Unique Tourist Attractions

A country, state, region, city or town that is dependent to a significant revenuer from tourism is called a tourist destination which is marketed as a place for tourists to visit. For example, in Siem Reap town, is a famous destination in Cambodia, best known for their amazing Angkor temples,  or the small town of Lopburi in Thailand, where crab-eating Macaque monkeys roam around the town, which the the locals considered the monkeys as symbol of the province and for some beliefs, they bring good luck..Island resorts are also considered as tourists destinations such as found in the Bahamas in Caribbean archipelago, Bali in Indonesia, Phuket Thailand, Hawaii, Palawan, Philippines and Fiji in the Pacific and Ibiza in Mediterranean. While a place where tourists visits, for the famous events or existing as an essential characteristics, for its exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure and amusement is known as tourists attraction. Examples for natural beauty of traditional tourists attractions to spend summer vacations, such as beaches, tropical island resorts with famous underwater nature such as coral reefs, hiking and camping in national parks, mountains and forests. Examples of cultural tourist attractions such as historical places, monuments, ancient temples, zoos, aquaria, museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, structures such as castles, libraries, former prisons, skycrapers, landmarks, bridges, theme parks, carnivals, etchnic enclave communities, historic trains and cultural events. Tours over famous factory, industrial heritage, creative art and crafts workshops are the object of cultural niches such as industrial tourism and creative tourism. The legend such as supposedly UFO crash site near Roswell, New Mexico, the alleged Loch Ness montser sightings in Scotland, ghost sightings are also tourist attractions. Chinatowns in the United States or other countries a]known as ethnic communities may become tourist attractions, and the Brixton’s black British neighborhood in London,England.

1)  Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves

Kuntula Grottoes

Kuntula Grottoes

Thousand Buddhas-Pak Ou caves (image credit:www.peregrineadventures.com)

Thousand Buddhas-Pak Ou caves (image credit:www.peregrineadventures.com)

The Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves also spelled as Qumtura, is a Buddhist cave temple site in the Automous Region of Xinjiang, China, located some 25 km west of Kucha, Kuqa County, on the ancient Silk Road, and there were 112 cave temples survived, dating from the fifth to the eleventh centuries. Some cave temples were destroyed during the Islamic conquests, while other temple caves were subsequently damaged by occasional habitation after the site was abandoned, The last several wall paintings detached and took them back to the Museum fur Asiatische Kunst  or  Museum of Asian Art in Berlin. Kumtula Grottoes was submitted in 2008, for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List  as part of the Chinese Section of the Silk Road.

2)  The Adjanta Caves

Ajanta Caves full view

Ajanta Caves full view

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves

Adjanta caves tourist attraction (image credit:www.swaindestinations.com)

Adjanta caves tourist attraction (image credit:www.swaindestinations.com)

Ellora Cave's Kailasha temple

Ellora Cave’s Kailasha temple

The Adjanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India, are about a cave monuments made of 30 rock cut Buddhist cave which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.  The Adjanta caves include paintings and sculptures described as the finest surviving examples of Indian art as the masterpieces of Buddhist religion art, by the government’s Archaeological Survey of India, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales (refer to a great volume body of literature native to India regarding the previous births or jāti of the Buddha). Since 1983, the site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and the Adjanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Adjanta caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, outside the village of Ajinṭhā  about 59 kilometres from Jalgaon railway station on the Delhi – Mumbai line and Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai line of the Central Railway zone, and 104 kilometres or 65 miles from the city of Aurangabad, 100 kilometres or 62 miles from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples, as well as Buddhist caves. Previously, the area was heavily forested, and after the site came to an end to be used, the caves were covered by jungle until in 1819, when a British officer, accidentally rediscovered the caves while he is on a hunting party. The caves location nearby were round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves.

3)   Bhangarh Fort

Bhangarh Fort, India

Bhangarh Fort, India

Bhangarh Fort interior

Bhangarh Fort interior

Bhangarh Gopinath Temple

Bhangarh Gopinath Temple

Bhangarh Fort  is a 17th-century fort built in Rajasthan, India, a new village of Bhangarh, that has developed outside the fort limits which is well preserved, with a population of 1,306, and as believed that there is fear of ghosts haunting in the old city. The Bhangarh Fort’s location is on the Sariska Reserve border in the Aravali range of hills in Alwar district of Rajasthan, with the nearest village is Golakha.  The palace’s ruins of the King is located on the lower slopes of the hills with ponds surrounded with trees and a natural stream falls into the pond within the palace premises. There are two versions of the legends to its history of the fort, as narrated, which is reported to be haunted and no one is allowed to remain the precincts of the fort at night as the Archaeological Survey of India put up a notice board at the entrance. One version, is that a wizard named Singhiya, who was highly skilled in black magic fell in love with the princess Ratnavati of  Bhangarh who was very beautiful and had suitors to marry her from many countries of royal families. One day, while the 18 year old princess, went shopping with her friends and was buying a natural perfume  ittar. When the  wizard saw this, he replaced the oil perfume with some potion in order to catch the princess’ attention, and the wizard offered the potion to her so that the princess would like him and marry him. However, the princess saw through the wizard’s trickery and when the wizard offered her the bowl of potion, the princess threw it on a big boulder nearby and as a result the boulder started rolling down towards the wizard and crushed him. Before the wizard died, he cursed that Bhangarh that would be destroyed soon and no one will be able to live within its precincts. Following to the curse Bhangarh Fort was invaded by the  Army of the Mughal Empire from the north and surrounded the city and sacked 10,000 people living in the fort city at that time, and all the people in the fort including the princess were killed. The present state of the fort is attributed to the wizard’s curse and people believed that paranormal activities take place during night time, and the ghosts in the fort are that of the princess and the wizard, and some deaths have been reported because to these paranormal activities. For the tourist or visitors who want to experience the “ghosts” activities, entry to Bhangarh is legally prohibited between sunset and sunrise, and some other rules which is strictly implemented is that no one is allowed to graze their animals after sunset.

4) Sigiriya or Lion Rock

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya lion gate

Sigiriya lion gate

The Mirror Wall & Spiral Stairs leading to the Frescoes

The Mirror Wall & Spiral Stairs leading to the Frescoes

Sigiriya also known as Lion Rock, is an ancient palace located in the central Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka, which the name refers to a historical site and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres or 660 ft high. According to the ancient Culavamsa, a Sri Lankan chronicle, this site was chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital, and built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful fresco, a technique of painting on a moist, plaster surface with colors ground up in water. Up the side of this rock the king built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion about halfway on a small plateau. The name Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock, is derived from this structure. After the death of the king, the capital and the royal palace was abandoned, and was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, and one of the most visited site in Sri Lanka, and one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning.The Sigiriya Gardens of the city are one of the most important particular views of the site, and one of the world’s oldest landscaped gardens. The gardens are divided into three distinct forms, such as water gardens, cave, boulder gardens, and terraced gardens. The mirror wall, was originally highly polished so the king could see himself while he walked alongside it. The mirror wall is made of brick masonry wall and covered in highly polished white plaster, however, the wall is now covered partially with verses as early as the 18th century, scribbled by visitors to the rock. Tourists of different kinds,wrote on the wall, on varying subjects such as love, irony, and all sorts of experiences. Currently, writing on the mirror wall, has been banned for the protection of old writings or verses of the wall.

