The Haunted Pod Village of San-zhi

NOTE: The pod village was torn down in 2009.

Nestled along a short stretch of coastline in Northern Taiwan lies a strange complex known as The San-Zhi Pod Village. This abandoned futuristic luxury vacation spot remains a complete mystery to locals and tourists alike. There are several stories surrounding the circumstances that led up to its abandonment, but no one seems to know exactly why or how the site fell into such a state of disrepair.
San-Zhi Pod Village, Taiwan

San-zhr Pod Village 5

The wacky looking space village is located in San-zhi, on the outskirts of Taipei in Northern Taiwan. It was originally constructed for wealthy urbanites looking to escape the city on weekends.

The most popular story of its eventual decline claim a number of mysterious accidents ending in numerous deaths led to the halt of all construction. Locals believe the area to be haunted.

San-Zhr Pod Village 2

I heard about this incredible site from my friend, Craig Ferguson, who did a photo series last May.
And of course, in true globetrotting form, we added it to our ever-growing list of weekend motorcycle adventures.

San-Zhr Pod Village 17

As we sped down Highway 2 towards San-zhi last month, I thought it would be difficult to find, but the area kind of jumps out at you. If you miss seeing the giant candy-colored Smartie-like pods looming in the background, you won’t miss the massive broken-backed dragon that seems to hover over the boarded up entrance.

Guardian Dragon

We entered through a broken window and made our way through the complex and out into the main courtyard. It was eerily quiet. It was so quiet, we could hear the crashing of the waves at the waterfront and the grass blowing. The pods were in various states of disrepair. Some had their entire roofs ripped off, others had collapsed in on themselves. It was obvious that people had been living in some of them. The sheer amount of destruction was mind-blowing.

San-Zhr Pod Village 11

We traversed the length of the complex, slowly circling the man-made pool and ramp that was supposed to house a mini-amusement park for children. A long, white water slide lay in the murky depths of the pool.

San-zhr Pod Village 12

We couldn’t resist a peek inside. John found a pod that looked relatively safe and we climbed up to take a look around. Inside, the destruction and shoddy craftsmanship is evident. It’s hard to imagine these pods surviving the harsh summer and winter weather that Northern Taiwan’s coastline is famous for. The concrete stairs were uneven and crumbling apart. The collapsed roofs and walls are paper-thin and would never have survived a tropical storm. The view from the windows is unbelievable. There are miles of unspoilt coastline. Close your eyes to the destruction and for a few minutes you can see how it was intended to look before it was abandoned. It would have been magnificent. Instead, it is nothing but a complete waste.
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63 thoughts on “The Haunted Pod Village of San-zhi

  1. Carrie Post author

    Mark,

    Me too. John and I thought it would be a really neat place to live. We could totally imagine ourselves there, especially with the scenery. It’s incredible. I can’t believe that no one has done anything with the site since.

    Reply
  2. Carrie Post author

    Yep Steve. It’s one of our favorite places to go in Taiwan. We drive along that highway quite a bit. Last weekend, we were on our way to Yehliu and we stopped in San-zhi for another look around.

    Reply
  3. cfimages

    Cool photos. Much better than the ones I took. The first time I was the, the big blue waterslide was still in place, although a bit broken, and you could walk up it if you were careful. The 2nd time I was there, it had fallen down.

    Reply
  4. kim

    The place looks like something out of a movie! I suppose it is because of the local superstition that the pod village wasn’t rebuilt. It reminds me a bit of the ‘abandoned fairground’ concept (but less spooky due to the absense of potential clown-ghosts).

    Reply
  5. Carrie Post author

    Hi Craig,

    That’s quite a compliment. Thanks very much. I was chatting to a fellow photography buff earlier today about the pod village and he said quite a bit of it had changed since his last visit as well. At least with the pod village, you know it’s never going to be the same, which makes for interesting photo opportunities each time you return. Last weekend we stopped by and a group of kids were filming a home movie there.

    Reply
  6. Carrie Post author

    Kim,

    It’s quite surreal. I would love to know more about the architect who designed it, but finding accurate information has eluded me thus far.

    Reply
  7. Carrie Post author

    Hi Todd,

    Thanks and congratulations again! If you’re doing the deed in December then we’ll move on over and make it a month to remember!

