ghostly happenings; it’s a theme park and a main attraction is the frightening Ten Courts of Hell. This Singapore hot spot is rife with crazy associations, so the vibe alone is off-putting. Trackers of all-things-other-worldly recommend getting in your laps before 7 p.m. when the park closes, unless you can figure out a way to hide and stick around. If you visit in August, don’t wear red (the colour is reserved for ghosts) and if something creepy taps you on the shoulder, outrun that poltergeist!
Scariness Rating: Three Ghosts. You’ll be haunted if you run here after closing!
5. Yellow Tower at East Coast Park
Location: Amber Beacon Tower near Carpark C
History & Hauntings: How many ghosts have actual addresses? The ghost of Yellow Tower has one, and paranormal researchers claim that they’ve seen and heard her screams for help. Supposedly, a brutal gang of thugs attacked a woman out for a walk in the carpark. The ghost spared her boyfriend, but he was never the same. To make sure this victim of violence isn’t forgotten, she still hangs around. If you jog in East Coast Park, you may wish to take public transport rather than stash your car in Carpark C, especially during the month of August.
Scariness Rating: Three Ghosts for Men. Four Ghosts for Women who run alone.
6. Coloured Houses in Singapore
Location: 191 Jalan Loyang Besar (red); end of Jalan Dermawan (green); Punggol LRT loop (white).
History & Hauntings: How can ordinary houses, set amid trees, be so frightening that developers trying to demolish and refurbish these dwellings have been subject to misfortune? The Red House at Pasir Ris has a couple of scary lions guarding the front door and plenty of ghosts inside. The green Hillview Mansion is home to the spirits of an entire family burned alive. Don’t look for purity at white Matilda House: the former resident’s ghost hangs out in trees and frightens the wits out of all passers-by.
Scariness Rating: One Ghost, since these areas are all being gentrified.
7. Neo Tiew Estate
Location: Lim Chu Kang Road, near Neo Tiew Road junction
History & Hauntings: Your fascination can become fear in August when scary spirits lurk in this actual ghost town. The poltergeists of Neo Tiew refused to follow suit when residents were forced out, remaining despite the fact that the Singapore military train here. Be careful. If you’re shot by a soldier, you risk becoming a ghost yourself. Here’s the origin myth associated with this land: Someone planted the King of Banana Trees. An evil human prayed to win the lottery at the foot of the tree, sticking seven needles into the trunk. He won the cash and ran off, forgetting to take the needles out. The tree died, but its spirit still seeks retribution!
Scariness Rating: One Ghost if you don’t play the lottery. Four Ghosts if you’re related to the dude who killed the banana tree.
8. Brunei Hostel
Location: At the end of Tanglin Hill.
History & Hauntings: According to legend, the Brunei Hostel was once home to foreign exchange students from Brunei who came to Singapore to be educated, but the place morphed from lodging to ghost house once the school was closed 25 years ago. Sadly, nobody told the spirits who continued to lodge here for free. These days, the hostel is in an extreme state of disrepair, but its reputation continues to grow. Legions of photographers and paranormal investigators “check in” for the experience. If you insist on running in and around the hostel, stay alert to pick up weird feelings, but truth be told, spirits living here are relatively benign, so if you want the ghost run experience without being frightened to death, run here.
Scariness Rating: One Ghost. As spirits go, these are terribly friendly.
9. Tanglin Barracks
Location: Buildings 71 to 73 along Loewen Rd.
History & Hauntings: Tanglin barracks was part of a military installation traded back and forth by World War II foes, but it was the Japanese occupation that triggered the compound’s haunting legend. Used as an Australian POW camp, one entire building was reserved for bodies and dubbed the “death house.” Recently, paranormal investigators checked Tanglin out after hearing reports of perpetual, loud banging attributed to metal studded shoes. Further, reports of creaking floors emitting hysterical screams of tortured soldiers are filed regularly. If you don’t go inside, you avoid the worst of it, but it’s still wise to skip this place during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Scariness Rating: One Ghost if you run outside. Three Ghosts if you insist on running through the death house.
10. Changi Commando Barracks
Location: 33 Hendon Rd
History & Hauntings: If you read the above list of places to avoid when spirits own the night, you already know to skip Changi Hospital, but that’s not the only ghostly place in the area. The Changi Commando Barracks is scarier. During WWII, British and Australian solders were imprisoned here. After independence, the SAF moved in, but because the ghosts of starved, tortured prisoners continued to seek retribution, even well-trained commandos didn’t want to train here, so the facility was abandoned. Now, the barracks has become a hotel. Will ghosts be charged a fee at the hotel?
Scariness Rating: Two Ghosts if the hotel isn’t built. One Ghost if you become a dues-paying guest.
11. St. John’s Island
Location: Southeast of Sentosa
History & Hauntings: This island appears innocent enough, but it’s become an epicenter of hauntings courtesy of a gruesome history. In the 19th century, St. John’s Island became an infamous quarantine station and burial grounds for leprosy and cholera patients. Later, gangsters and political prisoners were stashed here. During the Japanese occupation, POWs were forced to pose as queens, rooks and kings on a giant chess board. When a chess piece was “captured,” he was immediately beheaded. If you run here, avoid that chessboard. It comes alive at night. Blood-curdling screams from the ground beneath those squares are said to be unforgettable. Seriously. Just say no.
Scariness Rating: Four Ghosts—especially if you’re a lousy chess player.
Precautions for Running During Hungry Ghost Month
While we are not encouraging superstition, these precautionary tips are for your safety consideration:
- Don’t walk/run in dark corners and near the walls.
- Don’t run over or step on the praying paraphernalia or burning paper/offerings.
- Don’t whistle/sing at night while running.
- Don’t stay out late. Generally speaking you should be home before dark, but if this is unavoidable do your best to be home before 10 p.m.
Laugh if you like, but there are plenty of Singaporeans willing to bet the farm on sightings, sounds and things that go bump in the night, so if you must take an experimental night run, particularly in during the Hungry Ghost Festival, don’t do it alone. Dare we ask this question: Have you ever met other-worldly spirits on a night run? Tell us your personal ghost story and scare us – please!