5)   Turkey Tourist Attractions: Pamukkale

Pamukkale pools

Pamukkale pools

Hot springs of Pamukkale

Hot springs of Pamukkale

Pamukkale pools

Pamukkale pools

Hierapolis ancient Roman and Byzantine city (image credit:www.turizm.net)

Hierapolis ancient Roman and Byzantine city (image credit:www.turizm.net)

Pamukkale  which means cotton castle in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey, where the city contains hot springs and travertine, a terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The Pamukkale pools is located in the inner Aegean region in Turkey, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year. Tourism in  Pamukkale, is been a major industry, where tourists and locals have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. As of the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the Hierapolis’ ruins recently, causing considerable damage. An access road was built from the valley over the terraces, where motor bikes were allowed to go up and down the slopes.The hotels were demolished as they causes to drain the thermal waters into the swimming pools and caused damage to the terraces, and the road removed and replaced with artificial pools, when the area was declared as World Heritage Site, and to protect the deposits, people were prohibited wearing shoes in the water. Pamukkale’s terraces are made of Travertine, is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, such as hot springs, or a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs. Pamukkale is a tourist attraction and recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1988, together with Hierapolis-Pamukkale. The underground volcanic activity which causes the hot springs also forced carbon dioxide into a cave, known as the Plutonium,which means, place of the god, Pluto. The Plotonium cave was used for religious purposes by priests of Cybele, who found ways to appear immune to the suffocating gas. It is common to see tadpoles in the pools. Water supply to the hotels are limited currently, and they need to deposit the water used to the supply to generate. And also tourists are not allowed to use the access to terraces, and people are asked to follow the main pathway, and because of this regulations, only small pools are allowed to be used.

6)  Cappadocia

House in Cappadocia

House in Cappadocia

Cappadocia and Urgup fairy chimneys

Cappadocia and Urgup fairy chimneys

Göreme during winter

Göreme during winter

Kaymakli underground city

Kaymakli underground city

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, covering the Nevşehir Province, Kayseri, Aksaray Province and Niğde Province in Turkey. The name is still widely used as an international tourism concept which was used in traditional Christian sources throughout history to define a region of exceptional and unique natural wonders, particularly the characterized by fairy chimney also known as hoodoo  and a unique historical and cultural heritage. According to reports, during Herodotus era, the Cappadocians were occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the Euxine or Black Sea vicinity. Cappadocia is best known for its continental climate, with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters because of its high altitude and inland location. Rainfall is occurring and the region is largely semi-arid. However, Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic, and cultural features which includes four cities, such as Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde. The region is located southwest of Kayseri, the major city, which has airline and railway service to Ankara, Istanbul and other cities. In Cappadocia several underground cities such as the famous tourists attraction, Kaymaklı Underground City, used by early Christians as hiding places, before Christianity became an accepted religion. In Cappadocia, hot-air balloon is very popular and is available in Goreme, while trekking is enjoyed by tourists and locals, in Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Guzelyurt), Urgup and Goreme. Ürgüp  is The most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia, and also  Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Guzelyurt, Uchisar, Avanos and Zelve. Among the underground cities in Cappadocia, which were worth seeing are  Derinkuyu underground city which opened to visitors in 1969 and to date, about half of the underground city is accessible to tourists,  Kaymaklı  which was first opened to tourists in 1964, the village is about 19 km from Nevşehir- Niğde road, Gaziemir and Özkonak Underground City is an ancient city built on the northern slopes of Mount Idis, about 14 km northeast of Avanos in Nevşehir Province, in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. In the region of Urgup, Goreme, Guzelyurt and Uchisar, the best historical mansions and cave houses are located where tourists can stay.

7)   Petra

Petra The Treasury or Al Khazneh

Petra The Treasury or Al Khazneh

Petra's tourist attractions

Petra’s tourist attractions

Petra known as Red Rose City

Petra known as Red Rose City

Petra Roman Aqueduct or narrow passage or Siq to Petra

Petra Roman Aqueduct or narrow passage or Siq to Petra

Petra  is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Ma’an one of the governorates of Jordan, located south of Amman, capital of Jordan, that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Petra is also known as the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. Petra was established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabateans, a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction, and lies on the Jebel al-Madbah which means mountain of the altar, and is well deserved since its summit is covered in rock-excavated ceremonial structures reached by a rock staircase, (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Since 1985, Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, Swiss explorer. Petra was described as a rose-red city half as old as time in a John William Burgon‘s Newdigate Prize -winning poem. UNESCO has described Petra as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Petra is the spot where Moses (Musa) struck a rock with his staff and water came forth, and where Moses’ brother, Aaron (Harun) is buried at Mount Hor, according to Arab tradition. Mount Hor is now known as Jabal Haroun or Mount Aaron. The Arab name for the narrow valley is called Wadi Musa or Wadi Moses at the head of which Petra is sited. A mountaintop shrine of Miriam, the sister of Moses, was still shown to pilgrims at the time of Jerome in the 4th century, but its location has not been identified since.

8)  Salar de Uyuni

Salar Uyuni dried surface

Salar Uyuni dried surface

Piles of Salt at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Piles of Salt at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Palacio de Sal or Salt hotel

Palacio de Sal or Salt hotel

lobby at Palacio de Sal

lobby at Palacio de Sal

dining area at Palacio de Sal (furnitures made of salt)

dining area at Palacio de Sal (furnitures made of salt)

Salar de Uyuni or Salar de Tunupa is the largest salt flat in the world at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi), located in the Daniel Campos Province in Potosi in southwest Bolivia, near the highest part of the Andes, and is at an elevation of 11,995 ft above mean sea level.  Salar de Uyuni is part of the high plateau of Altiplano of Bolivia in South America, which was formed during uplift of the Andes mountains. The plateau contains fresh and saltwater lakes and salt flats and is surrounded by mountains with no drainage outlets. As a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes the Salar de Uyuni was formed, covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the Salar’s entire area. The salt crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium, containing 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted. The clear skies, large areas and the exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the Earth’s altimeters or an altitude meter, observation satellites, an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos. Salar de Uyuni is also a zone of climatological transitional since the towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the salt flat during the season of summer, cannot permeate beyond its drier western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert. Palacio de Sal or Palace of Salt, in Spanish term, is a hotel made of salt, built of salt blocks, located at the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. In 1993 to 1995, the first hotel was built out of salt blocks in the middle of the Salar de Uyuni,  and soon became a popular tourist destination. The salt hotel had 12 double rooms, a common bathroom, and no shower. However, the hotel’s location in the center of a desert produced sanitary problems, as most waste had to be collected manually. In 2002, the hotel had to be demolished because of mismanagement causing serious environmental pollution. A new hotel was built, around in 2007, named Palacio de Sal, in a new location at the eastern edge of Salar de Uyuni, 25 km away from the Uyuni town, the site is 350 km (220 mi) south of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. The hotel was built by about (14-inch) salt blocks, which are used for the floor, walls, ceiling and furniture, including beds, tables, chairs and sculptures. The hotel’s sanitary system has been restructured to comply with the government regulations. The new hotel has a dry sauna and a steam room, a saltwater pool and whirlpool baths,and the new hotel’s regulation, as in the previous hotel, there is a rule prohibiting licking the walls in order to prevent the hotel’s degradation.

