An eternally-burning pit in the middle of Turkmenistan. A church near Prague made out of human bones. A tiny village in Japan where life-sized dolls outnumber the residents nearly 10:1.
We may live in a big, beautiful world, but our planet certainly has its fair share of terrifying and mysterious places — places just waiting for the next morbidly inclined traveler to come visit.
From hell-themed amusement parks to islands covered with snakes, these are some of the scariest places in the world.
Have you started packing your bags yet?
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.
Nagoro is a tiny Japanese village with one very notable feature: a life-sized doll population that outnumbers the human population nearly 10:1. 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 27 breathing humans (the youngest is over the age of 50) in Nagoro, making it a quirky and somewhat terrifying Toyland.
Hill of Crosses, Šiauliai, Lithuania
People have been placing crosses on this hill in northern Lithuania since the 14th century. In the benign, 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.
Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico
Despite its history and status as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Xochimilco is primarily known for its Isla de las Munecas, or “Island of the Dolls.” Hidden among the boroughs’ many canals, the tiny island is famous for the hundreds of dolls—and doll parts—hanging from trees and scattered among the grass.
Although it looks more like a horror movie set than anything else, the chinampa (akin to an artificial island) used to be the actual residence of a now-deceased man named Julian Santa Barrera. After finding a dead girl’s body in a nearby canal, Barrera collected and displayed the toys in the hopes of warding off evil spirits.
Daring souls can hire their own boat, try to convince the driver to pay it a visit, and view it safely from the water.
Taylor Glacier, Antarctica
It may look like a geological crime scene, but the five-story, crimson waterfall of Taylor Glacier (aka “Blood Falls”) is a completely natural wonder.
The phenomenon can be traced back about five million years, when the glacier sealed off a microbe-rich lake beneath it.
Isolated from light and oxygen, the water became more and more concentrated, both in terms of salt and iron content. The water’s salinity level (about three times saltier than the ocean) keeps it from freezing, while the iron provides the color.
It then seeps out through a fissure in the glacier, and we get to witness the gory display.