Because we all love Singapore ghost stories... right? P.S. Read these at midnight for maximum effect.
You don’t have to save your terrifying tales for the Hungry Ghost Festival or Halloween. Spooky incidents occur all the time in Singapore, and not just in the city’s haunted spots. Forget horror movies. We’re here to tell you the real deal. Presenting: the juiciest Singapore ghost stories. We’ve gathered eerie encounters that the Honeycombers team (and our friends) have experienced, and it’s only right we share ‘em all for a spine-tingling storytelling session. Take that, Goosebumps!
Freaky real-life Singapore ghost stories
1. What the duck?
Army camps are a hotbed for ghostly activities; mine was no exception. One time, my friend and I were on guard duty for a night shift at 3am. While chatting to stay awake, my friend spotted some ducks further up the road. Mind you, it was in the middle of the night. Shouldn’t the animals be asleep? But according to a Malay urban legend, seeing or hearing ducks means a pontianak is nearby. I guess we’re pretty lucky the ducks weren’t quacking…
2. The haunting of a school
I participated in a Malay language appreciation camp during my secondary school days. Some campers and teachers spontaneously planned a night walk around the school. One of them dressed up in a baju kurung and headscarf and parked himself at one end of the science block. The night walk was a success, but participants said they spotted two figures – one was the event organiser, while the other looked eerily similar and stood at the opposite end of the building. Everyone knew the school was haunted, but we didn’t know which area exactly. After that night, we got the answer.
3. At least it was hopping away
National service ghost stories can be a dime a dozen, but this one story of mine has always stuck with me. While on a routine night patrol around my camp, my buddy and I happened to see some movement in the distance, which was weird considering it was so late. Against our better judgement, we stayed and waited to see if we could get a better look at the figure.
That was when we noticed that the figure wasn’t walking, it was jumping. And when it passed a street lamp, we realised it was a pocong, a ghost that’s said to be the soul of a dead person trapped in a white shroud used in burial rituals. For some reason, we couldn’t look away, and watched as it hopped from the streets into the forest. We looked at each other and quickly walked back to our office without saying anything and I was pretty much awake for the rest of that night duty.
4. Eerie illnesses
My family takes regular walks in the park that’s nearby our flat. It was late at night, and I had wandered off somewhere in the park. My dad calls for me and shouts my full Chinese name, which I’ve learned is incredibly taboo to do at night. The next day, I broke into a sky-high fever and coughing fit that both Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine couldn’t fix. Fast forward a week later, my fever is still present and someone recommended we visit a temple because the cause might have been supernatural. After some prayers, my fever completely subsided later that night without any form of medication.
5. Ghostly doppelganger
My father-in-law usually leaves for work at 6am. One day I woke up at 7am and realised he was still in bed. After showering, I checked on him but saw he was no longer there. I asked my mum-in-law where he’d gone and she said he’d been out since 6 in the morning. If he wasn’t home, then who was sleeping in his bed?
When my husband came home, I told him what I saw and described ‘who’ was on the bed – a tan-looking man of similar build to my father-in-law. My husband informed me a man in his 50s had passed away a few floors above us. Apparently, my husband had seen this thing too – it seems like the spirit lost its way and couldn’t find its own home. We told our in-laws, they did some prayers, and everything was fine after that.
6. The car with no driver
My cousin died of drowning at the tender age of eight. It was the first time such tragedy happened in our family so the whole thing was heavy for all of us. The wake was held in our ancestral house. I had just viewed the coffin and came back to my aunt’s convenience store to man it. But suddenly, someone touched my ear out of nowhere, and I literally ran screaming to my aunt in fear.
It didn’t end there. I kid you not when I say that my uncle’s car started moving on its own for about 200 metres. It only stopped when it hit one of the benches in our town’s former wet market. We all thought our drunk uncle was driving it, but it was empty. Apparently, my deceased cousin loved cars.