    Reply
  8. arex

    You know, I drove past that place a few times in tw and was always creeped out by it. I can’t find it right now, but I remember some photog artist shot models in that park that were both cool and kinda creepy. The first time I drove by, I thought how often in Asia (esp in China) lots of people can build things, but maintenance is a whole different factor altogether.

    Nice shots.

    Reply
  9. Mia

    Supersitition being what it is in Chinese culture would explain a lot. And poor workmanship is another factor I am sure. I love the concept and the view from your other photos were fantastic. Your photos keep making me want to go back to my birthplace.

    Reply
  10. Carrie Post author

    Arex,

    I gotta say, I love Twitter folk! Thanks for coming back for another visit. Your comments are greatly appreciated! If you head down Highway #2 towards San-zhi, you won’t miss it. The first set of pods are built right beside the highway. I completely agree with your last comment.

    I lived in China for three years and the one thing that constantly amazed me was how fast buildings went up. They always looked great from the outside, but after a year or two they start crumbling apart.

    Reply
  11. Carrie Post author

    Mia,

    :-) I would certainly welcome the opportunity to meet you! I imagine we would have lots to talk about. When was the last time you were in Taiwan?

    Reply
  12. jason

    Nice…I drove by this place back in April 1995…never forgot it. Surprised to see it still standing….

    Reply
  13. Krzysztof

    It’s an ideal scenery to film a horror ;) Personally I’m not a supporter such a futurist shapes. Hoever this place looks very amazing. I like this sculpture of dragon. Nice shots Carrie.

    Reply
  14. Lalla Lydia

    What an eerie yet intriguing place…It reminds me of the kind of places Miyazaki likes to imagine for his films. Thanks for the lovely pics! They do look just like (old) candy…

    PS: You’ve been tagged!

    Reply
  15. Carrie Post author

    Hi K.

    It would make a cool horror film. I agree. I never get tired of walking around the area. I’m glad that it’s still left alone though. It adds to the mystique.

    Reply
  16. Carrie Post author

    Lalla Lydia,

    I haven’t heard from you in awhile. I hope things are going well for you in your part of the world. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Double thanks for the tag!

    Reply
  17. Patrick Cowsill

    I cycle by this place all the time. This, for my money, is one of the best cycling routes around Taipei and I often escape along this highway on my own. According to locals, the pods are haunted. They say that if you photograph them, ghosts will appear in the shots, shimmering in the glass.

    Reply
  18. Carrie Post author

    Hi Patrick,

    I envy you that route. It’s our favorite route for riding on as well, but we don’t get to do it as often as we’d like. I like your comment about ghosts shimmering in the glass, although despite the hundreds of photos I took that day, the only ghost that kept appearing was John, who has a nasty habit of stepping in to photos when you least want him to.

    Reply
  19. RaiulBaztepo

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Reply
    • globetrotteri Post author

      Hi Raiul,
      Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's no need to apologize for your English. There are plenty of readers here who are studying English at the moment. I'm just glad you were confident enough to leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  20. Shilpa

    beautiful photos.. i loved the building made.. it is something different..
    thanks anyways for the photos..

    Reply
  21. Ssam

    Great photos and story! the place looks really creepy and cool at the same time. might want to visit someday…It would be interesting if someone took the original designs and rebuilt “Pod-village”.

    Reply
  22. afrokenjonny

    As a previous resident of Taiwan, I have never heard of this- so i did some research and maybe i could clarify some issues :)
    this was actually not designed in the 60s. this was actually designed in the late 70s and late 80s and last worked on in 1989. the confusion comes from the fact that Taiwan has a parallel calendar system that counts years from 1911, marking the formation of the Republic of China (hence, Republic Years late 60s= late 1970s in Gegorian calendar.

    this collection was originally built as a fancy club designed by an eccentric architect nicknamed “Old Taro” Construction halted in early 1980 because of the fear of the economic storm, as well as the construction company not able to move money around. Construction recommenced in 1989 when the project found new investors including the Hilton chain, and the vision was changed to become a resort hotel. Yet again negotiations broke down over the business model of the resort, and the project was finally abandoned in late 1989 for good.

    there are no ghosts nor murders nor rape committed in this place: the closest might be the homeless and vagabonds. it was rumoured that the locale was a Japanese execution camp, but excavation did not substantiate such claims. the worst that happened was some workers got hurt, and that’s it.

    http://www.twbbs.net.tw/2821214.html is where i got information. i translated.
    Read more: http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/2007/05/sanzhi-%e4%b8%89%e8%8a%9d-taiwan-abandoned-housinghotel-development/#comment-12388740#ixzz0KnjpZIMk&C

    Reply
    • Carrie Post author

      Hi Afrokenjonny,
      Thanks for providing some extra information for our readers. There are a lot of different versions of this story. I think that’s one of the reasons why this area is so interesting. Did the article you translated from Tubbs mention anything about people actually living in these pods? When I was there last year, there was still quite a bit of furniture, clothing, and old mementos like picture frames and albums. Just curious.

