In this article:
- Chinese culture is full of ghost stories and a general belief in living spirits. The vast majority of these ghost stories have been passed down through generations from times long passed.
- The story of the “ghost bus” of Beijing, on the other hand, is said to have taken place in 1995.
- As the story goes, an old woman and a young man were sitting on a bus next to each other when the old woman realized some of the other passengers were ghosts. She then faked an argument with the young man to get him to step off the bus.
- This decision saved the young man’s life. Days later, the bus was found sunken in a reservoir.
While there are many Chinese people who do not believe in ghosts, the idea that the spirits of the dead inhabit the world of the living has been part of most Chinese belief systems since ancient times — just as it has in North America, South America, and other parts of the world.
King Xuan of Zhou, the eleventh king of the Chinese Zhou dynasty, is widely believed to have been killed by a ghost back in 783 BC.
To this day, the Chinese still celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival every year, a celebration dedicated to honoring and remembering the spirits of the dead.
While ghosts have been a part of Chinese folklore and religion since ancient times, it’s rare that a ghost story from modern times will make its way into the public’s collective consciousness.
One exception to that rule is the story of the infamous “ghost bus” of Beijing. This story has become a modern legend in China and has since spread throughout the world.
The truly remarkable story of the ghost bus takes place in 1995, according to most accounts. However, like all good legends, the story itself varies widely depending on who’s telling it. If you’re reading this from Beijing, it might make you think twice about getting on a bus.
The Legend of the Ghost Bus of Beijing
According to most accounts, this story takes place sometime in November of 1995. Of course, it was a dark and stormy night. A young man was waiting to catch the midnight bus (bus number 375) back to his home in Fragrant Hills in the Haidian District of Beijing. This was the last bus of the night.
The young man boarded the bus and took his seat next to an old woman. Not long after, the bus passed two men standing on the side of the road. Initially, the bus did not stop for the two men because they were not standing at a bus stop. However, upon remembering that it was the last bus of the night, the driver stopped and let the two men get on.
When the two men got on the bus, the young man realized that there were not just two of them, but three.
Two of the men were dressed like they were from the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912). They wore their hair in long braids and their faces were whiter than a normal person’s. The two of them were carrying the third man, who had mangy, long hair covering his face, by his shoulders.
The young man, understandably curious about such a scene, asked the conductor about the strange trio that had just walked onto the bus. The conductor replied by saying that they were probably just actors who didn’t have time to take off their costumes. That seemed like a pretty good explanation.
As the bus continued on, most of the passengers got off until the only remaining people on the bus were the young man, the old woman sitting next to him, the strange trio, the conductor, and the driver.
Suddenly, the old woman started throwing a fit and screaming that the young man had stolen her wallet. The young man and the old woman began to yell at each other until the woman suggested that the two of them get off the bus and head to the nearest police station.
Once they stepped off the bus, the young man became even angrier as he realized that they’d just gotten off the last bus and there was no police station in sight. The old woman, however, seemed calm and relieved.
“They didn’t have any feet,” the old woman said. The young man was confused.
“The wind coming in from the window raised their robes, and I saw they didn’t have feet,” she explained. The men in the Qing Dynasty robes had been ghosts.
The morning after, bus number 375 was reported as missing. It took three days to locate the bus, which was found sunken in a reservoir miles away from its final destination of Fragrant Hills.
Inside the bus, the police found three bodies: the conductor, the driver, and a man with mangy, long hair. According to some variations of the story, the bus’s gas tank was filled with blood instead of petrol.
It seems that the old woman had recognized the ghosts as ghosts and lured the young man off the bus to save him from the unfortunate fate that the other three men would meet.
To make things even stranger, there was no way that the bus could have made it as far as it did with the amount of fuel that would have been left in it. Maybe they used blood as fuel to make it the extra miles.
Secondly, when they checked the CCTV footage from around the reservoir that night, there was nothing out of the ordinary. No bus plummeting to the bottom of the reservoir. Nothing.
Finally, the bodies that they found were far more decomposed than they should have been. Even in the middle of summer heat, there is no way that those bodies could have decomposed as much as they did.
Is the Ghost Bus of Beijing Real?
Since this story became popularized in the 21st century, people in China and throughout the world have debated whether there’s any truth to it.
First of all, after reading several different versions of this story across the internet, I noticed that many of the stories have different bus numbers. Sometimes it’s bus number 375, sometimes it’s number 302, and sometimes it’s 330. There’s no general consensus on what number the bus was.
Second, there are no news reports anywhere online that suggest that a bus crashed into a reservoir near Beijing in 1995. With that being said, the Chinese government is notorious for censoring media outlets, so maybe there was a new story that got covered up.
Now, I believe in ghosts, but this story sounds a little bit too fantastic for me to believe wholeheartedly. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. But two ghosts from the Qing Dynasty commandeering a bus and driving it into a reservoir with a tank full of blood is a pretty outlandish tale.