12 Fairy Tale Destinations you can Actually Visit

Published 30 March 2016

Angela Griffin

It turns out that far far away is actually a lot closer than you think, so hop into your Cinderella carriage and head to these real-life fairy tale destinations. Just remember to be home by midnight.

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

One of Angkor Archaeological Park’s most impressive ruins, 13th century Ta Prohm is slowly being engulfed by jungle roots. Filled with narrow corridors, moss and creeping plants, its mystical atmosphere and photogenic features have made it one of the most visited temples in the Angkor complex.

Visit Ta Prohm on Round the World Experts’ Cambodian Explorer tailor-made Journey.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, USA

Charming Carmel-by-the-Sea is filled with artisan bakeries, European-style churches and pretty cottages that look like they’ve jumped straight from the pages of a story book. In reality these quaint houses first appeared when Hugh Comstock built one as a display shop for his wife’s hand-made felt dolls in the 1920s. The locals loved it and requested more, giving rise to a small village. Comstock purposefully didn’t use a spirit level, so the cottages are delightfully skewed, with wonky roofs and leaning chimneys, and often overlook wildflower gardens and cobbled pathways.

Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea on Round the World Experts’ Pacific Coast Highway in Luxury tailor-made Journey.

Larnach Castle, New Zealand

New Zealand’s only castle and proud of it, Larnach is found on the picturesque Otago Peninsula just outside Dunedin. Set in lush gardens, its halls and corridors hold many a secret. Once you’ve uncovered the mystery, ascend to the top of the lookout tower then, just like Rapunzel, let down your hair and await rescue by the prince. Or perhaps just admire the sweeping coastal and sea views.

Visit Dunedin on Round the World Experts’ Best of the South Island Journey.

Wisteria Tunnel, Japan

In the heart of the Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, 20 species of wisteria entwine to create an enchanting tunnel made entirely of flowers. Step though the lilac curtain and enter a magical world, best visited during April and May’s Wisteria Festival when the tunnel blooms numerous shades of indigo and violet and its sweet scent fills the air.

Visit Japan on Round the World Experts’ Highlights of Japan tailor-made Journey.

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia

Hanging precariously over the edge of the Guáitara River gorge near the Ecuadorian border, Las Lajas is a castle-like church built in Gothic revival style, with a dramatically arched attached bridge. Legend has it that a woman and her deaf-mute daughter saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on this very spot in the 18th century, inspiring the girl to speak for the very first time. A basic wood and straw shrine was built, which was later replaced by a small church. The basilica as we see it today was constructed between 1916 and 1949, 100 metres above the canyon floor.

Chat to your Expert about arranging a holiday to Colombia.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan

On the outskirts of Kyoto, this vast grove of bamboo is a great spot for a gentle stroll or a relaxing cycle away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Lose yourself in a fantasy world as you enter the forest and watch the golden light glinting through the gaps in the swaying bamboo fronds.

Visit Kyoto on Round the World Experts’ Classic Japan small-group Journey.

Green Lake, Austria

In springtime, snow and ice on the Hochschwab Mountains begin to melt, running down the slopes and forming the clear emerald waters that gave Green Lake (Grüner See) its name. As temperatures rise, the lake’s depth increases from two to 12 metres, flooding the surrounding parkland and submerging its benches, signs and pathways. The result is a bewitching underwater world that attracts curious scuba divers, who float effortlessly between the tree trunks and pose for photos on submerged benches.

Bagan, Burma

Stretching as far as the eye can see, the ethereal landscape of Bagan is dotted with over 3,000 crumbling temples. To take it all in, you can climb 777 steps to the top of Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with a shrine at the top, and watch the sunset over the monuments. But by far the best vantage point has got to be from the basket of a hot-air balloon, floating gently above the treetops, although be sure to book well in advance.

Visit Bagan on Round the World Experts’ Complete Burma small-group Journey, and ask your Expert about adding in a romantic hot-air balloon ride.

Suzhou, China

The tranquil canals and waterside architecture of Suzhou draw domestic city-dwelling tourists in droves, attracted by its olde-wolde feel and UNESCO-listed ornamental gardens. Come for gentle cruises on the waterways and observe modern canal-side life, admiring the pretty pagodas, humped bridges and old cobbled streets.

Take a day trip to Suzhou from Shanghai on Round the World Experts’ China Encompassed tailor-made Journey.

Chand Baori stepwell, India

About halfway along the road between Jaipur and Agra in Rajasthan lies this 1,100-year-old stepwell, one of the largest and most beautiful in the world. Three of its four walls are covered with 3,500 symmetrical steps that descend 20 metres to the water in a confusing, maze-like pattern, enclosing an elegant pillared pavilion on its fourth wall. The well is so unusual, it has frequently been used as an obscure filming location, most recently for The Dark Knight Rises.

Explore Jaipur and Agra on Round the World Experts’ Royal Rajasthan tailor-made Journey.

Hoh Rain Forest, USA

The high levels of precipitation in Hoh Rain Forest create a lush green carpet of mosses, ferns and conifer trees, turning what would otherwise be a classic woodland into a Tolkien-esque fantasy land. Take a walk among the trees and you can just imagine a dashing prince galloping through on his trusty steed, or perhaps the wicked witch tempting Snow White with a juicy apple.

Chat to your Expert about tailor-making a Journey to the USA or click here.

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

If you’re driving the Thermal Explorer Highway between Hawke’s Bay and Auckland, be sure to stop off at the mesmerising Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Once inside, you’ll take a boat through the inky darkness, before the cave opens up to reveal a vast sky of green ‘stars’ twinkling above you, lit by the unmistakable bioluminescence of the glow worm.

Visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves on Round the World Experts’ New Zealand Explorer Journey.

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