Features // Novelty

R2-D2 takes to the skies
R2-D2 takes to the skies

As if Thursday’s new trailer for December 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t enough, Japanese airline ANA have risked sending Star Wars fans’ mental equilibrium into a galaxy far, far away by launching a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner painted like beep-talking robot R2-D2. OK, it’d look lame next to the Millennium Falcon or Death Star – and why…

A giant underground trampoline has opened in a cave in Wales
A giant underground trampoline has opened in a cave in Wales

Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills goes deep underground in the heart of Snowdonia National Park to discover the latest, and craziest, adventure activity in North Wales. A Victorian slate mine close to the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog was once where miners wielded hammers and chisels to eek out a hard living from the rock. Today,…

14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early
14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there’s nothing more tempting than sleeping in until noon while you’re on holiday. But if you can bring yourself to brave the odd early morning, you’ll discover a magical world as dawn breaks. From…

Passport to write: travel writing competition
Passport to write: travel writing competition

Do you want to become a travel writer? Have you always dreamed about getting paid to travel the world? We’re on the lookout for talented new authors for our online features section, and have teamed up with Journeys are made @ gapyear.com to give someone the chance to write for us. We’re delighted to be offering one lucky…

Escape rooms: would you pay to get locked up?
Escape rooms: would you pay to get locked up?

Paying a stranger to lock you and your friends in a room filled with fiendish puzzles sounds an unlikely holiday activity, but “escape rooms” are springing up around the world. Shafik Meghji got locked up in Budapest… The email was brief and ever so slightly unsettling: “Please arrive punctually at 16:30 to Erzsébet Körút 8,…

The best of Scotland’s Outlander filming locations
The best of Scotland’s Outlander filming locations

If you live in North America you’ll probably need no introduction to Outlander. This epic TV series is already massive on the western side of the Atlantic and has finally hit UK TV screens courtesy of Amazon Prime. For the uninitiated, think of Outlander as a cross between Game of Thrones and the movie Braveheart.…

Quiz: can you name these famous sights?
Quiz: can you name these famous sights?

Do postcards and travel posters paper your walls? Do you pride yourself on your travel knowledge? We’ve selected ten of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights around the world to put you to the test. Can you identify the famous sight from the picture? Be warned, sometimes places can look surprisingly similar…

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica
In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica’s most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th birthday. Reggae music was born in the downtrodden townships of this Caribbean island. It’s a genre that has managed to captivate most of the globe with its bouncing…

14 essential Burmese experiences
14 essential Burmese experiences

Wherever your itinerary takes you, travel in Myanmar (Burma) is sure to provide a wealth of new experiences – whether you’re air-kissing at your waiter in a city teahouse or witnessing your first nat ceremony. To mark the release of our first guide to the country, co-author Jo James shares fourteen of her essential things…

These are the world’s most bizarre spa treatments
These are the world’s most bizarre spa treatments

If you’re after some rejuvenation on your next break but still fancy a bit of an adventure, there are a whole host of alternative therapies offered around the world. From snail facials to a spot of sauna whipping, you can invigorate your body and soul with a smorgasbord of weird but wonderful wellness treatments. Here…

Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland
Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. That means Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats will be everywhere from London to Manchester this spring. But Alice’s story finds its heartland in the villages of Cheshire, where the author was born, and in a seaside resort in…

Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?
Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?

Are you a cartographic clever-clogs or due a geography refresher course? We’ve compiled the outlines of ten different countries – large and small – without any rivers, seas, mountains or cities to help you. Can you deduce the country from its shape alone? Take the quiz to find out…

A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums
A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums

Sex museums are nothing new. Dozens were erected across Europe during the Swinging Sixties when the sexual revolution was in full swing. These days the orgy of sex museums has slowed to a mere mouthful, though they have been stimulated by a new breed of ‘erotic’ museum that aims to steer more towards art than…

The dying romance of the drive-in movie theater
The dying romance of the drive-in movie theater

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are sitting in a red 1950s convertible under the stars. Giant ice creams march across a giant screen. A giant hot dog dances with a giant bun. He yawns, sliding a surreptitious arm around her neck. She turns away. He moves in, she slaps him and I’m hooked. My first…

Explore the filming locations of this year’s Oscar nominees
Explore the filming locations of this year’s Oscar nominees

This year’s Oscars Best Picture nominees feature some iconic settings, from 1940s Bletchley Park to deepest Texas and an Iraqi war zone. Here we break down where each movie is set and shot, and how you can get on the ground and check out the filming locations for yourself. The Imitation Game: Bletchley Park, England…

As seen on screen: the Rough Guides movie quiz
As seen on screen: the Rough Guides movie quiz

From big-screen blockbusters to cult indie flicks, many of the greatest movies to grace our screens have been filmed outside the walls of a studio. Without leaving the comfort of the cinema, we’ve been taken around the world, with places like Cambodia, Morocco, India and Italy providing the backdrop to many a box office smash.…

Quiz: how well do you know London?
Quiz: how well do you know London?

