Who doesn’t love a good scare once in a while? Here’s a collection of sinister urban legends around the world to make your holidays a little spookier!
We’ve all heard plenty of horror stories about creepy, haunted hotels – footsteps pounding down empty floors or staying in a room that was the scene of a grisly murder. But what of the outside world and the dangers that lurk in the shadows?
We’ve got you a collection of 6 sinister urban legends and folklore around the world that will make you look over your shoulder, just in case. Of course, there’s nothing there. Right?
Disclaimer: These spooky tales are unproven urban myths and folklore – but we hope you’ll enjoy these thrilling tales anyway!
1. Australia: Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, The Little Red Frog-Man
Having a picnic in the park is a perfect way to spend a day in Australia. A short walk brings you to a sunny clearing, with other park goers enjoying the sunny spring weather. Sitting beneath the shade of a tree, you lean against the trunk and fall into a blissful afternoon catnap.
The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who is a red, vampiric little man that resembles a frog. It weakens its victims by feeding on their blood and then swallowing them whole, before regurgitating you, missing a few parts and with a reddish hue to your skin.
Upon awakening, you’re alone. Judging from the dwindling sunlight, it’s dusk and the park is now deserted and eerily quiet. There’s a pain in your arm, though you can’t tell why. When you move to stand, you find yourself stumbling, barely capable of sitting. The red creature sits close by, observing you with intelligent eyes that seem misplaced in a beast instead of a man, before swallowing you whole in its unhinged jaw again.
Rinse and repeat, till you become a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who yourself.
2. The United States of America: The Smiling Man
You’re walking back to your Airbnb after a night out with new-found friends at the bar. On the solo trip of a lifetime, you can’t help but enjoy the cold night air, a crisp difference from the stuffy humidity of home.
Until you hear a twig break on the pavement behind you, and you turn to see… a man. Maybe out of place in his old fashioned suit, some ways behind you. He moves in strange, halting movements, and it takes you a second to realise a few things.
First of all, he’s moving in a box step, as if he’s waltzing. And the second – he’s smiling, a smile so wide and cheery, but it feels… off. Before you even realise it, he’s moving towards you in quickening steps, and that’s when you should probably start running.
The Smiling Man has been claimed to be seen throughout the US, with no rhyme or reason to who he follows, or what he does with them when he gets them. Or perhaps none have lived to tell the tale… Avoid walking alone at night – for obvious reasons.
3. Germany: Changeling, Deformed Fairy Baby
So you’ve reached Berlin, family in tow, your infant child sleeping soundly after crying for 10 hours on the long flight.
Once you get into your homestay, you settle down for the night, exhausted and looking forward to a day of sightseeing tomorrow. You glance over to your child in his cot, he’s sound asleep, and you slowly drift off to sleep too.
When you awake in the morning, you realise the window is open, though you swore it’s closed when you went to bed. You go about your day as per normal, but not before long you realise your baby is acting… differently. Your bubbly child is unnaturally sullen and constantly crying for more food.
It’s almost as if he’s an entirely different person.
Or maybe he’s not a person at all.
Changelings are fairies, old and gnarled, cloaked in magic to look like your child. They’re swapped for healthy human babies to strengthen the stock of the rest of the fairies, and there’s no real way to tell for sure if that’s your baby or not. Always keep an eye on your infant child at all times!
4. Japan: Kuchisake Onna, The Slit-Mouthed Woman
The streets are bustling in Tokyo and office workers rush past you constantly. Many are wearing surgical masks, in order to prevent the spread of the common cold or flu as they go about their lives. But has it ever occurred to you that there may be a little more to it than that?
The crowd thins out, and one woman catches your eye. With straight, black hair, and an unnerving quality to her voice, she approaches you and whispers.
“Am I beautiful?”
Should you say yes, she’ll remove her mask to reveal a smile stretching from ear to ear – mostly because a jagged slash runs through that path, bits of flesh and skin hanging where they were cut. She can’t stop smiling even if she wanted to. She asks again, the same question.
Answer “no”, and you face instant death. Answer “yes”, and she’ll whip out an unnaturally sharp pair of shears to make you just as beautiful as she is.
There are rumours that The Kuchisake Onna or “Slit-mouthed Woman” is being punished by her husband for her adultery. She now roams the city, concealing her disfigurement with a surgical mask, still yearning for the beauty robbed of her. Since she can’t get her looks back, she’ll settle with ruining yours.
If a woman in a mask approaches you for your humble opinion on their beauty, we suggest running. Fast.
5. Indonesia (Bali): Jenglot, The Tiny Humanoid Doll
Traipsing around Bali with your friends is arguably one of the most enjoyable activities you can partake in on the sunny island – there’s always more shopping to be done right? However, in your quest for souvenirs, you find something so unusual you just have to bring it home. A jenglot. The man who sells them claims they’re part of Indonesian black magic, but you and your friends laugh it off.
You chuck the creepy little doll in with the rest of your souvenirs in your luggage when you return, zipping the luggage up tight. Which is why it’s so unusual when you return from drinks later that night, to find the jenglot waiting patiently for its new master by the front door.
These creepy, mini mummy-looking creatures are slaves to their human masters; on the condition of course, that they’re fed a few drops of human blood every day. And if you don’t? Well… they can get angry. But no one has ever recorded exactly what happens when experiencing the wrath of a jenglot. Surely, there must be a reason for that.
If someone offers you black magic items on your travels, we suggest not buying it. Sure, it might look cool and be an unusual souvenir to bring home – but better safe than sorry!
6. South Korea: Cheuksin, The Toilet Goddess
You’re staying at an authentic home stay in Jeju, South Korea. Traditional Korean houses with sliding doors and cosy, warm sleeping mats on the floor may also come with an equally rustic bathroom – an outhouse.
In the middle of the night, you stumble to the outhouse and don’t even realise, in your sleep-addled state, just how creepy it really is. A lone standing shack, cloaked in darkness, a little dilapidated from decades of use.
You open the creaky door and inside the cramped space within, you find yourself facing… hair. The dingy light brings forth what should really stay hidden in the dark – what appears to be a woman, pale and sallow, in a white sheath.
She’s the Cheuksin, the Goddess of Toilets, ready to strangle you with her long, black hair. Remember: before you enter the loo, always cough three times to announce your presence. Otherwise, the Cheuksin may just take offence and take your life.
If you’re reading this in the loo right now, don’t look up.
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