When traveling, it's not always the typical tourist traps that offer the most memorable experiences. Eiffel Tower? Been there, done that. Trevi Fountain? Meh. Far more interesting are the places you don't see at first glance: galleries nobody visits, hole-in-the-wall eateries serving up exotic dishes, or even entire cities a government tries to hide. Here are a few of the most bizarre, eclectic, and downright terrifying tours offered throughout the world:
Simulate a nighttime border crossing in Mexico: Exploitative or educational? You be the judge. For $20, Parque EcoAlberto, an amusement park in El Alberto, Mexico, located more than 500 miles from the Mexico-U.S. border, offers a thrilling experience unlike any other: “La Caminata Nocturna” is a three-hour, seven-mile tour that simulates a nighttime border-crossing from Mexico to the United States. Situated along the tour are "unscrupulous smugglers" and "border patrol agents," ready to ambush and arrest. Designed to discourage illegal immigration to the United States, the “amusement” simultaneously offers an educational glimpse into the risks thousands of Mexicans take each year.
Drive on world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia: At just over 11 feet wide, North Yungas Road – or the Death Road, as it's commonly known – has proved too treacherous for most drivers. A descent of nearly 12,000 feet makes it one of the longest continuous downhill stretches of road in the world (an astonishing 200-300 lives are taken on this road every year.) The narrow thoroughfare connects the Bolivian capital La Paz with the low-lying region of Yungas in the Amazon rainforest, and for 480 Bs (about $70), riders can bike a dangerous two-mile stretch from Chuspipata to Yolosa. During the journey, guests will be simultaneously surrounded by rainforest and the memorial markers of those who didn't complete the journey.
Eat weird meats in Shanghai: “People will eat anything with four legs except a stool and anything with wings except a plane,” goes the saying. That credo is tested to its full extent on the Shanghai Weird Meats Tour ($263.95 per group). Expect funky, yet delicious, dishes on this three-hour adventure around street carts and out-of-the-way canteens, where you'll sample an array of such meats including deep-fried honey bee and scorpion on a stick. Watch out for the wings on the fresh dragonfly, however. They’ll latch on to your throat.
Visit a nuclear disaster zone in the Ukraine: Chernobyl and neighboring Pripyat remain stuck 27 years in the past, but not in a cool Top Gun version of 1986. For those who have the heart, a government-discouraged, nine-hour tour ($149) begins in Kiev and transports visitors to Ukraine’s Exclusion Zone, venturing to the fully buried Kopachi village (made famous by photos of its abandoned kindergarten), sights of the power plant’s nuclear reactors, and to the empty city of Pripyat, which houses the skeleton of an old amusement park and the decimated Polissya Hotel. With a radiation detector available with purchase, this is quite literally the highway to the danger zone.
Hack the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: Looking for something a little tamer, but equally thrilling? The Metropolitan Museum Hack dissects the venerable institution and uncovers its wild and crazy side -- and its secrets and scandals. Guests enjoy lessons in “art appreciation” while learning about the museum's most expensive items, and about its "secret" galleries. The tour itself isn't associated with the Met, and the two-hour adventure costs $39, not including the Met’s price of admission (a suggested donation of $25).