Most Surreal Places on Earth how diverse our planet is. Yet it isn’t until you see these surreal destinations with your own eyes that you can both appreciate their beauty and untamed power.
Travel is one of life’s great pleasures and there are many different ways to fill up your passport. Yet venturing to some of the most unique sights will do more than just fill your camera with Insta-worthy pictures.
From inhospitable lakes and deserts to lush, high alpine forests and everything in between, this guide will show you why you should never stop exploring.
25 Most Surreal Places on Earth
White Desert, Egypt
Egypt’s White Desert is an alien landscape that belongs on everyone’s list. Forget the popular pyramids, the White Desert is a treasure chest of natural wonder, highlighted by the utterly confounding rock formations found within the national park.
The journey begins by venturing into the Black Desert, complete with ancient lava stones. After some dune bashing, you’ll find yourself within a desert coated white by calcified limestone and sculpted by the fine and dainty hand of Mother Nature.
The snow-white landscape also offers sandboarding, mountain biking, kayaking in nearby oasis and utterly gorgeous star gazing.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
An alkaline lake in Tanzania’s Arusha Region, Lake Natron is known as the deadliest lake on earth. No, Lake Natron is not your typical lakeside getaway. Here, you’ll trade swimming for admiring one of the world’s most inhospitable landscapes.
Lake Natron is hauntingly beautiful. Images of animals that have been “turned to stone” have placed this destination on the map. Its pH level can reach 10.5 which is enough to
burn skin. Surrounded by towering hills, the lake is colored deep red, an ominous sign. Yet it’s doesn’t scare the lesser flamingos which are famous for flocking to Lake Natron, the birthplace of 75% of the species.
Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA
Featuring the largest collection of hoodoos on the planet, Bryce Canyon in Utah is a marvel to explore. The red rocks and pink cliffs combine to create a long list of top-shelf vistas set upon the aptly named Grand Staircase.
Along a high plateau, the national park features more than just exceptional geography. Visitors will also discover a world of rare flora and fauna and a night sky that will have you lying awake, eyes wide open well into the early hours.
With well-marked trails, it’s easy to get around but be sure to time your treks so you can enjoy the evening’s brilliant golden hour.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Surrounded by rugged cliffs and intriguing caves, Phang Nga Bay features some of the best paddling on earth. Phang Nga Bay hit the mainstream with a helping hand from Hollywood, featuring in James Bond and Star Wars. But on arrival, you’ll quickly realize, the bay was always destined for stardom.
It’s been a national park since 1981 and the vast bay is teeming with fascinating natural landmarks including James Bond Island, a limestone sea stack that rises from the Andaman
Sea with purpose. After paddling around the island, discover caves and archaeological sites before seeing what treasures lie beneath the surface.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
In the North Island, visitors can discover New Zealand’s answer to the Yucatan’s cenotes. Under three hours from Auckland, the Waitomo (Maori for water and cave) Glowworm Caves are an intricate system of caves, subterranean rivers and sinkholes.
The highlight are the glowworms strewn across the ceiling, dangling and shining among the stalactites. From the water, your guide will take you through the tunnel discussing both the
science and legends behind the cave and its famous glowworms, a grotto that took 30 million years to form. Other highlights include ziplining though the illuminated cave.
Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor
Colloquially known as the Tomb Raider Temple, Ta Prohm was built almost 900 years ago. Today, the ancient temple is slowly being eaten alive by the return of the rainforest, a memorable mix of natural and man-made beauty.
Many of the temples around Angkor have been cleared, but Ta Prohm remains a bastion to the rightful order of things. It’s an experience that showcases the architectural genius of the Khmers, yet the eternal power of the jungle.
Visitors will be able to see inscriptions of the temple’s original inhabitants, and explore ancient passageways and historic courtyards.
Combining a waterfall with fascinating basalt columns, the Svartifoss is a sight not to be missed. The name translates to black falls due to the burnt lava that stands like an enormous organ behind the tumble veil of white.
To see the falls, you’ll need to venture one mile from the car park with an elevation gain of over 350 feet.
After 30+ minutes you’ll be gawking at a 66 feet waterfall with hexagonal columns forming one of the world’s most unique waterfall backdrops. The columns are so striking they inspired the Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Located within Croatia’s largest national park, Plitvice Lakes are one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. The lakes are divided into travertine terraces surrounded by dense rainforest home to rare birds, bears and wolves.
The lakes are the star of the show, with their crystal clear water akin to that found in the Caribbean or within a cenote. Connecting each lake are equally eye-catching waterfalls and underground tunnels. Each lake is surrounded by deposits of calcium carbonate, (yes the same ingredient used in your trusty Tums), creating a natural dam or turf barrier.
El Peñón de Guatapé Colombia
El Peñón de Guatapé is a towering rock that soars out of the valley floor weighing 10 million tons. Worshiped by the Tahamies for centuries, the rock became a major destination when the first known ascents were completed in 1954.
Today, you can journey to the top of the 650ft giant via a series of hair-raising staircases admiring the postcard-worthy views along the way. The staircase follows the only crack in the otherwise perfect rock. After 649 steps, you’ll look down on a veritable maze of lakes and distant islands.
Larung Gar, Tibet, China
In Sichuan Province, Larung Gar is the largest monastery in the world and is home to 4,000 monks and nuns. Since it was established in 1980, Larung Gar has expanded dramatically to become a rolling red hill of tiny terracotta homes.
For travelers, you’ll need a sense of adventure. It’s a strenuous journey. On arrival, Larung Gar can be overwhelming. The maze of streets and poverty, along with the beautiful architecture and welcoming community is a lot for the senses to handle. At over 12,000 feet, the alpine Buddhist community has few peers.
The Pinnacles, Australia
In Nambung National Park in Western Australia, the Pinnacles are a rare geological formation in a country full of them. Two hours north of Perth, the Pinnacles are formed from limestone deposits left behind after the ocean receded over 25,000 years ago.
Erosion played its part, carving each Pinnacle into another masterpiece. These pillars of dense deposits and ancient sea shells stand as high as 12 feet tall. From the impressive pillars, you can see the landscape change from vast desert, to sparkling sand dunes and eventually the blue of the endless Indian Ocean.
Chocolate Hills, Bohol, The Philippines
The Chocolate Hills in the Philippines are a collection of over a thousand mounds that turn chocolatey brown during Bohol’s dry season. Scattered like giant termite mounds through otherwise lush forests, the seemingly identical look of each would lead many to think they’re man-made.
Instead, the mounds were formed by the erosion of limestone over thousands of years. Only the hills remain to tell the tale. From various viewpoints, including at Sagbayan Peak, you can admire the Chocolate Hills that spread near and far.
Underwater Waterfall, Mauritius
From up above, there are few more surreal sights than Mauritius’ Underwater Waterfall. In the middle of the Indian Ocean, the waterfall tumbles down a deep crevasse into the deep endless blue just off the edge of the lush island.
If you’re still trying to wrap your head around it, don’t worry it’s merely an optical illusion. The 2.5 mile drop would make it the tallest waterfall on earth. However, the look of the waterfall is formed by the combination of sand and silt that run along the island’s ocean shelf
What are the most surreal places?
10 surreal destinations you won’t believe exist on Earth
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.
Northern Lake Baikal, Russia.
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos.
Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, USA.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan.
Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia.
What is the most exciting place on earth?
50 Of The Most Mesmerizing Places On Earth
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (China) iStock.com/vichie81. …
Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand) …
Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) …
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) …
Antelope Canyon (Arizona) …
Palace of Versailles (Versailles, France) …
Stonehenge (England) …
Son Doong Cave (Vietnam)