Lookalike Destinations: Doppelgänger Sights In Places You Wouldn’t Expect

When places around the world are more similar than we imagine..

By Lifestyle Guide

March 18 2021

From the Swiss Alps to the Grand Canyon, popular vacation destinations often come with daunting price tags for many. What’s worse, many of these places have become overly sanitised, commercialised, and touristy.

Instead, travelling to somewhere less popular can provide you with a more authentic and undisturbed experience as you wander through a valley or relax at the docks of a quiet, seaside town. Our world is full of amazing sights to behold.

Here's our list of hidden doppelgänger gems for you to discover in places you’d never expect.

Breathtaking Valleys in Alberta, Canada and Bamyan, Afghanistan

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Situated deep in the Canadian Rockies, Bow Lake sits at an elevation of 1920m above sea level. With its crystal-clear aquamarine waters, Bow Lake is a wonderful place to stop and rest for a picnic or a stroll while you admire the natural scenery at one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park.

Standing at an altitude of 2,550 m, Bamyan is the largest town in the central Afghanistan region of Hazarajat, and lies approximately 240 kilometres northwest of Kabul. It holds a rich history, blending influences of Greek, Turkic, Persian, Chinese and Indian origin.

Bamyan also marked the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion. In 2017, Bamyan City joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a Crafts and Folk Art city.

Lofty Mountains of Bwindi, Uganda and Altai, Russia

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The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to more than 700 wildlife species, and a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and many birds. It also provides habitat for 400 Bwindi gorillas, half of the world's population of endangered mountain gorillas. The park is owned and monitored by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, an organisation that works to protect the animals from diseases and environmental habitat from degradation. 

 Spread across the borders of Russia, Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan, the Altai Mountains are named after a translation of the old Chinese name for the range, Jin Shan ("Gold Mountains"). The Altai Mountains also hold important sites of the ancient nomadic Scythian culture, preserving a series of burial mounds, tombs, mummified bodies, and other artefacts.

The Altai Mountains are also home to many wildlife species, including the Siberian ibex, forest reindeer, Siberian musk deer, and snow leopards. It is a sacred site to the Altai people, native to the Altai region in Siberia.

Retro Haven in the Pastel Coasts of Crete, Greece and Dakar, Senegal

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Set on the northwest coast of Crete, Chania is famous for its 14th-century Venetian harbour, complete with colourful buildings, narrow streets, and waterfront restaurants. Fusing ancient Venetian architecture with modern buildings, Chania is a unique city that blends the bustle of modern life with the charm of yesteryear. Some central parts of the town have been inhabited since Neolithic times during the Bronze Age, imbuing the place with a rich history.

The Île de Gorée ("Goree Island" in French) is located opposite Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Successively ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French, its architecture demonstrates a dramatic juxtaposition of opulent colonial houses against grim slave quarters.

Today, Île de Gorée is a poignant reminder of the tragedy of the slave trade, a pilgrimage destination for the African diaspora, and a space for open dialogue between cultures through reconciliation and forgiveness.

Poppy Fields Forever in Castelluccio, Italy, and Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

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Set in the Umbria region of central Italy, Castelluccio is a small village surrounded by the Apennine Mountains. It is most famous for the Piano Grande ("Great Plain" in Italian), where lentils and poppies bloom in endless fields every year, filling the landscape with a blanket of colourful blossoms.

At an altitude of 1452m, Castelluccio is the highest settlement in the region. Castelluccio is also a popular destination for trekking and mountain biking. Stretching across the plains of eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan and northern Tajikistan, the Fergana Valley was a crucial part of the ancient Silk Road between Kashgar, China and Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Here, millions of blood-red poppies flood the fields, turning the landscape into a beautiful carpet of flowers. The Fergana Valley is also home to the city of Andijan, the birthplace of Babur, the first emperor of the Mughal dynasty in India. 

Trek the Rugged Terrains of Assynt, Scotland and Erzurum, Turkey

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Set in the northwest highlands of Scotland, Assynt is well-loved for its beautiful woodlands and mountains. Many of the distinctive peaks in this area were formed during the last Ice Age, and are now home to many animals like the golden eagle and red deer.

There are also many freshwater lakes ('loch' in Gaelic) that are designated as Special Protection Areas in order to preserve the natural environment of the wildlife and plants in the area. 

Erzurum is a city in eastern Anatolia, Turkey, and home to the important skiing centre on the Palandöken Mountain range. The Palandöken Mountain is home to the longest and steepest ski run in Turkey, known as the Ejder ("Dragon" in Turkish) trail.

Catch the Morning Mountain Sunrise in California, USA and Yunnan, China

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The Garnet Lake along the John Muir Trail in California lies in the heart of the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. Here, you will find breathtaking views of Banner Peak and Mt Ritter. Garnet Lake is a popular destination for visitors, who frequently camp at the site to watch the stars in the night sky. 

Yulong Xueshan, or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, is a small mountain range in Lijiang that stretches across 35 kilometres in length. Comprising 13 snow-covered peaks, the Shanzidou is the highest with an altitude of 5,6000m. It is said that from Lijiang Old Town, the view of the snowy mountains resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence the name.

Yulong Xueshan holds a rich biodiversity of rare animals and plants in its 20 primaeval forest communities. One in four of all plant species in China can be found in the region, including 400 different tree species.

Winter Wonderland in the Ice Castles of Perm, Russia, and Heilongjiang, China

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During winter, you will find all types of ice castles scattered across Russia, made with blocks of ice collected from nearby rivers or lakes. The first known ice palace in the world was constructed in 1739 under the orders of Empress Anna in St Petersburg, Russia, to celebrate Russia's victory in the Russo-Turkish War. The building was designed by Pyotr Yeropkin, with a garden filled with ice sculptures depicting birds, trees, and an elephant.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Heilongjiang, China is the biggest of its kind in the world. It is an annual thematic festival open from late December to early February during the winter season. Its biggest attraction is the Ice and Snow World park, featuring full-sized buildings made entirely of ice blocks taken from the Songhua River.

In the evenings, the sculptures and buildings are illuminated in colourful lights that make them sparkle and glow against the snowscape. Each year, the park is rebuilt with newly designed buildings and sculptures. In recent years, the park is known to cover over 80 hectares.