Urban infiltrators explore a 50-story abandoned tower in Bangkok

Urban spelunkers visited Sathorn Unique, a half-built, 50-story skyscraper in the middle of Bangkok, and snapped some dramatic black-and-white photos of the waste and ruin within.
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 story 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 its way through the center of Bangkok, it's easy to see how this abandoned building would have been luxury living at it's finest.
Abandoned Skyscraper - Fifty Level Abandoned Building (Thanks, Dr Hank Snaffler!)


    1. I half expect to see the Russian building show up on “House Hunters International”, with some spoiled, rich person complaining about the stairway to nowhere.

  1. So cool! I’m reading The Windup Girl right now! Just like I pictured it, although this fills in some of the more mundane details for me…

  2. Anyone who goes exploring there absolutely *must* sow seeds there. It could become the world’s biggest planter.

    1. While that sounds great, root systems would accelerate the structural compromise of the building. 50 stories of concrete breaking apart and falling.


    2. Ahh..Got it now. I thought you were talking about the “wild oats” sowing seeds variety.

      That would be difficult without at least a thick blanket. ;)

  3. Don’t you find it annoying that sentences just don’t flow as easily when you have ambiguous spelling? Everytime in that article I hit the word `story’- I had to autocorrect mentally and start again- “Oh! You mean `storey’!” Noah Webster was motivated by spite… will his legacy ever be undone? …

  4. I was in Bangkok in 1996 with the US Navy and I was amazed at the amount of construction that was going on. The other thing that amazed me was the apparent complete lack of urban planning. I stayed the night in a quite nice hotel that hadn’t even officially opened and my room overlooked a 2-3 story building that was literally built from wood pallets and other found materials.

  5. I climbed this thing myself back in 2008 – we only made it up about 6 storeys before we got worried that someone might come and tell us off (the guards we saw turned out to be from the carpark next door, so we needn’t have left). Here are some pictures – the link above seems broken, by the way.


  6. Consider the demand for building supplies and raw materials that this building generated, driving up prices globally, and contributing to inflation. What a waste.

    1. I agree. What I see is a crime against the earth and its people.
      I think that wastefulness like this will one day be against the law.

  7. While it has an attractive exterior, the interior doesn’t have enough history to make it very interesting.

  8. B/W is artsy and all but color would have been more interesting. One can always turn color to b/w but not as easily vice versa.

    1. I agree.. especially digital black and white, it’s just a concatenation of a color photo and only has 256 shades of gray. It’s not as finely detailed as b&w film.

      Still, amazing photo set. Thanks for sharing, photog!

  9. In 2004, when I lived in Bangkok for a few months, the city was studded with ambitious half-finished construction projects, all defunded by the crash. Sathorn Unique was the most distinctive. I used to fantasize about squatting the penthouse, but the thought of fifty flights of stairs put me off.

    Still, I bet it would make a great refuge from Thai zombies.

  10. I visited Bangkok several years ago. At one point we found a burned-out shopping mall. All the upper stories were charred and the floors were collapsed. Still, there was a thriving “mall” in the basement level. It was eerie. But I got a great deal on some sandals.

  11. FYI: Anyone exploring these old building needs to be very concerned about Histoplasmosis & Cryptococcosis. Wear a industrial-grade respirator, disposable coveralls, etc. Otherwise you run the very real chance of getting very really sick.


    I don’t know what the rest of the world’s birds carry in their poop, but you can be sure its probably pretty nasty shit.

  12. Awesome! In 2009, I stayed just across the river from that structure and it was already abandoned and decaying (as were many others like it). I would have loved to have done some urban exploring so it’s great to see these pics.

  13. There’s a special place in hell reserved for web “designers” who animate their favicons.

  14. I want to go there! Why is it my dream to do some amazing urban exploring and I could not care less about going to historical or tourist sites? These abandoned sites feel like history, current events, and social commentary all rolled into one. Plus, they are kind of creepy which makes them extra fun!

  15. Bangkok is an amazing place to go if you’re at all interested in urban planning, half-finished structures, etc. It’s the most amazing urban area I’ve seen (not that I’ve been everywhere). Luxury apartment buildings and hotels built right next to shacks (as someone else noted), tons of half-finished and abandoned places, places that are actively used but look half-finished (probably just crumbling apart), 100-200 year old historical buildings right next to… anything you can imagine. And the whole place has a kind of tropical coating – things wear down quickly.

    The streets have been mostly organically constructed (like a medieval european city) and are pretty awful for the most part, there are loads of people everywhere you go… it’s just amazing.

    Of course, I’m not sure I’d like to live there. I have spent about a month and a half there in total; one month of that in an apartment on a back street. I much prefer Chiang Mai up north, where I spent several months. It has its own charm, but does also have the same mix of abandoned/half-finished/falling apart stuff. Just a fascinating country in general.

    I hadn’t thought of it as a vacation destination for urban explorers, but it really would be great if that was your thing. I did a little bit while there (because it’s so easy to find places) but just very casually. I’ve got at least one photo though: not a skyscraper, but abandoned nonetheless in Chiang Mai.

  16. Hello, this is Dr. Hank Snaffler. Thanks for the compliments. For those that are having troubles commenting on the site, I am sorry, I have my helper monkey looking into it now. Can I just add, I have also recently toured a FOUR SKYSCRAPER abandoned complex, also in Bangkok, and the photos, stories, and maps, will be coming soon. Also, there is a story behind these photos, and why they are grainy and black and white. The story will be sent over the free mail list.

    Thanks again, and thank you Boing Boing, for providing my first feature, and getting abandonedjourney.com started with a big bang!


    Dr Hank Snaffler Jr.

  17. Ahh BKK. . .where fun comes first, and safety last.

    Open pits in the sidewalk, conduit run across the street at face level. . .and motorbike taxis to truly put your life in the hands of strangers. I would give a finger digit or two to be back there now with no obligations or responsibilities. . .Ahh well: Sabai, sabai.

    And I thank these ‘urban explorers’ for taking the risks and showing us these photos: the catacomb dwellers in Paris, Gunkanjima, ruin porn in Detroit. . .you name it: if it’s abandoned, broken, decayed and yet stands with some essence of the dreams and hubris that caused it to be born…

    You better believe I wanna see it!

    I now contemplate another Hunters Point shipyard excursion…

  18. The large upper balcony on this building was actually used in the Shooting of a scene on the recent movie Hangover 2.

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