5 haunted Shanghai spots

5 haunted Shanghai spots

We examine the city’s creepier locales -- and we’re not talking dive bars

It shouldn’t surprise many that Shanghai, with its infamous past, should be teeming with citizens of "another world."

Ranging from mythical to sad to downright creepy, their stories must be told.

Nine Dragon Pillar

Haunted Shanghai -- Nine Pillars DragonNext time you're stuck in traffic on Yan'an Lu, look out for the this ode to Shanghai's spiritual world.

Who hasn’t been curious about the glittery, dragon-gilded column smack in the middle of Chengdu Bei Lu and Yan An Lu?

One urban legend has become increasingly popular, developing into a bigger and darker tale over time:

When elevated highway construction workers hit a snag while digging to erect the central pillar at the intersection of Yan'an Lu and Beigdu Bei Lu, a local priest was called in and discovered that deep below the earth, a sleeping dragon had made its home. The workers' constant pounding had awaken it from its centuries-old nap.

After many offerings, apologies and prayers, the priest told the workers to erect a beautiful pillar to calm the grumpy beast.

Mysteriously, the priest, young and in perfect health, is said to have dropped dead the very next day.

Nine Dragon Pillar, intersection of Yan'an Lu and Chengdu Bei Lu 延安路, 近成都北路

Jing’an Park

Haunted Shanghai -- JingAn ParkA seemingly innocent path in Jing'an Park.

Jing’an District, in particular the environs surrounding the city’s oldest and most famous temple, is a bona fide hangout for Shanghai’s ghostly citizens.

Daniel Newman, director of of Newman Ghost Tours (info@newmantours.com) and a true ghost tour aficionado, explains that this laid-back and popular city haunt has an eerie past.

Barring old folks and history geeks, few know it was once the site of an expat cemetery and crematorium. One of the city’s 10 foreign cemeteries, it was exhumed in the mid-1950s.

Spirits are said to be lurking about in every nook and cranny with a number of reported "disturbances."

“The park is said to be haunted by tree ghosts that can predict lottery numbers," says Newman. "The most famous spirits are Jing'an Park's water ghosts that try to pull unwitting passers-by into the water."

So, beware of those rippling lily pads.

Jing'an Park, corner of Huashan Lu and Nanjing Xi Lu 华山路, 近南京西路

Paramount Theatre

Haunted Shanghai -- paramount theatreWayward pigeons may be the least of your problems outside Jing'an's legendary Paramount.

Known for decades as a "grand dance hall," this art-deco gem was once a full-service pleasure palace catering to top opium dealers, gangster types and an occasional glitterati.

Years passed along with the glamor, glitz and a fair bit of opium, but what allegedly remains is the ghost of a young taxi dancer. After refusing a dance with a Japanese solider, she was shot dead in retribution.

Paramount's night-shift staff claim they see this lonely waif practicing her solitary dance moves in the building’s original dance floor on the fourth floor.

During a 1990s renovation, an unfortunate soul met his maker under falling scaffolding. Not quite ready to cross over to the other side -- seems he never did -- the building's management has received endless complaints of mysterious falling objects of all sizes from the windows above. You have been warned.

Paramount Theatre, 218 Yuyuan Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu 愚园路218号, 近万航渡路

A "deadly" tea service

Haunted Shanghai -- haunted hotelRemarkably creepy, yet remarkably easy to just walk right by.

This ominous, burned-out shell of a building near the beginning of Nanjing Lu, once a thriving 1980s hotel, scores high on our "heebie jeebie" scale.

According to local legend, a young hotel waitress who had been having a bad day spilt some tea on a customer. Whisked away by an angry boss, she was locked in a room as punishment.

Next, a horrific fire swept through the building and claimed the young girl’s life.

Though now vacant of guests, but far from empty, Newman notes “local residents claim to see the face of the gloomy young girl peering out from her eternal home."

"She incidentally doesn’t take too kindly to visitors in her house, as construction crews and potential new owners can attest to, some never lasting more than a few hours inside the building," he says.

Word soon spread about the ghostly encounters and this building remains empty.

Nanjing Xi Lu, near Yongyuan Xi Lu 南京西路, 近永源西路

Plaza 66

Haunted Shanghai -- plaza 66Plaza 66 is more than an ode to China's rising consumerism, it's an altar to the spirits that call the city home.

Plaza 66's construction days were filled with endless havoc.

Desperate developers eventually called in a feng shui master to find out what was holding up the project, only to discover the culprit was apparently an ancient goddess living in the foundation.

Like her scaly companion (with slightly narcissistic tendencies) she would only be satisfied with a new building design and an incense stick burned in her honor.

“The design of the building was accordingly altered to resemble a burning incense stick, and has stood solidly ever since,” notes Newman.

Plaza 66, 1266 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu 南京西路1266号, 近陕西北

If you’re hungry for more eerie tales, there’s no lack of creepy Hai’ tales to be told with hangouts of murdered Chinese patriots, haunted apartments building and a ghostly mansion.
Stephanie Thomas is a freelance writer of all trades based in Shanghai.
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