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The World’s Strangest Tourist Attractions

Bored with the traditional theme parks, tourist traps and museums? Turn your vacation into something to write home about with these unusual tourist attractions. Just don’t forget your camera. These destinations need to be seen – and shared – to be believed.

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1. Yunessun Spa Resort, Japan

For a wet, wild and wacky holiday destination, grab your bathing suit and make a splash at Japan’s Yunessun Spa Resort. Part water park, part relaxing retreat, Yunessun is not your typical oasis. Where else can you take a dip in your favourite beverage? That’s right… you can soak in a refreshing menu that includes green tea, wine, coffee or sake. A massive teapot and wine bottle hover over the spas, pouring out their rejuvenating elixirs. Just remember: don’t drink and dive.

(Photo courtesy of horschmology)

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2. Carhenge, Nebraska, U.S.

Stacked high in a Nebraska farm field is the wacky sculpture known as Carhenge. While this collection of thirty-eight automobiles isn’t as mysterious or historically significant as its English inspiration Stonehenge, Carhenge is a fun imitation. Built in 1987, the attraction was created by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his deceased father. Mirroring the dimensions and formation of its English doppelganger, Carhenge provides a quirky photo-op for travellers with a sense of humour.

(Photo courtesy of 195902/Flickr)

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3. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic

The Sedlec Ossuary is one of most unconventional chapels in the world. Built in the 15th century, this tiny Roman Catholic ossuary – a final resting place for bones – boasts over 40,000 skeletal remains. While the sheer number of human bones is hard to imagine, the way they’ve been displayed is even more surprising. Many of these ancient skeletons were organized in 1870 by a Czech woodcarver into complicated designs on the chapel’s walls and ceiling. Others adorn an intricate chandelier and an elaborate coat of arms.

(Photo courtesy Sedlac Ossuary)

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4. Bubblegum Alley, California

Snap! Here’s a gooey tourist attraction where the words sticky and gross are considered complimentary. Situated in a 21 metre-long passageway in downtown San Luis Obispo, Bubblegum Alley celebrates gum of all colours, shapes and flavours. The history of the wall is unknown, but locals say the gummy display was in full swing by the 1970s. Politicians and shop owners have tried to have the alley permanently cleansed of its smelly, chewy embellishment, but the gum continues to out-stick its critics and attract tourists. Best of all, the Alley’s survival means that bubblegum aficionados can add to the madness and affix their own chewed up contribution to the walls.

(Photo courtesy of Brittney Bush/Flickr)

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5. Inveraray Jail, Scotland

Spend time without committing a crime. Scotland’s Inveraray Jail is a former prison dating back to 1820. Tourists flock to this Scottish slammer to immerse themselves in 19th century penitentiary life. With the help of characters dressed in authentic costumes, visitors experience the harsh reality of prison. Discover early justice techniques such as branding with a hot iron, public whipping and torturous thumbscrews. Eavesdrop on sensational courtroom trials, get thrown into a barren prison cell and work up a sweat trying your hand at various strange punishments. And with your lucky escape, you’ll break free with a great tale to tell.

(Photo courtesy Inveraray Jail)

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6. Isla de Las Munecas, Mexico

Here’s a creepy tourist attraction guaranteed to send shivers up your spine. Hidden amidst Mexico’s Xochimilco canals is the horrifying Isla de Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls). At this remote resting place, hundreds of decaying, mutilated dolls – and their severed limbs and decapitated heads – eerily peer from the branches of the canal-side trees. Legend states that over fifty years ago, the islands sole inhabitant discovered a drowned little girl in the canal. He was so distraught by this tragedy that be began to hang discarded dolls and their parts in the trees to please the dead child. Today the spooky dolls have become a bizarre tourist destination that attracts curious visitors from around the globe.

(Photo courtesy of Esparata/Flickr)

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7. Karni Mata Temple, India

In many parts of the world, the humble rat is seen as a disease-riddled pest. But in the small Indian town of Deshnok, legend states that the rats living in the holy Hindu shrine are to be protected, nurtured and worshipped. In the 14th century, Goddess Karni, a virtuous mystic proclaimed that her family members would never die. Instead, they would be reborn as rats and live in Deshnok until they were reincarnated as humans. Today, it’s believed that over 20,000 rats inhabit this famed temple named after Goddess Karni. Anxious tourists may be surprised to learn that the rats are quite friendly and can be seen perched peacefully beside worshippers.

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8. Battle of the Orange, Italy

Food fight! If lobbing oranges at strangers is your idea of a fun-filled vacation, book your ticket for the next Battle of the Oranges. Every year in late February, the small Italian town of Ivrea turns into a circus of flying citrus. Legend states that the Carnevale di Ivrea dates back to the Middle Ages, when citizens rose up against a despised tyrant. Today, thousands of participants pulp it up for three days of good-natured juicy combat. Grab an orange, practice your best throw and don’t forget to duck.

(Photo courtesy of pigliapost/Flickr)

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9. The Paris Sewer Museum, France

Few would argue that Paris is one of the world’s most enchanting destinations. With its stunning architecture, sophisticated spirit, and fashionable je ne sais quoi, it seems out of character that the French capital has a museum dedicated to its sewer system. Strange, but true – the Musée des égouts de Paris takes visitors below street level to experience the gritty underbelly of the City of Light. Inquisitive tourists can learn about drains, sanitary sewers and drinking water supplies. And if you’re a fan of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, you might catch a glimpse of what inspired his French literary classic.

(Photo courtesy of Chris Yunker/Flickr)