Abandoned Skyscraper – “Sathorn Unique” – Fifty Levels of Awesome

Bangkok, Thailand. Just fourteen years ago, the Sathorn Unique skyscraper was being built, destined to become one of the city’s fanciest residential addresses. Now, it is an  abandoned building. Never completed, it remains as yet another “ghost tower” of Bangkok.

A tangle of trees and vines are beginning to take over the lighter parts of this monolith, such as the four-level archways and Romanesque feature columns. Amazingly, this building is located in the central area of one of the worlds largest cities. These towers were built during the mid nineties, when the Thai economy was booming. In 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis changed all that.

Developers stricken with debt were unable to finish many projects. In the case of Sathorn Unique, the main concrete structure made it all the way to the top. The apartment fit-outs had begun in earnest, with wooden floor boards installed and polished. Connected bathtubs, wardrobes, and electrics show just how close this one was to completion.

At ground floor, two escalators have been installed, climbing to nowhere in particular, the remnants of protective plastic still clinging onto their stainless steel sides.  With an amazing location close to the Chao Praya river that snakes it’s way through the center of Bangkok, it’s easy to see how this abandoned building would have been luxury living at it’s finest.

After a tip off from some of the locals, a small climb got me into the lobby area. Inside, a man had set up a shrine, and was providing offerings to his God. Children who were playing around the outer area of the building had clearly been warned of the dangers inside.

Although they were smiling, they were clearly fearful of the building, perhaps due to the ghost stories and other tales of fear their elders had instilled in them. For good reason too – this is a particularly dangerous site, with plenty of opportunities to take a 40+ level fall through one of the many unsealed shafts that exist, often in total darkness. Throw in a pack of wild dogs, some quite unusual smells and sounds, I quickly realised this abandoned building was not to be taken lightly.

From the brochure: (conveniently,  there was various sales materials still floating around the building):

Sathorn Unique Tower is our first residential project in downtown Bangkok. The tower is 49 storey with the total of 659 residential units and 54 retails, located only less than 200 meters from BTS : Taksin station. Sathorn Unique Tower is also located at the edge of old commercial town of Charernkrung meets the new international business zone of Silom-Sathorn roads. It sits on the a horse-shoe blend which is considered as the best place for overlook at the Bangkok’s grand cityscape and the charm of the Chaopraya river.

Bangkok probably has more abandoned buildings and modern day ruins than any other major city on earth. In the 14 years since the Asian Financial Crisis, the Thai economy has recovered, and many new gleaming skyscrapers have been built. Still, there remains a number of the abandoned ghost towers like Sathorn Unique. Earlier this same day, I scaled another forty storey building, an abandoned complex of three near-identical towers, with another abandoned building next door for good measure! Story and photos, coming soon.

I wouldn’t recommend visting the inside of this abandoned tower.  Truly, it is an incredibly dark and dangerous site. There are many holes for you to fall down a very, very, long way. Not to mention, the locals insist it is haunted (they were really quite insistent!). Of course, trespassing is illegal. However, it is an incredibly easy building to get to, and take a look around.

Information for “Sathorn” Unique Abandoned Skyscraper, Bangkok:

Getting there : Take the train to BTS Saphan Tak. The tower is located close to the cross road between Sathon Tai and Charoen Krung. Look up, you won’t miss it. Check the map on this page, the pin is right on top of this abandoned skyscraper building.

Dr. Hank Snaffler Jr.

 

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Abanoned Skyscraper Building Bangkok - Sathorn Unique

Abandoned Skyscraper - Sathorn Unique, Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Abanoned Skyscraper Building Bangkok - Sathorn Unique

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Building Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Sathorn Unique - Abandoned Skyscraper Bangkok

Abandoned Building Bangkok - Sathorn Unique Skyscraper

Graffiti Bangkok

Abanoned Skyscraper Building Bangkok - Sathorn Unique

Abanoned Skyscraper Building Bangkok - Sathorn Unique

62 thoughts on “Abandoned Skyscraper – “Sathorn Unique” – Fifty Levels of Awesome

  1. Get rid of that bloody blinking favicon….its so damn annoying. also why is the text in the text fields black, you can’t even see what you’re typing!

