The Sathorn Unique Tower (abandoned skyscraper)
The first time I heard about the abandoned Sathorn Unique Tower in Bangkok was from fellow Travel Blogger Sabrina in her article at Just One Way Ticket. It sounded incredibly adventurous. The photos had me interested in going back to explore the building but I wasn’t sure when I’d ever make it back to Thailand. “Urban Exploration” itself was something that I discovered about a year ago from a coworker friend at my previous job.
Lo and behold, I found myself in Bangkok again with a few fellow (French) nomads, Arthur and Axel from NomadHouse and their friend Chloe who’s as adorable as her name sounds. After they learned about this “ghost tower” and the risk it takes to get to the top, they didn’t hesitate to go urban exploring with me.
The Sathorn Unique Tower planned to be a 49 story luxury condominium building but ended up being abandoned due to an economic crisis that hit in Southeast Asia around 1997. Construction halted and the building was left to ruin. Urban explorers, photographers, and local kids began to get curious about the building and would venture inside.
In December 2014, a Swedish backpacker was found hung on the 43rd floor. The situation was investigated and ruled a suicide. However, a friend of the backpacker (who was present at the end with us) insisted on some foul play but nobody can really say what happened.
To get there, we took the BTS skytrain from Ekkami to Saphan Taksin and the building was easily recognized as soon as we stepped out. The “ghost tower” was surrounded by a tall metal fence with locks all around. We managed to avoid security and immediately spotted a local who knew we wanted access. He led us to a hole under the fence and mimed for us to crawl under it. It was easy enough for me but with Arthur who is 6’1 and broad shouldered, he had a little trouble worming under the hole.
Once we got in, we bribed another local working the inside with 200 baht each (a little steep but we didn’t want any confrontations). He led us to one of the multiple stairways and said, “this is the safer way” and let us go.
Armed with bottled water and mini flashlights or iPhones with their lights on, we ascended up the 49 stories to the top.
- It’s dark…very dark – even at noon.
- It’s a tad eerie and creepy but fun
- It gets hot despite being in the dark concrete walls since you’re traipsing up stairs that go around and around. Enjoy the breeze that comes through every floor’s balconies though.
- Watch your step! The stairs are narrow and there’s wires, hole, and loose rocks everywhere
- Be prepared for a workout on your legs and butt
We took breaks to explore a few floors and to see what lurked around the corners. We stood from the balconies to catch the strong breeze and took in the wide view of Bangkok during the day.
There were some floors with completely no outer walls so we tip toed the edge catching some cheap thrills. Luckily, there were no other crazy explorers at the time so we had the place to ourselves.
We peeked down dark empty elevator shafts, empty eerie bathrooms with cracked bathtubs thrown in haphazardly and saw graffiti tagged on some of the concrete walls. We had to be vigilant where we stepped because there were holes in the ground (big and little ones) and electrical wire and tools left behind.
One way to scare your friends? Sneak around the corner so they get a bit worried that you suddenly disappeared. Sorry Arthur!
After a sweaty hike up the steep steps, we made it to the top.
Magnificent. Accomplished. Happy.
I’m sure anybody’s who made it to the top felt like “Kings and Queens of the skies.” There’s a certain thrill or adrenaline rush with breaking the law and…well being at the top of a sky scraper with nothing like glass or railings to contain you.
We took in the panoramic city views and climbed up the columns to get even higher views. I needed some help (read: the guys picked me up) getting up the broken columns – it isn’t easy being the tiniest of the bunch.. So if you’re tiny, go with some people that can help you climb up and down the treacherous make-shift ladders.
After spending a good few hours at the top, other adventurous risk takers started to show up as well. We met a few different groups of backpackers and travelers from around the world who wanted the same thrill as we did. We all introduced ourselves, snapped some group photos and made a promise to catch each other on FB and create a group to exchange photos.
Disclaimer: Trespassing and entering the Sathorn Unique Tower building is illegal. I do not recommend or condone going into the building. You claim all responsibility no matter what happens if you do. It’s risky, dangerous, and generally not a good idea.
If you do decide to go (AT YOUR OWN RISK), here are some tips:
- Bring a flashlight, headlamp or torch
- Don’t forget bottled water and some snacks
- Bring your camera
- Bring cash for bribes
- Wear sneakers or boots (no sandals or flip flops)
- If you don’t have your tetanus shot, get it. There’s many rusty nails and ragged metal that you can easily scrape a knee or elbow. Better safe than sorry.
- Go around mid-morning but no later than noon since it gets super hot in Bangkok. The earlier, the better. Sunset will give you great pictures but you also have to descend down 50 stories of steep dark steps so don’t make it more dangerous than it already is.