Sathorn Unique Tower is an unfinished 49-storey skyscraper in Bangkok. The project was hit by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and construction was stopped. Like many developments that went bust in 1997, it cost more to tear them down and instead has been converted into advertising space. Large billboards draped over the derelict buildings gloomy and haunting over the otherwise vibrant Bangkok skyline.
Ghost tower is a name befitting the Sathorn Unique more so than the other abandon complexes. In December 2014, a Swedish backpacker was found, hanged to a beam, on the 43rd storey. Many locals believe that evil spirits still walk the upper floors.
Urban climbers have explored the abandoned tower, with video records, since the beginning of 2014. Some have even been posted on YouTube:
And where once the only access to the building was through the adjacent parking lot complex, running past stray dogs and stealthily avoiding junkies who have made their home on the lower floors, authorities have recently cleaned up the place. Now all you have to do is pay an “admission” fee to the guard on the ground floor.
Three of us (Nick from Denmark, my brother Bryan and I) attempted the climb on April 12, 2015.
1) Wear proper footwear. There is a lot of rubble around and the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself.
2) Bring a flashlight. Even in the day, there are stairwells, rooms with holes in the ground, elevator shafts that are pitched black.
3) Bring lunch/dinner/snack and hydration. It’s a 49storey stair climb.
4) Travel light. Dress comfortably.
5) Bring some spray paint or something to mark your name when you get to the top.
6) Plan your timings, if you want to catch the sunset, start the climb about an hour before sunset.
Off We Go!
We took the BTS (Bangkok Skytrain) to Taksin Station. From Taksin Station, a short 200m walk into Soi Charoen Krung 51 alley to locate a break in the fence.
Stepping through the fence, we were greeted by the foot of the massive building.
We entered the building proper and was greeted by the guard. We told him we wanted to climb the building and he just smiled at us and shook his head. We asked him how much it would take for him to let us through, and he stuck up 2 fingers. 200baht. At first we pretended to our understanding that it was 200baht for the lot of us, but he shook his head again and we paid him the full amount. 600baht for 3 people.
He directed us to a stairwell on the far end of the ground floor, and proceeded to unlock a padlocked fence barricading the stairs.
Later on we noticed the “Admission Fee” plastered on the 3rd floor wall.
So began our climb. I must say that I wasn’t as fit nor as young as my 2 counterparts, and was worried that a 49 storey climb was just too much for my legs to handle. Less confident as I was lugging my camera gear with me.
Slowly we made our way up the apartment building, imagining where everything went if it had been completed. The lobby here, shop spaces here. An atrium there.
Looking out from the 18th storey. The houses started taking shape, balconies start forming.
In some places, whole floors were missing!
Past the 30th floor my legs started to feel wobbly and I needed to take short breaks stretching them every 5 floors or so. Curiosity and adrenaline took over.
On the 43rd floor we tried to look for the beam where the body was found hanging, but to no avail.
We emerged from the 49th Floor Stairwell. This was supposed to be the penthouse level.
All in all it took us under an hour to climb the building. Stopping along the way to discover the floors. We lingered at the top to soak in the 360 degree panoramic view of Bangkok, found a can of leftover blue paint and scribbled our names on the ground, before making our way down.
Thanks for the view and the memories Sathorn Unique!