Parigala – Azerbaijan’s Mysterious Fairy Castle

At the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains in northwest Azerbaijan, lies Parigala, one of the world’s most impressive archeological mysteries. Carved into the nearly vertical face of a rock cliff, the centuries-old structure remains a mystery that hardly anyone knows anything about.

The idea that an amazing site like Parigala (literally ‘Fairy Castle’ in Azerbaijani) is one of Azerbaijan’s lesser-known archeological treasures baffles the mind. That has to do both with the country’s still underdeveloped tourism industry, and the fact that you need to go off the beaten path to reach Parigala. That fits the general theme of the place, which is inaccessibility, but still, hopping into a four-wheel drive vehicle to navigate the narrow tracks leading up to it,  then climbing up a very slippery slope to a steep, leaf-covered and forested hillside just to reach the cliff it’s carved into, is definitely not for everyone.

Read More »

Toyoni – Japan’s Naturally Heart-Shaped Lake

Surrounded by lush forest on all sides and untouched by human civilization, the heart-shaped Lake Toyoni is a hidden gem among Japan’s many tourism attractions.

Up until a few years ago, Lake Toyoni was virtually unknown to most Japanese, but a popular television commercial featuring an aerial view of the heart-shaped natural wonder turned it into a popular tourist spot virtually overnight. The internet is full of digitally-altered heart-shaped lakes, but Toyoni is one of the few, if not the only one, in the world that actually has this shape, so when people learned that it was real, they flocked to the island of Hokkaido to see the natural wonder for themselves.

Read More »

Greece’s Unique Valley of Butterflies – A Real-Life Natural Paradise

The Greek island of Rhodes is home to a special biome called Petaloudes Valley, or the Valley of Butterflies, after the millions of endemic moths that cover almost every surface during the summer months.

Located on the western side of Rhodes Island, about 10 kilometers from 10 km from the airport and 25 km from Rhodes City, Petaloudes Valley hosts the only natural forest of Oriental Sweetgum trees (Liquidambar orientalis) in Europe. It’s the scent given off by these trees that attracts an endemic subspecies of Jersey Tiger moths called Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis; huge numbers of moths congregate in this small valley, covering almost every visible surface almost as a living blanket.

Read More »

The Loneliest Monk in Tibet Lives Alone in This Isolated Temple

Located on top of a small mound, on a sliver of land stretching into the serene Yamdrok Lake is Rituo Temple, the home of just one solitary monk who spends his days chanting sutras and meditating.

Rituo, which means “the stone on the mountain” in Tibetan, is often referred to as Tibet’s loneliest temple. It has a history that goes back more than 700 years, but it’s considered one of the country’s hidden gems, as few tourists venture out to visit it. That’s because it’s located in the middle of nowhere, on a thin patch of land stretching into Yamdrok, one of the three holy lakes of Tibet. But the few people who did visit it, tell stories about the peace and quiet that most of us only dream of, and about the surreal experience of taking in the amazing natural scenery from atop the solitary rock mound.

Read More »

Breiðamerkursandur – Iceland’s Stunning Diamond Beach

A black sand beach littered with huge chunks of glistening ice has become one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, and for good reason, it looks like something out of a fantasy movie.

Known as Breiðamerkursandur in Icelandic, Diamond Beach takes its name from the chunks of pristine ice scattered across the black volcanic sand and glistening like giant, uncut diamonds. It is located next to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on the South Coast of Iceland, about six hours away from the country’s capital, Reykjavik. Although it’s not part of the popular Golden Circle Tour, Diamond Beach has become one of the country’s top tourist attractions in recent years, and looking at photos of it, it’s easy to see why.

Read More »

Dubai’s Love Lake – Two Hearts in the Middle of the Desert

Love Lake, a heart-shaped, man-made lake located in the desert near Dubai, is probably one of the most impressive attractions for romantic couples visiting the Middle-East.

From its iconic palm-shaped island, to skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai has no shortage of world-renowned attractions, but there is a lot more to discover in the desert around the most populated city in the UAE. One such hidden gems is the man-made Love Lake, technically two intertwined heart-shaped lakes situated near the Al Qudra Oasis. Measuring a whopping 550,000 square meters, this stunning tourist attraction is even visible from space.

Read More »

Island in Middle of German Lake Is the Perfect Pandemic Retreat

Wilhelmstein Island, an artificial island on Lake Steinhude in the Hanover region of northwestern Germany, looks like the perfect place to isolate yourself during a pandemic.

The story of Wilhelmstein Island began in 1761, when Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe, ruler of the County of Schaumburg-Lippe-Bückeburg and an important military commander in the Seven Years’ War, ordered the construction of a military fortress in the middle of Steinhude Meer, the largest lake in northern Germany. The military defensive complex originally consisted of 16 islands built on large foundations of stone transported to the middle of the lake by local fishermen in their boats. A star shaped fortress was built in the middle of the main island, and later a military college designed to train the leaders of the next generation.

