Destinations day-of-teh-dead-mexico-dark-destinations

Published on October 30th, 2018 | by Alyssa Daniells

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Top 8 Destinations with a Dark Side

A similar post appeared in October 2013, but we’ve updated it and added a few more spooky destinations. Happy Halloween!

To us, travel is about leaving your comfort zone and opening your eyes to new experiences. This includes, of course, overcoming fears (and we’re not just talking about the thrills of bungee jumping or skydiving.) This spooky time of year is rife with opportunities to push your limits by visiting destinations like these, which are both historic and horrific! The memories will be sure to pleasantly haunt you long after you return home —  if you do that is! Muahahahaa!

The World’s Spookiest Destinations

Here’s our top picks of the scariest places to visit. Are you daring enough to read on, or better yet, see them for yourself?

1. Transylvania, Romania

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Dracula’s bachelor pad. Being entertained by him here really “sucked.”

Tourists love this medieval region for its fairytale beauty, but they flock to Transylvania because of the legend of Count Dracula. Transylvania conjures images of nocturnal vampires emerging from coffins, bloodthirsty bats in dark forests and malicious, ancient undead. Perhaps the most iconic Transylvanian image is Bran Castle, the home of Vlad III Dracul, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a character who is practically synonymous with Halloween. Bran Castle sits on the border of Transylvania, and the chilling allure of its myths is as captivating as this imposing fortress itself.

2. The Island of the Dolls, Mexico

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“Mama-aaaaarrrgghh!”

Doesn’t Isla de las Munecas, translated to Island of the Dolls, sound cute and inviting? Nothing could be further from its reality. On this eerily quiet island in Mexico’s ancient Xochimilco district, you’ll find its strange and spooky attraction. The island is home to hundreds of mutilated dolls which appear menacing even in bright daylight. It remains a mystery where they originated from, but are said to be possessed by a little girl who drowned in the area. Later, the caretaker of the island was found drowned in the same spot. The piercing doll eyes seem to follow you around, staring right into your soul and instilling dread in locals and visitors. Mexicans do not generally fear the deceased, as one of their most iconic celebrations, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) proves, where Mexican families don costumes, visit the graves of their loved ones and hold parades in their honour. This festival happens all over Mexico but is most well known in Oaxaca. Interestingly, Mexico is said to have originated the pumpkin as a symbol of Halloween, originally inspired by Day of the Dead observances.

3. Les Catacombes, France

 

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Make no bones about it, this place is creepy AF.

Paris is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations, but deep in the city’s bowels lies a dark and haunting past. Les Catacombes de Paris, or The Catacombs of Paris, is an underground cemetery housing the skeletal remains of what is estimated to be six million people. Dating back to the 18th century, the Catacombs were created as an answer to the city’s overflowing cemeteries. Part of a labyrinthine network of ancient stone mines and quarries, in 1810, renovations transformed this subterranean cavern into the neatly stacked skulls and bones visitors see today. Paris Catacombs guided tours run Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm. Or, we can create a tailor-made Europe tour of your own, taking you to The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo near Sicily, where bony corpses of Capuchin Friars and their followers hang before you in their final sleep.

3. Fengdu (Ghost City) China

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China’s Ghost City is hauntingly boo-tiful.

Situated at the northern end of the Yangtze River, this spot attracts tourists from all over China to learn about Chinese ghost folklore and the afterlife. Using tangible, imposing threats like stone statues depicting demons desecrating humans, Ghost City serves as a reminder that good is rewarded with good, and evil is met with terrifying and torturous evil. Seen as the gateway to Diyu, the Chinese realm of hell, Fengdu is filled with temples and pagodas to help counteract the looming dread. Visitors to Fengdu in March may observe and participate in the annual festival that honours the spirits that haunt Fengdu.

4. Death Valley, California

 

Even the resident vultures watch their backs around here.

As its ominous name implies, Death Valley is no stranger to its visitors dying. Its barren, arid and inhospitable landscape makes it not only the hottest place in the USA in terms of temperature but also the most bone-chilling when it comes to the creepiness factor. While many travellers have tragically perished due to its unforgiving climate and conditions, there are some inexplicable stories of ghosts, giants and even lost civilizations reported in this remote and desolate terrain.

5.  Edinburgh, Scotland

‘Will ye no come back again?’

