For Condé Nast Traveler, Caitlin Morton.
From hell-themed amusement parks to islands covered with snakes, these are some of the scariest places in the world — visit them if you dare.
1. The Door to Hell, Derweze, Ahal Province, Turkmenistan
While Joss Whedon led us to believe that the entrance to hell could be found in Sunnydale, California, he was actually some 7,500 miles off. Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan is the “Door to Hell,” a name locals gave to a 230-foot-wide crater that simply won’t stop burning. When Soviet scientists began searching for oil back in 1971, they accidentally hit a methane reserve and the drilling platform collapsed, forming the crater and releasing dangerous gas into the air. The scientists decided to light the crater on fire to burn off the methane, creating a Dante-esque anomaly that has remained lit... for the past 40-plus years.
2. North Yungas Road, Bolivia
The path from La Paz to Coroico, Bolivia, is a treacherous one: The North Yungas Road weaves precariously through the Amazon rainforest at a height of more than 15,000 feet. When you consider that frightening elevation — not to mention the 12-foot-wide single lane, lack of guardrails, and limited visibility due to rain and fog — it’s easy to see why this 50-mile stretch of highway has earned the nickname “The Death Road.” While the North Yungas Road used to see some 200 to 300 annual deaths, it has now become more of a destination for adventurous mountain bikers than a vehicular thoroughfare.
3. Nagoro, Japan
Nagoro is a tiny Japanese village with one very notable feature: a life-sized doll population that outnumbers the human population nearly 100:1. The toy residents are the work of local Tsukimi Ayano, who began making doll replicas of her neighbors after they died or moved away. The eerie doppelgängers can be seen in various positions across the town — fishermen sitting on the riverbank, students filling entire classrooms, elderly couples resting on benches outside of buildings. There are now around 350 dolls and fewer than 40 breathing humans in Nagoro, making it a quirky and somewhat terrifying — albeit realistic — toyland.
4. Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
People have been placing crosses at this spot in northern Lithuania since the 14th century, and for various reasons: Throughout the medieval period, the crosses expressed a desire for Lithuanian independence. Then, after a peasant uprising in 1831, people began adding to the site in remembrance of dead rebels. The hill became a place of defiance once again during Soviet occupation from 1944 to 1991. The hill and crosses were bulldozed by Soviets three times, but locals kept rebuilding it. There are now more than 100,000 crosses crowded there, clashing together in the breeze like eerie wind chimes.
5. Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
If you want to visit the dead in Sagada, you’ll have to look up — rather than six feet under. The people of this region are known for burying their dead in coffins attached to the sides of cliffs, like an aerial cross-section of your average cemetery. The tradition goes back thousands of years: carve out your own coffin, die, and get hoisted up next to your ancestors. Many of the cliffside coffins are hundreds of years old and all look completely different, as they were specially made by the person who now rests inside of them.
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