Could you pass for a true Londoner or are you just a tourist? Put your London trivia to the test and find out how well acquainted you really are with England’s capital.  

9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015
9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015

With a whole host of new attractions opening this year, from world-record-beating skyscrapers to whacky amusement parks, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. To help you decide where to visit, we’ve picked the top 9 new tourist attractions around the world.  Shanghai Tower, China A better symbol of China’s continuing march forward would be harder to…

Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do
Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do

With its sushi and sumo, pop culture and age-old tradition, serene gardens and traffic hell, Tokyo bombards the senses like no other city. Ordered yet bewildering, Japan’s pulsating capital will lead you a merry dance – but being lost has never been so much fun. The planet’s largest metropolis is Asia at its weirdest, straightest,…

A real Game of Thrones adventure in Dubrovnik, Croatia
A real Game of Thrones adventure in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Watching Games of Thrones you could be forgiven for thinking that the hulking walls and rugged fortresses of King’s Landing must have been conjured up on a computer. The truth is that Dubrovnik, once a mighty city state that held both the Venetians and Ottomans at bay, is that spectacular. I arrive in this ancient…

A night at the Gogglebox mansion in Sandwich
A night at the Gogglebox mansion in Sandwich

Tim Chester spends an evening with the “posh couple” from Britain’s latest TV  craze Gogglebox. Gogglebox shouldn’t work. The TV show about people watching TV shows sounds like the most meta, barrel-scraping idea in the history of 10 Stone Testicle ideas, but somehow it’s compulsive viewing, a window into the country’s living rooms, prejudices and…

Picking, eating and tripping on Peyote in Mexico
Picking, eating and tripping on Peyote in Mexico

Surrounded by the dwarfing Sierra de Catorce mountain range, Rough Guides writer Alasdair Baverstock indulges in some hallucinogenic Mexican cactus for an eye-opening experience. The cactus beside me was quite audibly breathing. Its expansions and contractions were sure signs of its survival in this desert. In fact, looking around at the abandoned silver mine everything…

The sex theme park that’s helping Koreans loosen up
The sex theme park that’s helping Koreans loosen up

 In amongst blushing couples and giggling grannies, Nelson Groom gets a sex education at Jeju Loveland, South Korea.  South Korea has a prudish past. It was only in the 70s that police were patrolling the streets with rulers, measuring the length of ladies’ skirts. Gauging from my time there, South Koreans remain vastly conservative, especially…

Delving into Kelvedon Hatch: a secret nuclear bunker
Delving into Kelvedon Hatch: a secret nuclear bunker

From 1947 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, secret bunkers sprung up across Europe in an effort to protect capitalist and communist states from potential nuclear attacks. Adam Bennett explores a secret metropolitan bunker in the Essex village of Kelvedon Hatch. During the Cold War, the prospect of a nuclear attack was…

A crazy 24 hours in Tokyo
A crazy 24 hours in Tokyo

“The city that never sleeps” is a hackneyed phrase uttered about metropolises from London to New York, but the Japanese capital of Tokyo is perhaps the finest embodiment of the cliché. To test this out, Martin Zatko and his friends decided to spend a full 24 hours finding great things to do in Tokyo: a…

Moles and museums: exploring weird London
Moles and museums: exploring weird London

London’s wacky and unusual attractions are guaranteed to capture the imagination of those who are brave enough to find them. Adam Bennett follows the footsteps of murderers, surgeons and pathologists to discover some truly bizarre objects across the city. Grant Museum of Zoology The Grant Museum of Zoology boasts over 1000 separate species of rare…

New camera set to banish the selfie for good
New camera set to banish the selfie for good

If you believed this was true, you can consider yourself an April fool! Technology start-up La Foil Pro have released a brand-new camera designed to banish the much-loved (or loathed) selfie. From Oscar-winners to your travel selfies, taking photos of yourself is great fun wherever you are in the world. But La Foil Pro are…

Map: beer from around the world
Map: beer from around the world

Beer-lovers rejoice: the British Government recently announced that a pint of beer in the UK will be a whole one penny cheaper than before. Not exactly saving a fortune, but why would that matter when you have thousands of alternatives from around the world? From the Belgian Chimay to the Turkish Efes, Europe alone has much…

A rough guide to taking the hound on holiday
A rough guide to taking the hound on holiday

Thinking about taking the dog on holiday? Or perhaps you’re going travelling and don’t want to leave the pooch behind? Check out our simple guide to taking your dog to Europe. Had I known how easy it would be to travel with the dog, and how simple it is to get a pet passport, my…

A night out in Independence Street, Turkey
A night out in Independence Street, Turkey

