Malaysia and its Southeast Asian counterparts are swiftly climbing international rankings, being amongst the fastest developing nations in the world. This rapid modernisation has brought about great progress in the region. However, abrupt change also leaves social development and local practises lagging behind, exemplified by the millions of local who are staunch believers of the paranormal. While skeptics laugh such notions off, many of us have experienced spooky situations that leave the hair on the back of your neck standing. If you’re into that sort of thing – the scary, supernatural, and unexplained – we have made a brief list of some of the spookiest places in Malaysia that you can visit to get your fix of the heebie-jeebies.
Just outside Ipoh, this ruined beauty is said to be haunted by those for whom it was built. The castle (more of a mansion, really) was built by Scottish engineer William Kellie Smith. Designed with Scottish, Moorish, and Indian architecture influences, Smith envisioned Kellie’s Castle as a new, opulent home for his wife and children to call home in Malaya. Construction of the mansion began in 1915, but was disrupted by an outbreak of the Spanish flu. Before construction was completed, Smith’s own fortune dwindled. His run of bad luck culminated in him contracting a fatal bout of pneumonia. His estate later sold the land to a British tea and coffee company. Today, some visitors claim to have seen apparitions of the Smith family who never got to move into the house, and the site still fascinates ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from around the world.
The long, windy, and steep Karak Highway has been the stage for multiple horrific road accidents. It’s no wonder why the highway is considered to be haunted, with dozens of creepy stories and sightings occurring every year. The most common and fascinating story revolves around a yellow vintage Volkswagen Beetle that appears on the highway at night, overtaking drivers and then dramatically slowing down, causing wary drivers to swerve away or to slam on their brakes, potentially causing serious accidents on this perilous stretch of road. Some victims who have taken a glimpse into the yellow Beetle claim that the car appears to be driverless. There have been other sightings on the highway, with many accounts of pontianak (female vampiric ghost in Malay mythology) activity and rather interestingly, a little boy who stands by the road asking for a ride back home.
Johor Bahru’s famed Villa Nabila is known as one of the creepiest and most haunted places in Malaysia. Villa Nabila stands today as a derelict mansion that was once home to a wealthy family. According to legend, the wealthy family’s house help, in a fit of intense jealousy, killed all the family members. She then proceeded to bury their bodies all over the premises. This gruesome murder led locals to believe that the villa was haunted. Over the years, it has become a famous spot for youth to challenge each others bravery. This writer has been there personally, barely, only to turn away immediately after feeling the eerie sensation of being watched. A few years ago, Villa Nabila made the news when 23 teenagers were reported to have gone missing after entering the compound. Thankfully, they were all found alive and in good health.
Nearly 25 years ago, the collapse of the Highland Towers – an apartment building – hit the country hard. 48 souls lost their lives in the horrific event. As with most tragedies, there have been countless tales of hauntings and creepy occurrences. A few years after the incident, a paranormal researcher was investigating one of the abandoned blocks when he came face to face with a little boy standing on a flight of stairs. Curious as he was, the investigator asked the boy what on earth he was doing in such a place. Turning around to reveal his half-torn face, the little boy claimed he was looking for his body parts. Needless to say, the researcher left the place in a hurry and never went back. Another chilling story revolves around a taxi driver who claimed, in 1994, that he picked up a female passenger late at night in Kuala Lumpur. Upon entering the taxi, the woman instructed the driver to take her to Highland Towers. Against his better judgement, the cabbie proceeded to drive there. Along the way, the woman was quiet and calm. Upon reaching the destination, the taxi driver couldn’t help but ask why she would want to be at a place like this, especially at this time. The lady would then explain that she lost her limbs in the building, and is going to look for them. Being severely creeped out, the taxi driver then turns around to look at her, but found nothing in the back seat.
Penang War Museum
Situated in the southeast of Penang Island, the Penang War Museum is listed as one of Asia’s top 10 haunted sites by the National Geographic Channel. The structure was built to serve as a British fortress, but was soon taken over by the Japanese invasion, who utilised the fortress as a prisoner-of-war camp. Japanese soldiers reportedly used the staff sleeping quarters to execute many of the prisoners. Allegedly, hundreds of beheadings took place in the fortress. The history alone is enough to create an eerie atmosphere. Amusingly, the hill the museum sits atop is referred to as Bukit Hantu by locals, literally meaning ‘Ghost Hill’.