Stranger Things: 5 Unusual Places to Add to Your Travel Bucket List
There are a number of strange, exotic, odd, and otherwise weird destinations on this beautiful planet of ours. So many, in fact, that a complete list of them would probably be impossible to manufacture.
But how about a sampling of some of these less-conventional travel destinations? Would you be interested in something like that?
If you clicked on this post, I'm guessing you would be, and so I've gathered a teeny-tiny list of 5 places you might not normally think of visiting, but that would definitely be worth your time if you're looking to do something different for your next vacation.
With one destination in Europe, one in South America, one in Asia, and two in North America (not the U.S.), you'll want to get your passport ready.
1. Svalbard, Norway
We're starting things off in a freeze-your-buns-off kind of way with a stop in the frozen tundra that is Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago that comprises one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas. Polar bears, reindeer, Arctic foxes, glaciers — Svalbard has all these and then some.
This is Arctic wilderness at its finest, so probably not for those travelers faint of heart or easily short of breath. Dogsledding, snowmobiling, and this sexy-sounding Summer Ice Fjord Safari are the kinds of adventures you can get yourself wrapped up in on Svalbard.
Nordic Visitor is your go-to for trip planning here. And the way they sum up this frigid archipelago is nothing short of perfect: "...the land where polar bears roam the sea ice, seals play among glaciers, and where the only constant under polar night and midnight sun is the endless expanse of true arctic wilderness."
2. Ushuaia, Argentina
All aboard for the end of the world! That is, for Ushuaia, a resort town on the southernmost tip of South America. In keeping with our "cold open," Ushuaia (pronounced ooh-sh-why-uh) features a temperature range of about 34-49 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
Commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world — so the Wikipedias say — Ushuaia is the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province and home to roughly 57,000 people. To get there, your best bet is to fly down to the beautiful city of Buenos Aires (been there; great place) and then catch another flight to Ushuaia.
Once there, you've got some options: Tierra del Fuego National Park and its End of the World Train; Bodegón Fueguino for some traditional Patagonian food; your average glacier trek, as well as other outdoor winter-type activities; and, if you're willing to shell out some dough, an Antarctic Peninsula Cruise.
3. This otherworldly hotel in Baja California, Mexico
All right, we can go somewhere warmer now. Recently featured in an article for GQ, Encuentro Guadalupe is a strange, outlandish-sort of hotel in Baja California that you'd have to see to believe.
Described by Gentlemen's Quarterly as "easily the strangest, most exhilarating base for exploring Baja's burgeoning wine country," the hotel runs somewhere north of $300/night (generally), but offers an otherworldly experience that makes your money worth it. Each "room" is an elevated pod constructed on a hillside located about 45 minutes north of the coastal city of Ensenada.
Like Svalbard, and the next two locations on this list, Encuentro Guadalupe is one of those more isolated types of destinations — though you could venture a little northwest and hit up Tijuana during your stay.
4. Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Would you look at that? This place was also featured in a GQ travel article once upon a time (in their August 2016 issue, to be sure). And, non-coincidentally, I'm also including it due in part to the fact that it holds another less-than-conventional bit of accommodation: the Fogo Island Inn, a modern art-worthy hotel situated among some craggy rocks on the largest offshore island of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Fogo Island Inn features 29 individually-designed rooms, a rooftop spa, and art studios. The hotel also houses one of limited number of restaurants on Fogo Island, offering up regionally-constructed meals, including seafood directly from the island's Atlantic harbor.
The island itself has 11 settlements (see: fishing communities) ripe for exploring, all situated along the coast. You'll get from one settlement to the next in your rental car, which you'll have acquired from Gander International Airport and brought over from Newfoundland on the MV Veteran ferry, which operates year-round.
5. Paro Taktsang (Tiger's Nest), Paro, Bhutan
And now, here's the real out-there one: this insane mountainside monastery in the landlocked country of Bhutan. The Tiger's Nest is a Himalayan Buddhist temple complex built in 1692 into the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. If you thought Denver, the Mile-High City, was up there, consider this: the monastery sits 10,000 feet above sea level.
Getting there is no piece of cake, as one might imagine. You'll first need to catch a flight to one of a select few locations in Asia, such as Bangkok, Thailand; Kathmandu, Nepal; Delhi, India; or Singapore, to name a few. From there you hop onto a flight with Drukair, Royal Bhutan Airlines (Bhutan is a Buddhist Kingdom, by the way) and fly into Paro.
Once there, it's time for a steep, two-hour climb up into the mountains. And we'll let Atlas Obscura take it from here: "...one arrives at the only beginning of the entrance to the Tiger’s Nest, a rock outcropping overlooking a vast chasm, with the monastery on the other side ... Carved into the exposed cliff face are stone steps with absolutely no handrails. This is the [only] way to the Tiger’s Nest monastery."
Happy adventuring, folks!