9)   Hôtel de Glace

Hotel de Glace, Quebec (image credit:www.continentaltravel.ca)

Hotel de Glace, Quebec (image credit:www.continentaltravel.ca)

Hotel de Glace, interior  (image credit:www.luxuo.com)

Hotel de Glace, interior (image credit:www.luxuo.com)

suite room at Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada (image credit:toqueandcanoe.com)

suite room at Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada (image credit:toqueandcanoe.com)

Hôtel de Glace is an ice hotel near Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and the first and only ice hotel in North America, which opened in 2001 on New New Year’s Day. The ice hotel was located in Montmorency Falls Park during the first year it operated, on the remote region of Quebec City, with plans for the next year, right from the beginning to move to the nearby Duchesnay resort, which had been built in that area from 2002 to 2010. The Hôtel de Glace moved to a new site, in 2011,  in Charlesbourg, and since then, it has been built there, the first and only ice hotel built in North America, and is built every  December for an opening date in early January. The hotel’s life span is operated for three-month each year before being shutdown in April. When the ice hotel first opened in 2011, the hotel had 11 double beds, and has now 51 double beds, all made of ice and followed by a solid wood base and comfortable mattress. Plans of putting up a cozy sleeping bag, an isolating bed sheet and a pillow are delivered to the rooms when the time come. The bathrooms are the only area heated and located in a separate insulated structure. The ice hotel takes about a month and a half to build with 50 workers, and makes its own snow using a special mixture to adjust the humidity and also built with metal frames, allowed to harden for a few days, and then the cranes are removed. The Hôtel de Glace is made of 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice and the walls are up to four feet thick, with all furniture made of ice. While in the Kiruna ice hotel the bar serves drinks and cocktails in ice glasses. Amenities in the ice hotel, include indoor heated washrooms and outdoor hot tubs.

Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel or Kiruna ice hotel

Ice hotel entrance

Ice hotel entrance

Icehotel Main Hall by Alessandro Falca & AnnaSofia Mååg

Icehotel Main Hall by Alessandro Falca & AnnaSofia Mååg

Jukkasjärvi Icehotel interior. Sculptures by Jörgen Westin

Jukkasjärvi Icehotel interior. Sculptures by Jörgen Westin

Banished Dragon icehotel suite

Banished Dragon icehotel suite

Blue Marine  suite Room Icehotel Jukkasjärvi

Blue Marine suite Room Icehotel Jukkasjärvi

Ice Hotel Church Jukkasjärvi

Ice Hotel Church Jukkasjärvi

Icehotel ice bar

Icehotel ice bar

The Icehotel also styled as ICEHOTEL, is a hotel built each year with snow and ice in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, about 17 kilometres or 11 miles from Kiruna, the world’s first ice hotel, first opened in 1990, and has been built each year from December to April. The ice hotel, including the chairs and beds, is built from snow and ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River. During the construction of the ice hotel, artists are invited to create different rooms and decorations made by ice. The bar is located besides the bedrooms, with glasses made of ice and an ice chapel which became famous for wedding venues. The structure remains below freezing, around −5 °C (23 °F). Japanese ice artists visited the area in 1989, and created an exhibition of ice art. Jannot Derid a French artist, held an exhibition in the same area, in a cylinder-shaped igloo in Spring 1990.One night , some tourists asked permission to spend the night in the igloo at the exhibition hall, because there were no rooms available in the town. The visitors slept in the igloo in sleeping bags on top of reindeer skins, and were the first guests of the  igloo hotel.

10)  Trulli of Alberobello

Trulli de Alberobello, Bari, Puglia, Italy (image credit:tangoitalia.com)

Trulli de Alberobello, Bari, Puglia, Italy (image credit:tangoitalia.com)

Trulli Alberobello

Trulli Alberobello

Trulli de Alberobello

Trulli de Alberobello

Trullo roof

Trullo roof

Alberobello is a small town and commune in the Bari province in Apulia, south-east Italy, with about 11,000 inhabitants and is famous for its unique prehistoric trulli buildings. The UNESCO World Heritage have designated the Trulli of Alberobello site since 1996. The remaining trulli are popular among English and German tourists and are often bought and restored for general use. But then, anyone who plans to restore a trullo needs to follow with many regulations as trulli are protected under the United Nations Educational, in the Alberobello region, where local residents are still living in trulli, who don’t have choice, because they cannot afford to move out or some locals provide bed and board for tourists in their trulli. The Monti district in Alberobello was largely a deserted area in the late 20th century, when a Guido Antionette, a local crafstsman, came up with the idea of buying up a many abandoned trulli, installed in them modern kitchens, some wooden furniture and cast-iron bedframes with a plan to renting them out as mini apartments for the night for less than rooms cost at local hotels. Antionette even painted good luck symbols on the roof of each trullo. A traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof is known as trullo (plural, trulli), which their construction’s  style is specific to the Itria Valley, in the area of Murge of the Italian region of Apulia. Trulli were generally built as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small businessmen or agricultural laborers. Alberobello town, in the Bari province, the whole districts are full with trulli.

11)  Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives

Ithaa undersea restaurant (image credit:whenonearth.net)

Ithaa undersea restaurant (image credit:whenonearth.net)

Ithaa undersea restaurant inside

Ithaa undersea restaurant inside

Ithaa, which means mother of pearl in Dhivehi , a Maldivian language, is a restaurant built underwater, located 16 ft below sea level at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in Alif Dhaal Atoll in the Republic of Maldives. The underwater restaurant is 5-by-9-metre or 16 by 30 ft, mostly built by acrylic (Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is a transparent thermoplastic used often as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to soda-lime -glass or soda-lime-glass silica, though not a type of familiar silica based glass, the substance, like many thermoplastics, is often technically a glass type, a non-crystalline vitreous substance and historically has often been called acrylic glass) structure. The Ithaa underwater restaurant has a capacity of 14 people and is encased in R-Cast acrylic with a transparent roof offering a 270° panoramic underwater view. The underwater restaurant was designed and constructed by a design consultancy, M.J. Murphy Ltd based in New Zealand, and was opened on in April 2005, described as the first undersea restaurant in the world. Over the past years, the food served in the restaurant has changed and is now described as contemporary European with Asian influences. The entrance of the Ithaa underwater restaurant, is a spiral staircase in a thatched pavilion (craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge(Cladium mariscus), rushes or heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof)  at the end of a jetty (a structure often refers to a pier, wharf, dock or breakwater). After the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, tsunami, topped at 0.31 metres (1 ft 0 in) below the staircase entrance, and but did not caused damage to the restaurant. The restaurant is often used for private parties and weddings. To celebrate Ithaa’s 5th anniversary in April 2010, the restaurant could be booked as an overnight residence, and this promotion of the underwater suite continued until April 2011.

12)   Jules’ Undersea Lodge

La Chalupa research laboratory formerly, now known as Jules Undersea Lodge

La Chalupa research laboratory formerly, now known as Jules Undersea Lodge

Jule's Undersea Lodge room (image credit:blog.purpletravel.co.uk)

Jule’s Undersea Lodge room (image credit:blog.purpletravel.co.uk)

Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo (image credit:passionelotto.forumcommunity.net)

Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo (image credit:passionelotto.forumcommunity.net)

Jules’ Undersea Lodge   is an American hotel based in Key Largo, Florida, and is the only underwater hotel in the U.S., with 30 feet (9 m) deep on the ocean floor and the hotel guests have to scuba dive to get to their hotel rooms. Due to the hotel’s entrance is located 21 feet underwater, scuba certification is required to every guests.  The Jules’ Underwater Lodge hotel is located at the bottom of the Emerald Lagoon and was opened since 1986. The name of the underwater hotel comes from the novelist Jules Verne, author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The former undersea lab, La Chalupa Research Laboratory, operated off Puerto Rico in the 1970’s, then later became the Jules’ Undersea Lodge. The lodge have two bedroom, one bath retreat that can be rented for a night, and also offer a scuba diving school.

