How do you like to return from a trip abroad?
Refreshed from a couple of weeks unwinding on a beach? Culturally enriched from having immersed yourself in a country’s vibrant history?
Unsurprisingly, ‘deeply traumatised and in need of therapy’ generally doesn’t rank very highly for most people.
For others, however, it’s right at the top of their list.
Adventure seekers, masochists, those with an abnormal brain chemistry who can’t seem to find fun elsewhere – there are plenty of people who seek out discomfort, fear, adrenaline and thrills when they travel.
If you’re one of them, read on for some of the most terrifying, unsettling or just plain dangerous destinations out there.
Don’t look down
China seems to lead the way in vertigo-inducing glass bridges strung between cliff faces, such as this one amongst the East Taihang Mountains, Hebei Province.
Whoever decided to augment the experience with a ‘cracking’ screen and accompanying sound effects is truly a twisted individual.
Man scared badly after the glass on this bridge appeared to be cracking, he was fast and hung onto the railings in seconds, but it was actually just sensors and a screen showing the effect. someday it's gonna give someone a heart attack. #China pic.twitter.com/TDTK7yR6YZ
— 老秋 (@reallaoqiu) December 15, 2017
The world’s most dangerous hike
Sweaty palms, anyone?
El Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Path) is a notorious walkway pinned to the cliff walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, Spain. It had fallen into serious disrepair when this video was shot and was officially closed to the public.
Thankfully, it was repaired and reopened in 2014 – instantly becoming a must-visit for thrill seeking hikers.
The most disturbing haunted house on Earth
Not for children, this one.
Supposedly, no one has ever completed the full eight-hour ordeal that this ‘haunted house’ experience offers, in San Diego, USA.
Violence, cruelty, screaming, simulated drowning, fake blood – it’s pretty extreme. But with a waiting list of 24,000 people (!) from all over the world, there are certainly plenty of takers.
Skull and bones club
What do you do if you’ve got piles of human bones lying around the place and you’re the creative type?
Well, assemble them into a selection of macabre monuments to death, of course.
Sedlec Ossuary, about an hour from Prague, the Czech Republic, is serious nightmare fuel for those who get creeped out by skeletons.
The Bone Church
The 40,000 to 70,000 skeletons within Sedlec Ossuary (aka Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus) in the Czech Republic. pic.twitter.com/UJEUZHyyTG
— Joshua Ritenour (@ritenourphoto) November 14, 2018
Island of the dolls
Speaking of creepy, who’d have thought that dangling dismembered children’s dolls from trees would be the stuff of nightmares?
Everyone. Everyone would have thought that.
The Island of the Dolls, Mexico City, was purportedly started as a memorial to a young woman who drowned in the surrounding waters. When fears of a ghost spread amongst locals, this was their attempt to appease the disturbed spirit.
If you ever want to see my nightmare it's definitely the Island of the Dolls near Mexico City. I'd sooner share a sleeping bag with a banana spider than take a boat past this place. pic.twitter.com/P8Q2vXqk6T
— Corey Snyder (@TheFluffyOne85) August 11, 2019
War zone tourism
Creepy dolls and skeletons aside, perhaps the ultimate in fear-inducing travel experiences is visiting an active conflict zone.
Of course, this can veer very easily into unethical territory (gawping at people’s misfortune is never cool) – but if handled correctly, some of the most dangerous countries on Earth can be incredibly rewarding experiences for the more intrepid traveller.
But choose carefully and make sure you’ve got the backing of professionals.