The doctor is in

Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院

Xìnglín General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院 is perhaps the most famous ruin in downtown Tainan 台南, Taiwan. It opened for business in 1975 as the largest hospital in the city and catered to the burgeoning middle class during the boom times of the Taiwan Economic Miracle. In 1993 the hospital shut down after being plagued by a number of scandals involving fraudulent records, medical malpractice, and allegations of wrongful death. Ongoing legal battles and fragmented ownership have left the building abandoned and neglected since then.

Exterior shot of Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院
Exterior shot of Xinglin General Hospital on Ximen Road, Tainan.

Much like the so-called Minxiong Ghost House, this hospital is widely considered to be haunted. In fact, it regularly appears on lists of haunted places in Taiwan1 and has been featured on national television (in Chinese but totally worth watching for the hilarious audiovisual effects). It eventually became the subject of a feature-length horror film by the name of Hospital (杏林醫院 in Chinese), released in more than 70 theaters nation-wide on the last day of 2020. This fame and notoriety has made it next to impossible to separate fact from fiction through the smoky lens of machine translation. As such, this entry in my catalog of abandoned places in Taiwan will be rather light on history for a change.

Front desk of an abandoned hospital in Tainan
The front desk is one of the first things you’ll see when you enter the abandoned hospital. It is also visible from the street.
Gaining altitude in Xinglin General Hospital 杏林綜合醫院
The floor plan of the hospital is a rectangle with a central courtyard open to the skies above.

One of the things I love about exploring the many ruins of Taiwan is how untouched most of them appear to be. Urban exploration culture in Taiwan is typically respectful of the state of abandonment and most people seem to abide by the axiom “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”. Not so in this hospital, which has seen countless visitors in the decades since it was abandoned. No doubt teenagers and university students regularly dare one another to enter the “haunted house”, particularly at night, and not all of these missions end well.

A room full of debris in an abandoned hospital in Tainan
Vintage style in a room on the fifth floor.
Wandering around the rooftop of an abandoned hospital
Not much to see on the rooftop of the abandoned hospital.
Into the heart of the abandoned hospital
Peering down a utility channel running through the core of the building. Careful you don’t fall down here.
Lattice on an angle
Here the false ceiling has caved in, making it somewhat difficult to pick your way through the room to the other side.
The main counter on one of the higher levels
The main counter on one of the higher floors. You can imagine nurses and orderlies going about their business here.
Blackface toothpaste
A beaten-up tube of the infamous “Darkie” brand blackface toothpaste.
Space cats and dogs
A children’s storybook in the wreckage featuring space cats and dogs.
A tangle of wires
Many of the walls had been gutted, wires torn out and strewn about in a heap.
Medicine cabinet in the abandoned hospital
A medicine cabinet in a private room that must have been used for long-term care.
Residual officialdom
Residual officialdom in the ruins.
The summer of ’92
Dating the abandonment to the summer of 1992.
Open up a drawer and find a life inside
Several of the private rooms contained personal effects.

I was interested in finding many of the artifacts visible in previously published explorations2, particularly the operating room equipment, but the building has been almost completely cleared out by now. At least I found a tube of the original blackface toothpaste that I have read so much about since arriving in Asia!

Inside an abandoned hospital in Tainan
Another view across the central courtyard.
The hallway leading to the operating room
The decrepit hallway leading to the operating room.
Slip this into your vein
The only thing remaining in the operating room is a shelf with a bunch of syringes.
Take these pills
Abandoned medication.
Pharmacological decay
Pharmacological decay.
Ritual evidence
Candles in the shape of a yin yang symbol. Probably just some kids being foolish.
A garden of ferns in the courtyard of the abandoned hospital
A garden of ferns in the courtyard of the abandoned hospital.

One thing I was looking forward to was exploring the morgue in the basement. Here, too, I was disappointed, for the entire place had been completely stripped of equipment, and little of the original ambiance remained. Of course, it wasn’t obvious that it had been emptied out at first, so I experienced a little thrill as I crept along the dark hallways, pointing my torch this way and that. Alas there were no blood-curdling screams, no spooky apparitions. What gives? Maybe I need to return at night.

Spiral staircase to the front desk
This spiral staircase connects the counter in the basement with the front desk on the surface. I suppose this would have been useful for conveying medical records back and forth.
Stalking through the basement in search of the morgue
Stalking through the basement of a haunted hospital in Tainan.
The flooded basement of an abandoned hospital in Tainan
The basement was partly flooded but otherwise empty. I imagine this room might have once been the morgue.
X-ray room in the abandoned hospital
Most likely the X-ray room, but that’s just a guess.

As you can probably tell I wasn’t a huge fan of this particular exploration—but I wanted to add it to my growing list for the sake of completeness. Consider yourself forewarned: if you’ve heard about the haunted hospital in Tainan and want to check it out for yourself don’t expect too much from the experience. Oh, and watch where you step—evidently a pack of dogs has made their home on the ground floor, and there’s a lot of crap laying around.

The doctor is in
One final look at the small fern garden in the courtyard of Xinglin General Hospital.

Finally, since this is such a famous ruin there are many posts about it—most in Chinese, of course, although some English language blog postings have appeared since I originally published this account (see here for a good example). If you’d like to peruse a few I referenced while writing this post, you can find some here, here, here, here, and here. If nothing else I encourage you to peruse that television news report I referenced earlier; it’s comedy gold!


  1. Here is one example of the genre but you could easily find dozens more by searching the Chinese name of the hospital. 
  2. Most of these explorations are now offline, but this news report shows some of the operating room artifacts I was hoping to see. 

2 Comments

  1. The photo of medicine cabinet…

    I think the cabinet wasn’t for medicine. That was for cups and toothbrushes. We have the cabinet in our bathroom but just in my grandmother’s house. If you can see the cabinet in a house, it means the house is really old. We won’t have this kind of cabinet in a morden building. You can see there are some 小間隔 on the right side of cabinet. That’s for hanging toothbrushes.

    Thanks for reading my opinion. I really enjoy your beautiful photos~ Thank for your photos, haha!

  2. Damn, it’s kind of a shame, I just went here today and nearly all of the interesting/personal things you’ve photographed have been removed by others. Thanks for sharing and recording this.

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