13)  Eil Malk

Eil Mark or Palau rock islands

Eil Mark or Palau rock islands

Jellyfish Lake aerial view

Jellyfish Lake aerial view

Jelly Fish lake ,Palau  (image credit:www.afar.com)

Jelly Fish lake ,Palau (image credit:www.afar.com)

Jelly fish lake Snorkeling

Jelly fish lake Snorkeling

Eil Malk  or Mecherchar is the main island of the Mercherchar Islands, an island group of Palau in the Pacific Ocean, and in the southeastern Mecherchar peninsula, is known, Eil Malk. Eil Malik is located 23 kilometers southeast of Koror, Palau, near a type of coral reef formed next to a shoreline or  fringing reef of Palau. This densely wooded Eil Malik island has the shape of a letter Y, and there are more than 10 small lakes found on the island. In the east part of the island, can be found, one of the most famous lake is known as the Jellyfish Lake. Eil Malk has at least one village or maybe three villages, and known this island as uninhabited. The Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake located on Eil Malik island in Palau which is part of the Rock Islands, a group of small, rocky, mostly uninhabited islands in Southern Lagoon of Palau, between Koror and Peleliu. Throughout the Rock Islands, there are more or less marine lakes found. Millions of golden jellyfish migrate daily, horizontally across the lake. Jellyfish Lake is connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels in the limestone of an ancient Miocene reef. However, the lake is isolated sufficiently and the conditions are different enough that the condition of species in the lake is reduced from the lagoon nearby.The most common found in the Jellyfish Lake is the golden jellyfish, and possibly other species in the lake have evolved to be consisting different from the jellyfish’ closer relatives dwelling in the near  by lagoons. Jellyfish Lake is around 12,000 years old, and according to some source, about 12,000 years ago, the sea level had risen to the point that sea water began to fill the Jellyfish Lake basin, and two species of scyphozoan jellyfish live in Jellyfish Lake such as moon jellyfish or Aurelia sp. and the golden jellyfish or Mastigias sp. Tourists are required to obtain the Rock Island/Jellyfish Lake pass for $100 which is valid for 10 days, to access Jellyfish Lake. The most popular activity for tourists to Palau to Jellyfish Lake, is snorkeling. Several tour operators in Koror offer trips to the lake in Eil Malk island, which is approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Koror. The lake is accessed by a short trail from the beach on Eil Malk to the lake. Scuba diving by tourists in the lake is not allowed, for two reasons, one the bubbles from the scuba tank can harm the jellyfish if they collect beneath the bell and second reason, the anoxic layer that starts at around 15 meters, contains high hydrogen sulfide concentrations which can be absorbed through the diver’s skin that can lead to death. Although both species of jellyfish dwelling in the lake have stinging cells known as nematocytes, but  are not in general powerful enough to cause harm to humans, although there has been reported that it is possible to notice the stings on sensitive areas like the area around the mouth. Protective clothing is advised to divers with allergies to jellyfish, which is recommended by the Fish ‘n Fins tour guide. The hydrogen sulfide in the anoxic layer is a serious risk to scuba divers entering this layer, which the gas can be absorbed through the skin.

14)  Cat Island 

Hermitage Monastery, Mt..Alvernia Cat Island (image credit:www.paxgaea.com)

Hermitage Monastery, Mt..Alvernia Cat Island (image credit:www.paxgaea.com)

Dean Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

blue hole at Andros, Bahamas (image credit:www.bahamasguru.com)

blue hole at Andros, Bahamas (image credit:www.bahamasguru.com)

Cat Island is in the central Bahamas, and is one of its districts, also has, Mount Alvernia (also known as Como Hill) highest point of their nation, which rises to 206 feet (63 m) and is topped by a The Hermitage monastery. This assembly of buildings was built by the Franciscan Brother JeromeJohn Hawes). The Loyalists who fled the American Revolution were the first European settlers in 1783 in the island. The island may have been named after a pirate, Arthur Catt, or the may be the name is  referred to feral cats, its one-time large population in the island. Historically, The Cat Island’ sources came  from cotton plantations, however, today, the main way of living is the slash and burn farming (an agricultural technique that involves the cutting and burning of plants in forests or woodlands to create land fields) for Cat Islanders. An economic crop is casacarilla bark, which is gathered and shipped to Italy, where it becomes a main ingredient in medicines, scents and Campari.  Tourists can visit the island through New Bight Airport and Arthur;s Town Airport which serve the island. This small stone monastery at the peak of the mountain, built by hand by the architect hermit, Father Jerome, and is worth the trekking up this steep rocky hill, as well as the beautiful view. The Armbrister Creek flows into a clear lake called Boiling Point or Boiling Hole, with tidal conditions causing bubbles and burps,which lead to folklore of a sea monster below its surface. This is a great spot to spy rays and baby sharks and variant birds that nest along its mangrove fringe nowadays. Another lake is located in Bain Town, the lake is 65 ft wide 10 ft deep lake called Mermaid Hole, where many believe a mermaid dwelling among the four bed holes within leading to underground caverns and passageways. The Cat Island Bahamas’ one of its major tourists attractions, is the Big Blue Hole near Orange Creek at Dickies Road. The blue hole is very deep and it has a strong undercurrents flowing into the sea. Locals believed that a monster lived in Big Blue Hole, and has said eating the horses, and so they tossed into the lake many objects such as dead farm animals, which ended up reaching the ocean through its caverns. Local fishermen are still scared with this folklore, from venturing too far into this freshwater lake. Dickie’s Road goes east to once a hideout for slaves known as Griffin Bat Cave. The Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest known salt water blue hole with an entrance below the sea level, plunges 202 metres or 663 ft, in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island, Bahamas. Most blue holes contain freshwater and saltwater. The halocline (a subtype of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water)  is The point in these blue holes where the freshwater meets the saltwater and where a tendency  reaction takes place that eats away at the rock.

15)  Cat Island, Aoshima, Japan

Aoshima Island, Japan (image credit:www.kwiknews.my)

Aoshima Island, Japan (image credit:www.kwiknews.my)

Aoshima cat Island  (image credit:yousakana.jp)

Aoshima cat Island (image credit:yousakana.jp)

Aoshima cat Island (image Credit: www.yummypets.com) ehime japan source yomiuri-news

Aoshima cat Island (image Credit: www.yummypets.com) ehime japan source yomiuri-news

Aoshima also known as Cat Island an island in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, famous for its vast number of feral cats which outnumber humans by a ratio of approximately 6:1. The cats were introduced on ships in the area, but remained on the island and vastly repopulated. The island was a part of Nagahama in Kita District, from 2005 is part of Ōzu.  Aoshima Cat Island was reportedly has no stores, restaurants, cars, shops or kiosks selling snacks, thus, the island is not a tourists haven unless they are cat lovers. The cats are not picky and survives on rice balls or potatoes given by visitors. One ferry travels twice a day carrying daily visitors, which runs for 30 minutes from the coast of Ehime Prefecture. The situation of the cat island became a bit out of control as seen by the islanders, and they began to neuter the cats, and so far there are ten cats neutered reported.

