14 Crazy Places To Travel To
Feeling adventurous? And we don’t mean trying-a-new-cocktail adventurous (fun as that is), but really, genuinely adventurous. If so, then break out your passport and backpack, book a year off work, and start ticking off your visits to our 14 weird destinations to travel to, in honor of 14 months of Société Perrier online. You’re in for quite the ride.
1. Gobi Desert, Mongolia
For a unique look at this bizarre and fascinating desert, get driven out to stay with a Mongolian nomadic family in a ger — a moveable and very cosy felt tent. If you can stand the temperatures of up to - 40 °C, the best time to see the Gobi is actually in winter, when the sand dunes are covered in startlingly bright, crisp snow and the silence of the desert floods over you. If you’re lucky, the family you stay with may prepare you a meal of horsemeat and Süütei Tsai (salted milk tea), both of which are surprisingly palatable.
Image by Tristan Parker
2. Khajuraho, India
A small town in Madhya Pradesh, India, containing clusters of archeologically incredible temples, overflowing with ancient, intricate, highly explicit erotic carvings, which — weirdly enough — no-one knows the exact reason for. After the temple walk, take a rooftop table overlooking the main site and witness the extraordinary sight and sound of thousands of Indian ringnecked parakeets patterning the sky and noisily flocking to the same set of trees at dusk every day.
Image by Tati@
3. Lake Baikal, Russia
A gentle arc in the south of the geographic enormity that is Russia, the oldest and deepest lake in the world (at 1,700 metres deep) is a stunning sight in its remote location, but a few towns scattered around its edge allow great access to this vast wonder. The wooden cottages of Listvyanka are undeniably pretty, but make the long journey to Olkhon Island — almost in the centre of the lake — and its mountains, meadows and lack of modern distractions (no telephone lines, no power lines and no cell signal) will overwhelm you.
Image by Tristan Parker
4. Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley, U.S.
A castle. In the middle of the desert. Also known as Death Valley Ranch, this strange building is endowed with equally strange and uncertain origins, involving a millionaire engineer who allegedly built the ‘castle’ (actually more akin to a Mediterranean villa), and a con man friend, who later claimed it as his own. You may well think you’ve encountered a mirage when you stumble on this old-time luxury villa stranded in the unforgiving Death Valley heat.
Image by parks_traveler
5. San Pedro Prison, La Paz, Bolivia
Paying to go to prison. It may sound like madness but that’s what tourists to La Paz have been doing for years, after a British inmate started giving (illegal) guided tours of San Pedro — a prison renowned for containing its own microcosmic society and operating outside the standards of most prisons. The British inmate, Thomas McFadden, is long gone, but the tours apparently continue. Be warned, although it’s an incredibly unique opportunity, the tours are still illegal, and it’s a pretty close contact affair in a dangerous environment — you are in prison, after all.
Image by Miradas.com.br
6. Pamukkale, Turkey
Translated as ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, Pamukkale features a series of natural springs set into rocky landscape. As the warm water flows from the springs and over the cliffs, it cools, forming incredible travertines (calcium carbonate) in gleaming, brilliant white, making the area look like an immense candyfloss playground of the gods. You can also bathe in some of the pools, whilst drinking in the surreal, other-worldly beauty of the landscape.
Image by LePendu
7. Hampi, India
An incredible anomaly in the Indian countryside, with impossibly huge piles of countless granite rocks strewn as far as the eye can see, interspersed with rich, green paddy fields. The rocks are said to have been thrown by the monkey-god Hanuman, when battling his enemies. Standing on a hilltop and catching a panoramic view of the landscape is unforgettable, or for some Zen-like self-reflection, simply wander across the rock formations without seeing another soul for hours.
Image by Sabamonin
8. Easter Island, Polynesia
An oldie but a goodie, everyone knows those iconic, bulbous stone heads, but few have actually travelled to see them in person. That’s probably because this Polynesian is one of the most isolated places on Earth, located a couple of thousand miles off the west coast of Chile. The famous statues — moai — are the subject of some debate, with some claiming that they represent the ancestors of the islanders who carved them, to bring good luck.
Image by Ndecam
9. Great Blue Hole, Belize
Pretty self-explanatory, but then again, words don’t quite do justice to this mind-bending aquatic sight. It’s actually a ‘sinkhole’ or ‘vertical cave,’ measuring 300 metres across and 125 metres deep. It is this sudden plunge in depth that gives the blue hole its deep, dark blue coloring, contrasting brilliantly with the emerald green surrounding it. If you’re feeling daring then grab your scuba gear and go dive it.
Image by DrJohnBullas
10. Tashirojima, Japan (‘Cat Island’)A tiny island off the east coast of Japan, Tashirojima’s nickname of ‘Cat Island’ is well-founded, with the human population (admittedly only 100 people) being outnumbered by cats. Residents originally brought cats in to deal with a rodent problem, and began to see them as a sign of good luck, which further intensified when the island and its inhabitants were submerged but essentially unharmed by the devastating 2011 tsunami. There’s also a cat shrine and several suitably Manga-esque cat-shaped buildings on the island.
Image by rahen z
11. Sanzhi Pod City, Taiwan
These fantastic retro-futuristic pod houses (apparently based on Finnish architect Matti Suuronen’s UFO Futuro houses) were built as part of a resort for U.S. military personnel posted in South East Asia in 1978, but the project and resort were abandoned a few years later (after financial losses and fatal accidents, amid rumours of curses and burial grounds), giving it even more of a sci-fi ghost town feel. Sadly, you won’t find much at site anymore, as the pods have been demolished. But perhaps you’ll spot one zooming through the skies, looking for a new resting place…
Image by vicjuan
12. Jeju Loveland, South Korea
Just where is the love? Well, Fergie, we’ve found the answer, and it’s in a theme park on a small South Korean island. Jeju Loveland is, according to the official website, a “sexual theme park,” but if that sounds a bit too free love, don’t worry — it’s actually a sculpture park (“where sexually oriented art and eroticism meet”), with the raunchy work of 140 artists and sex education info.
Image by steveslep
13. Socotra Island, Yemen
Famously coined as “the most alien-looking place on earth,” Socotra is indeed just that, and then some. An archipelago of four small islands in the Arabian Sea, the main island, Socotra, is home to a mindblowingly weird array of plants and animals, with a third of its plant life not found anywhere else in the world — a phenomenon caused by its geographical isolation and intensely hot climate. Dragon’s Blood trees and Desert Rose plants are just some of the captivating flora and fauna, and parts of the island look eerily like Martian landscapes.
14. Mount Roraima, South America
This epic table mountain straddles no less than three borders — Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana — and is simply breathtaking, in both senses, as you’ll have to get those lungs working properly to scale its 31km summit. Once at the top, you’ll be richly rewarded with stunning views that look not unlike a series of giant cloud waterfalls. There’s also plenty of unique and beautiful plantlife up there — another fine reason to wander around above the clouds for a good few hours.
Image by Paulo Fassina