10 Most surreal places in the world

by Emiel van den Boomen on March 9, 2012

I recently came across a question by a friend who asked people about the most surreal places one can ever visit. That’s a question I like! I’m a big fan of science fiction movies and surreal stories like the books from Haruki Murakami. I will not call it a quest, but I am fascinated to read about amazing (call them surreal) places in our world. Places we can actually visit…..only if we knew they existed.

My friends question resulted in almost 50 magnificent places worldwide. I have made a selection of the Top 10 of which I have only visited one of these places: the Nazca lines in Peru. But I would love to visit more of them. If you think we can add more surreal places to visit, feel free to leave a comment with picture or link. What place do you know is of true surreality? What places do you miss on this list? Easter Island, the Star Wars film set in Tunesia, Golden Temple in Kyoto, Red Dunes in Namibia, Grand Canyon? You see, our world is full of surreal places.

Now I will stop talking so you can enjoy the list. They are just a dream away… (and don’t forget to also check out part 2 of this blog post with more surreal places – link can be found at the end of this post).

1. Socotra islands, a small Yemeni archipelago of four islands in the Indian ocean.




2. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s stunning salt lakes



3. Plain of Jars, Laos – Carved by hand from solid rock, no one knows for certain who made the jars, what they were used for, or how old they are, although they are thought to be up to 2,500 years old. There are hundreds scattered around the plain of jars.

Plain of jars Laos

Laos jars


4. Coastal dunes in the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (Brazil) – A landscape consisting of dunes up to 40 metres high, interspersed with lagoons of clear fresh water which form during the rainy season. The wind from the Atlantic Ocean creates the impressive scenery.




5. Crystal caves in Naica, Mexico – The cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.

Crystal caves Mexico 2

Crystal caves Mexico 1


6. “NPO Energomash” named after academician V.P.Glushko, a company developing rocket engines for space launch-vehicles. This is an abandoned factory that reminds me of spaceships in movies like Alien.

Energy plant 2

Energy plant 1


7. Chand Baori, – A famous stepwell situated in the village Abhaneri near Jaipur in Indian state of Rajasthan. Looks like an Escher drawing to me!



8. Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France.  What you see on the picture are bomb craters from D-day, World War II.

Bomb craters


9. Nazca lines Peru. Giant sketches drawn in the desert of western Peru by ancient peoples. Purpose? Nobody knows.



10. Cappadocia, Turkey. A region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by the fairy chimneys.

Cappadocia 2

Cappadocia 1


Update – Check out a new post with another great list of surreal places: 10 Most Surreal Places (part 2)


  • Justin Mussler

    I love it Emiel!  Fantastic Post!  Chand Baori – are you kidding me?  I could have sworn that was a drawing.  Very cool stuff!

    • Thanks Justin. Chand Baori really triggered something. It looks like a drawing, but when you see more pictures and watch all these steps, it’s amazing how it is constructed like this. And you know, it’s close to Jaipur where we will be staying this year….

  • These places look gorgeous! The Socotra Islands and Cappadocia look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. And the mystery of the jars… sounds like the mystery of the pyramids. I would love to see some of these sites for myself! 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle! I think we should start an expedition to the Socotra Islands, this must be the most amazing place on our planet. Mysterious and surreal places indeed trigger our imagination, love it!

  • wow. surreal list. Noch Noch

  • Wow, incredible photos of some incredible place!

  • Gorgeous pictures, I want to see them all! The coastal dunes in Brazil are amazing!

  • Amazing photos emiel! especially the factory and bomb craters . great post.

  • These places and pictures are amazing!  Wha a great lesson in geography too.  Thanks for sharing them, Emiel!  Flying on those hot air balloons in Cappadocia and sleeping in one of their cave hotels have  been on my travel bucket list for a long time. 

  • This list is amazing! My favorite is Socotra Islands! It absolutely looks surreal, like one of those places that only Gulliver from ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ can travel to. I’m putting this is in my list of places to go to in my lifetime. 

    We went to Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland a few years back, and I think it’s surreal as well. The salt sculptures inside the cave were really amazing! They even sculpted a church inside the cave, and there was also a salt sculpture of Pope John Paul II too. It was beautiful! 🙂 

    I’ve seen photos of The Wave (in Arizona) and I think that’s pretty cool too! I haven’t been there myself, but I’d like to visit it someday. 🙂

    • Cheryl, I just looked up pictures of The Wave in Arizona, awesome! That one really should be added to this list. I have added one picture to this reply.
      The salt mines in Poland also look pretty cool (I have been to Krakow last year, had I know of these salt mines before…). I saw some pictures on the internet of the church inside the cave. Thanks for sharing! 

      • Oh! That’s a shame! You should have definitely visited the salt mines! It’s a wonderful experience. Maybe next time? 🙂 

  • Wonderful…I can say any thing else excepting to appreciating this post. You have share a great post with us.   I would also like to read some more posts written by you…

    • Thank you! Please go ahead and find the kind of posts you like. Let me know what you think of the other posts you read!

  • Wickedbakinggoddess

    wow!! i am speechless….amazing!!

  • Solesst

    Add the marble caves from Chile! Awesome pics !! Hope you post moré of these surreal places

    • Thanks, maybe another post (kind of part II) will be published in the future….

  • Angel

    These places are awesome. I can’t believe there could be places like these.

  • doreenpendgracs

    Very cool images! Thanks for posting. It always amazing me how many “unique” places there are in the world.

    • Pleasure Doreen! I’m surprised as well, every time I look and search I discover new amazing places..

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