Planet Earth has a lot to offer. From the Great Wall of China to the Grand Canyon, there are countless awe-inspiring sights and landscapes that can impress anyone and everyone. Then again, there are other places that impress in a much different way…
For every awesome thing about our world, there’s a whole slew of things that make you squint or scratch your head before whipping out your camera and snapping a picture anyway. Some of these are phenomena of the Earth itself, produced over millions of years. Others are simply the result of people adapting to some those phenomena.
Either way, these are some of the weirdest things the planet has to offer…
1. Miyake-jima Island (Japan): No, this isn’t a scene out of a horror movie. It’s par for the course on this Japanese island, where sulfuric gas leaking from the local volcano makes gas masks a regular necessity.
2. Paris Catacombs (Paris): Did you know there are 6,000,000 people buried beneath the streets of Paris? Yep. It might have been created in the 18th century to help stem the overflow of cemeteries, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. Speaking of death and the underground…
MykReeve / Wikimedia
3. The Door to Hell (Turkmenistan): What happens when the Soviets set a gas field on fire? Apparently it opens up a portal to hell. This pit has, incredibly, been burning for over 40 years. Dangerous? Probably. Awesome photo opportunity? Undoubtedly.
Tormod Santorv / Wikimedia
4. Island of Dolls (Mexico): On the uninhabited Mexican island of Xochimilco, roughed-up dolls hang eerily from the trees. How they ended up there, no one’s quite sure, but the legend goes that they started washing ashore when a young girl died in the nearby canals. Then, the island’s single inhabitant hung them from the trees for… creepy reasons.
5. Blood Falls (Antarctica): In scientific terms, this waterfall is salt water that’s gotten mixed up with a bit too much iron oxide. In layman’s terms, it’s a waterfall that looks like it’s pouring blood. How weird is that?
Peter Rejcek / National Science Foundation
6. Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia): Some call it the world’s largest salt flat; others might refer to it as the world’s largest mirror. Another fun fact? This weird place contains almost 70 percent of the world’s lithium.
Chechevere / Wikimedia
7. Mendenhall Ice Caves (Juneau, Alaska): Located inside a glacier, these ice caves are as spectacular as they are weird. To see the beautiful blue walls of these caves takes a kayaking trip and a brief climb up the glacier’s face. Good luck!
umnak / Flickr
8. Red Beach (Panjin, China): That isn’t an iron-oxide tainted lake you’re seeing—it’s the flower of the Suaeda Salsa plant, a fancy term for red grass. This “beach” comprises part of the largest wetland in the world.
9. Tianzi Mountains (China): About three billion years ago, this was all ocean. But today, natural quartz skyscrapers jut from the forested landscape, creating a truly unique—and totally weird—mountain range.
censiyuan / Wikimedia
10. Lake Hillier (Australia): Even if you scooped a pail of water from this lake, the bright pink color would remain. That’s because it isn’t a trick of the light: algae give this lake its glossy pink sheen. It’s even safe to swim in, but good luck getting there—it’s practically inaccessible without a helicopter!
Kurioziteti123 / Wikimedia
11. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Pacific): Ocean currents pull piles upon piles of trash to a central location in the Pacific Ocean; there, trash, debris, and sludge nearly form an island of garbage. While weird, it’s also a sad reminder of humanity’s effect on the globe.
Vberger / Wikimedia
12. Snake Island (Brazil): This island is as weird and horrific as it sounds—and it’s Indiana Jones’ worst nightmare. There are between one and five snakes per square meter on this island, and these aren’t friendly garter snakes, either. We’re talking pit vipers here, so please watch your step.
Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaém / Flickr
13. Skeleton Lake (India): Officially known as Roopkund, this lake isn’t much different from any other lake. Except for, you know, the human remains that pepper the bottom of it. Skeletons of 9th century storm victims are visible when the snow melts, leaving behind the lingering question: why has nobody picked up these things yet?
schwiki / Wikimedia
14. Bhangarh Fort (India): On the outside, there’s nothing weird about this fort. Take a look into the legends surrounding it, though, and you’ll see why it’s called India’s most haunted place. For example, no one is allowed to spend the night in this castle thanks to some alleged black magic by a 17th-century wizard.
15. Magnetic Hill (India): We return to India yet again for this weird locale, where gravity doesn’t play by the rules. Optical illusions make the downward sloping roads appear to slope upwards, creating a “rolling uphill” sensation.
Kartikey Brahmkshatriya / Wikimedia
16. Root Bridges (Cherraopunji, India): Those are roots suspended between two trees, and no, they weren’t cut off and strung up. Using the natural roots of rubber fig trees, locals simply guide the pliable roots into a bridge that’s strong enough to hold humans.
Anya1984 / Wikimedia
17. Rakotzbrücke (Germany): Deliberately built, this stone bridge forms a perfect circle with the help of its reflection. The bridge is so unsafe to walk across that it’s considered one of Europe’s “Devil Bridges,” as only Satan himself could have constructed something so unsafe.
