Unexpected Destination Experiences Around The World

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  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • February 11, 2015 at 8:59 PM

The grass is always greener on the other side, as the old proverb says, and there are many travel destinations that have taken it to heart.

From a “tropical island” in Germany to scuba diving in Norway, there is a wide range of places offering experiences far removed from their cultural clichés.

This trend also suggests that countries are now more focused on “having it all”, even if that means creating fake climates or adapting traditional experiences to suit particular locations.

But whatever the reasons, places like the five below make for quirkier travel options and stories that delight globetrotters wanting to see it all – and then some.

Desert Golf in Australia

Grassy hills and bright, green sweeping vistas are the domain of most golf courses but Australia is one of the most prominent places to try something different with a desert golf course outside of Coober Pedy.

The Opal Fields golf course is a par 72, with 18 holes and a portable piece of fake grass to tee off from.

At only $20 per person, it is a very affordable golfing experience and, as Tourism South Australia notes, Opal Fields is “the only club in the world with reciprocal rights to Saint Andrews in Scotland, the home of golf.”

Tropical Islands in Germany

Located 60km south of Berlin, Tropical Islands is a domed world far removed from the cool climate beyond its walls.

The park was opened in 2004 and has been a popular attraction ever since. It includes a lagoon, tropical sea, a rainforest with over 50,000 plants and a village featuring copies of traditional buildings from Thailand, Borneo, Samoa and Indonesia.

It also had restaurants, campsites, lodges and rooms as well as a range of shops and tours reminiscent of those you would be more likely to experience in the tropics than anywhere else in Germany.

Scuba Diving in Norway

Like the desert golf of Opal Fields, Norway’s scuba diving options are somewhat unexpected. While the country is famous for its fjords, snow-capped mountains and midnight sun, diving in Norway opens up a world of rich and varied marine life.

Tourism company Innovation Norway says that more and more people are discovering that diving in Norway is “a fascinating experience”.

“From Lygnstøylsvatnet, a submerged village in the Sunnmøre Alps to Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest maelstrom, from ice diving in Svalbard to wreck diving in the fjords or near Narvik, the options are many,” the company’s Visit Norway website explains.

Exotic Rainforest in England

About 45 minutes west of London, in Berkshire, is The Living Rainforest, a collection of glasshouses with over 700 species of plants and animals from all around the world.

It includes free-roaming lizards, butterflies and birds, as well as monkeys, toucans, snakes and a crocodile.

The Living Rainforest is operated and run by The Trust for Sustainable Living, a charity organisation promoting environmental awareness and, as a result, also includes a fascinating Human Impact area as well as guided tours and information about the different ecosystems people can explore away from the more familiar hills and moors of the rest of the UK.

China’s Fake Sun, Beach and Shopping Land

In 2013, China opened what it calls “the largest building in the world” based on floor space. The New Century Global Center (sic) is 500 metres long, 500 metres wide and just under 100 metres high – to put it another way, though, it would hold about 20 Sydney Opera Houses.

But what makes this building even more interesting is the fact that it is not only a giant shopping centre, but also a place full of leisure experiences.

There is a fake beach in the complex can accommodate 6000 people and has the world’s largest artificial waves; the IMAX theatre boasts 14 screens; a rustic-looking ice skating rink large enough for international ice skating and hockey competitions and two 1000-room five star hotels.

It also has a fake sun that can shine 24-hours a day, so people really can shop (or swim, skate or watch movies) til they drop.

These five places are just a few examples of unexpected locations and experiences in certain parts of the world, but there are many more out there.

In fact, the desire to experience different things from the norm of any particular location harks back to cultural influences in immigration (China Towns and Little Italy’s or Latin Quarters, for example).

It is also something that has made Las Vegas the famous place it now is – a city where you can see the Eiffel Tower, Venice canals and Leaning Tower of Pisa all in a few hours.

What’s more is that as the world becomes increasingly connected through technology, people are looking for new and unique experiences that bypass clichés – and these types of places can be a refuge beyond the well-beaten tracks.

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