This Halloween, we’re giving you the chance to choose between winning a trip, or bagging a whole load of awesome travel treats, such as discounted treks to Dracula’s homeland, ghost walks in London and hostel deals across the world. (You can head to the website to find out more about these).
And it got us thinking – travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, or warm sandy beaches and cuddly koalas. There are some truly terrifying travel destinations around the world – from Paris’ underground tunnels which explored by thousands of travelers every year, to abandoned villages in Japan. Here are some of our favourites…
1. The Island of Dolls, Mexico
Isla de las Munecas just south of Mexico City is home to hundreds of creepy dolls hanging from trees and strung haphazardly to fences. The island is said to have been where a little girl tragically drowned many years ago. The caretaker who tried to save her was so traumatized by his failed attempt he started the macabre trend, which is now embraced by hundreds of tourists every year…
2. East London
London has got to be one of the most haunted places on the planet. The Tower of London and Highgate Cemetery are hotspots for the paranormal, but it’s the cobbled streets of East London that’ll really raise some hairs. Once you’ve had your fill of hipster street art and Brick Lane’s yummy street food, step onto a nightly Jack the Ripper tour and learn, in gruesome detail, exactly what the notorious cloaked killer did to his victims (…aaand what parts of them he ate) throughout the dark year of 1888. Finish it off with a pint in the Ten Bells pub in Aldgate, where the victims themselves were said to have drunk each evening!
3. Paris Catacombs
Art galleried out? Eiffel tower feel like one big cliché to you? Paris isn’t all macarons and romantic strolls across the River Siene. You could always head underground, through the Barrière d’Enfer (Gates of Hell), to ogle the remains of an estimated 6 million people (that’s half the living population of present-day Paris!).
Every inch of this tunnel network’s walls is lined with bones and skulls. Why, exactly? In the reign of Louis XV, traditional cemetery burials were banned from the capital due to the nasty stench and mini-plague epidemics caused by overflowing graves. The only option was to remove the dead and relocate them to their new, cozy resting place.
The catacombs stretch for miles and miles, and you’re only permitted to enter in special parts, but hundreds of people known as ‘Cataphiles’ (yup, creepy) try to explore them at their own risk every year, often ending up getting seriously lost.
4. Yungas Road, Bolivia
Would you off-road mountain bike downhill, with a 15,000 ft drop to the left of you? Well, thousands of travelers choose to every year… and a fair few have met their demise. Yungas Road, more commonly known as Death Road near the capital city of La Paz has even been labelled as the most dangerous road in the world.
5. Iceland’s southeast coast
Nowhere in Iceland is the Instagram game stronger than on the south coast. Gnarly waterfalls and beautiful soaring cliffs provide the perfect roadtrip backdrop… but it’s Reynisfjara Beach that’s the star of this desolate, eerie show.
Here, the sand is black, the waves are relentless and the basalt rock cliffs are like something from another planet. This cold, windswept beach is punctuated with caves made from old lava flows and with huge rock formations jutting out of the ocean – said to be two old trolls heading home one night, who were frozen solid by the sunrise. Visit on a misty, wet day for the best atmosphere, then head to Solheimasandur Beach next door to explore a semi-intact plane wreck whch you can even climb inside.
Discover more: Iceland in Winter
6. The Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan
A giant hole in the ground, in the middle of the Karakum Desert, the Gates of Hell haven’t always burned. It’s thought that this used to be a giant gas field which, when it collapsed in the sixties, was set alight by geologists in an attempt to burn off the methane gas it was leaking. So far… there’s no sign of the gas flow stopping, and the hole has been alight ever since.
7. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh is probably the most festive and cozy destination on your UK itinerary. But its iconic castle is apparently one of the most haunted sites in the world. There’s a headless drummer knocking around, the ghost of a cute dog called Greyfriars Bobby (Google immediately – grab some tissues), some French prisoners from the American Revolutionary War… if you listen long enough.
Oh, and they used to put suspected witches in barrels on the top of the hill the castle sits on, shove swords in the sides, and roll them to the bottom. Cute city.
Discover more: 10 days in England and Scotland
8. Bran Castle, Romania
Dracula was real, kids, and he lived in this crib. This imposing castle in the forested hills of Transylvania is where Vlad the Impaler (surname, Dracula) called home. You know… when he wasn’t out impaling thousands of people on sticks and erecting them in the ground. Nice guy.
Discover more: The best way to explore Eastern Europe’s pine forests, grizzly peaks and historically rich cities is on our Halloween Trek, launching out of Budapest.
9. Hanging coffins in Sagada, Philippines
You’d be forgiven for assuming most cultures across the globe bury their dead. But in the mountain provinces in northern Philippines, coffins containing the deceased are nailed to or hung from the side of cliffs. The fresh air and lack of water means loved ones are preserved for much longer. And when you think about it, its kinda nicer than being stuck underground…
10. Nagoro, Japan
Ah, we love the Japanese. Over a decade ago, the tiny village of Nagoro in southern Japan was completely abandoned, after its inhabitants left for bigger towns and cities with more job prospects and stronger economies. As a response to this social problem seen across many areas of Japan, a lady has re-populated the village with hundreds of life-size scarecrow-like mannequins.
Some lay weather-beaten in doorways, others propped over their bikes or cars, imitating the real-life ex-inhabitants they’re based on…
Not had your fill of spooky spots around the world? Check out our Halloween sale, where we’re offering heavily discounted tours and trips to see some of these spooky spots for yourself.