You’ve had a satisfying day or two’s heavy sightseeing in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district. You’re culturally replete – but have a nagging feeling that you’ve missed something. The locals. Just what the hell do they do in this metropolis of fifteen million souls? To find out, head across the Golden Horn to Independence Street (İstiklal Caddesi), the nation’s liveliest…

Arrivals: the latest travel news
Arrivals: the latest travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks some of the most unusual stories in the latest travel news. Turkey introduces e-visas for tourists If you’re travelling to Turkey later this year, you might have to do some forward planning. Tourists arriving in the country after 10th April…

Get down and dirty in Dalyan, Turkey
Get down and dirty in Dalyan, Turkey

Stepping off the boat at Dalyan’s mud baths, you’ll be forgiven for wishing you hadn’t. But don’t be put off by the revolting rotten-egg stench of the sulphur pools – after a revitalizing day here, you’ll be gagging for more. The instructions are simple – roll in the mud, bake yourself in the sun till…

Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games
Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games

Throughout Scotland, not just in the Highlands, summer signals the onset of the Highland Games, from the smallest village get-togethers to the Giant Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, which draws a crowd of 10,000. Urbanites might blanch at the idea of al fresco Scottish country dancing, but with dog trials, tractors, fudge stalls and more cute animals than you…

The top 10 Christmas gifts for travellers
The top 10 Christmas gifts for travellers

This competition is now closed. Congratulations to our three winners: Hannah Woodier, Ollie Kemsley and Maria Whitehead. It’s getting to that time of year again and we’re starting to think about Christmas presents. There’s always one that’s impossible to buy for, but don’t fret, we’ve come to the rescue with the top 10 Christmas gifts…

Witnessing the power of the haka, New Zealand
Witnessing the power of the haka, New Zealand

Few spectacles can match the terrifying sight of the All Blacks performing a haka before a test match. You feel a chill down your spine fifty metres away in the stands so imagine how it must feel facing it as an opponent. The intimidating thigh-slapping, eye-bulging, tongue-poking chant traditionally used is the Te Rauparaha haka,…

A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru
A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru

Embarking on a very personal and spiritual journey, Rough Guides writer Anna Kaminski shares her ayahuasca experience, after ingesting the hallucinogenic vines of the Amazon Basin. The ancient Volkswagen Beetle climbs the hairpin bends high into the mountains, the lights of Cusco spread out in the valley beneath us.  On a particularly steep bend, it gives…

Hanging out in the Jemaa el Fna square, Morocco
Hanging out in the Jemaa el Fna square, Morocco

There’s nowhere on Earth like the Jemaa el Fna, the square at the heart of old Marrakesh. The focus of the evening promenade for locals, the Jemaa is a heady blend of alfresco food bazaar and street theatre: for as long as you’re in town, you’ll want to come back here again and again. Goings-on…

Floating through Xochimilco, Mexico
Floating through Xochimilco, Mexico

Spend a few days in the intoxicating, maddening centro histórico of Mexico City, and you’ll understand why thousands of Mexicans make the journey each Sunday to the “floating gardens” of Xochimilco, the country’s very own Venice. Built by the Aztecs to grow food, this network of meandering waterways and man-made islands, or chinampas, is an important gardening centre…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. First route to the Philippines since 1998 Philippine Airlines is about to open a new route from the UK. The flights, from London Heathrow to Manila, will be the first direct link between the UK…

Better than Disneyland: the Ghibli Museum, Japan
Better than Disneyland: the Ghibli Museum, Japan

Move over Mickey Mouse: in Japan it’s a giant cuddly fur-ball called Totoro who commands national icon status. This adorable animated creature, star of My Neighbour Totoro, is among the pantheon of characters from the movies of celebrated director Miyazaki Hayao and his colleagues at Studio Ghibli – Japan’s equivalent of Disney. Just like Walt,…

Exploring the spectacular settings of Breaking Bad
Exploring the spectacular settings of Breaking Bad

If you’re as obsessed with Breaking Bad as we are, you might want to take a tour of New Mexico. From the city of Albuquerque to the arid desert nearby, the region hosts a wealth of Breaking Bad filming locations and is well worth exploring in its own right. According to series creator Vince Gilligan, it…

20 Facts about Turkey you never knew
20 Facts about Turkey you never knew

You probably didn’t know Turkey’s real name, you might have been confused about which city is the capital, and you probably thought tulips came from the Netherlands. It turns out, you were probably wrong. There is a lot more to Turkey than meets the eye – between the beaches and bustling markets lies a wealth…

A Phallic Journey: Italy’s Penis Café
A Phallic Journey: Italy’s Penis Café

Outside the progressive town of Taormina, Sicily, Rough Guides writer Kiki Deere finds phallic fun at a penis-themed café. My long hair brushes against an erect penis as my hand firmly grips onto a dark phallus that protrudes from the bannister. Rows of excited male members line the windowsill, while others seemingly pop out of…

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