5 of the World’s Scariest Travel Destinations

Every year as Halloween approaches, people seek out choreographed thrills that frighten them in harmless ways, the dangers perceived rather than actual.

Yet there are places around the world where scares come without benefit of costumed characters wielding plastic chainsaws.

Edge along narrow planks suspended high on a mountain cliff, putting your trust into the bolts embedded in the sheer stone face. Or visit a city abandoned long ago, where signs of life are as ever-present as the ticking of a Geiger counter.

Here are some truly frightening travel destinations around the world.

  1. Island of Dolls, Mexico – Dolls are inherently creepy, but this is far worse than shelves of American Girl dolls looking at you. Dolls in various states of disrepair hang from the trees amid canals near Mexico City. Not all have the requisite appendages, but all stare unblinkingly (if they have eyes). This morbid collection is the work of caretaker Don Julio Santana, who is said to have years ago found the body of a 4-year-old girl in a canal. Shortly afterward, he found a doll and hung it from a tree to appease the girl’s spirit. He went on to hang dozens more, even though it would seem to invite spirits rather than appease them.
  2. Jack the Ripper tour, London – If you’re going to follow one of history’s most terrifying serial killers, it might as well be the guy at No. 1 in the power rankings. Guides lead you into some of the creepiest places in London, streets and alleys that haven’t changed much since 1888 when Jack was on the loose, eviscerating his victims. As the website notes, you will learn of the crimes from experts who know them “inside and out.” Cheeky turn of phrase.
  3. Edge Walk, Toronto – Head to the top of CN Tower (as Toronto’s tallest structure, it’s impossible to miss) and take a stroll along a handrail-free walkway that would make a safety inspector cringe (or anyone else, for that matter). Participants pull on onesies equipped with straps that attach to the bar ringing the inside of the walkway. Once tethered, they enjoy a walk 1,168 feet above the ground, free to lean over the ledge for a better view. Edge Walk even hosts weddings. How’s that for taking the plunge?
  4. Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan – A Russian engineering disaster is now one of the hottest travel destinations on the planet. (And based on its name, we shouldn’t have to add “literally.”) While drilling in 1971, workers hit a massive cavern filled with natural gas. Poisonous gas rose and, with no pesky government agencies charged with protecting the environment to get in the way, officials set it on fire. The Darvaza gas crater was born. And who doesn’t like to say “gas crater”?Locals have since organized tours, and residents are known to attach extremely long poles to frying pans so they cook eggs and other items. No “Gates of Hell”  recipe book yet, but expect instructions to start with, “Set inferno to a few thousand degrees.”
  5. Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, Ukraine – See one of the world’s worst environmental disasters up close. Well, not too up close. Radiation is dangerously high in many areas, and tour guides are careful to stay clear given the terrible TripAdvisor reviews that could pop up in 10 years or so. No need to hurry to see the abandoned villages, they’ll probably remain unoccupied for another century or two.

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