Climbing the 47 Floors of Bangkok’s Ghost Tower
A few months ago I wrote about my 3 sweaty, bad days in Bangkok. I didn’t intend to return to Bangkok for any reason other than a cheap flight, but I went back for three more days in August, and the experience was unbelievably better than my first time in Bangkok.
The better experience was partially knowing Asia better after traveling in the region, and how not to fall victim to scams. However, I also owe the Ghost Tower to making my experience so much better. It is now on the top of my list of things to do in Bangkok, and has been my favorite urban exploration experience.
History of Bangkok’s Ghost Tower
Bangkok’s Ghost Tower, as it is called among backpackers, is actually named Sathorn Unique Tower. The building was intended to be an apartment complex with over 600 unites until the Asian financial crash in 1997. Bangkok’s real estate market crashed, and the project was discontinued.
The skeleton of the massive sky scraper near the river was never finished, and has attracted graffiti artists and tourists alike.
How to Visit Bangkok’s Ghost Tower
If you are interested in visiting it yourself, do it! You pay a “entrance fee” to the guards (*cough* bribe…) It has increasingly become more and more expensive. We paid 500 baht. If you go with a local you can sometimes pay 250 baht. We tried to negotiate, and they weren’t going to budge on the price with us.
The best way to get there from Koh San road is via the river boats. One big reason I disliked Bangkok the first time I visited the city was because I felt like we were constantly sitting in taxis or getting lost on the Sky Train. I wish I had discovered all of the taxi boat routes my first visit. It is fast, cheap, and pretty way around a city that is overwhelmed with traffic.
It is about a 10 minute walk from Koh San road to the river. Here is a map of the pier locations. Take it to Sathorn. As soon as you walk off the boat keep walking straight. You will see ghost tower straight ahead once you get under the overpass. If you are walking to it from the river, go to the left side of the building. There is a door in the fence on this side where the security guards will come and meet you.
I recommend going at either sunset or sunrise. Seeing the colorful skyline was stunning, and I really loved the chance to take pictures of the city at night. Going at either sunset or sunrise you get to experience the city in daylight and night! We went at sunrise, and it is also the busiest time to go. There must have been about 40 people with us, which does take away from the urban exploration vibe. We heard you can get in cheaper (or not pay at all) if you go for sunrise since there are so few people there at that time.
Give yourself about 30 minutes to climb the 47 flights of stairs, and even more time if you want to be able to explore individual floors, especially if you are really interested in street art.
Bring a flashlight for the stairs. If you want to climb around the top, wearing trainers would have helped, but I saw plenty of people jumping around in flip flops from the different raised pieces. I was just very concerned someone was about to break an ankle when jumping down from an archway.