18. Sentinels of the Arctic (Finland): Here’s a scene that looks ripped right out of a sci-fi movie. Those aren’t the tentacles of a frozen octopus, though: just trees that have been twisted and gnarled by the snow in this -40-degree climate.
19. Abrahams Lake (Western Alberta, Canada): This beautiful landscape forms from plants just trying to breathe. Underneath the water, plants release air that bubbles to the surface, only to be trapped by a thin film of ice, creating an iconic lily pad appearance.
20. North Sentinel Island (Adaman Islands, India): This is one island you might want to stay away from on your next vacation. The indigenous tribe inhabiting this Manhattan-sized island will kill anyone who sets foot on their turf. No one is quite sure what the 300 or so tribesmen do within the cover of the trees.
21. Floating islands (India): The only floating National Park on the planet, Loktak Lake has rings of soil and decaying vegetation scattered throughout. Over 4,000 people live on these floating bodies and utilize their lakefront properties to fish.
Sharada Prasad CS / Flickr
22. Sea of Stars (Vaadhoo Island, Maldives): The appearance of stars in the gently lapping ocean waves gave this spot its name. Thanks to dinoflagellates—little phytoplankton that give off electrical signals in the moonlight—this beach is one of a kind.
23. The Joint Security Area (North and South Korea): This demilitarized zone is home to the world’s most intense staring contest. Nestled smack-dab in between North and South Korea, both nations’ militaries stand across the border from one another, ready for combat. Talk about tense. And weird.
typhoonchaser / Wikimedia
24. Hanging Pillar (Lepakshi, India): Located inside a historic village, this hanging pillar throws just a little bit of weird into the mix. There’s a small gap at the base of the support pillar, leaving people wondering just how exactly the building is even standing up.
Chaitanya varma / Wikimedia
25. Pripyat Town (Ukraine): When a nuclear disaster struck the nearby Chernobyl power plant, Pripyat was evacuated. Untouched since 1986, the city’s still radioactive and has an eerie feeling to it.
26. Bubble House (Tourettes-sur-Loup, France): Designed to allow for maximum enjoyment of the Mediterranean, these houses face the sea. Still, no one seemed to tell the architect that his designs were just plain weird.
27. Wooden Skyscraper (Arkhangelsk, Russia): It would have taken the big bad wolf more than a deep breath to blow down this wooden house. A Russian gangster had only planned for a two-story house, but his vision changed after he saw the wooden houses of Japan and Norway.
28. Inversion House (Houston, Texas): This house demonstrates the beautiful marriage of weird and art. A vortex starts in the front of the house and acts as a central hallway that connects two adjacent homes as it shrinks towards the back of the house.
Christopher Jobson / Colossal
29. Karni Mata Temple, a.k.a. the Rat Temple (India): If you’re not a rodent person, it might be best to close your eyes when you’re walking near this temple, which is home to over 20,000 rats. The local people believe the rats are the reincarnated family members of Karni Mata and treat them to milk and food.
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / Wikimedia
30. The Largest Cave in the World (Hang Son Doong, Vietnam): Both weird and fantastically awesome, this cave has its own climate, jungle, and river. It had been untouched by man until the 1990s when a local farmer passed by the mouth on a walk.
vtoanstar / Flickr
31. Screaming Tunnel (Ontario, Canada): This tunnel doesn’t look like much, but ask someone who’s walked through it and you’re likely to get a memorable answer. Allegedly haunted by a girl who burned to death, those who enter this tunnel claim you can still hear her death throes.
32. Coober Pedy (Australia): Also known as the “opal capitol of the world,” this Northern Australian city provides a majority of the world’s gem-quality opals. As you might have guessed, it’s really hot in the Australian desert, so the folks of this city have taken their homes underground.
Lodo27 / Wikimedia
33. Aokigahara Forest (Japan): Parts of this forest are infamously dense, but that isn’t what makes this forest weird. Strangely, this forest seems to be a hot spot for suicides, a problem that has grown to such drastic proportions that authorities have put up signs at trail heads, urging travelers to think of their families.
34. The Stone Forest of Shilin (China): Are those a bunch of petrified trees that decided to gather in a central location? Nope! While this looks like a forest made of stone, geologists say it’s actually a collection of sandstone and limestone deposits in a former lake bed.
Brücke-Osteuropa / Wikimedia
35. Mir Mine (Siberia): It may not be a door to hell, but this hand-dug diamond mine offers a weird and spooky experience all its own. At 1,722 feet deep, it’s one of the largest excavated holes in the world!
Vladmir / Wikipedia
Over its lifetime, the Earth has developed some bizarre blemishes and beautifully strange landscapes, and people have found creative ways to deal with those attributes. Do any of these locations stand a chance of making it onto your bucket list?
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