  2. No comments will be lost, but they may take a little time to show up here! In the meantime, have you joined the abandonedjourney.com mail list? Free, no spam, lots of extras that don’t show on this site, what’s not to like?

  3. Sigh. I meant to say… When I was in Bangkok about 2003 I remember taking a water taxi ride down the river and being amazed at how many skyscrapers I could see right through. Thanks Dr Hank for showing me the insides I missed.

  4. Thank you Benny. make sure you check back, there are some even more amazing abandoned skyscrapers I have visited lately, including a collection of three forty storey buildings, with a pack of wild dogs roaming around!

  5. Excellent exploration. I love how evocatively forlorn abandoned high rises are — something about them really speaks to the antithesis of the appeal of urbanization.

  6. Thanks for the compliment Brock. Yes, the buildings almost speak more to the world we live in when they are in this abandoned state, rather than shiny and new. They certainly appeal to me!

  7. Thanks for the compliment Brock. Yes, the buildings almost speak more to the world we live in when they are in this abandoned state, rather than shiny and new. They certainly appeal to me!

  8. Actually they used the large outdoor balcony on one of the top levels for a scene in the movie Hangover 3.

    1. Nope, they used the large outdoor balcony on State Tower, which was actually finished (I live in it) and is directly opposite this building and looks very similar.

  9. Amazing. What a strange world we live in. This brand-new building, apparently nearly ready to house people, sits abandoned, while the world crawls with homeless people. What a waste – of material, of labor, of potential. I often have this kind of reaction to abandoned buildings; fascinated, yet sad because they could be performing a useful function instead of quietly decaying. 🙁

    1. I have a similar reaction Bill. The schools and hospitals are the worst for that kind of feeling. I have several hospitals, and an entire college campus, coming up soon. Make sure you sign up on the mail list, you won’t want to miss them.

    2. It’s not sad, it’s disgusting.
      We live in such a modern age yet this is what we’ve accomplished.

      I have explored many abandoned places in New York.
      I poke around and study the architecture and try to align my thoughts with the story behind the building. To do that you have to focus in the era of when it was constructed, the social thinking of the time of construction, how it functioned and what failed or changed that left the building useless.

      What always overshadows all my studies is how vandalized empty building are – during every and any decade. People feel an accomplishment by leaving their destructive marks. It says everything about humanity. Even people who don’t actually physically destroy the buildings leave their destructive footprints by ignoring the possibilities of a structures use until it is so dilapidated that all they do is shout; “Tear it down!”

      EVERYONE is guilty of this. EVERYONE knows the difference. NOBODY CARES.
      There are those that think this is “cool” and those that think something should be done about it. It’s the people who think it’s cool that respond to their emotions. They trespass and vandalize. The “good” “moral” people state their “righteous” emotions to a obscure blog or someone else and then think by COMPLAINING they did THEIR part! At least the vandals react to their emotions.

  10. very cool. was keenly checking that building out in 2009 when i was in bangkok. your post, via boing boing, reminded me & has inspired me to start a music project exploring this building and the many postmodern atemporal ideas it connotes.

    btw the text here in the comment entry is black on a black background so i have no idea if i’ve made typo’s!

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Jack, my research tells me it was constructed in 1997. Always happy to have correct information, if you can provide a source I would appreciate it muchly!

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  12. Amazing pictures – thanks for these. Thought you might be interested to see the current use for the Sathorn Unique Tower – displaying a gigantic election poster for PAD (ironically, they’re campaigning for people to “Vote No” – i.e. effectively abstain from the election).

    Link to pic: http://twitpic.com/5c8jc4

    1. Thanks Steve…very interesting. Not the first time abandoned buildings in Bangkok have been used as huge billboards! Really appreciate the update. I was in Bangkok during the whole Red Shirts thing last year, lets hope its not a repeat of the deaths this time around.

