If lying on a beach sounds like the most boring activity ever because you’re a fierce runner and the rest of your life is lived on the fast track, too, why settle for travel destinations best described as “meh”? You want to see places that are unusual. Quirky.
Strange. So far off the beaten path you can’t recall where that path is. And if you’re fanatical about taking selfies everywhere you go — well, this article is written just for you.
1. Destination: Wedding Cake Rock
Where to find this cool place: Royal National Park near Bundeena, New South Wales, Australia.
Why it’s cool: These delicious, sun-bleached limestone terraces are suspended aloft at about 82 feet above sea level and while you can’t get on top of the cake any longer because geologists have rendered the uppermost layers unsafe, you can still get great views if you climb. The most important reason to visit? The fragility of this peak: it won’t be long before it disappears off the face of the earth if scientists are correct.
Photos to prove you visited: Wear bright colours for contrast against the wedding cake background. Photograph yourself on the walking trail running between Bundeena to Otford.
2. Destination: Figure Eight Pools
Where to find this cool place: Along the coastal headlands of Sydney Australia’s Royal National Park
Why it’s cool: Because this perfectly shaped cluster of unique geological formations surrounding tranquil little pools is a natural wonder, but you’re advised to explore Figure Eight Pools only at low tide and when the sea is calm. Wear shoes with soles that grip and don’t look for lifeguards, toilets or food stalls. Your mobile may not work, either, but it’s worth the inconvenience to see Mother Nature at her cleverest.
Photos to prove you visited: Get into one of the pools, silly. Have someone snap you or do it yourself, but why would you want to come to a cool place like this alone?
3. Destination: Lake Kaindy
Where to find this cool place: In the middle of Kazakhstan
Why it’s cool: The approach to the lake begins a surreal experience as visitors spot tree trunks literally rising from beautifully-coloured waters. Because this spruce forest is completely submerged, even geologists are puzzled by this phenomenon. Hidden in the Kungey Alatau Mountains, the sunken forest is only a century old, yet divers and swimmers flock here from the village of Saty, just 15 kilometers away.
Photos to prove you visited: Pose in the water or out – friends will insist that you Photo-shopped yourself in this strange environment.
4. Destination: The Bamboo Train
Where to find this cool place: Battambang, Cambodia
Why it’s cool: Thrill seekers willing to sit atop bamboo slots over a train car foundation to travel at 15 km per hour along an old rail line can jump off voluntarily and run alongside the car if things get too crowded on the travelling platform! Your engineer may try to cram eight people onto the transport, so be prepared to get up close and personal with strangers if you’re not bringing your own crowd.
Photos to prove you visited: Take photos of the rolling platform empty, filled and if you can get someone to capture you alone, strike a pose in Lady Gaga fashion.
5. Destination: Cu Chi Tunnels
Where to find this cool place: Outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Why it’s cool: Just knowing that the Viet Cong built 120 miles of underground tunnel to hide from enemy armies during the Vietnam War should intrigue you enough to add this to your list of cool destinations. Soldiers not only travelled this tunnel but lived there, so use your imagination when you visit. Don’t laugh, but government officials maintaining these tunnels had to enlarge the walls so overweight westerners don’t get stuck. You’re a runner and you’re fit so this shouldn’t be a problem for you!
Photos to prove you visited: Take photos before, during and after your tunnel experience. Claustrophobic? Why is this destination on your short list?
6. Destination: Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Buddhist Temple
Where to find this cool place: Sisaket Province, Thailand
Why it’s cool: No matter how many Buddhist temples you’ve visited in the past, you’ve yet to see the strangest one of them all: this temple was built from the ground up using 1.5 million recycled beer bottles. Often photographed by tourists and a favourite destination of travellers who adore quirky attractions, this odd temple was built in 1984 and still draws big crowds.
Photos that prove you’ve been here: If your mum is religious, she may not appreciate a snapshot of you praying amid millions of beer bottles. On the other hand, such an image could be the star of your Facebook page.
7. Destination: Yufuin Floral Village
Where to find this cool place: Japan
Why it’s cool: If a visit to the U.K. is unlikely and you are mesmerised by the thought of English landscapes, villages and gardens, travel to Yufuin to see a recreation of an authentic village that allows visitors to wander scaled-down buildings commissioned by a local businessman. This village is so authentic-looking, scenes from Harry Potter were filmed here. Want to spend more than a day here? Book a room at the nearby hotel.
Photos to prove you visited: Pose with iconic characters like Beatrix Potter and others, statuary to record your trip to “England.”
8. Destination: Naga Fire Balls
Where to find this cool place: Non Nhai village on the Mekong River, Thailand
Why it’s cool: Line up along the Mekong at exactly the same hour of the evening in late November so you’re on hand when fire balls mysteriously appear on the river to the amazement of crowds. Is this is a hoax perpetrated by tourism officials or do you side with scientists who have failed to come up with a logical cause or reason why these balls appear out of nowhere? According to local folklore, these fire balls are generated by a mythical snake and who are we to refute their supposition?
Photos to prove you visited: Obviously, timing is everything, so don’t start snapping until those fire balls appear. If the snake shows up, you may require a selfie stick to photo bomb his appearance!
9. Destination: Namtso Lake
Where to find this cool place: Tibet
Why it’s cool: If you’re already feeling giddy at the thought of climbing to a height of 15,500 feet above sea level, a journey to the highest saltwater lake in the world should be moved to the top of your list. The drive to and from Namtso Lake from Lhasa (half a day’s drive) is equally fascinating. Pass grazing yaks, little villages and shop jewellery stands for souvenirs. Travellers prone to high altitude sickness should bring oxygen.
Photos to prove you visited: Snap a selfie against a background of Mount Nyenchen Tanglha’s prayer flags or pose with a yak if you find one willing to hold still long enough.
10. Destination: Tea Plantations of Kolukkumalai
Where to find this cool place: Munnar, Western Ghats, India
Why it’s cool: How much tea do you drink in a day? How about a pilgrimage to the highest tea plantation in the world? The harrowing three-hour drive through cardamom forests is guaranteed to get your heart rate up before you spot a surreal landscape filled with bright green dots. Those are the legendary tea plantations you are about to walk through. Having come this far, the Rajamala Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal side trip if you love animals.
Photos to prove you visited: Use that surreal green landscape as the perfect backdrop for your portrait. If you visit the animal sanctuary, your camera’s memory card will fill up fast, so bring an extra one.
So which is the coolest destination that you have visited in your lifetime?