7. Whose footprints are those?
My husband (then boyfriend) and I had only begun dating when one of his relatives passed away. As we practise different religions, I was shocked to see his family dispersing powder on the ground. He explained that in doing so, we’d be able to see the footsteps of the dead. I didn’t think much about it, but when I woke up the next morning and saw footprints, I was absolutely mortified. I had to make my husband swear it wasn’t him goofing around! It’s been almost a decade yet I still can’t get that image out of my mind.
8. Polaroid phantom
It was our colleague’s last day and we all huddled together for a Polaroid shot. But what we saw had us completely frozen. There were four of us, and as the photo developed, we noticed an additional figure – a spirit dangling over our friend’s shoulders! She was so traumatised that she took some time off work to calm down. We have since developed a phobia of taking Polaroids and seven years later, it still haunts me.
9. The TV episode
My husband and I were alone at home chilling in our room when we noticed from under the door a shadow pacing back and forth. It didn’t bother me at first. I thought my in-laws were home until I received a call from my mum-in-law and realised we were indeed the only ones there. I freaked out and opened the door but there was no one. I noticed that the TV was on and decided to turn it off. But then I felt someone sit beside me on the sofa and could see the dent it made on the seat. Not wanting to scare myself more, I calmly turned off the TV and ran into the room. I told my husband what happened and he said he saw something walking around too. Everything went back to normal after that but I always wondered who it was…
10. The heartland haunting
Woodlands is known for its haunted HDB building (Block 852), which was once empty for the longest time. Years ago, my cousin moved to the neighbourhood and unknowingly stayed near the haunted block. Things soon took a weird turn. The television would switch on without warning, but the family brushed it off.
During the first night of the seventh month, he was sleeping alone in his room when he woke up in the middle of the night after hearing a weird noise. He saw a ghost with extremely long hair and black eyes spinning with the ceiling fan and staring at him. He tried to shout for help but wasn’t able to make a sound. Feeling helpless, he started praying and the ghost finally disappeared when he opened his eyes. From then on, that room was left empty until the family moved out.
11. Of cats and car parks
Once, I returned home past midnight and saw a cat outside the car park. I stopped to pet it, then continued heading home. Throughout the walk, a rancid, pungent poop smell dogged me. I thought I had stepped on dog poop, so I didn’t think much about it, especially since the smell disappeared when I was in my room.
Fast forward to the next morning, when my late dad told me I brought back something ‘dirty’ because it took a liking to him and sat on his bed till dawn. I had checked on my dad when I got home, so the ‘thing’ that followed me apparently stayed in his room to ‘admire’ him until he got rid of it. He got up to say the call of prayer and chased it away.
12. Goodbye, my lover
I had a boyfriend who died, but I didn’t get to say goodbye before he passed on. A few days after that, I was walking home from the gym. Suddenly, I smelled his favourite cigarettes. When I entered the lift, the smell grew stronger as if he was beside me, like old times. I instinctively called his name and the emergency bell rang. When the door opened, I ran out. The smell followed me until the point where he used to stop to kiss me goodbye and send me off.
13. The hotel with a rep
In Tokyo, my entire flight crew checked into a hotel that’s rumoured to be ‘dirty’. The moment I entered my room, I felt a strange vibe but chalked it up to exhaustion. Come bedtime, I slept on the bed closer to the door. I typically keep the TV on when sleeping (it acts as a white noise machine and nightlight), so I was a little wary when I woke up a few hours later in a silent, dark room. I was facing the door, but I had this feeling someone was on the other bed.
When I switched on the light and turned around, I saw a girl sitting upright on it. I screamed and the girl’s neck moved 90 degrees, screaming along with me. Instantly, I ran out of my room and spent the rest of the trip with another crew member. That’s not the weirdest part, though. When I was showering, I noticed a scratch mark on my back that stung a little.