  13. I just watched The Hangover 2, I think you can see this building in the background in some scenes that are shot from the top of the domed building on the right in the 6th picture. Great photos and story!

    1. Thanks Andy. It looks like I am going to have to watch the Hangover Part 2 (or is it part 3?) very soon…!

  14. It is, indeed, a spectacular building — I have been there. But My Thai friends point out that it was built on a site that grossly overshadows an important temple — a very bad omen to Buddhist believers. Whether the effect is supernatural or psychological makes no difference — the building is essentially damned in Thai society. You can’t understand things there without a sensitivity to such realities — Western social and economic arguments are irrelevant.

    1. Hi Bob. Yes, I noticed the temple across the street, indeed, I sat and observed it from above for quite some time. Thanks for enlightening me on the beliefs of the locals. I spend some time learning about local customs, the history, and the language. There is so much to learn about Thailand, and I hope to spend more time there (very) soon, to broaden my knowledge further… and perhaps capture a few more buildings. The language barrier is a problem in these situations, there is so much unknown, and untold, about the true feelings of the local residents that surround this building.

  15. Super duper blog & photos! What is it that’s so endlessly fascinating about abandonment, ruins, decay? [Rhetorical question of course…but seriously, wondering if you have any personal favorite writings about the subject of ruins — observations that sync up w/ the fascination you so ably express in your photography…?

    1. Thanks Solidsignal….I do have some personal favourites, and I will soon have a page of links…check back, and sign up for the mail list!

  16. Just stumbled across your blog – great post and excellent photos. I’m back in BKK very soon so will go and check this place out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome, Crash! Make sure you check back here, there is another abandoned Bangkok Skyscraper feature….coming sooon… 😉

  17. Wow, reading your post via Boing Boing kicked off my own haunted remembrances of seeing Sathron for the first time in 2009. The travelogue here really reached into my subconscious.

    So I’ve plucked out a music project (hip hop instrumental) trying to explore some of the ideas and emotions embodied in the ghost tower. If you’re interested, I’m documenting the process and my own research on Sathorn here: http://sathornunique.tumblr.com

    Thanks for the inspiration, the story, and the fantastic photo gallery (great choice on the b/w btw)!

    Kudos,

    Chris

  18. We just saw this building today and were creeped out by it! It made me imagine a nuclear apocalypse! 

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  20. yes I have been up there. having been may be one of the lucky last groups to be able to climb this Sathon structure in Feb 2012 before it was locked up like a fort and one had to “find the key holder” or have climbing gear and experience to get from the second to third floor. and we got some amazing photos that we did not know how good those photos were till we saw them on a big screen.
    there are other buildings out there that we want to find to explore to here in Bangkok. so let us know where they are.
    and ghosts? well I not get a chance to find that out , the night I first tried to get in the dogs ripped holes in my pack, so never got the chance to sleep on top. not like sleeping on top of the great pyramids of Giza, Cario, Egypt, now there we did experience ghosts, but thats another story of 30 years ago.
    max.

  21. I was reading your post with a friend and he told me that he’s having a headaches looking at the image and he asked me to scroll up. HE told me afterwards that the ghost are in some of the pictures and he can feel them and they are too strong so he wasn’t able to scroll all the way :S

  22. Its very common…. Here in Argentina we have the hole structure abandoned (for 20 years) of what would have been the biggest hospital in latinamerica…
    I guess this kind of proyects are very vulnerable to the current economy…

    Anyway… great post!

  23. I found this article a while ago and was very curious, so earlier this year I went to Bangkok and visited the Sathorn Unique Building. I entered the tower and managed to get up to the 49th floor and… Hell…! It was insane! Thank you for this blog and the inspiration! I wrote about my trip into this haunted tower in my blog, check it out if you like 🙂

    http://www.justonewayticket.com/2012/12/13/exploration-of-an-abandoned-skyscraper-in-bangkok-the-sathorn-unique-building/

  24. I enjoyed your photos of the Sathorn Unique Tower, i wished i had the time to get in earlier to see it before they started to clean it up, love your others as well.

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