Getting Off-the-Beaten-Path in Thailand

If you arrive into the small border town of Ranong (*) by bus you won’t fail to miss this skeleton of a building that looms down over National Highway Route 4 linking Bangkok with the country’s deep south.

(*) Ranong is a short boat ride away from Kawthoung in Myanmar.

Situated on a hillside and surrounded by deep undergrowth, this unfinished hotel was a victim of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. We know this because, after our visit, we had a drink at Sophon’s Hideaway, a small restaurant on the edge of town. We got talking to the Thai owner (presumably Sophon?) and began quizzing her about the building. There were only two things she could tell us. Firstly, that the owners/contractors went bankrupt because of the above-mentioned financial crisis and the hotel was never finished (this we worked out for ourselves!) and, secondly (and this will come as no surprise to those who know Asians), the building is haunted (*). Apparently, there was a fatal accident involving a worker or two (you never really get the full story) during construction and their spirit(s) still reside in the building.

(*) Hearing the word haunted is great news if you are into urban exploration as, in our experience, it often means that a place is truly abandoned and that nobody goes anywhere near it, including security personnel!

Ranong Thailand-30

Because of the heavy vegetation, getting inside the derelict hotel was initially quite difficult. In the first instance, we tried to get in via the southeastern back entrance (from behind the Ranong Municipality Office) but the undergrowth was too deep and there was no obvious path. As we pondered our next move, a Thai guy approached us and asked if we needed help. With nothing to lose, we pointed at the hotel and told him we wanted to go there. Using hand gestures he pointed us in the right direction and it wasn’t until after he had left that we noticed we were outside a small police station and the guy that had helped us was probably a non-uniform policeman!

Following his instructions (*), we got into the hotel without any problems.

(*) With the Ranong Municipality Office and hotel behind you, turn right onto the main road and follow it until you reach the first right. Take this road and walk up the hill for about 10 minutes. You will come to a grassy verge (probably with some cows grazing on it) and from this point the path up to the main entrance of the hotel, although overgrown, is obvious and easy to navigate.

Once inside, we wandered around the various floors, taking photographs and seeing what was what. It was incredibly humid inside the structure and wet from water dripping from the ceiling in a multitude of places. There was no sign of life or that anyone was using the hotel as a temporary home (another advantage of a place being reportedly haunted). There was one large room full of decaying furniture but, apart from that, there was very little to see. The only minor incident we had was when, as we approached the hotel, a ginormous monitor lizard ran out of the bushes and across our path. No word of a lie, it was over a metre long but thankfully it was more scared of us than we of him and was long gone by the time we exited the hotel some 45 minutes later.

Additional Information and Location

GPS: 9°57’44.5″N 98°38’14.5″E

The open stairways are precarious and the floors are slippery with dripping water so wear decent footwear.

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