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Southeast Asia: Halloween Edition

With October as “the witching month”, here at CSEAS we thought we’d do something different and highlight some of the more scary and otherworldly aspects of life in Southeast Asia — namely, ghosts, haunted houses, creepy urban legends, relics of violent history, and the rich tradition of the supernatural existing right alongside the mundane. Of course, we couldn’t possibly cover everything, so here are a few handpicked items from across the Internet to enjoy.

Disclaimer: Some of the articles listed below contain disturbing imagery. Articles with disturbing photos will be marked as such. Proceed at your own risk.

Haunted, Strange, and Creepy Places

Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden: A Glimpse of the Buddhist Underworld

Warning: graphic depiction of torture in statue form.

This post from The Bohemian Blog explores in great detail a garden with statues, nearly literally, from hell.

Ghost Stories and Urban Legends

photo from article 'singapore's ghost hunters' linked on page

Dark place: the swampy areas of Pasir Ris park [in Singapore], an alleged hotspot for paranormal activity. (source)

Singapore’s Ghost Hunters

A reporter from the Southeast Asia Globe spends the night ghost hunting across Singapore with a pair of paranormal investigators.

Creepy Ghost Stories and Legends from Vietnam

“Be they urban legends, stories of ghouls and ghosts walking the battlefields or tales of dark and dangerous cryptids and spirits, Vietnam has a host of ghost stories and legends sure to send chills down the spine of even the toughest reader.”

10 Most Haunted Places in Asia

This list includes sites from all over Asia, but has some Southeast Asian places included, such as Clark Hospital in the Philippines and Changi Beach in Singapore.

Supernatural Beliefs

Through the Looking Glass: Southeast Asian Horror

A collection of different superstition archetypes, surrounding themes such as pregnancy, greed, and tradition. The stories are framed, interestingly, by creatures which appear in video games which are inspired by Southeast Asian superstitions and stories.

Southeast Asian Superstitions

A quick runthrough of some superstitions the author learned growing up with “very superstitious Laotian parents”.

Hungry Ghost Month

In Southeast Asia, August (not October) is the time of the year when things get a little more supernatural! This holiday (so to speak) is celebrated in some form across the region and in neighboring Asian countries like China, Japan, and India.

crowd burning mounds of paper "hell notes"

Going up in flames…hell notes are offered in mounts to wandering spirits at the end of the prayer session in Queen Street. — Pictures by KE Ooi (source)

Hungry Ghost Festival: When spirits roam Penang… and are entertained

“Every year, during the seventh lunar month, makeshift altars and stages seem to mushroom all over Penang; offerings are burnt by the roadside while “live” concerts and Chinese opera performances are held at various locations every night.

For most Penangites, the annual Hungry Ghost Festival rituals are so normal most don’t even notice them.”

In Singapore, Ghosts are Real, Scary, and Hungry

The author recounts the everyday acceptance of ghosts and what to do to ensure they don’t turn on living people (hint: give them food).


Singapore Home Sales Drop as ‘Hungry Ghost Month’ Spooks Buyers

The influence of superstition is still strong in everyday transactions.

Horror Cinema

Want to watch some scary movies? Southeast Asian cinema has some classics in the horror genre. We also found a journal with articles on horror in Southeast Asian cinema for your browsing pleasure!

10 Southeast Asian Horror Films You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Cult favorites and classics are listed together for some creepy good times for the horror movie lover.


Plaridel: Locating Southeast Asian Horror

“Locating Southeast Asian Horror” was the theme of Volume 12, Issue 2 of Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society. With articles like “Haunted Thailand: The Village as a Location of Thai Horror” and “Lost and Found: The Found Footage Phenomenon and Southeast Asian Supernatural Horror Film”, this resource is perfect for those looking for something a little more academically-inclined. Even better, all the articles are free-to-read online.