We won’t deny it: the Eiffel Tower is a majestic sight, as are the Colosseum in Rome and Statue of Liberty in New York City. But there are many “unsung heroes” of the (travel) world – hidden gems only the locals know about and very few tourists to maneuver around. Here are some of our faves!
#1 Pangong Tso Lake
Where: Ladakh, India
What: Situated in the Himalayan Mountain range between India and Tibet, the name Pagong Tso comes from the Tibetan word for long, narrow, enchanted lake. Indeed – a third of the lake lies in India while two thirds of it in Tibet (so it’s technically a multinational lake). The water of this saline lake is clear azure blue – you’d think you’re in Maldives instead of the Himalayas (you know, if you miss out the mountains).
#2 Capuchin Crypt
Where: Rome, Italy
What: When in Rome… head down below the 400-year-old Roman church Santa Maria della Concezione to see the Capuchin Crypt – six chapels entirely decorated with the skeletons of 3,700 humans. As creepy as it is fascinating, even the light fixtures are made out of bones.
#3 The Crooked Forest
What: Near the little town of Gryfino in western Poland is the mysterious Crooked Forest, where the pine trees grow in odd shape – they’re all bent at the base, in the shape of a hook or the letter J. Why? No one can explain to this day.
#4 Bunker 42
Where: Moscow, Russia
What: Sure, Moscow’s Pushkin Museum is awe-inspiring, but how about visiting the city’s deepest museum? Built in 1956, Bunker 42 is located 65 meters underground and served as a nuclear-bomb shelter and emergency command post of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR.
Where: Ica, Peru
What: Five hours south of Peru is the mini resort town of Huacachina – an actual oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert. Built around the natural lake, you can go sand-boarding or take a dune buggy ride up and down the massive dunes surrounding the lake.
#6 Toledo Metro Station
Where: Naples, Italy
What: Nobody likes waiting for their public transportation to arrive. Unless you’re in Naples where artists, architects and designers have contributed in designing the metro stations. The most striking of them all is the Toledo Metro Station that opened in 2012. Spanish architecture firm Oscar Tusquets Blanca designed the station based around themes of water and light and at 50 meters deep, you might feel you’re being transported to the underworld (and you wouldn’t be wrong).
#7 Jiuzhaigou Valley
Where: Sichuan, China
What: This nature reserve and national park stretches over 180,000 acres in a remote region of northern Sichuan. A UNESCO world heritage site known for its Tibetan villages (Jiuzhaigou translates to Nine Village Valley), multi-level waterfalls and colourful lakes. The Five Flower Lake’s turquoise water is so clear, you can even see the fallen tree trunks at the bottom of the lake.
Tell us about your unusual or off-the-beaten-path travel experiences!