Tashirojima Island Cat Island

Tashirojima , cat Island, Japan (image credit:www.boredpanda.org)

Tashirojima , cat Island, Japan (image credit:www.boredpanda.org)

cat shrine

cat shrine

Tashirojima cat Island  (image credit:www.adaymag.com)

Tashirojima cat Island (image credit:www.adaymag.com)

Tashirojima  is a small island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan, which lies in the Pacific Ocean off the Oshika Peninsula to the west of Ajishima. The Tashirojima an inhabited island, although the population is quite small (around 100 people, down from 1950, around 1000 people, and called as Cat Island due to the vast population of stray cats that grow rapidly as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. Today, the population of the cats is now larger than the human population on the cat island. In a Sankei News article in 2009, says that there are no pet dogs and prohibited to bring dogs onto the Tashirojima island. The Tashirojima Cat island is divided into two villages and ports, the Oodomari and Nitoda. A neighbouring island, Ajishima, used to belong to the town of Oshika, while Tashirojima was a part of the city of Ishinomaki. Oshika merged with Ishinomaki, on April 1, 2005, so now both islands are a part of Ishinomaki.The island’s villages have been designated as a terminal village, since 83% of the island’s population  is classified as elderly, which means that with 50% or more of the population being aged over 65, and threatened the survival of the villages. The majority of the villagers who live on the island are fishermen or involved in hospitality. The island is also known as Manga Island, as a Japanese manga artist, Shotaro Ishinomori, (January 25, 1938 – January 28, 1998) who became an influential figure in manga, anime and tokusatsu, built manga-related buildings on the island, that resembles a cat. There is Neko-jinja, a small cat shrine, in the middle of the island, roughly situated between the two villages. In the past, The islanders raised silkworms for silk, in the past, and cats were kept in order to keep the mice (a natural predator of silkworms) population down. The island has at least ten cat shrines in Miyagi Prefecture, and 51 stone monuments in the shape of cats, which is an unusually high number compared to the other prefectures. A couple moved to the island from Sendai in 2004, and opened up Hamaya, an inn for travelers.

16)  Ōkunoshima Rabbit Island

Poison Gas Museum or Doku gas museum

Poison Gas Museum or Doku gas museum

Ōkunoshima rabbit island (image credit:www.lostateminor.com)

Ōkunoshima rabbit island (image credit:www.lostateminor.com)

Ōkunoshima Bunny Island, Japan (image credit:listsplosion.com)

Ōkunoshima Bunny Island, Japan (image credit:listsplosion.com)

Ōkunoshima  is a small island located in the Japan’s Inland Sea in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture, which is accessible by ferry from Tadanoumi and Ōmishima, a town located in Ochi District, Ehime Prefecture. The Ōkunoshima Island, has campsites, walking trails and historical places which is the interest on the island. Ōkunoshima island, is often called Usagi Jima which means Rabbit Island, because of the numerous population of feral rabbits roaming the island. The rabbits are tamed and not scared to approach visitors visiting the island. During the World War II, Ōkunoshima played a key role as a poison gas factory for the chemical warfare that was carried out in China, and was a cultivated area and ten forts were built to protect the island during the Russo-Japanese War. The Ōkunoshima island is inhabited by three fishing families. Today the island has a hotel, a six-hole golf course and a small camping ground, and depend on the weather and the tide, tourists are able to swim in the clean water surrounding the island. After the World War II, the Ōkunoshima island was developed as a park, and these rabbits were set loose intentionally. During the World War II, these rabbits were used in the chemical munitions plant to test the effectiveness of the chemical weapons, but when the factory was demolished, those rabbits were killed. According to the former director of the poison gas museum, Murakami, the current rabbits have nothing to do with those that were involved with chemical weapon tests. Pets such as dogs and cats are prohibited in this island and hunting these rabbits is forbidden. The old forts and the gas factory ruins can be found all over the island, and entry is prohibited as it is too dangerous. The island has a resource center and a museum across the way, since the Ōkunoshima island is part of the Indland Sea National Park system of Japan. The BBC presented Pets – Wild at Heart, a short television series in 2015, which featured the pet’s behaviors, including the rabbits on the island. The museum opened in 1988, “was established in order to alert as many people as possible to the dreadful truths about poison gas.” The museum has only two large rooms, the small building provides a basic overview of the construction of the plant, working conditions and the effects of poison gas on humans. While the second room shows how poison gas affects the human body through the lungs, eyes, skin, and heart. Inside the museum, images of victims from Iraq and Iran. The museum is aimed mainly at the Japanese people, but on the overall summary for every section of the museum, English translations are provided.

17)  Iwatayama Monkey Park

Iwatayama Monkey Park (image credit:www.expoaid.com)

Iwatayama Monkey Park (image credit:www.expoaid.com)

Macaca fuscata at Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Macaca fuscata at Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Iwatayama Monkey Park is a commercial park located in Mt Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan is, on the same side of the Oi River as the train station, where the island is inhabited by a troop of over 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. The monkeys are wild but visitors can fed them food purchased at the site. The nearest train station is Arashiyama, which is a private line, travelers using the JR pass will arrive at JR Saga Arashiyama which is a bit further away. After crossing the second bridge, the entrance to the park itself is found to the right. After you have purchased the bilingual (Japanese/English) vending machine to buy tickets, visitors will have to climb up steep mountain, and After walking up about 150 steps, the trail forks. If visitors climb up the left hand side, it is steeper, however it makes faster for the trip to the top, going to the right will bring you around the back towards the children’s park before reaching the top on a shallower slope. Total hike time should take approximately 30 minutes. Once visitors reach the top, the staffs will show the visitors into a hut with windows covered with wire fence, where tourists can buy drinks, and food to feed the monkeys. The choice of food for the monkeys ranges from bags of apple and banana slices, bags of biscuits, and bags of chestnuts and peanuts. Bags of food are sold for JPY 100 as of April 2014. At the top there are available drinks, playground for children and also Japanese-style toilets. At the Iwatayama Monkey Park, there are three sets of viewing platforms to get a good view of the city below. At the monkey park there are guidelines and rules to be followed  and trail markers. These monkeys are quite easy to managed, but the males are  anxious or uneasy,  with direct eye contact.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan

Jigokudani hotspring in Nagano, Japan

Jigokudani hotspring in Nagano, Japan

Snow Monkeys, at hot spring in Nagano, Japan

Snow Monkeys, at hot spring in Nagano, Japan

Jigokudani Monkey Park  is located in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and the park is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, known locally as Shigakogen, and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The Jigokudani, means, Hell’s Valley, due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of narrow opening  in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests. The heavy snowfalls (covering the ground with snow for 4 months a year), with 850 meters elevation, and being only accessible through a two kilometer narrow footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded although being popular place. Jigokudani Monkey Park is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaque monkeys (Macaca fuscata), commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, wandering and looking for foods in the national park, during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, The macaque monkeys go down from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen or hotsprings, and in the evening, the monkeys return to the security of the forests. Jigokudani is not the farthest north where the monkeys dwell, the Shimokita Peninsula, is at the northern part of the Honshū island and the northwest area of this peninsula,  about 500 km or 310 miles north from Jigokudani is the northern limit of Japanese Macaque habitat. Non-human primate do not live in a colder climate.

