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Saigon Urban Legends: Spirits, Curses and Sunken Ships at Thuan Kieu Plaza

Located in the heart of Saigon’s busy Chinatown, the three-unit, 33-story tower complex known as Thuan Kieu Plaza was an icon of prosperity when it was completed in 1990. During the day, it looks no different from any other skyscraper in Saigon, but when all the other buildings are lit up at night, Thuan Kieu Plaza stands in darkness, abandoned.

Completely deserted, a ghostly atmosphere envelopes the three towers. A shopping area is lined with empty kiosks and littered stairs are faintly illuminated by flickering florescent lights. Elevator doors sit wide open and at their feet lay thin, red sticks of burnt incense, whose smoke is believed to carry messages to the afterlife.

There are many rumors about why people avoid going into this building, let alone live in it.

One of the popular stories comes from a taxi driver who once received a midnight call to pick up what seemed to be a girl at Kieu Plaza. When he arrived, there was no one to be found. He called the number back and only heard heavy breathing. Terrified, he drove off. People told him that it was probably the ghost of a girl who was murdered there in a fight with her boyfriend in 2005. 

Other rumors persist. In the early 21st century, construction safety was not taken seriously (glad that’s changed…). It is said that some workers died in accidents during the construction of the complex, and the contractors did not arrange proper compensation. Enraged, workers put a spell called Lo Ban (named after the renowned Chinese carpenter) on the site. Hence, though standing tall and intended to be a prosperous building, it went down like a sinking ship, metaphorically speaking.

Continuing with this ship metaphor and adding a dash of feng shui, the entire plaza was designed to resemble a ship, with the three towers meant to represent three chimneys or sails, meant to lift its tenants' business prospects.

However, if you drive down Hung Vuong Street, which runs along the side of the "ship", you can see that Do Ngoc Thanh Street runs straight through the plaza. According to those who practice feng shui, this street acts as a spear, poking a hole in the ship’s hull, causing it to sink.

Whether it is mistreated spirits or the sinking ship, 100,000 square meters of deserted concrete makes Thuan Kieu Plaza the biggest and most popular haunted house in Saigon.

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