14. The midnight visitor
It was late at night. I heard three loud knocks on the main door, each time around 2am to 3am. I looked through the peephole but saw nobody. This came and went for days. So one day, when the knocking happened again, I recorded a video. No one was there, but on playback, I could hear someone laughing…
15. It’s always the red dress
My office was located right opposite a famous temple at Telok Ayer. It wasn’t uncommon to hear keyboards typing away at empty desks or see the printer activated when no one was near it. But nothing spooked me as much as this incident. It was 3am and a handful of us were preparing for a business pitch in our conference room. As it was dead silent, we heard the chuckles of a young child before we saw a little girl in a red dress running across the hall and disappearing off into the wall. Needless to say, we all decided it was time to call it a day.
16. Who’s in the shower?
While on a hotel staycation with my friends, I wanted to have an early night and was about to go to sleep when I heard someone shuffle around in the toilet. I was alone in the room, but the shower head turned on by itself. Immediately, I bolted to my friend’s room and only returned the next morning to pack my things.
17. Holiday from hell
My mum was on Skype with my sister and her family while they were holidaying in Malaysia. As my sister took her on a tour of their spacious villa, my mum caught sight of something on the ceiling beams and pointed it out to my sister. But she couldn’t see anything odd and ignored my mum. Not wanting to scare my sister, my mum held her peace. It was only when they got back that my mum explained she had seen a creepy dark figure on the beams overlooking the family room. Even stranger, my sister said she was ‘disturbed’ in the night by a creepy figure that was on top of her!
18. What NOT to do during Hungry Ghost Festival
Like a total newb, I was absolutely fascinated by the offerings around Telok Ayer during my first Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore. Like a total fool, I took photos of an offering and Instagrammed it. I even hashtagged it. Even worse, I did it at home late at night when I was the only person awake. Out of nowhere, I heard the sound of little bells jingling – as if a cat with bells on its collar was coming from our back door and down the hallway. But we don’t have a cat. And there was nothing there.
For months, the door of a particular room in our apartment would lock from the inside. I’d hear the sound of a ball bouncing in my kids’ room at night (while they were asleep!). Sometimes, I’d feel as if a child was by my side. But when I looked down expecting to see my toddler, nobody was there.
19. A man left behind
This happened to a few members of my family. We were on a staycation at a resort in Sentosa and it was late at night. Almost everyone was asleep except for a few night owls. When my cousin popped by the pantry to get a glass of water, he looked out the window and saw a strange sight on Siloso Beach. It was a ghostly aberration of a man wearing a Japanese army uniform, clutching his rifle and staring in his direction.
20. Things that move in the night
At the museum where I used to work, there was a small space in one of the exhibition rooms. It was always pitch dark but had a small table with office chairs for us to chill. My colleagues and I sat around the table one evening, and I was so engrossed with my phone I didn’t realise they’d left.
A few minutes later, I heard an office chair rolling (it was as though someone just got off the chair). I looked up and saw the table starting to levitate a teeny bit. I bolted before thinking. The worst part? I left my phone charger in the room and had to go back to retrieve it (not alone, of course!).
21. Pontianak’s perfume
I had to pop into the office to run an errand on a Saturday. As I was packing my stuff, I caught a sudden whiff of perfume. It was a strong, sickly-sweet floral scent as if somebody was standing beside me. But there was nobody around and the AC was switched off. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I left quickly after.
In Malay urban legends, unexplained floral scents are associated with the presence of a pontianak, or vampiric female spirit. Was it a supernatural encounter? Who knows. It definitely gave me the chills, though.
22. Unwelcome bed buddies
I was sleeping at my aunt’s place and dreamt that an old man was lying on top of me. I kept wanting to erase that thought and dream of something else. But when I woke up in the morning, there was this crushing weight on my chest that was getting heavier by the minute. I started panicking and screaming but nobody heard me. I tried making the sign of the cross (I’m Catholic) but I couldn’t move my arms. I said, “go away!” and after a few minutes, the blanket lightened. The craziest part? The same thing happened to my mum!
