From deserted “fake” towns to a city of garbage to a place inhabited by dwarfed people, there are many places that are considered too weird but they deserve a mention here on our list. If you are more of an adventurous traveler, you may want to consider visiting the following places.
1. The Villages, Florida
The Villages, in Florida might well be a haven for retirees. This small town is the biggest planned, age-restricted, gated community not only in the US but also in the whole world. It has over 100,000 people living there. Most of the inhabitants are aged 65 and up, and travel around town by driving in their golf carts. There are so many golf carts in the area; in fact, it holds the Guinness world record for having put together the longest golf cart line in the world, with 3,321 vehicles.
The Villages is one of the fastest-rising metropolitan areas in the US. It has over 30 golf courses, nine country clubs, two town squares. and a lot of restaurants and bars. No children are allowed in this community.
2. Aoshima, Japan (aka “Cat Island”)
If you’re a neko lover, you may want to book a flight for Aoshima, Japan. This small, remote island has become a popular tourist attraction where visitors get to interact with over a hundred loitering felines. The cats seem to coexist peacefully with their human co-residents. It is rather a desolate island with a dwindling fishing community. There are also many deserted homes and buildings which the cats make as their home.
Not surprisingly, cats outnumber human residents in Aoshima by a ratio of 6:1. So how did they multiply to such great numbers? Well, these cats were introduced on ships coming to the island, but they stayed there (maybe because of the fishing?). Since then, their numbers have been increasing.
3. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Somewhere in Morocco, if you cannot paint the town red, you can do it in blue — literally. There’s a picturesque city in the north of the country named Chefchaouen where you will be totally mesmerized by its buildings and homes. Why? Because they are rinsed in different shades of blue. In the hot Mediterranean climate, these houses perhaps provide some “coolness” to the eyes.
With its population of around 35,000, the city thrives in tourism as well as in cannabis production. Chefchaouen is also nicknamed “The Blue Pearl.”
4. Church in Chamula
San Juan Chamula is an autonomous municipality in Chiapas, Mexico. The area is known for its unusual, tiny church. Outside, there is nothing extraordinary about the church, just like many others in Mexico and Latin America. But once you enter inside you will realize that it’s a church like no other.
The church’s interiors are filled with colorful candles that spread across the floor, on tables and on walls. Even the altars are not spared as they are also bedecked with those candles. There is no electrical lighting inside, so people rely on the light from the flickering candles and the bright sunshine that burst through the church’s side windows. There are no pews; instead, people worship by kneeling on the pine needles that serve as sort of a carpet.
Like the church itself, the rituals here are also unusual. Parishioners drink Coca-Cola and afterwards, force themselves to burp (which happens a lot!). This act, the faithful believe, is a gesture of releasing bad spirits from their bodies. So that’s why you may see a lot of Coca-Cola bottles scattering inside; the popular soft drink makes a big part of their ritual.
Photography is strictly forbidden inside the church in Chamula. If someone attempts to bring a camera there, he or she will be forcibly thrown out . And consequently, they would also earn the wrath of the townsfolk there.
5. Colma, California
Colma is a small town in San Mateo County, California, where the dead people outnumber the living. Why? Because most of Colma’s land is devoted to a number of cemeteries (doesn’t it sound a lot creepy already?). There are 1.5 million dead people buried there, as opposed to just over 1,700 living inhabitants.
So how did Colma become what it is now? In 1900, the government of San Francisco prohibited any more burials in the city, because they deemed the land as being too valuable to be used for cemeteries. The government then passed another ordinance in 1912 where cemetery owners were ordered to remove all corpses in the city, and then move them to Colma.
The official motto of this town? “It’s great to be alive in Colma.”
6. Coober Pedy, Australia
This opal-mining town in South Australia is also known for its underground community. Coober Pedy is an Australian Aboriginal term for “kupa-piti,” meaning “white man’s hole.”
Coober Pedy’s unrelenting, inhospitable heat– which can reach as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit — is the main reason why residents build underground “caves” as homes. They call these homes “dugouts,” where the temperature is much cooler, away from the punishing heat above ground. These subterranean structures include a mansion, a church, and business establishments such as pubs, restaurants, hotels, and a jewelry shop apart from the residential places.
7. Dwarf City, China
This theme park in China will live up to your fairy tale fantasies. Also called the “Kingdom of the Little People,” Dwarf City is located in Yunnan Province, and consists of mushroom-shaped “houses” where the little people pretend to live. Employing over a hundred people with dwarfism, the park features a variety of performances for tourists — singing, dancing, and acting out fairy tale stories. While a lot of the park’s supporters claim that it provides opportunities for “dwarf” people who are unable to find work, critics bash the park for being a “human zoo.” However, the employees themselves have said that they enjoy working there.
8. Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong is still believed to have the highest population density in the world. Although it was demolished in 1994, the mostly-ungoverned settlement is still inhabited by around 33,000 to 50,000 people. The settlement area measures only 2.6 hectares (or 6.4 acres).
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the area fell to the hands of the Triads (Hong Kong’s version of the Mafia). Gambling, prostitution, and crimes were pretty prevalent there, as if they were the norm. In 1987, the government announced plans to demolish the building. Tens of thousands of residents of course protested, but the government offered them HK $2.7 billion in compensation. However, some “squatters” were not satisfied by the compensation, so the government had no choice but to forcibly evict them. The demolition was completed in 1994, and in the following month the Kowloon Walled City Park started its construction. The park was finally unveiled to the public in December 1995.
9. Manshiyat Naser, Cairo
If you are looking for an extremely cheap housing, would you choose this city in Cairo, Egypt? Well, if you did, you must endure the literally trashy conditions in Manshiyat Naser, a slum area within the capital. Most of the over 262,000 residents there — men, women, children — spend their lives sorting trash as their occupation. There is trash literally everywhere — the side streets, and even on top of the apartment buildings. Despite lacking infrastructure and decent utilities like water and electricity, residents mostly describe themselves as “happy.”
10. Thames Town, China
No one beats the Chinese when it comes to faking things — from King Burger to Pasunnic (or Panaosnic or Pensennic) to Pmua and even to some fake Apple Stores whose staff is even convinced that they work for Steve Jobs. You won’t believe at the copycat of a quaint English city, named Thames Town, located in the Songjian district in central Shanghai. This planned town was completed in 2006 and cost about 5 billion yuan (about 500 million British pounds or around $776 million) to build.
In Thames Town, there’s faux old England everywhere: quaint row houses, cobblestone streets, old Gothic churches, red telephone booths, English-style canals, and pubs. Except of course, the street and shop signs are labeled in Chinese characters.
Meant for the relatively wealthy populace and businessmen, Thames Town is now a deserted place, but it has become popular for wedding photo shoots.