18)   Masai Mara

Keekorok Lodge (image credit:www.kenya.com)

Keekorok Lodge (image credit:www.kenya.com)

Keekorok Lodge lobby entrance (image credit:www.shadowsofafrica.com)

Keekorok Lodge lobby entrance (image credit:www.shadowsofafrica.com)

Keekorok Lodge with Zebras (image credit:www.kenya.com)

Keekorok Lodge with Zebras (image credit:www.kenya.com)

Keekorok Lodge overviewing hippos (image credit:www.africa-adventure.com)

Keekorok Lodge overviewing hippos (image credit:www.africa-adventure.com)

Hot Air Balloon Safari in Maasai Mara

Hot Air Balloon Safari in Maasai Mara

The Maasai Mara National Reserve, known as Masai Mara and by the locals as The Mara, is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya, neighboring with the Serengeti National Park in Mara Region, Tanzania. The park is named in honor of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from a far distant. In Maasai language Maa, Mara, which means spotted, an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and shadows of clouds marking the area. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration known as the Great Migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest, topi and zebra, to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October. The circular great wildebeest migration begins around the same time each year, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania. By the availability of grazing or eating of growing grass, this migration is a natural phenomenon, which lasts from around January to March, when the calving season begins, a time when there is plenty of rain-ripened grass available. All members of the Big Five  such as the lion, leopard, African elephant, African buffalo and black rhinoceros are found in the Maasai Mara. Game parks are a major source for Kenya’s hard currency.The park’s entry fees are currently US$80 for adult, for non-East African Residents and $30 for children. For tourists, there are a number of lodges and tented camps, inside the Reserve and the Conservation area borders, however the tourists or local visitors cater for their own expenses, unless they are booked and arrange previously by their agencies. Although one third of the whole Maasai Mara, the Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries (compared to the numerous camps and lodges on the Narok side) and has well maintained, all roads. There are rangers patrol regularly which means that there is almost no illegal games or trespassing around the game parks and therefore excellent game viewing. The park has also strict control over vehicle numbers around animal viewing areas, allowing for a better experience when out on a game drive. Lodges and camps are available inside the Reserve including Keekorok Lodge. There are also hot balloon safaris available, with early morning departures, and let visitors see the vast landscape, the rising sun, and the gatherings of animals. The Mara Serena Airport, Musiara Airport and Keekorok Airport are located in the Reserve area of the Maasai Mara, while Mara Shikar Airport, Kichwa Tembo Airport and Ngerende Airport are located in the Conservation area of the Maasai Mara.

19)   The Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel Estes Park, Colorado

Stanley Hotel Estes Park, Colorado

Stanley Hotel, Colorado (image credit:www.destinationcolorado.com)

Stanley Hotel, Colorado (image credit:www.destinationcolorado.com)

Stanley Hotel Lobby

Stanley Hotel Lobby

The Stanley Hotel is a Colonial Revival hotel with 140-room in Estes Park, Colorado, located within sight of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of the Rockies. The Stanley Hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, serving the American upper class at the turn of the century. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its surrounding lands, and in the early 1970’s, the Stanley Hotel had gained a reputation for having a high incidence of paranormal activity. The Stanley Hotel has several ghost stories surrounding the state rooms on the main floor of the hotel as well as many of the guest rooms. In particular, the fourth floor is supposed to be especially active along with the concert hall of the hotel. Various groups of paranormal investigates and have visited in the last few years, the Stanley property to uncover the basis for these stories. The Syfy television show Ghost Hunters, led by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, filmed an episode at the Stanley hotel which aired on May 31, 2006. The show returned on the 2006’s Halloween for a live, six-hour follow-up investigation, with special guest, an American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, Phillip Jack “Phil” Brooks, or CM Punk. The Stanley Hotel has also been used as a filming location for other movies and TV shows, as the “Hotel Danbury” in the Dumb and Dumber film in 1994. 

20)  Myrtles Plantation

Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana

Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana

Myrtles Plantation alleged Ghost

Myrtles Plantation alleged Ghost

 The Myrtles Plantation is an antebellum or a prewar architecture plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana near Baton Rouge. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Mytles Plantation is rumored to be on top of an ancient Tunica Indian burial ground. The plantation is currently a bed and breakfast, or small lodging establishment, and offers historical and mystery tours. The Myrtles Plantation was built by General David Bradford in 1796, and was known as Laurel Grove during that  time. For many years, General Bradford lived there alone, until President John Adams pardoned him for his role in the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion. General Bradford, then moved his wife Elizabeth and their five children to the plantation from Pennsylvania. In 1808, General David Bradford died. Clark Woodruff (or Woodroff) one of General Bradford law student, married Bradford’s daughter, Sara Mathilda Bradford in 1817. The couple, Clark and Sara Woodruff managed the plantation for Elizabeth Bradford, widow of David Bradford. The Woodruffs had three children, Cornelia Gale, James, and Mary Octavia. However, in 1823 and 1824, Sara Bradford Woodruff and two of her three children died of yellow fever. After Elizabeth Bradford died in 1831, Clark Woodruff and his surviving daughter Mary Octavia Bradford Woodruff, moved to Covington, Louisiana, and left a caretaker to manage the plantation. Woodruff sold the plantation, the land and the slaves in 1834, to Ruffin Gray Stirling. In 1851, Woodruff died in New Orleans. Ruffin Stirling and his wife, Mary Catherine Cobb, undertook an extensive remodeling of the house, and the new house was nearly double the size of the former building after it was completed, and its name was changed to The Myrtles. The Stirling couple imported fancy  furniture from Europe. The Stirlings had nine children, but five of them died young. In 1854, Stirling died and left the plantation to his wife, Mary. Mary Cobb hired William Drew Winter to help manage the plantation as her lawyer and agent in 1865, and later married Sarah Stirling, Mary Cobb’s daughter. Sarah and William Winter lived at the Myrtles and had six children, one of whom (Kate Winter) died at the age of three from typhoid. In 1868, the Winters were forced to sell the plantation, but they were able to buy it back two years later. William Winter was shot on the porch of the house, in 1871, possibly by a man named E.S. Webber, and died within minutes. Sarah remained at the Myrtles with her mother and siblings until she died in 1878. In 1880, Mary Cobb died, and the plantation passed to Stephen Cobb Stirling, one of her sons. The plantation was heavily in debt, and Stephen sold it to Oran D. Brooks in 1886, but also sold it in 1889, and the house changed hands several times until 1891, when it was bought by Harrison Milton Williams. The Myrtles Plantation, was promoted as one of America’s most haunted homes, the plantation is supposedly the home of at least 12 ghosts. The Myrtles was reported often that 10 murders occurred in the house, but according to historical records only one murder  indicate the William Winter’s murder, who became a very popular character in the plantation. Winter was an attorney who lived in the plantation from 1865 until 1871, who was shot by a stranger. After being shot, Winter moved unsteadily inside the house and died trying to climb the stairs, and died on the 17th step of the stairs. Visitors, and also hotel employees, still hear his dying footsteps until today. Unsolved Mysteries filmed a segment in 2002, about the alleged plantation’s haunting, where the production crew experienced technical difficulties during the production of the segment, according to host Robert Stack. The Myrtles Plantation was also featured on Ghost Hunters, a 2005 episode.