23. Spirits in the lift
This happened to me during the Hungry Ghost Festival. Walking past an altar, I briefly wondered why it had offerings of Yakult, toys and biscuits. Then, I remembered these offerings were meant to appease spirits. During an afternoon nap on the same day, I had a vivid dream about two kids trailing behind me as I was walking home. “Help us, help us”, they repeated in unison. I remember telling them, “I can’t help you and I don’t know what you want. Please go home.” They disappeared and I entered the lift alone… or so I thought.
As the lift began its ascent, two ghostly faces stared at me through a reflection on the glass. They looked normal, except for one thing: They had no legs! When I arrived home, they stopped at the door. They couldn’t enter because I had a feng shui bagua mirror (a pentagon-shaped symbol believed to ward off negative energy). “Let us come in. We have unfinished business. Please help us so we can move on,” they pleaded. Exasperated, I said, “I can’t help you, leave me alone!” They disappeared, and I woke up from my nap. Till today, I avoid breaking any seventh month superstitions. Just in case.
24. My grandfather’s clock
My grandfather gifted us with a grandfather’s clock a long time ago. One of its chimes stopped working when he passed away. But shortly after his death anniversary, the clock started chiming every quarter of the hour. No one knows why or how.
25. Sleep paralysis… or was it?
This happened to my brother. It was a Saturday morning and he came into my room asking, “Did you wash your feet when you came home last night?” He said something had disturbed him the night before. When he was sleeping, he felt a weight on his body and as his eyes drifted open, he saw a figure with long hair sitting on his body and looking right at him.
The next morning, he said it might have been a nightmare but he wasn’t sure. In a Malay household, it’s believed if you don’t wash your feet when you come home, you’re inviting bad spirits into your house.
26. What’s up with the washing machine?
I was in my brand new condo along East Coast Road. I loaded laundry into my new washing machine and left the building. However, when I came home, not only was the washing machine still running, but it had turned 180 degrees around in its cubby and was now ‘back to front’. I was convinced someone had broken in to play tricks on me, but the CCTV confirmed nobody had entered or left the building. And mine was the only apartment occupied at that time. The mystery was never solved!
27. The ‘silver surfer’ visitor
I was eight years old when this incident happened in an HDB flat… at Yishun, of all places. On some nights, my family would pull out our mattresses, pillows and blankets for movie marathons and sleepovers in our living room. One time, I woke up in the middle of the night facing the room doors and saw a white Silver Surfer-lookalike floating from one room to another. I freaked out! Unsure if I had really seen a ghost, I shut my eyes tight and tried to lull myself back to sleep.
28. The horrors of dinner
It was a normal evening and I was having my late dinner of chicken curry and rice. Everyone went to bed early that night, leaving me the only one awake at 11pm. The view of my dining room and kitchen was facing dense vegetation, which was pitch black. As I was washing up afterwards, a strong gust of wind blew in through the kitchen window. Dry leaves flew around in the kitchen and I immediately closed the window with my wet hands.
When I was done, I looked up and saw something white in the corner of my eye. It appeared again in the dining room. I ran to the bathroom and slammed the door, hoping it would go away, but no! The white figure was still there. Why did it follow me?! Then, I looked in the mirror and realised there was a grain of rice on my eyelash. That’s the only ghost story you’ll get from me.
29. Mirror, mirror on the wall…
My wife and I once took a weekend trip to a popular hill station in Malaysia. We’d heard stories, but we didn’t think in our wildest dreams they would happen to us. We asked for a non-smoking room. However, the moment I walked in, I felt like cigarette smoke blew right in my face. It seemed like someone was smoking in the room… but there was no one. Strangely, my wife couldn’t smell anything.
At night, we were unable to sleep. There was a general uneasiness we couldn’t explain. After 3am, my wife woke me up. She saw a pair of eyes and a shadowy figure in the mirror next to my side of the bed. And it was looking down at me sleeping. Needless to say, we packed our bags in a flash and within minutes we’d bolted out the door and checked out, stopping by a Chinese temple downstairs. I remembered my mother’s advice and went in to say a prayer. The priest took one look at me and said, “You saw something dirty, something evil!”