Read More »

These Two Islands Are Just 2.4 Miles Apart, But Have a 21-Hour Time Difference

The Diomedes, two small islands in the Bearing Sea are famous as one of the few places where you can travel back in time, sort of…

The international date line is an imaginary line that runs through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, marking the difference between calendar dates. Crossing the line from east to west, you would need to set your clock forward by a day, while crossing from west to east, you would set it back by a day. The international dateline runs from the North to the South pole, but it isn’t straight; instead it zig-zags, taking into account various political borders. It just so happens to pass right between the Diomedes Islands, in the Bering Sea, making it possible to (sort of) travel through time just by traversing a distance of only 2.4 miles (3.8 km).

Read More »

The Stunning Twin Temples Atop China’s Holy Mount Fanjing

Mount Fanjing, in southwestern China’s Wuling mountain range, is home to one of the most otherworldly sights on the planet: two small temples built atop a split rock spire, connected by an arched bridge, overlooking a stunning natural paradise.

Perched at the top of the natural rock spire known as the Red Clouds Golden Peak, the two small Buddhist temples have a history that goes back over 500 years, to the Ming Dynasty. How Buddhists managed to carry the needed materials up that precarious rock formation without modern technology remains a mystery, but the temple complex we see todays has been rebuilt according to its original look, only using sturdier materials like iron tiles, in order to resist the strong winds and overall harsh environment.

Read More »

Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls – A Waterfall You Can Climb With Your Bare Feet

Waterfalls are notoriously slippery, so trying to climb them without specialized gear is usually a bad idea, but at the Bua Thong Waterfalls in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province visitors can climb almost vertical falls using only their hands and feet.

The so-called Sticky Waterfalls get their name from the incredibly grippy limestone rocks that the water runs over. They feel like a very hard sponge to the touch and even though they can be described as prickly, you can easily climb them barefoot without hurting yourself. Because no algae or slimes adheres to this callous rock surface, the limestone creates enough friction to prevent slipping, allowing anyone in decent physical shape to climb even the steepest parts of the waterfalls.

Read More »

This Japanese Building Has a Highway Passing Right Through It

The Gate Tower Building is one of the many several tall office buildings that make up Osaka’s impressive skyline, but there is something about it that makes it unique in the world – it has a functional highway going right through it.

Photos of this architectural anomaly have been doing the rounds on social media for over two decades now, and it’s easy to see why. 16-storey buildings don’t usually have highway off-ramps going right through them, but the Gate Tower Building does, and the traffic doesn’t affect the people working inside it one bit. The elevators are located on the side of the building, and the highway itself doesn’t touch the tower, which is properly insulated against traffic noise and vibrations anyway. It’s still quite a sight to behold, and if you’re ever in Osaka you should definitely pass by, or rather, through.

Read More »

Chinese Tourist Attraction Lets You Experience Kung Fu Movie Flying First Hand

A unique tourist attraction in southeastern China’s Fujian province lets wuxia fans fulfill their dream of experiencing the flying techniques of the kung-fu masters they used to watch on TV growing up.

If you’re a fan of popular wuxia films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or “House of Flying Daggers”, you’ve probably fantasized or even tried reenacting scenes where protagonists soared through the air or battled their rivals while defying gravity. Not the easiest thing to do without the right props, but luckily there is now a place where you can reproduce all your favorite kung-fu movie techniques to a stunning backdrop of traditional Chinese architecture and waterfalls.

Read More »

Cascate del Mulino – Tuscany’s Stunning Limestone Pools

Among the rolling hills and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside lies one of the most stunning tourist attractions not only in Italy, but in the entire world – a cascade of white limestone pools overflowing with warm, turquoise water known as Cascate del Mulino.

Translated as “Waterfalls of the Mill” in Italian, this surreal-looking natural wonder is located on the grounds of an old mill, just a few kilometers outside of the village of Saturnia. Since the time of the Roman empire, people have been coming here to have various ailments cured by the special water of the underground springs in the area, which is rich in sulfur and other minerals. But nowadays, Cascate del Mulino has become a popular destination for tourists and Instagram travel influencers, offering both stunning views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside and attention-grabbing social media pics.

Read More »

Just Room Enough Island – The World’s Smallest Inhabited Island

Just Room Enough Island, is an aptly-named private-owned island with literally just enough room for its owners’ house, a couple of trees and a miniature beach with a pair of bench chairs.

Part of the Thousand Islands archipelago on the border between the U.S. and Canada, Just Room Enough Island measures about 3,300 square feet (310 m2), which makes it the world’s smallest inhabited island. It was purchased by the Sizeland family in the 1950s, as a comfortable retreat, but they never expected it to become an internationally-recognized tourist attraction.

Read More »

The Japanese City Where Beautiful Koi Fish Swim in Drain Channels

Can you imagine an inhabited city where the water running through the the drain channels is so pure that beautiful koi fish can swim in it? Well, such a place exists on Japan’s Kyushu island. It’s called Shimabara, and it’s quite a sight to behold.

When the area around Shimabara was affected by the natural disaster known as the “1792 Unzen earthquake and tsunami” which killed 15,000 people, no one imagined that the dozens of fresh water springs that started gushing out would one day put the city on Japan’s travel map and inspire its now famous nickname – the “City of Water”. There are at least 60 known springs throughout Shimabara, making clean water one of the city’s most abundant resources. There is so much of it, in fact, that it flows through the drain channels along some streets. But that’s not even the craziest thing about this place; because the water is so pure, at one point authorities decided to put some koi carp in the channels, and Shimabara became the City of Swimming Carp.

Read More »