21)  Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng, Vietnam

Phong nha tourism by boats

Phong nha tourism by boats

Phong nha cave mouth

Phong nha cave mouth

Phong nha cave passage

Phong nha cave passage

Phong nha kebang interior

Phong nha kebang interior

Phong nha kebang stalagmite

Phong nha kebang stalagmite

Phong Nha Kebang undergorund river

Phong Nha Kebang undergorund river

Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bố Trạch and Minh  Hóa districts of central Quảng Bình Province in the North Central Coast region, about 500 km south of Hanoi. The Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng park was created to protect one of the two largest karst (a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite and gypsum, characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes, dolines and caves) regions in the world, with 300 caves and grottoes, which also protects the limestone’s ecosystem forest of the Annamite Range region in Vitenam’s North Central Coast. The Sơn Đoòng Cave, also known as the Mountain River cave, which was discovered by British and Vietnamese explorers during their survey in 2009, and considered the largest cave in the world. Phong Nha held several world cave records, prior to the discovery of the cave, including the longest underground river as well as the largest combined caverns and passageways. The park’s name derives its name from Phong Nha Cave, which has many fascinating rock formations, and Kẻ Bàng forest. The plateau on which the park is located is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples in Southeast Asia as a complex karst landform. The largest cave in the world, was re-discovered in April 2009, by a British cave explorers team of the British Caving Association lead by a local farmer named Ho Khanh. The climate in Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng national park is tropically hot and humid like in North Central Coast and also in Quảng Bình province. During the summer the hottest temperature is 23 to 25 °C, with a maximum of 41 °C in the summer and a minimum of 6 °C in the winter. The hottest months in the Vietnam  region fall from June to August, with an average temperature of 28 °C, and the coldest months from December to February with an average temperature of 18 °C, and the rainy season is from July to December.The Phong Nha Cave like most of the caves in this area, has been shaped by the Chay River continuously. As visitors go farther into the cave, the more glittering are produced by the stalactites and stalagmites when bright light is shone on them. The Son River flows into the mouth of the cave and keeps flowing underground, where it is referred to as the Nam Aki River, then this river emerges at a site 20 km to the south near Pu Pha Dam Mountain. Due to the famous rock formations, the Phong Nha Cave from which the name to the whole system and the park is derived, it also has given names such as the Lion, the Fairy Caves, the Royal Court, and the Buddha. 

22) Tiên Sơn Cave

Tien Son cave interior

Tien Son cave interior

Tiên Sơn cave

Tiên Sơn cave

Tien Son cave (image credit:www.quangbinhtourism.vn)

Tien Son cave (image credit:www.quangbinhtourism.vn)

The Tiên Sơn cave is located in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, which was discovered accidentally in 1935, by a local inhabitant. It is located in Sơn Trach Commune in Bố Trạch a rural district in Quảng Bình Province. From Phong Nha  cave, the Tiên Sơn cave  entry is 1 km away, at an altitude of 200 m.  The Tiên Sơn cave is 980 m in length, with a 10 m deep hole is located 400 m from the entry of cave’s mouth, then a 500 m long underground cave, which is dangerous for tourists and only open to professional expeditionist. This cave features spectacular stalactites and stalagmites shaped like several fairy-tales just like the Phong Nha cave. When Stalactite and stalagmite columns and walls here are knocked with hand, it creates strange sounds like that of gong and drum. Tiên Sơn cave while the underground river redirected its current to Phong Nha cave. There are no linking grottoes between the Phong Nha and Tiên Sơn caves although the two caves are located next to each other.

Thiên Đường Cave

Thien Duong Cave or Paradise cave

Thien Duong Cave or Paradise cave

Thien Duong Cave

Thien Duong Cave

Thien Duong cave (Heaven cave) (image credit:www.aroundvn.com)

Thien Duong cave (Heaven cave) (image credit:www.aroundvn.com)

Thiên Đường Cave also known as Paradise Cave, is a cave in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng UNESCO World Heritage Site,60 km northwest of Đồng Hới  city. In 2005, the Thiên Đường cave was discovered by a local man and 5 first km of this cave was explored by British Cave Research Association explorers also in 2005, the whole 31 km was explored and publicly announced by the British cave explorers. This cave is longer than the Phong Nha Cave which is 31 km long, and had been considered the longest cave in this Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng  national park.The access road and internal road of this cave was built by Truong Thinh Group, a local company and the cave has been opened to tourists since September 3, 2010. From the cave’s entry, the car parking is 1.6 km, and tourists will go by golf car or walk on a paved road to the cave;s entry, where only 1 km is open to visitors or tourists. Vietbocap thienduongensis, literally  called Paradise scorpion, a new species of scorpion was discovered in this cave in 2012. 

Sơn Đoòng Cave

Son Doong Cave

Son Doong Cave

Hang-dong, Son-doong, Vietnam (image credit:dulichbiendanang.net)

Hang-dong, Son-doong, Vietnam (image credit:dulichbiendanang.net)

Son-Doong Cave (image credit:photogenicimage.com)

Son-Doong Cave (image credit:photogenicimage.com)

Cave Pearls

Cave Pearls

Sơn Đoòng Cave or Mountain River cave in Vietnamese  Hang Sơn Đoòng, is a solutional cave (a cave usually formed in the soluble rock limestone) in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park,  Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam. Sơn Đoòng Cave is the biggest known cave in the world, as of 2009, and is located near the borders of Laos-Vietnam. Inside the Sơn Đoòng Cave , is a large, fast-flowing underground river. The Sơn Đoòng Cave was formed in Carboniferous/ Permian limestone. In 1991, Sơn Đoòng Cave was found by Hồ-Khanh, a local man. Local people was prevented from entering the cave because of the steep descent and the strange whistling sound of wind and roar of a rushing stream in the cave heard through the entrance. The Sơn Đoòng cave become known internationally, after a group of scientists from the British Cave Research Association, conducted a survey on April 10 to 14, 2009 in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng, led by Howard and Deb Limbert. The group’s progress was stopped by a large, 60 metres (200 ft) high calcite wall, which was later named The Great Wall of Vietnam, and the cave travel or pass across, through in 2010 when the group reached the end of the cave passage. The cave pearls were found behind the Great Wall of Vietnam, which is the size of baseballs, an abnormally large size. The cave contains some of the world’s  tallest known stalagmites, which are up to 70 m tall. With these dimensions, in 2009, Sơn Đoòng overtook Malaysia’s Deer Cave to take the title of the largest cave in the world.The first tourist group explored the cave in early August 2013, on a guided tour at a cost of US$3,000 each. Future trips for the cave’s exploration are planned.

23)   Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Cave Cathedral (image credit:planetden.com)

Waitomo Glowworm Cave Cathedral (image credit:planetden.com)

Waitomo glowworm caves, New Zealand (iamge credit:www.boredpanda.com)

Waitomo glowworm caves, New Zealand (iamge credit:www.boredpanda.com)

The Waitomo Caves is a village and a cave usually formed in the soluble rock limestone system forming a major tourist attraction in the northern King Country region of the New Zealand’s North Island, in Māori language it is called, Te Ika-a-Māui, 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti is a small town in the north of the King Country region. The Waitomo Caves community is very small, though the village has many temporary service workers living there. The Waitomo word comes from the  Māori language wai, which means, water and tomo which means, a sinkhole or doline, or can be translated to be water passing through a hole. The caves are formed in Oligocene limestone. The Waitomo District’s limestone landscape area has been the center of becoming a famous commercial caving tourism since early 1900. Number of large and small  companies, specialize in leading tourists through the caves of the area, from easily accessible areas with hundreds of tourists per hour in the peak season, currently, to extreme sports-like crawls into cave systems which are only seen by a few tourists each day. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves is the main caves in the area, and Ruakuri CaveAranui Cave and Gardner’s Gut is an extensive cave system in the Waitomo area.They are noted for their stalactite and stalagmite displays, and for the presence of glowworms (the fungus gnat Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply glowworm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand, which is also known in  Māori  language as titiwai, meaning projected over water