Centuries of gruesome military attacks, malicious tortures and macabre executions give renowned Edinburgh Castle its reputation as Scotland’s most haunted spot. One of Britain’s biggest tourist destinations by day, by night the castle is said to have other visitors lurking in its cold and dingy shadows, the ghosts of those who were put to death here. The Gothic architecture and storied history of the Scottish capital add to the city’s allure as a haunted destination. Study the history of Halloween and you’ll find claims that the tradition of All Hallow’s Eve has Scottish roots. About 32 km away from Edinburgh is the site of the North Berwick Witch Trials, which occurred from 1590-1592 and also makes a chillingly fascinating excursion.

6. Koh Samui, Thailand

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Mummified BOO-dhist monk

Koh Samui is a much-loved Thailand destination, home to luxury resorts and stunning beaches. But even this idyllic place can give one the creeps. Step into Wat Khunaram, one of the island’s many Buddhist temples. This one draws the most visitors, as it houses the shrine of  Luang Pho Daeng. Now known as “the Mummy Monk,” Daeng died in 1973 and wanted his body displayed as a reminder of the transience of human existence.

 7. New Orleans, Louisiana 

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And here we thought those Mexican dolls were creepy. Voodoo-like to come here?

With a history of Voodoo, black magic and all things spooky, New Orleans definitely makes the list of destinations with a dark side. You’ll find Louisiana tour companies specializing in walks through cemeteries, ghost stories that fill the French Quarter, and an array of stores selling custom-blended potions, Tarot cards and authentic Voodoo dolls. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, at 724 Dumaine Street, traces the origin and development of Voodoo, which originated from the ancestral religions of the African diaspora. Its cramped rooms contain alleged possessions from New Orleans Voodoo’s most famous practitioner, Marie Laveau. Located just outside of the city is the notoriously haunted and scenic Manchac Swamp, cited as “one of the creepiest places on Earth.”

8. St. Augustine, Florida

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Halloween is a grave matter here in the oldest city in the United States.

Venture latitudinally east from New Orleans to find yourself in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the USA. It’s also rumoured to be the most haunted. Its popular ghost tours take you back to 1585, when the first Spanish colonists arrived, but the spirits of St. Augustine’s first inhabitants are believed to remain. Paranormal sightings and mysterious apparitions are just as famous here as the coastal town’s beautiful cobblestone streets and stretches of beaches.

Are you disturbed by our dark destinations? Good! While you don’t have to visit these creepy spots, each of the places we recommend are definitely worth visiting. Contact a Flight Centre Expert Traveller today– if you dare!

 

 

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About the Author

Alyssa Daniells

Equipped with good grammar, a laptop and sense of humour, Alyssa curiously explores the world, whether it involves traversing oceans to anything historic, artistic or beautiful, or crossing the street for a dark roasted coffee refuel. Curating and creating compelling content (and the occasional alliteration!) is something she loves. Her phone storage is almost at capacity due to countless photos of Toronto, her toddler and other people's pets.



11 Responses to Top 8 Destinations with a Dark Side

  1. danielle taylor says:

    I have never been to any of these places ,and love to go to any of them!

  2. Cristina says:

    Yikes! Those dolls are creepy. Would love to experience Romania though!

  3. Karen says:

    I have been to Edinburgh castle, and it is indeed creepy. The dungeons were the worst, death/suffering still hangs in the air there. I had the same feeling about the Colosseum in Rome, so much violence and death in that place I couldn’t even enter it. Colosseum should be on this list, it is hands down one of the creepiest places on earth.

    I have not been to the other destinations on this list, but Dracula’s castle and New Orleans are definitely on my bucket list to see! 🙂

  4. Judy says:

    Never been to any of these places, but I believe another destination that can be added to the list is the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Russia and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan

  5. Nuno says:

    I’d like to add the Catacombs of Paris to this list. Walking beneath this great city surrounded by the remains of millions who lived and died hundreds of years ago is a unique and unforgettable experience.

  6. Sherry Kuehl says:

    White which of Rise Hall in Jamaica

  7. Lori says:

    I would love to see Edinburgh Castle or any of the castles in Scotland. Their haunted history runs deep throughout the entire country. Good to read up on!

  8. Bruce says:

    The Temple of the Bones in Evora, Portugal. A temple that was built out of human bones. Not very easy to find in the historic city Evora but well worth the stop.

  9. Tammy says:

    What about Prague

  10. Kathy says:

    Been to Brams Castle, Edinberg and New Orleans. All very cool and interesting.Love to travel.

  11. mark says:

    Central city Colorado. Every building rxcept one is haunted we have 11 cemeteries

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