      Anyways, thanks again for the added information and for contributing. I hope you’ll come back again some time.

      Reply
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  24. peiwen

    Hi, thanks for the write-up. It’s very interesting. I’m really intrigued by this place. Been googling around and read that the place has been demolished and is no longer around. Does anyone know if that’s true? I’ll be visiting Taiwan next week and would love to photograph this place, so hoping to find out more.

    Reply
  25. Jacqueline

    Hi Carrie,

    Any idea if the Pod City is still there? I was planning on going over in March and would love to go out there and take some photos. Any information would be super helpful.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Gary

    These are all just an actual build of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxian house. I believe that was their name. he designed a few different types, but they all revolved around a circular home environment with the concept of making the most use out of the least amount of material.

    Reply
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  29. hoverZero

    I doubt people could make a shift to something like ‘pod homes’, I think that was the real issue. People live a certain way and if they’re in an alien environment they break down.

    Reply
  30. James

    I guess the real question is.. after checking out those so called “pods”, would you give up your current place to live in one of those? Assuming they were made out of stronger materials :)

    Reply
    • Carrie Post author

      Hi James,

      You know, I would definitely consider it. The view was incredible, and there’s no denying that a pod would be a cool place to live in!

      Reply
  31. R J Dent

    These photos are fantastic. You’ve really caught San-Zhi’s tangible feeling of neglect, of melancholy, of desolation and futility. Great work.

    Reply
  32. Steve

    our culture is dissolving – when was the last time you saw human beings build something cool like that? now all we got is a bunch of 2 by 4s and sheet rock.

    Reply
  33. Mike R.

    Sadly, from what I found online, these amazing structures have been demolished by what seems to be the Taiwanese government! I lost the link, but someone just recently went to the site and all of them were torn down with only the remnants of scraps of multicolored fiberglass on the ground. Sad stuff…

    Reply
  34. adrianne

    It looks like it was a quick money making scheme for some developers. They intended to create a buzz, get them sold at high prices and get out of it before they notice how shoddy the workmanship was.

    Reply
  35. Sam

    hi there. are you sure that they torn it all down? i planned to go there in 4 weeks… please let me know if you anything about it.
    thank you

    Reply
      • Sam

        Thanks a lot Carrie! Wow, that´s too bad… They didn´t even leave one or two??? I wanted to see them for quite a while and will finally make it over from Europe… :-( I heard there´s something similiar in Wanli District. Do you know anything about that? Meaning where exactly it is and if it´s worth going? I´ll be touring with my band and have a day of in Taipei and am really interested in stuff like that. I appreciate your help! Best wishes, Sam

        Reply
        • Carrie Post author

          Hi Sam,

          Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about a pod village in the Wanli District. I’ll see if I can find something out for you when I get back from vacation.

          By the way, you mentioned that you’re in a band? What kind of a band do you play in? Do you play in Taiwan?

          Reply
          • Sam

            Hey Carrie,

            thanks for your effort. I really appreciate it. These are the ones I am talking about:
            http://shuandjoe.com/?p=1008
            I would like to know whether or whether not they are still there and how to get there in case they are… Don´t stress yourself, if you can figure out something it´ll be great, if not… no worries.

            Yes, we are playing in Taipei on 19th August (at The Wall) and the following day in Taichung at Emerge… we are just 4 young lads making typical Indie-Rock I´d say… come by if you feel like it!

          • Carrie Post author

            Hi Sam,

            Thanks for that link. I’ll ask around and see what I can find out.

            Regarding your August 19th gig, I might just take you up on that!

  36. kevin

    I loved your photos!I live near the woods and theres an abandoned pod village that looks very like these one. Its haunted like this one.(if it were still standing,)i might have to go with you on your next trip up!

    Reply

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