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Cave Entrance

Waitomo Cave Entrance

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre

Waitomo Cave Cathedral

Waitomo Cave Cathedral

Waitomo glowworm caves in New Zealand (image credit:waveavenue.com)

Waitomo glowworm caves in New Zealand (image credit:waveavenue.com)

Glowworm at Glow Worm Caves, New Zealand (image credit:www.opposingviews.com

Glowworm at Glow Worm Caves, New Zealand (image credit:www.opposingviews.com

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand, located in the southern Waikato region, 12 km northwest of Te Kuiti,  known for its population of glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa), which these species is found exclusively in New Zealand. The glowworms are around the size of an average mosquito. The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system which includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave. The tourists attraction has a modern visitor center at the entrance, largely designed in wood, and alos organized tours which includes boat tour under the glowworms. In 1910, The Waitomo Caves Hotel was built in 1910 to accommodate many visitors.The limestone in the cave is composed of fossilized corals, seashells, fish skeletons, and many small marine organisms on the sea beds, while the stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations grew from water dripping from the ceiling or flowing over the walls and leaving behind limestone deposits. There are numerous small underwater lakes that were created by freshwater creeks or brooks. The Waitomo Glowworm Cave’s walls are covered with a variety of fungi such as cave flower (a distant relation to the genus Pleurotus) that is actually a mushroom-like fungus. Insects were the most common animals found inside the cave, such as albino cave ants, giant crickets and the glowworms. The Waitomo Glowworm cave is about two hours south of Auckland, one hour south of Hamilton and two hours by car to Rotorua.  

Waitomo Caves Hotel

Waitomo Hotel

Waitomo Hotel

Waitomo Cave Hotel (image credit:www.cleartrip.com)

Waitomo Cave Hotel (image credit:www.cleartrip.com)

Waitomo Caves Hotel formerly known as Waitomo House and was later renamed Government Hostel at Waitomo, is a hotel located in Waitomo District, King Country above Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The Waitomo House was first built in 1908, and in 1928, the hotel was renovated 20 years later because of the hotel’s popularity. The hotel building is famous for its unique Victorian style of New Zealand. The Waitomo Caves Hotel is the fourth most haunted tourists spot, and the most haunted hotel, in New Zealand according to stuff.co.nz. There have been reports of dripping blood from bathtubs, bouncing orbs around the driveway and a Māori princess stalking the corridors. Some people have also reported experiencing hearing laughter, noise of a hotel maid’s trolley going along the long hallway stretch in the lower part of the hotel, the strange feeling of something walking through the guests and the dining room that going cold. There were also reports by the hotel’s employees and guests, that a ghost likes to play tricks on them or an apparitions have been seen in the dining room, with an uneasy feeling in the atmosphere, and that some rooms have moving lights, objects and even screams.

Woodlyn Park New Zealand

Bristol Freighter Plane suite hotel, Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, New Zealand (image credit:travelhub.insureandgo.com.au)

Bristol Freighter Plane suite hotel, Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, New Zealand (image credit:travelhub.insureandgo.com.au)

Woodlyn Park Hobbit Hotel (image credit:www.uniqhotels.com)

Woodlyn Park Hobbit Hotel (image credit:www.uniqhotels.com)

Woodlyn Park Boat hotel (image credit:thesuiteworld.com)

Woodlyn Park Boat hotel (image credit:thesuiteworld.com)

Hobbit Hotel, NZ (image credit:serbaserbiuniks.blogspot.com)

Hobbit Hotel, NZ (image credit:serbaserbiuniks.blogspot.com)

The unique and peculiar motels to stay in Woodlyn Park in New Zealand such as train, plane, boat or Underground Woodlyn Park Hobbit motel, brings unique experience to visitors. The Hobbit Motel, is a little architectural building with porthole-style windows and interiors, located near Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The Hobbit motels which made unique and unusual units is a Bristol Freighter Plane of 1950’s model which is fully furnished, is one of the allied planes out of Vietnam. The Waitomo Express motel, is a 1918 Rail Carriage which is remodeled into a beautiful motel unit, with two bedrooms, and could accommodate six guests, with one double bed, and two sets of single bunk beds.The first Hobbit Underground Motels in the world, with circular windows, built of middle earth alongside the Train Carriage motel and Aeroplane Motels, adding another unique dimension to the complex. The Hobbits motel as well as the other motels at Woodlyn Park, contain a kitchen and full bathrooms that can accommodate two or up to ten guests. Each motels has special designed furniture and décorations, and have been built using polystyrene blocks, thus, the motels are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The 1950’s Train Motel comprises rail car, is also furnished like the other motels at Woodlyn Park. While the Boat Motel consists of five units,was created from World War II Patrol Boats. The strange and unique structure of the Hobbit Motel is built into the side of a hill in North Island’s Waitomo, a tourists attraction, renowned for caves and waterfalls.

Matamata, New Zealand

Hobbiton welcome sign in Matamata, New Zealand

Hobbiton welcome sign in Matamata, New Zealand

Hobbit holes reflected in water

Hobbit holes reflected in water

Hobbiton mill and double-arched bridge

Hobbiton mill and double-arched bridge

Bag End door hobbit house

Bag End door hobbit house

Bag End hobbit house exterior

Bag End hobbit house exterior

Agujeros hobbiton New Zealand

Agujeros hobbiton New Zealand

Matamata  is a Waikato rural town in New Zealand, with about 12, 000 populations in rural and township, located near the base of the Kaimai Range, and is a thriving farming area known for  Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing and training pursuits, also part of the local government area, Matamata-Piako District which takes in the surrounding rural areas such as Morrinsville and Te Aroha, State Highway 27 and the Kinleith Branch railway run through the town.A famous tourists attraction in Matamata is the Hobbiton Movie Set, a farm nearby, which was the location for the Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. During the filming period of The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Hobbiton set had no furniture or props, but could be entered with distant view of the farm viewed from inside them. A sign Welcome to Hobbiton, can be seen on the main road. Parts of Hobbiton began to close in 2011, in preparation for the three new movies based around the first Tolkien novel, The Hobbit. The government of New Zealand, decided to preserve the Hobbit holes built for the movie set location as tourist attraction, and were designed to blend into the environment. The Hobbiton Movie Set was The significant location used for the movie The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series is known as the Hobbiton Movie Set. In 1998, Peter Jackson first saw the Alexander Farm when he started to look for a suitable locations for the film series, The Lord of the Rings. Then Alan Lee, the set Decorator stated, that the hills location, “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations.”  A lake with a long arm that could be as big as a river, is part of the farm site. Although the movie set location was not built to last, the hobbit hole artificial front, having been constructed from untreated timber, ply and Polystyrene (PS), which can be solid or foamed.it was evident that the location was of interest to tourists.  The tour’s highlights include Bagshot Row or Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth, the Party tree or a tree that grew near the Bag End in the Shire, and Bilbo‘s Bag End home. There are now 44 hobbit holes on the site, and it is not possible to enter any of them, the reason why, the interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington.The Green Dragon inn is the Green Dragon replica that featured in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, was opened on the set in 2012. In 2014, a store selling merchandise and souvenirs adjacent to the cafe and evening events opened. 

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